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Magazine Real alternative opinions
I left the Jehovah’s Witnesses for God > What Anto witnessed p7
Leaving Lesbianism for a Man of Love
> Read Jackie’s Love Letter p10
Tír gan anam
> Tim Coyle on Why Ideas Matter p14 F l a m i n g Tw e e t s
Man of the Match
4you.ie Magazine Issue IX
4you.ie Magazine Published in Ireland by AONTAS © MMXIV Editor Paudge Mulvihill
An Odd Thing
JOHN 3:7 Man of the Match The Frank Hogan GAA
by Mark Loughridge
by Jackie Hill
Good Samaritan Refused -A Modern Parable
by Joanna Chipperfield
Believe in Atheism? by John Blanchard
Leaving by Erin Casey
E d itor i a l This edition of the 4you.ie Magazine could be called the ‘Leaving Behind Edition’ as we read of Erin Casey’s account about his friend Anto who came to the conclusion that he had to leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Similarly we read Jackie Hill’s account on p10 of why she came out of her lesbian life. Both found divine love - a love worth giving up all else for indeed nowadays in Ireland this could be known as “the Love that dare not speak its Name” -that is love for the true and living God. Regular columnists Tim Coyle & Mark Loughridge examine Oddity, Ideas, Tweets and more. GAA fans will appreciate the Frank Hogan story & the difficult topic of Suicide is tackled by Joanna Chipperfield. As always, the 4you Magazine seeks to encourage you to read God’s Word for yourself. Why not start with one of the Gospels in the New Testament and get to know more about God’s answer to human isolation relationship with the Son of God -Jesus Christ. Here is a quote from John’s Gospel, Chapter 17 verse 3 (also written as ‘John 17:3’) “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
Tweetatory Twitter and time off Purgatory by Mark Loughridge
Page 7-9 What Anto WitnessedLeaving the Watchtower Organisation Behind
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4you.ie Magazine Issue IX
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Ideas Matter by Tim Coyle
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“ it takes a comedian to point out the obvious”
An Odd Thing by Mark Loughridge
omedian Lee Mack was interviewed on Desert Island Discs some time ago. He was asked which book he would like to take—you’re allowed to take the Bible, the works of Shakespeare and one other. He chose Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, but it was his comment about the Bible that intrigued me.
He said, “I’m glad you get the Bible, because I would read the Bible. I think it’s quite odd that people like myself, in their forties, are quite happy to dismiss the Bible, but I’ve never read it. I always think that if an alien came down and you were the only person they met, and they said, “What’s life about? What’s earth about? Tell us everything”, and you said, “Well, there’s a book here that purports to tell you everything. Some people believe it to be true; some people do not believe it to be true”. “Wow, what’s it like?” and you go, “I don’t know, I’ve never read it”. It would be an odd thing wouldn’t it? So, at the very least, read it”.
here’s a strange thing in Ireland: For such religious a country, people don’t read the Bible. In fact, many have been left with the impression that they shouldn’t, or don’t need to. The impression given is that it’s a book for specialists, and they should just take the word of opinion formers—whether it be clergy or authors like Dan Brown and Richard Dawkins.
And it takes a comedian to point out the obvious: That’s “an odd thing”. I’ve been reading Melvyn Bragg’s book, The Book of Books, on the impact of the King James Bible. Bragg is no great believer in the truths of Christianity, but he points out over and over again the powerful change made by having the Bible in the common language of the people. The people were keen to read it for themselves; the church’s clergy prior to this were reluctant to let such a powerful book into their hands. Yet when the people read it, they could measure what they were hearing against what was in God’s word and know if it was true.
here is such reticence about reading the Bible. I sometimes talk with people who feel let down by church but who are hesitant to look at the Bible for themselves, preferring just to muddle on in the hope that everything will be OK. Others are struggling with life and trying to get through by their own strength, unaware that the Bible has help to give. And others think it irrelevant without ever opening it, or giving it more than a cursory glance. My heart breaks for these people. I know there is life-giving water in God’s word. I know it is fresh and clear and beautiful. But I can’t make them drink it.
A “…at the very least, s Lee Mack said,
4you.ie Magazine Issue IX
rity about your future destiny? Possibly you can remember many of those New Year resolutions that you have made and failed to keep. I’m sure you find that making any kind of new start is very difficult. You do your best to change things (e.g., in your family relationships) and maybe you succeed for a short time, but then fall back into the old ways. As the poet Edward Young put it, “ At thirty a man suspects himself a fool; knows it at forty and reforms his plan; resolves; and re-resolves; then dies the same”. John 3:7. You’ve probably seen a banner with these words being held up amongst the crowd at a hurling or football match. Or maybe you’ve seen it on TV. This banner is brought along to the matches by a man from Limerick called Frank Hogan. Are you puzzled about what it means? Then read on and you will find out what it’s all about. “John 3:7” has to do with the Bible verse found in the Gospel of St. John chapter three verse seven. This verse reads, “YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN”. Earlier in verse three of the same chapter, Jesus had stated the same thing in a bit more detail: “I TELL YOU THE TRUTH, NO-ONE CAN SEE THE KINGDOM OF GOD UNLESS HE IS BORN AGAIN”. These two verses were part of a conversation between Jesus and a very religious man called Nicodemus. You see, even though this Nicodemus was a very religious man he didn’t know the true and only way to Heaven. Jesus therefore told him that it was essential for him to be born again in order to go to Heaven. A New Birth or a New Start is vital for all of us; without it no-one can see the Kingdom of God (Heaven). So whether you are religious or not, Frank Hogan’s banner confronts you with the same crucial question, ARE YOU BORN AGAIN? Have you ever felt the need for a new start in life? Perhaps you have come to realise that there is no real purpose, direction or meaning in your life? Perhaps you have tried some sort of religion but only found it to be a burdensome set of rules and regulations. Are you still weighed down with fear and insecu-
Why is it that we find it so difficult to make real changes in our lives? The Bible tells us why. It tells us there is a problem deep down in every human heart. It is called “sin”. This is not a fashionable word today. But it does describe what we are really like if we are honest enough to admit it. Look in the Bible at the words of the prophet Jeremiah: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil”. Sin has such a grip on us that neither human effort nor man-made religion can set us free from it.
are you born again? “John 3:7” brings us GOOD NEWS! It tells us that a new start is wonderfully possible. God can bring about a change of heart in men and women. They can have a new start in this life and a sure hope of Heaven. Jesus can give YOU a new birth, a new start and a new life! He died on the cross to make the new start possible. On the Cross He took all the punishment for the sins of everyone who would come to Him looking for new life and forgiveness. He paid the penalty for our sin so that we would not have to pay it. He is alive today and can deal with your sin and give you a new start if you will admit your need and seek after Him. No wonder Frank Hogan is eager to make known to you and many others that it is possible to be born again. Next time you see his banner I hope you will understand it better.
by Joanna Chipperfield
When I was first asked to write this article I must admit I had slight
reservations about it. I spent many hours staring at a blank screen, procrastinating where possible and struggling to find inspiration on how to tackle the subject. I’m sure it goes without saying that suicide is an extremely difficult and challenging topic to discuss and I am certainly not here to offend anyone. I won’t attempt to give an academic analysis or a scientific report on suicide as I have absolutely no professional training in the area. However, what I do have is a personal testimony which I will try to briefly portray. I do hope that it will somehow be an encouragement and support to anyone reading.
I grew up in a fairly normal Christian household and was taught about
God from a very young age. As an outsider looking in you would have thought I had everything. A ”normal” family. A loving church. Plenty of friends. Musical talent. And most importantly, a convincing smile. But the reality was that there were things going on in my life that no one could have known about which led me to wear a mask on a daily basis. I learnt when I was very young that there is a lot of evil and cruelty in this world and I decided that the only protector I had was myself. For that reason, I began to control everything I possibly could, and at the age of twelve I had developed a serious eating disorder called Anorexia Nervosa. This was the start of an extremely slippery slope for me.
then it’s been quite an intense journey with God where, for the first time in my life, I’ve simply followed Him wherever He has called me. And bit by bit He has healed the hurts that were so deeply engraved within me. I’ve come to learn and believe who I am in Christ which has been overwhelmingly powerful in breaking the lies that Satan has been feeding me since I was a child. And I can confidently say today that I am a brand new creation living in complete freedom from my past.
t often frustrates me how the world views suicide, and my hope is that people will begin to have a new perspective on it. Anyone who is actually considering taking their own life has serious issues going on and absolutely no one has the right to judge them for that. I am by no means suggesting that suicide should ever be considered as an option. I am also not suggesting that the responsibility for suicide is anyone’s but the person who carries out the act. But there needs to be more understanding and compassion towards people who are suicidal or who have had unsuccessful suicide attempts. They do not need judgment or accusations of selfishness. It doesn’t help them to be gossiped about or looked at strangely or to be cast aside as being unstable. What they need is genuine love, support and care. And more importantly, they need to meet Jesus.
In the middle of the darkness, I be- “one of my best friends gan to be quite drawn to the church killed herself. It was and I often reached out to it for help. I heartbreaking and formed numerous relationships within the church that began to lead me to shocking.” God. However, despite understanding who Jesus was and what He had done for me, I just couldn’t accept Him fully into my heart. I lived in absolute isolation because elements from my past were just too overwhelming for me to handle. This eventually led me to a point of desperation and as a very young teenager I attempted to take my own life.
Now, I’m not fully convinced that at the age of thirteen I fully under-
stood the depths of such a decision. All I knew at the time was that I couldn’t cope with the memories anymore and I felt as if there was no other way to escape from them. Obviously my attempt was unsuccessful (Praise the Lord!) and I soon found other ways to cope with life. During my teens and early twenties, I got sucked into anything and everything that was bad for me and lived a very damaging and sinful life. I looked for love in all sorts of dangerous places which had severe consequences, eventually finding myself involved in an abusive relationship as a young adult.
For me the answer to everything I was going through was Jesus. I understand how unhelpful that may sound to someone who is in the depths of a valley but it is the absolute truth. After years of running from God, I finally embraced Him and handed the mess over to Him. And to my amazement He welcomed me home with open arms. Since
freedom from my past
When I was seventeen, one of my best friends killed her-
self. It was heartbreaking and shocking. So I fully understand the other side of the coin. It’s absolutely devastating. But I have no insight into what she was going through and therefore have absolutely no right to judge her decision. Instead my heart just breaks for her. She was clearly living in absolute despair and felt that there was no one that could help her. This is obviously untrue. There were plenty of people in her life that would have helped her. But the fact of the matter is that she couldn’t see that, and she made her decision based on her own reality.
think that instead of being quick to judge, we need to be asking these questions: ”What can we do to help people that are living in such isolation? How can we raise suicide awareness? How can we create a space for people to feel comfortable to share their struggles without being judged for it? How can we show people Jesus?” The answers to these questions are what will make a difference in people’s lives. I believe that God can completely transform any life, regardless of current circumstances or past traumas. I have seen that happen in my own life and in many other people’s lives. I will conclude by quoting a piece of scripture that has inspired me to stand firm in my faith and embrace the freedom that Jesus has bought for me. It’s my prayer that anyone reading this article would learn to live by this truth every day.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery”. Galatians 5:1. 4you.ie Magazine Issue IX
Can I believe in
atheism? by John Blanchard
To some people, atheism seems like a breath of fresh air. The mystery of life After all, if God does not exist, there is no need to worry about moral standards and behaviour. We are totally free to “do our own thing”. Best all, when we die we will not have to answer awkward questions or face the possibility of being punished for anything we have thought, said or done. Sounds great! But surely the important thing is not to tot up atheism’s fringe benefits, but to ask whether it is true? For several years now, I have spent a lot of time studying this question and have come to the conclusion that atheism cannot possibly be true. It simply raises too many problems. Let me outline a few of them.
The existence of life is an even greater problem for the atheist. A well-known scholar has said that life originating by chance is about as likely as getting a complete dictionary from an explosion in a printing factory! Can we really believe that once upon a time there was nothing, then that “something” (a speck of dust?) appeared, and that this eventually sprang to life all by itself? Talk about a fairy tale!
The miracle of man Human beings are truly amazing. Laid out in single file, the DNA in any one of us would stretch to the sun and back more than 100 times! In an average lifetime, the human brain processes enough data to fill 7,142,857,142,860,000 computer discs!
We can think, speak, count, appreciate beauty and build personal relationships. We have a sense of right and wrong. We ask questions such as “Where did I come from?”, “Why am I here?” and “Where am I going?” Above all, human beings have a deep-seated religious instinct, a sense that there is something (or someone) greater than ourselves. These things can be said of no other living creature. (Try asking a cat to read this article!) Why should we be unique?
The world around us
“Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly mindboggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it is a long way down the road to the dentist, but that’s just peanuts to space.” The author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was right. Try looking up at the stars on a clear night and you will begin to see what I mean. If the earth was the size of a full-stop in this article, the moon would be five-eighths of an inch away, the sun just over nineteen feet and the nearest star 1,608 kilometres. We would still be 37,408,000 kilometres from the Milky Way and 748,160,000 kilometres from the Andromeda Galaxy. This “mindbogglingly big” universe raises massive questions for the atheist. How did it all get there? Why is it the way it is? Where did the laws of nature come from? Why is there such amazing order and design in the universe? Talk of a “Big Bang” gets us nowhere. Where did we get the material that is supposed to have gone “Bang!”? And how did an explosion produce beauty, order and design?
4you.ie Magazine Issue IX
The atheist’s answer to the existence of the universe, the mystery of life and the miracle of man is to say that they all came about by accident, but surely this makes no sense!
If our brains are accidents, why should we trust anything they tell us? How can we ever know the truth about anything? If all of life is accidental, why should we bother about our behaviour? Why should we make any effort to be decent, honest or kind? Why should we care for the sick, help the poor, or comfort the dying? If we are just flukes that happened by evolutionary accident, there is no reason why we should claim to have any more dignity than pigs, mosquitos or frogs. Yet we do! Why? Why are we sure that we are in a different category? The Bible’s answer to these questions is that the wonderful universe in which we live was created by God, who made man “in his own image”, distinct from all the rest of creation and capable of living in a personal relationship with his Maker. That relationship has been ruined by sin, but in His great mercy God has come into the world in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and provided a way by which it can be restored. www.4you.ie
J W S
W T ? What Anto Witnessed in the WatchTower
by Erin Casey
One man’s journey of discovering true peace. Anto knew something was missing from his life. Raised as a Catholic, he felt a sense of fear and longed to be closer to God. He considered putting statues in his garden, thinking perhaps their presence would make a difference. Then, one day, the doorbell rang. Three Jehovah’s Witnesses stood at the door and offered Anto what he thought was a new hope to know God. They shared Bible verses to back up their message, something Anto was happy about since he was curious about the Bible. As a Catholic, he had never been encouraged to study the Scriptures. For the next two years, Anto gave up his career as a musician and tried to follow a new set of strict rules for his life. Like all new Jehovah Witness converts, he was encouraged to cut off ties with his friends who weren’t part of the organisation. Bible study was also required, but only with the aid of sanctioned, “spirit-appointed” study guides. He made new friends—other Jehovah’s Witnesses—and began going door to door himself to tell others about the new religion he’d found. “Eventually”, he says, “I just couldn’t take the pressure of going out on the street and selling”. Yes, www.4you.ie
selling. Anto purchased the approved materials from the organisation and rather than selling them—which was the recommended practice—he gave them away at his own expense. He didn’t feel right about selling what he believed at the time to be God’s Word. He also felt pressured by the church leaders who demanded he report the number of hours he spent knocking on doors each week. “I was making up hours to make myself look good”, he says. Finally, he realised he’d traded one religion’s practices and rules for another—and both had left him feeling empty and no closer to God. He went back to the music business, and for 20 years he gave up religion altogether. And although he never stopped believing in God, he felt very far away from Him. When a few of his friends passed away, thoughts about death and the afterlife began to weigh heavily on his mind. “I knew the only way I could get to Heaven was God”, he says. And so, feeling lost, Anto considered going back to the Jehovah’s Witnesses as a way to get back to God. His wife, a Catholic, wasn’t too pleased about the news. This isn’t surprising since many of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ practices are disruptive to the family. For example, 4you.ie Magazine Issue IX
Watch The Watchtower For over 130 years the US based Watchtower corporation (WTS) has been the hierarchical, authoritative body over 8 million adherents called ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’. The organisation has a history of evershifting doctrines & ideas. For example in 1920 it made the astounding claim that “Millions now living will Never Die!!” Failed claims like this were brushed under the carpet, reinterpreted or blamed on ‘over-zealous members’. A major doctrine like ‘blood transfusion refusal’ has had fatal consequences for some faithful followers but it could be changed any day by the leaders (The Governing Body) under the guise of ‘new light’ (new understanding) Is that a proven, trustworthy organisation?
Photo Montage: Some samples of WatchTower Publications. Copyright Watchtower B&T Society Also Stallman. & & Wikimedia Commons. Fair Use grounds
the organisation does not allow its members to celebrate birthdays, Christmas or other holidays, nor does it allow its members to have blood transfusions. She talked with their children, who were very young the first time Anto got into the religion, and shared some of her concerns. A few days later, his son brought him a copy of Crisis of Conscience by Raymond Franz, a former Jehovah’s Witness. The book, which reveals some of the religion’s false beliefs and non-biblical practices, was eye-opening for Anto. “I couldn’t put it down. I realised there and then that the teaching of the Jehovah’s Witnesses was wrong”. He discovered that the hope they preached was really only half-truths and cherry-picked Bible verses. Not long afterwards, his wife gave him a Bible. With a better understanding of how the Jehovah’s Witnesses had twisted the Bible to fit their doctrine, Anto made up his mind to study the Scriptures more closely. He and two other friends met regularly 8
4you.ie Magazine Issue IX
to read and study the Bible together—without the aid or opinion of any organisation or church. They simply wanted to discover God’s word. In it, they found the truth. In 2011, Anto came to Jesus in repentant faith and dedicated his life to Him—not to a church or a man-made organisation. Having learned and believed that Jesus Christ offers free access to God and to Heaven, his fears are finally gone. “For me personally, I have so much peace. Christians have the peace of God that transcends all understanding”, he says. “I don’t fear death. I don’t fear getting sick. If I die, I go with God. If I live, I hopefully live for God. Before, I didn’t know where to find that peace. Now I know.”
• Download free excerpts from Raymond Franz books at:
http://www.raymondfranz.fr (click on English button) • For more general info: www.jwfacts.com www.4you.ie
1875 1914 1918 1925 1975 2000 + 2033
What the Jehovah’s Witnesses Teach versus What the Bible Says
by Brian Casey
What the Bible Says: Jesus is God, with no beginning or ending. He existed before Abraham who died 2000 BC. In John 8:56-58, Jesus refers to Himself as “I AM”, as there is no “past tense” with Him. It’s also the same name of Jehovah God in Exodus 3:14 -He is called ‘Son of God’ and ‘God’. -
What Jehovah’s Witnesses say: Jesus is not God. Rather, they say He was a created being who began as an angel - Michael, the Archangel now called ‘a god’. What Jehovah’s Witnesses say: It’s wrong to receive a blood transfusion. An Old Testament law in Leviticus 17:14 prohibits the eating of blood, so the Watchtower Organisation interprets this as it’s wrong to receive various blood transfusions. What the Bible Says: We are no longer under the old law, rather, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13a, ESV). Also, the passages in the Old Testament refer to the eating of blood (i.e., ingesting it through the mouth and into the stomach), not the medical procedure that began in the 19th century.
Founded by Charles Taze Russell in 1879 -his magazine title was changed from “Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence” to “The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom” in 1939 -to reflect doctrinal changes in the religion at that time.
What Jehovah’s Witnesses say: When you’re dead, you’re gone. Man has no eternal soul, any more than animals. Also, only 144,000 people achieve heaven. The rest, faithful Witnesses who have died, will be recreated on earth during the kingdom of the “New World”. What the Bible Says: For God so loved THE WORLD, that he gave his only Son, that WHOEVER believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, ESV). Jesus Himself said, “ALL that the Father gives me will come to me, and WHOEVER comes to me I will never cast out”(John 6:37, ESV). Unlike the sale in the store that claims “This offer is good while supplies last”, His salvation is offered to all--not a select few. What the WatchTower Society has shown to believe about its errors: They have repeatedly ‘reasoned’ that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (His Presence or Armageddon or the Resurrection of the Dead) would be in 1874, 1914, 1918, 1925, & 1975 but these dates have repeatedly failed & been proven false. The Governing Body has seen no need to repent and admit that they have been untrustworthy, misleading, hinting or shown to be a false prophet - (Compare Deut. 18:20-22 with WatchTower April 1 1972). Will the WTS continue future predictions/hints?
Similarities between the WatchTower Society & the Vatican:
What the Bible Says: No one knows the day nor the hour when the Son of Man (Jesus) will return -except God the Father -Matt. 24:36-44 Photo: WatchTower Mag. Copyright WaterTower Bible & Tract Society 1984
•Both have a top-down centralized, leadership that claim to be God’s governors/representatives here on Earth. (theocracy & hierarchy) •Both claim to be the one, true religion -with exclusive claims. •Current teachings (called ‘Present truth’) over-rule past ‘truths’ (i.e new teachings can override & even contradict past beliefs.) •Both are worldwide religions with centralised headquarters. The hierarchical leaders claim they have the only authoritative teachings / traditions. •Both ultimately believe in salvation by works (ie. trying to get to heaven through your own good ness/obeying the religion). This is in opposition to the real biblical teaching that salvation is only by God’s grace (kindness that we don’t deserve)
‘1914’ - A 100 year old Blind Date The WatchTower Society is stuck with this date. It predicted that Jesus’ return & the end of this age would be in 1914. “But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble.” -Watch Tower 1894 Jul 15 p.226
When Jesus didn’t return -the Society didn’t apologise but reinterpreted! It said that He did return -just invisibly! Then they cultivated belief that the ‘generation that saw 1914’ would not die but would see the end of this world within their lifetime. The WatchTower of May 15th 1984 confidently displayed 16 faithful followers with this teaching on the front page. Sadly, they have now all died -the last was Sophie Yuchniewicz -2nd woman on left (1906-2008) 4you.ie Magazine Issue IX
by the Man of Love
Love Letter to a Lesbian Dear .................... I just want you to know that I understand. I understand how it feels to be in love with a woman. To want nothing more than to be with her forever. Feeling as if the universe has played a cruel joke on your heart by allowing it to fall into the hands of a creature that looks just like you. I, too, was a lesbian. I had same-sex attractions as early as five years old. As I grew up, those feelings never subsided. They only grew. I would find myself having crushes on my female best friends, but I was far too ashamed to admit it to them — let alone to myself. At the age of 17, I finally made the decision to pursue these desires. I entered into a relationship with a young lady who became my “first”. The first time we kissed, it felt extremely natural, as if this feeling is what I had been missing all along. After her came another woman and then another woman. Both relationships were very serious, each lasting over a year. I enjoyed these relationships and loved these women a lot. And it came to the point that I was willing to forsake all, including my soul, to enjoy their love on earth.
saw that I had been in love with everything except God, and these decisions would ultimately be the death of me, eternally. My eyes were opened, and I began to believe everything God says in His Word. I began to believe that what He says about sin, death and hell were completely true. Amazingly, at the same time that the penalty of my sin became clear to me, so did the preciousness of the cross. A vision of God’s Son crucified, bearing the wrath I deserved, and an empty tomb displaying His power over death — all things I had heard before without any interest had become the most glorious revelation of love imaginable. After realizing all of what I would have to give up, I said to God, “I cannot let these things or people go on my own. I love them too much. But I know You are good and strong enough to help me”. Now, at the age of 23, I can say with all honesty that God has done just that. He has helped me love Him more than anything. Now why did I just tell you about this? I gave you a glimpse of my story because I want you to understand that I understand. But I also want you to know that I also understand how it feels to be in love with the Creator of the Universe. To want nothing more than to be with Him forever. To feel His grace, the best news ever announced to mankind. To see His forgiveness, that He would take such a wicked heart into His hands of mercy. But with that in mind, we’re in a culture where stories like mine either seem impossible or hilarious, depending on the audience. Homosexuality is everywhere — from music, to TV, even sports. If you’d believe all that society had to say about homosexuality,
“but I was far too ashamed to admit it to them - let alone to myself.”
In October 2008, at the age of 19, my superficial reality was shaken up by a deeper love — one from the outside, one that I’d heard of before but never experienced. For the first time, I was convicted of my sin in a way that made me consider everything I loved (idolized), and its consequences. I looked at my life and 10
4you.ie Magazine Issue IX
My Story: Jackie Hill
Lesbianism you’d come to the conclusion that it is completely normal, even somewhat admirable. But that is far from the truth. God tells us that homosexuality is sinful, abominable and unnatural (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13;Romans 1:18–32; 1 Corinthians 6:9–11; 1 Timothy 1:8–10). But if I were to be honest, sometimes homosexual attractions can seem natural to me.
When society is advocating homosexuality what happens when a gay person differs? One lesbian goes really alternative.
He is ultimately all that you need! He is good and wise (Psalm 145:9). He is the source of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3). He is kind and patient (2 Peter 3:9). He is righteous and faithful I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this may be your dilem- (Psalm 33:4). He is holy and just (1 John 1:9). He is our true ma as well. You see what God has to say about homosexual- King (Psalm 47:7). He is our Saviour (Jude 1:25). And He is ity, but your heart doesn’t utter the same inviting you to be not just His servant, sentiments. God’s Word says it’s sinful; but also His friend. If lasting love is what your heart says it feels right. God’s Word you’re looking for anywhere else, you “God’s Word says says it’s abominable; your heart says it’s are chasing the wind, seeking what you delightful. God’s Word says it’s abnormal; will never find, slowly being destroyed it’s sinful; but your your heart says it’s totally normal. Do you by your pursuit. heart says it feels see that there is a clear divide between what God’s Word says and how your heart feels? But in Jesus, there is fullness of joy. In right ... So which So which voice should you believe? Jesus, there is a relationship worth everything, because He is everything. voice should you There was a time in my walk with Christ Run to Him. believe?” where I experienced a lot of temptation about falling back into lesbianism. These temptations caused me to doubt God’s Word. My temptations and desires began to become more real to me than the truth of Former gay people can be some of the the Bible. As I was praying and meditating most marginalized groups in society on these things, God put this impression on -being a minority within a minority - facmy heart: “Jackie, you have to believe that My Word is true even if it contradicts how ing active hostility from gay quarters you feel.” Wow! This is right. Either I trust and suspicion from general society. in His Word or I trust my own feelings. EiHere are some links that present an ther I look to Him for the pleasure my soul alternative perspective to the current, craves or I search for it in lesser things. Either I walk in obedience to what He says or pervasive rhetoric on the media: I reject His truth as if it were a lie.
The struggle with homosexuality is a battle of faith. Is God my joy? Is He good enough? Or am I still looking to broken cisterns to quench a thirst only He can satisfy? That is the battle. It is for me, and it is for you. The choice is yours, my friend. I pray you put your faith in Christ and flee from the lies of our society that coincide with the voices of your heart — a heart that Scripture says is wicked and deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). Run to Jesus instead. You were made for Him (Romans 11:36).
www.restoredhopenetwork.org Sample Alernative Opinion: Michael Glatze former gay activist and founder of YGA has recently stated: “It took me almost 16 years to discover that homosexuality itself is not exactly “virtuous.” It was difficult for me to clarify my feelings on the issue, given that my life was so caught up in it.” “In my experience, “coming out” from under the influence of the homosexual mindset was the most liberating, beautiful and astonishing thing I’ve ever experienced in my entire life.”
4you.ie Magazine Issue IX
The Good Samaritan Whose Help Was Refused A Modern Parable – adapted by Paudge Mulvihill
I read this story recently of a man travelling through somewhere remote and far away, and though it worth sharing – have a read. “As I was driving home through a nearby mountainous region, I passed by a homeless man who was in a particularly bad state, walking uphill in the opposite direction. I pulled over to offer him some help. He was no ordinary homeless man. He had matted hair and an unwashed face that matched the colour of his torn clothes, which were all black from dust and soot. His shoes were mostly intact, but I thought I could see some blood seeping from one of the soles. He carried a couple of plastic bags and a small, mostly empty duffel bag in his one good hand. His other hand was in a very rough condition; it was injured quite badly. It was not raw and bleeding, but neither had it healed ‘properly’. I got out of my car and started walking beside the man, trying to speak to him. ‘Hello’, I said. ‘Where are you from? Do you need anything? Where are you going? Can I help you?’ No intelligible answer came. He looked upset at me as he rattled on incoherently, obviously wishing I would leave him alone. I tried to tell him I wanted to give him some money to buy food. He refused every effort I made to give him what was equivalent to around £10 (Local beggars would normally smile ear to ear with a much smaller gift.) I eventually succeeded only by discreetly dropping the money into his half-open duffel bag.
I began to try and share the message about Calvary and the love of the Lord Jesus with him, asking if he had ever heard about Jesus. It didn’t look like he was even hearing my voice. I began to think he was deaf from the way he never responded directly to anything I said. He just became more agitated the longer I walked with him up the hill away from my car. I finally left him in peace and began to pray for him as I walked back down the hill.
And not only that, but Mr and Miss Average are deaf and blind to the voice of God, even though He speaks clearly to us from the beauty of creation and from the pages of the Bible. They see the world God made, and refuse to give Him glory. They might even get to hear the Word of God, but plug their ears and babble on about whatever man-exalting notions they can think of to try and justify their refusal to simply repent and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
If only the man knew... •That I could have taken him to bathe and wash all the dirt away. •That I could have thrown away his dirty, torn clothes and given him clean garments to wear. •That I could have given him healthy food and clean water to drink. •That I could have taken him somewhere to wash his wounds and nurse him back to health. •That I could have given him a safe and comfortable place to rest for as long as he needed.
If only sinners knew... • That Jesus could cleanse them and wash all their sins away. He has paid the punishment for the sins of everyone who will come to Him seeking forgiveness and new life. • That Jesus could strip away the filthy garments of iniquity and clothe them with His merit so that they can stand before God with a clean conscience. • That Jesus could give them bread from Heaven and rivers of living water that will never run dry, filling their hearts with love, joy and peace. • That Jesus could one day give them a glorified body free from every wound and pain and take them to be with him in Heaven.
As I thought of what the man was rejecting, I couldn’t help but be reminded of mankind in general. The average person may not look as desperate as this man did on the outside, but if the state of the heart of Mr and Miss Average could be seen as God sees it, it would be incomparably worse than any unclean homeless man.
Please realize that your heart may be dirtier and sicker and more starved of all good than you could ever imagine. At the end of the day it is how God sees us that matters most, not how we see ourselves or indeed how others see us. Repent of your sins while you still can, and believe that the Son of God died on the cross and rose from the dead on your behalf!”
ever imagine.” 12 12
4you.ie Magazine Issue IX
Photo: Ed Manley, Cork
“your heart may be dirtier and sicker and more starved of all good than you could
Purgatory Twitter and Time off by Mark Loughridge
ast year, according to the papers, we were told that you can get time off your stay in purgatory if you “follow” the Pope’s Twitter account. As usual, the press oversimplifies since the actual story wouldn’t seem sensational—“Pope extends spiritual blessing to those who can’t afford to make it to Brazil for World Youth Day”. In these recession times the Vatican wanted to ensure that the faithful who couldn’t make it to World Youth Day in Rio could still benefit by following the events on radio, television, the press, or social media such as Twitter. But as one report put it, “[It] still requires a dose of old-fashioned faith… paradise is not just a few mouse clicks away”.
D one in the right way then,
and according to the teachings of the Catholic Church, this will reduce time spent in Purgatory (that halfway house between Heaven and Hell), where the not quite bad enough who aren’t quite good enough serve their time until they are sufficiently purified for Heaven.
I’m ok with Twitter; it’s Purgatory that perplexes me. Purgatory makes perfect sense if the way to Heaven is about our performance in this life—working really hard, fulfilling religious duties, performing well—then really you need a place for those to go to who worked hard but didn’t completely make the grade. Or consider those decent people who didn’t murder, abuse or rape, but weren’t overly www.4you.ie
religious—certainly not “bad enough” for Hell; surely they need a place in which to work up their credit? It sounds reasonable—but is it right? What if the message of the Bible was even better? What if there was no place you had to go to suffer more before arriving in Heaven? What if all the suffering was done? What if somebody offered to take your place, and do all your suffering, so that you would be able to go straight to Heaven? That would be Good News!
he problem I have with Purgatory is that it robs the good news of its Good News. It makes the great present of forgiveness no longer a present, but something to be earned. Rather like being given a much-longed-for Christmas present and being told later you had to pay off some of the cost yourself. It may surprise you to hear that Purgatory doesn’t appear in the Bible, and that’s because our effort has no part to play in salvation. It’s all about Christ’s work on Calvary. Heaven belongs immediately to those who rely solely on Jesus’ performance, and not on their own. Only Christ’s effort is good enough to overcome our sin, and bring full, free and lasting forgiveness. What a relief!
W e need to follow Jesus—not on Twitter—but to trust our lives to Him. That secures Heaven for us. Jesus puts this Good News this way:
“Truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged, but has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).
4you.ie Magazine Issue IX
“Ideas Matter” writes a pensive Tim Coyle o ideas matter regarding everyday And we often consider these ideas to be What is God like? God is a perfect, D life? Yes, we would all agree that ideas are harmless speculations or at least some- pure, powerful and personal Being. He important. You have to have the correct ideas if you want to pilot a plane, if you want to drive a car or if you simply want to make a cup of tea. You have to possess the correct ideas (correct knowledge) if you want to be a successful surgeon, dentist or computer programmer.
ut what about the deeper things in life? What do I mean by the “deeper things” in life? I mean things such as, what is God like? Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? What happens to me when I die?
“What happens to me when I die?” M
any people have opinions concerning the answers to these questions, whether religious or philosophical. And usually they have no problem sharing their ideas. “Well, this is what I believe”, they say. “These are my personal beliefs”. “I was brought up to believe that”. “I’ve decided that this is what I’m going to believe now”. “I think this is what’s going to happen to me when I die”. “You know, I have my own personal ideas about God”.
4you.ie Magazine Issue IX
thing that has no consequences. But what if these kinds of ideas mattered? What if they do have consequences, terribly serious consequences? What if your ideas and my ideas actually have a bearing on not only how we live this life of ours, but where we will spend eternity?
hat if ideas—the wrong ones—can land a person in eternal trouble? What if they can land a person in court—in God’s court, at the end of this life, with the certainty of a guilty verdict? And we are told in the Bible that it is destined for man to die once and after that comes the judgment. (1) We are told also in the Bible that God has a real problem with wrong ideas, specifically wrong ideas about Him. We can read in the New Testament, in the book of Romans (2), that He is angry with people who make up strange ideas about reality and about His very nature. And we are told in another book, the book of Hebrews (3), that it is dangerous to possess wrong ideas about His Son Jesus Christ and to possess wrong ideas about why His Son came to this earth. So, dear reader, ideas matter. What kinds of ideas do you have? What kinds of ideas do you embrace? You dare not leave this world embracing the wrong ones. What are the correct ideas, then, about the deeper things? Well, they’re found in the Bible. The answers to the questions—the really vital questions—are there.
is infinitely wise. He has a perfect standard for human behaviour. What are we like? We are rebels who have broken God’s standard over and over again in our thoughts, in our words and in our actions. Where are we going? We are headed for an appointment with God in His court and for eternal destruction when we die. Is there any hope? Yes there is. God is also a God of love. He is kind and full of mercy. He sent His Son Jesus Christ into this world to rescue people from the punishment and the power of their sin. That is why Jesus died on a cross over two thousand years ago. In the gospel of John we read that God loved the world so much that He sent His only Son that whoever believes in Him, trusts in Him, relies on Him and clings to Him should not perish but have eternal life (4). There’s a home in Heaven waiting for a person like that. That is where real hope is found. And the Bible says that when you truly believe in Jesus Christ and make Him the owner of your life, you become a new creation (5). A transformation happens in you. You begin to have right ideas about God and about the true meaning of life. You begin to have the right ideas about yourself and how you should live.
References: 1. Hebrews chapter nine, verse twenty-seven 2. Romans chapter one, verse eighteen 3. Hebrews chapter ten, verses twenty-three to twenty-seven 4. John chapter three, verse sixteen 5. 2 Corinthians chapter five, verse seventeen
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