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Post for teens – Who are you following?

What springs to mind when you hear the word ‘follow’? The dictionary says that ‘to follow’ is ‘to go or come after.’ I suspect, however, that as teens and young people, you’re more likely to associate it with forms of social media like Snapchat and Instagram!

While I was researching for this post, I came across an article which listed celebrities who had the largest number of Instagram followers in 2017. Singers, reality TV personalities, and sports stars all made the list. At the top was the actress and singer Selena Gomez… with a cool 130 million followers! To put this into context, 130 million people is almost the whole population of Mexico! And for reference, the UK’s population is 66.5 million. Northern Ireland has a minuscule 1.8 million.READ MORE

The greatest love and the best gift

It’s almost Valentine’s Day! This is the time of year when in every supermarket and shopping centre, and even online, we are bombarded with red and pink hearts, Cupids and flowers. The promoted message is that if people really love each other, they will purchase this gigantic bouquet of roses, that heart-shaped box of chocolates, and the cuddly teddy bear, then present all of the above at an extravagant romantic dinner for two.READ MORE

Arribando el 2018 sin temores

¿Anhelas el año nuevo, dispuesto y listo para los nuevos retos y oportunidades que están por delante? ¿O estás, como yo, algo inquieto y quizás preocupado por lo que te espera y las noticias que puedas recibir antes de finalizar el 2018? Sabemos, por experiencias anteriores, que no todos los años son lo que podríamos llamar un buen año, y sospecho que muchas personas arriban el primero de enero con diferentes medidas de temor.READ MORE

Post for teens – Are you looking at worthless things?

Have you ever heard anyone say that the Bible is a relevant, up-to-date book and think ‘Yeah, right! Sure the Bible is thousands of years old! Those guys knew nothing about life in 2018 and the sort of things I have to face at my school!’? True, life in Bible times was vastly different to what it is today, and yet the Bible is the Word of God. Remember, God is eternal – totally outside of time. He gave His Word for people living in the days of candles and horses and carriages, and every bit as much for us too in this very modern age.

Take a look at this verse.

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in Your ways. Psalm 119:37 ESVREAD MORE

Entering 2018 Unafraid

Do you look forward to New Year, geared up and ready for new challenges and opportunities ahead? Or are you, like me, apprehensive and maybe a little worried about what might come your way or what news you might hear before 2018 is over? We know from past experience that not every year is what we’d call a good one, and I have a suspicion that most people approach the first of January with varying measures of trepidation. READ MORE

Is God still good, even when we don’t get what we want?

God is good!

I often come across this short phrase on social media, on posts announcing births, engagements, marriages, and for other celebratory occasions. But what does it really mean? What is the person trying to say?

The goodness of God is a fact. There are really only two options – good and evil – and anyone who reads their Bible is in no doubt that God is most definitely good. In fact, we wouldn’t be stretching it too far to say that God is the very essence of good, not just that He is good in the way that we might be happy, or sad, or anxious, depending on external circumstances. And it’s this knowledge of His unchanging goodness that makes me stop and pause when I stumble upon this phrase.READ MORE

The Last Chapter

Appalling. Dreadful. Distressing. Callous. Sickening. All words used in official statements to describe the Manchester bombing earlier this week when twenty-two people lost their lives and many more were injured. The world is reeling from the senseless loss of life, and the manifestation of desperate wickedness in the hearts of men. It has touched many to hear of children and young people killed, and we’ve watched in dread as pleas for information about missing people from distraught relatives have ended in announcements of their death.

Tears have been shed, and many more are yet to be shed. So much pain, so much tragedy. A sample of the countless tears shed across this groaning world through all the ages.READ MORE

Wallowing – for pigs or people?

Wallowing. An expressive word, the very sound of it conjuring up images of indulgently rolling around in a thick, gloopy substance. It is the favourite activity of Gladys the pig in my latest children’s book, Harry and the Muddy Pig. Despite being washed, her natural inclination is to head straight back to the mud puddle.

In a human context, the word is rarely used to describe favourable behaviour. Instead of mud, we humans like to wallow in self-pity, misery and envy, amongst other less-than-desirable traits. Even mentions of wallowing in luxury, food or relaxation have negative connotations of self-indulgence.READ MORE

Patrick – saint or sinner?

I had a wonderful childhood growing up at the foot of Slemish, the mountain to which, according to legend, Saint Patrick was brought after he was captured and became a slave. We loved climbing the small rock and heather-covered mountain as children, and we couldn’t slide back down the steep, muddy slopes until we’d each had a turn sitting in what we called Saint Patrick’s chair – a missing section from a large, flat-topped stone.

It wasn’t only local people who visited the mountain, however. Each 17th March, Saint Patrick’s Day, hordes of people descended on our area in cars, buses, and even walking the ten or so miles from the nearest town. From our garden, we were able to see the climbers as small specks silhouetted against the spring sky.READ MORE

Why we shouldn’t focus on the brushstrokes

When I’m on holiday, I love stumbling across art galleries, and can never resist taking a peek inside to admire the paintings. While I know very little about the world of art, I find the variety of style and technique intriguing. My personal favourites are paintings which, up close, look like a mass of small, thickly-applied brushstrokes, seemingly with no pattern or focus, yet when you stand back and observe the painting from a distance, all the brushstrokes have combined to form a rich, textured and outstandingly beautiful picture.

In life, I often forget to stand back. Instead, I focus on the tiny, individual brushstrokes. The little daubs of paint that seem to make no sense. The humdrum of life. Everyday activities. Even things that we, as believers, started out with great gusto to do for God. It’s so easy to become focussed on today. This earthly life.READ MORE