My Testimony (1)


A visiting preacher, Nick Cuthbert, reminded usrecentlyof something he first told us on the church weekend retreat in January 2012 - that we ought to 'tell our stories' to others. I think I ought to tell my story, following on from what was said. I am aware that, having been a follower of Christ for a long time, this could become very long indeed, and that it could be very boring. I shall try to condense those parts of the last fifty years which aren't directly relevant to this particular story - how and why I became a Christian.

I was brought up in a village in the Cumbrian countryside. My father was a nurseryman, and my mother a PE teacher. Consequently, my first few years were spent, mainly, outside. School came as a nasty shock! I was bullied, badly, from day one. I suppose initially because I was an obvious target - I so obviously hated being there! Cooped up in a big room, with a lot of other children, the only windows, like those in a church, having sills far too high up for a small child to see anything but sky, it was the antithesis of everything I'd experienced up to that point. I was brighter than most, and keen to learn. That seemed to set me apart from my peers too.

Fruits and Gifts (2)

Continuing on with the theme of the gifts and fruits of the spirit, I felt I wanted to say what's contained in this posting, but it seemed to confuse matters when I made it part of the previous post. So now I am, perhaps, going to be a little controversial. If we look at the characteristics of the forthcoming messiah as prophesied in the book of Isaiah:

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;

from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him -
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,

 the Spirit of counsel and of power,

 the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord -
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
Isaiah 11:1-3

The Roman Catholic Church derives a set of seven 'spiritual gifts' from this list of attributes: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and awe (fear of the Lord). They appear to me to be related, at least in tone, to the ‘Fruits of the Spirit’, as set out by Paul in his letter to the churches in Galatia:

Fruits and Gifts (1)

This thought stems from a remark made by a very dear friend, Suzie, in a text message. I had got myself in a bit of a state over something, and she sent a verse of scripture to me:

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

This seemingly small thinghadenabled me to get things back in perspective - naturally, I thanked her and God. In response she said: "I feel I'm just learning to let God work through me for the first time in my life, and it just feels right by God. It's amazing. God is amazing, but in a very quiet and normal way."

That made me stop to think. The first thought that came to mind concerned the 'still, small voice' - first of all in a portion of scripture:

The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 1 Kings 19:11-13

If you're too busy...

There's a saying in evangelical Christian circles which goes like this: if you're too busy to pray, you're too busy. What that means is that if you get so busy that you can't find time to spend some time 'spending time with God' - reading the bible, talking to God and sitting listening for the 'still small voice', then you are definitely doing too much.

I'm in an odd place. I've been praying plenty, but a few days ago, whilst spending a little time sitting in the garden trying to enjoy the nice weather I realised that far too much of my prayer life recently has been spent talking - mainly praying for others - and far, far, too little spending time with God on my own behalf. That means that my spiritual 'walk with God' has suffered and that, in turn, has given rise to a 'disgruntlement' with life in general. Nothing quite seems to satisfy, and I can't seem to settle to doing things. When I do manage, they seem hollow and pointless - whether they're 'jobs' or things I'm supposedly doing to relax.

Right Or Wrong?

One of my friends posted this link to his FaceBook page:


For those who can’t or don’t want to listen, a young woman asks Richard Dawkins “What if you’re wrong?” He, in my opinion typically, avoids the question, assumes that the young woman is a Christian (which she hasn’t stated) and then proceeds to sneer at her supposed belief as an accident of birth and ends by saying “What if you’re wrong about the Great JuJu at the bottom of the sea?” The clip ends with loud cheers from his supporters. It’s a masterful, yet unedifying, performance, and I feel sorry for the young woman, who must surely have felt mocked.

She might be wrong. I might be wrong - I often am, about all kinds of things. Dawkins might be wrong too. My friend says that he thinks Dawkins was trying to illustrate how pointless the question is, and that, in this life we can never truly know whether we are right on these fundamental questions. I can’t deny that. I can’t be as certain about my opinion on these fundamental questions as I am about the fact that I’m sitting on a chair now, typing these words into my iMac.

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2022