Sin, is sin, is sin…..

It seems that since the USA ruling to allow same sex marriages facebook has been flooded with opinions as to whether it is right or wrong.  To be honest I don’t remember the same volume of comment when the same law was passed almost two years ago in the UK.

I have been reluctant to enter the debate simply because among my friends are those who support different sides of the issue and I would never want to intentionally upset my friends, no matter where they stand.

The outrage about this decision is very much centred in Christian circles.  Those who are not believers are, on the whole, not that bothered.  There are also a significant number of diverse viewpoints within the Christian community.

It would be so much easier if we could say with definite conviction that one view was wrong and the other right, but I have been a Christian for nearly 31 years and I am compelled to conclude that no issue that the Christian church has grappled with over the years is completely black and white.

I would like to share a little of my own experience which will by no means give a conclusive decision one way or the other but may add perspective for those struggling with the dissent.

In 1973 as a young woman of 21 I married a man who I imagined would be my husband ‘until death us do part’ that was certainly my intention and, I believe at the time, was also his.  Fast forward two years and I found myself devastated at the unexpected loss of this man, no he didn’t die, he left me for someone else.  I had no power to stop him; he made his decision, a decision which left me feeling totally bereft, unwanted, unloved and unlovable.

For those of you around in the 70’s you may remember that the divorce reform act of 1969 instigated a protracted debate about whether divorcees could remarry in the church.   There was of course, no such thing as social media but the media of the day carried the stories nonetheless.  I should add that I wasn’t a Christian at this time but church marriages were the norm, and for myself I could not imagine being married anywhere else.    I was interested in following God but wasn’t really sure how to go about it.  Sadly, the message I heard from the ‘public face’ of the church at this time was that as a 23 year old divorcee I was doomed to spend the rest of my life as a single woman.   No matter that my divorce was neither my choice nor my fault, in the view of the church, I was not allowed to remarry under their roof.  It felt as if someone had slammed a door in my face.

It took me ten more years of emotional struggle and turmoil before I finally surrendered my life to Christ but that’s another story!   The point I’m trying to make is that around 40 years ago, a divorcee remarrying in the church was as scandalous as this current issue.

I have done some bible study in the last day or two and find that God hates divorce.  My search was not exhaustive by any means but I found 18 references to divorce, almost all of which decreed that any divorcee who remarried was an adulterer (no reference to whether or not they were believers at the time, no allowance for cause or fault).  That makes me an adulteress.   I found 8 references directly about homosexuality.   In many of the passages adultery, homosexuality and sexual immorality are mentioned together as sin.

To be honest I’m just thinking out loud here, but if there is any truth to be found it is this ….. we live in a sinful, fallen world.  God knows this, and God did something about it.  He sent His son Jesus so that we can be forgiven for our sins.  At the point in our lives in which we turn to Him and seek Him, He receives us ‘just as we are’ in whatever mess we have gotten ourselves into.

Jesus does not ask us to sort out our lives and then come….. He says

‘Come… now… as you are….. come.   You are loved…  wherever you have been… I know the past and I know the future and still I love you.   No matter how many mistakes you are still to make, I love you and my grace (undeserved favour)  is sufficient for you’

I see  that we are sometimes fixated on particular issues, particular sins which seem to be given a ‘higher’ grading than others and that saddens me.   We are all sinners.  It’s so easy to manipulate words to say what we want to hear.  The Biblical city of Sodom is in many minds the epitome of sinfulness with a specific connection to homosexuality but in my studies this evening I came across this verse.

“Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.”  Ezekiel 16:49

Sobering words.  I see little condemnation in the Christian world of our headlong rush into materialism and our insatiable desire to  accumulate goods and comfort in the western world while more than half the world struggle to survive.  If only we could harness the passion and zeal with which we condemn others and make it work for the good of those in need.

THE LIGHT IS COMING ……

Yesterday it was so late when it got light and then the day limped along, dull and misty,  in fact I don’t think it ever got really light at all.   Then a little after 3 in the afternoon,  the darkness began to creep back over the land and it was then that it struck me that the daylight is shrinking, the days are short here in Scotland.  In just over three weeks we will be facing the shortest day of the year, but a few days after that we celebrate the coming of the brightest light ever to shine upon mankind.

candle in the dark 

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4-5

Sometimes it seems as if the darkness is taking over, not only the hours of the day,  but as factions and movements fight for causes and supremacy,  it feels as if darkness is taking over the world.   Lives cut short by senseless war, families torn apart by selfishness and greed.  Hope crushed by poverty and injustice. 

And this weekend black Friday came to the UK and brought with it shameful images, of people who I’m sure are normally sane and pleasant, who suddenly became greedy, selfish and uncaring because they wanted a TV or some other item at a knock-down price.

I felt heartsick as I watched the scenes on the news.   Heartsick that this extreme materialism is what so many people think is the meaning of Christmas.  Heartsick that as we approach advent, the season where we should be celebrating the coming of the greatest gift this world has ever known.  Heartsick that we have turned Christmas into an orgy of consumerism.   As we’ve become more affluent as a nation we have chosen to buy into this,  but we can also choose change. 

_IGP6599

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.John 1:4-5

Today is the first Sunday in Advent, and what if …………?

What if … we chose to do something different this advent?  

What if … instead of focusing on the chocolate in your advent calendar, we focused on bringing light into this dark world and finding ways to show people that God loves them and therefore so do we.

What if … every day during this advent season you found a way to bring light to someone else?   Random acts of kindness …… letting someone into the traffic lane ahead of you, a small thoughtfulness, a gift, a card, a cup of hot coffee for the homeless guy you pass on the street every day…… the possibilities are endless!

What if … this advent season we celebrated the coming light by demonstrating what it looks like. 

What if … as we share the light and love this advent season we dispel the darkness, just for a few moments, just for one person, every day?

What if … you did this and then shared the idea with others.  

lots of candles

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:4-5

 

Technology v Snail mail

Now I know modern technology is amazing.  And I agree that it is fantastic to be able to connect with family and friends in different parts of the country, or on the other side of the world in just a few seconds and have real time conversations via apps like Skype and FaceTime.    But sometimes it’s  just wonderful to receive an old fashioned, snail mail, hand written letter, because usually when we get a handwritten letter  it’s from one of our sponsored kids!

A few months back we were very blessed in receiving a financial gift so we decided that we wanted to pass on the blessing by sending a bit extra to our sponsored kids.    It takes a bit of time for mail to reach our sponsored kids and for the replies to come back with translation and transportation etc etc.   But I don’t mind that because this week we received a lovely letter from Bekelu in Ethiopia.

Bekelu is 18 years old and  she writes …… “Thank you so much.   I received your gift and bought clothes, shoes, school supplies and one calf with the money” I have to confess to being ridiculously excited that she was able to buy things that she needed not only for herself but a calf which will help support her family too.

What made this letter even better is that we also received this photograph of Bekelu,  all dressed up  in her new clothes. img079 What a beautiful young woman she is and I feel privileged to be able to be part of her life even in such a small way.    I know that our sponsored kids are blessed by our support, but I am also so very blessed by them. If you don’t sponsor a child please consider it.   It will change your life as well as theirs….. contact Compassion UK  for more information, or leave me a comment and I will try to answer any questions you have.

Mama Linda

The postman was my best friend this week, not only did I get a wonderful letter from Brilly, one of my correspondence children (more about that later),   I also received the pack for the newest member of our little Compassion family, Sandra! Well done Compassion,  that was pretty quick work considering that she had to be transferred from the US site.    I first heard about Sandra on 6th June when an American friend, Amanda, was advocating for her.  That means it only took about 10 days to get all the paperwork transferred and her pack out to me here in Scotland …. impressive!!

Let me introduce this precious young lady to you…..

Sandra from Honduras

Sandra is 8 years old and lives in Honduras with her Mum, she is one of 4 girls and she wants to be a doctor when she grows up.

To be honest I’m not sure how we ended up sponsoring Sandra,  my husband and I are in the process of selling our home and planning to move at the moment.   We had recently discussed that once we were settled again we would sponsor more children. But as the whole process is likely to take a few months I wasn’t looking at the moment.

However, God had other plans when an advocate friend posted on facebook that Sandra needed a new sponsor and …… bang……I had that feeling again, I just knew she was for me.   I told my friend I was interested but wanted to speak to my other half first.   I wasn’t sure what he would think but he took one look at her and said   “if you think it’s right just do it” ……. he didn’t need to tell me twice, I was back on facebook faster than you could say ‘do it’ and let Amanda know.

In the meantime someone else had also expressed an interest in Sandra and would sponsor her if we didn’t, so she was a bit disappointed when we decided to go ahead, but you can read about Svenja’s side of the story in her blog  here.

I don’t know why I am always so amazed at the way God works …. every child we have sponsored we have done so because we have felt God’s prompting.   I know that God has a plan and a purpose, and that the feeling I get when I really connect with a child is His spirit speaking to mine,  I just need to be obedient.    I know that He will use us for good in the lives of the children we sponsor and that both they and we will be blessed through the relationship.

I have already written my first letter to Sandra and I can’t wait to  receive our first letter from her.

I am always blessed by the letters we receive from our kids.  Not least by the lovely letter I received from Brilly, one of correspondence kids, this week.   He starts his letter with the words:

“Dear Mama Linda, greetings in Christ’s love” …. he continues by describing how his family celebrated Christmas  together (obviously the letter has taken a while to get here but that’s fine)  …..  he ends  by saying “I will continue praying for you Mama Linda and your family.  With love from Brilly”

What can I say!!   My heart just melts at the thought of being ‘Mama Linda’ to such a precious young man on the other side of the world, but that he also wants to pray for me and my family overwhelms me.   We have so much in comparison to those living in poverty and how it must break God’s heart to see us hoarding and living in luxury when so many have so little.

People sometimes ask me why do you sponsor children, does it really make a difference?   I could give you a thousand reasons but their stories are told so much more eloquently by the children themselves ………  if you have few minutes please watch this video entitled …  I Am Free…..

 

 

 

 

Voices of angels

It has been quite a while since I added a new post.  To be honest I’m not quite sure why.   My visit to Tanzania seems like a lifetime ago even though it was only last autumn.  Nevertheless I can still see the faces  of the children in my mind and I remember vividly the stories of struggle and trauma laced with the hope that Compassion has brought to their lives.

We met some amazing people and heard some incredible stories, like this brave and beautiful young woman who lost her single parent Mum while she was still very young,  she told us:

Talk 8 cropped

 

 “When my Mum died, Compassion became my mother and my father ….. they helped me find a safe place to live with a family that took care of me and they helped with my  financial support.   Now I am training to be a journalist,  if it hadn’t been for Compassion I don’t know what would have become of me.”

 

We met with a group of Mums and their babies at one of the Child Survival Programmes, what a precious day that was;  so many gorgeous babies and so many Mums just like you and me eager to share their stories of how Compassion had intervened and brought new hope into seemingly desperate situations.   Women who had been abandoned by their partners and left to fend for themselves in a country where there is no safety net for those who can’t work.   Women who had escaped violence and abuse and who were finding new hope in shared adversity and in support from the dedicated and caring Compassion workers.

One of the highlights of this visit for me (apart from getting to cuddle babies)  was listening to some of the women sing.   Truly voices of angels and I felt so blessed that they had taken the time to prepare this for us.

My trip to Tanzania confirmed what I already knew….. that being sponsored by Compassion makes a difference, it can make the difference of giving a child food, shelter, medical help and education.

Yesterday we chose to sponsor another child …. this precious little girl from Honduras.

Sandra from Honduras

Why?   Because I know that Compassion’s ministry works,  and I know that I will have to change very little in my life to give her a future.

Why would you …. ?

There are lots of times in life that we might be tempted to ask that question, ‘Why would you’   Why would I do this or that?   Sometimes it’s a hard question to answer,  sometimes not.    Now I’m not really what you would call a seasoned traveler to be honest,  in fact the last time I visited a developing country  I was robbed at knife point the day after I arrived.    So a week ago when I was sitting alone in Edinburgh Airport waiting for my flight to be called I was asking myself just that question.  Why would I be embarking on a journey that would take me half-way round the world, with people I didn’t know, to a country that (if I’m honest) made me feel more than a little anxious!

Tanzania 2013 -2 031

The reason I was stepping into the unknown is simple,  I have been an advocate for Compassion UK for around 3 years and every time I attend an event or speak at a church I feel a little frustrated with myself  because I would like to answer questions better, more effectively and accurately and be more informed about how Compassion works.    This was my chance, a God given moment, that I could actually go to Tanzania and see, with my own eyes, the difference Compassion actually makes.

Tanzania 2013 095

Home again now there is so much that I saw and heard and felt, it will take a while to process.   However, if you are interested, I invite you to share in my thoughts, feelings and observations as I tell the story of my trip over the next few weeks.   I have many stories to tell, not my stories, but the stories of those I met,  those who touched my heart and soul.   Stories that will inspire and encourage you.   You can make a difference, you can change the story for one child and who knows where that might lead.

You can change the story….

When asked why they’ve chosen a particular job I have often heard people reply that they wanted to make a difference, to somehow contribute to making the lives of others easier, more bearable or better in some way.   All of us can do that in our own small way by being kind and considerate to those we encounter every day, maybe even going the extra mile sometimes.   But what if you really could make a difference, if you could change the future for someone, if you could help them realise their potential and have the opportunity to speak love and hope into their lives.

Wouldn’t that be amazing?   Wouldn’t you do that if it was possible?

Thankfully it is possible!   Below are 5 amazing children in need of sponsors.  They may look just like ordinary kids but who knows what they might become if they hadn’t been born into poverty.  Born into poverty that rips the heart and soul out of parents desperately trying to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads, poverty that tells kids they don’t matter and will never amount to anything, poverty that destroys their hope……

Who knows what these children might achieve, given a chance?  Sponsorship through Compassion will provide these children with physical, spiritual and emotional support, but much more than that it will give them hope for a better future.

You can change their story.    For only £21 a month …. 70p a day isn’t much to us but it could mean the world to one of these kids.  If you would like to sponsor one of these precious little ones,  please send me a message using  the contact form below, include your email address and I will send you all the details you need.

Introducing Aba-amissah from Ghana

Born on 19th Jan 2009 Aba-amissah lives with her parents and two other siblings,  she helps at home by running errands and she loves playing with her friends.  When she gets a sponsor it will help ease the financial burden on the family where adults typically earn around £17 a month.

Aba-amissah Aug 13

Next is Ezequiel from Dominican Republic, this lovely smiley young man is only  3 years old, born on 31st Jan 2010, however he still has to help make the beds at home.  He lives with his Mum and Dad and is an only child.  Like any young boy he loves playing with a ball, but he needs someone to sponsor him.

Ezequiel Aug 13

Next are two young lads from Haiti:

First is Claridson, he lives with just his Mum and there are five children in his family.  He is approaching 8 years old, his birthday is on 4th November and he helps his Mum in the kitchen and loves to play with his friends.

Claridson Aug 13

Lens (also from Haiti) has 2 siblings and they all live with their Mum.   He was born on 25th May 2008 and one of his duties at home is to fetch water.   His favourite things to do are playing football, drawing and playing with his friends.  Employment is scarce in Haiti and adults who are able to find work would only earn around £14 a month.

Lens Aug 13

Last but not least is Grace from Ghana.  Grace lives with her godparents, and helps in the house by running errands and washing clothes.  Her birthday is 31st March and she is 6 years old.  She has 2 other siblings and she like to play with her friends.

Grace Aug 13

Thank you for taking the time to read this post, use the contact form below for further info.

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