Thursday, 12 April 2012

My Story.

My name is Colin Birnie and I am a 41 year old Christian. I gave my life over to the Lord Jesus on Thursday 26th January 2012.It was the best decision I ever made. I’m not saying it was easy because I’ve had many bad days when I’ve questioned myself whether I’m good enough or if I could really be the person God wants me to be.

I suppose I better start by telling you about my journey to where I am at the moment in my life.

I was born in East Belfast in 1970 and had what I believed to be a normal childhood. My parents brought me up to believe in god and from the age of 5 I was a member of the Robins. Then, as I got older I was elevated to the Boys Brigade in Cregagh Methodist Church. I would say that at about the age of 10 or 11 I started to realise that my parents were fighting a lot more than usual and I know that alcohol was the main reason for these arguments starting. I remember lying in bed with the pillow over my head and my cassette player on to try to drown out the raised voices and fights.

As time went on I realised my mum had a drink problem and ended up dying an alcoholic in 2005.

My mum turned to drink because my dad was a gambler and on too many occasions blew his wages in the Bookies.

I remember once when I was 14 mum and dad were fighting and my mum ran out of the house and something or someone told me to follow her. I found her lying on the Cregagh Road with cars driving around her. She ended up in Purdysburn (the first of a few visits there).

I started drinking around that time myself and gambling- playing cards, slot Machines etc. I suppose I was looking for a release or attention or something but it didn’t make me happy. I gradually started to need more money for my habits. I’ve done some low things in my life, but I think the lowest was stealing from my family. As I grew older my habits grew with me and I moved out of home at 22 and shared a house with two mates. They trusted me to pay the bills and gave me their share but mine never materialised. It was while I was living with them that I found myself in the bathroom with a razor blade in my hand and I slit my wrists. I blamed it on falling out with an ex girl friend. I was only kidding myself. It was my own life that was getting me down, my parents, my gambling and my drinking. I stumbled through my life for the next four years doing the same things until I met my partner Angela, what a God send as they say. Angela and I moved in together along with her two kids. We got along great but I was still gambling. Angela knew I did a bet but not the extent that I was really gambling. Angela caught me taking money from the house which wasn’t mine and I got the third degree. But I lied my way out of that one. As my gambling increased so did my ability to lie. I could tell some stories.

The next week Angela gave me some money to pay for a bill at the Bank but I walked straight passed the Bank and into the Bookies! I didn’t lose it all that day (around£200) but gradually it all went. The following week Angela phoned me at work to tell me it wasn’t paid. I lied through my teeth saying I would call at the Bank and see what was wrong. I spun Angela another yarn-they rolled off my tongue so easily. Angela said she would call into the Bank herself - and I let her go and get humiliated because I could not own up!

I was given an ultimatum to get help or get out. I want to G.A. but it did not stop me. Angela knew nothing of this and got deeper and deeper into the spiral of stealing, lying and borrowing. I couldn’t see a way out but that didn’t stop me.

I hit rock bottom in July 2009 when Angela had found out that I had lost £7000. Angela was minding the money for a friend and didn’t know I knew where the money was. I haven’t done a single bet since that day. Someone was helping me, Angela stuck by me and I’ve paid my debt-almost.

Was God helping me? Ask me then and I would say no. Now I say most definitely yes to finding God! I must be a bit slow to realise he was always with me. Angela gave herself to Jesus in November 2010. I was angry with her and God. I said that God was taking her away from me. Now I realise He was guiding me to Him through Angela. How selfish of me after all that Angela had put up with by my drinking and gambling. Oh I nearly forgot Christmas Eve night. On Christmas night in her sister’s house I was drunk as usual at those family ‘get togethers’. I told Rhoda ( Angela’s sister that I wanted to become a Christian, I wanted what those people in Church the night before – I was crying as I was telling her this!

Sorry , back to the plot. Angela was going great guns at this Christian lark and I was fighting against it big time. I told her I didn’t love her and some other horrible things just to hurt her and boy did I do that. Angela accepted my apology but told me that God was to be a big part in her life forever and that I should try going to church myself.

I then started going to church just to keep in her good books. But gradually I began to enjoy it. I was starting to have my favourite worship songs and singers. Still I was drinking and thought I had the best of both worlds. Keep Angela happy through going to church then going out for pints. But I wasn’t really happy. God was talking to me but I wasn’t prepared to listen. The church started AN Alpha course and I signed up. I really enjoyed it and would advise anyone to give it a go. I was taking steps to finding But every time I was getting closer to God I thought I was missing out so off I went and got wasted big time. What is it? Two steps forward –two miles backwards! I know now that the devil was attacking me. He didn’t to let God let me off for anything . All the bad things I was doing was making him the happy one. As a man I met handing out tracts in Belfast city centre told me’ the devil is wanting to send a messenger down to earth so he asks three of his angels what they would tell the people when they got there. The first one said he would tell the people that the Bible is all lies!. No said the devil ‘the Bible is well recorded back in history’. The second one says ‘ I will tell people that Jesus is a myth’. No, no says the devil ‘ everyone know that Jesus lived on the earth. The third one says ‘ I will tell people WHY become a Christian today? There’s plenty of time. You can do it tomorrow’.

The devil says the third! No one is guaranteed tomorrow. That story stuck with me for two weeks. I was at my work on the 26th January 2012 and constantly God was talking to me. When I got home at lunch time I just grabbed a pen and a piece of paper and this is what my heart told me to write.

‘Dear Lord heavenly Father. You have been speaking to me constantly this morning about myself to you. I have heard you Lord for a long time, but kept putting obstacles in the way of turning to Christ.

Please dear Lord forgive me of all my sins and take me as yours from this moment on and for the rest of my life.

Please dear Lord give me strength and courage to be [proud of what I’ve become your son. I ask this in your son’s name Jesus Christ. Amen


I said this prayer that night at the Life Group and my life has changed so much from then. I no longer feel I’m missing out on something. I feel complete. I feel loved. I no longer want to go to the pub and get drunk. I’m now reconciled with God. He is always there for me. I just never looked for Him. As the line in Amazing grace says: ‘To save a wretch like me’.

I was that soldier. When I look back at all I’ve done in my life and know that God forgives me. That Jesus died on the cross so that I can be forgiven.

How powerful is that!

God only gives to us what is good for us. If my story has helped anyone out thereget closer to God then In will rejoice along with the angels in heaven.

Thank you for reading this and God Bless.


Colin

Saturday, 2 April 2011

'And he gave him no answer, not even to one word.' Matthew 27:14

He had never been slow of speech when he could bless the sons of men,
but he would not say a single word for himself.
“Never man spake like this man,”
and never man was silent like him.

Was this singular silence the index of his perfect self-sacrifice?
Did it show that he would not utter a word to stay the slaughter of his sacred person, which he had dedicated as an offering for us?
Had he so entirely surrendered himself that he would not interfere in his own behalf, even in the minutest degree, but be bound and slain an unstruggling, uncomplaining victim?

Was this silence a type of the defencelessness of sin?
Nothing can be said in palliation or excuse of human guilt; and, therefore, he who bore its whole weight stood speechless before his judge.
Is not patient silence the best reply to a gainsaying world? Calm endurance answers some questions infinitely more conclusively than the loftiest eloquence.

The best apologists for Christianity in the early days were its martyrs.
The anvil breaks a host of hammers by quietly bearing their blows.
Did not the silent Lamb of God furnish us with a grand example of wisdom?
Where every word was occasion for new blasphemy, it was the line of duty to afford no fuel for the flame of sin.

The ambiguous and the false, the unworthy and mean, will ere long overthrow and confute themselves, and therefore the true can afford to be quiet, and finds silence to be its wisdom.

Evidently our Lord, by his silence, furnished a remarkable fulfilment of prophecy.
A long defence of himself would have been contrary to Isaiah’s prediction: “He is led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”

By his quiet he conclusively proved himself to be the true Lamb of God. As such we salute him this morning.

Be with us, Jesus, and in the silence of our heart, let us hear the voice of thy love.

CHS

Friday, 22 October 2010

Monday, 23 August 2010

I have failed. I am failing. I will fail. But I am trying to try. By a young man for Orangefield Church.

I was brought up in a Christian home and had always gone to church. I was baptised as a child and was always taught who God was and what Jesus had done.

I'm not sure when it happened, I think I know where it happened but I always say that I became a Christian and prayed some “forgive me” prayer when I was about seven, one night in bed. From this age on, while calling myself a Christian, I never did anything with it, I didn't seek after God, I just was. I was always involved in church life though, going to Sunday school and all the things that came with that and later Bible class. I started helping with sound in church when I was about 14.

Some time in first year of school when I was 11, my mum and dad split up. I actually tried to be angry about this, but couldn't. For some reason it didn't bother me. My sister and I got to see both parents equally and they had an seemingly amicable relationship after this.

Some time in my young teenage years, I remember praying that I God would help me to stop swearing so much. For a month, there was an incredible difference. One time I really experienced God.

A few years on in life, three days after my 16th birthday, on a very unfortunate Thursday morning, in the early hours, my dad passed away. He had just returned from the Isle of Man TT race a week before, and went to the doctor to see about a problem he had there, and was allowed to go home with a clean bill of health. He had had a heart attack. Sad as this would be for some, I seem mostly immune to the emotions that people experience during such a time. However, I am still seeing God's blessing stemming from this event.

The following September, I went to college in Bangor to do Music Technology. While still calling myself a Christian here and even wearing a WWJD lanyard hanging from my keys, I was the one in the class the swore most.

A year later, I was 17. I got my driving licence, and, with money from my dad's estate and life insurance, I was able to get a car. In January, seven months later, I had passed my test and could drive with R plates. A few months after that, I went to a friends birthday at a One Way event run by Crown Jesus in Lisburn Omniplex and met a lot of new people from Belfast and mostly Orangefield. After this fun reunion with the friend, and liking and shortly going out with one of her friends, I was frequently coming to Belfast and was invited on numerous occasions to the church and especially to SNYF.

I had a summer job the year I was 18. It was In a linen factory which saw me getting up very early in the mornings for an eight O'clock start. So, when JAM came around in August, I only attended two nights because I needed to be in bed early. I was told I just had to come to the morning service after attending, even only partially, JAM in the evenings. So I did. And that was it. I became part of Orangefield and never left after that morning service.

During the time up to JAM and after this, I started to really grow in my faith for the first time and take the “God thing” more seriously. And the change was evident when I went to college for the second time in Belfast. I didn't swear anywhere near as much any more and ended up in a few conversations about it with other members of the class who used to be Christian or were Roman Catholic.

The following year, a few months after I was 19, I was at another friends birthday party. I made some new friends there. One evening at my convenience, I went to see one girl, and we had a great time. Shortly after, we started going out with each other.

A few months into the relationship, it happened that we started to get more physical with each other. Nothing serious to begin with but later to the point that we were both lying unclothed in a bed. We never went so far as to have sex, but these were still quite inappropriate circumstances for a Christian. I felt bad and apologised to God every time this happened. I even stopped inviting her over so much because I knew that it would end up happening again. Eventually, I gave up the relationship of eight months because I knew I couldn't stop doing this otherwise.

The following year, just before my 21th birthday, after having a wonderful friendship, I started going out with another girl who, at the time, claimed to be Christian. Not long into the relationship, she ended up discussing with me things that had happened to her previously that were similar to my past relationship. Knowing that this had been the reason for the break up of my past relationship, I had concerns that it may happen again. I told her not to let me do anything like that. It lasted for quite some time and we had a great relationship. Unfortunately staying away from the physical aspect didn't last the whole time and I ended up slipping back into the inappropriate behaviour, though not to the degree as with the first girl.

I realised my slipping away from God while my mind was consumed with the girl and the actions. I took the decision to leave the relationship to get away from the wrong actions and to focus my heart and my mind on God.

Now, I am longing after that deep intense relationship with God. Not just the Sunday morning service. The real intimate knowing, understanding, hearing and truly believing and trusting in Him one.

Recently, I have managed to get a job that I love and that suits me perfectly. Something I really love to do and with a lot of flexibility that I would want from a job and a boss. I have been found working on a small laptop underneath my desk...and no one batted an eyelid at this behaviour. This is an incredible blessing. An example of God's faithfulness, even while I was ignoring Him.

At 22 years of age, maybe now I'm finally starting to take God seriously.

I have failed many times. I am still failing. I will continue to fail. But I am certainly trying to try to make Him mine and me, His.

“As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after you, oh God

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The Story of Zac Smith from NewSpring Media on Vimeo.


Watch this moving and inspiring story of Zac Smith who shows tremendous courage and faith in God as he fights cancer. AK

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Summer Madness Has Changed Me For The Best: Emma's Story

Not long before I went to Summer Madness I was a girl who didn't know who she was, I was lost in alcohol , drugs and depression. It was the Sunday night at Summer Madness that I was saved! Jasper was asking whoever wanted to become a christian for the first time to go up to the front and he would say a prayer with them. I really wanted to go up , like alot of times when people were going up for prayer too , but i was abit embaressed to be honest, I had never been to anything like it before yet I loved it . I felt like a frod though as i wasn't a Christian so i just stayed in my seat and said the prayer myself. A few minutes later I started to feel shivery and shakey so I told Nicola and she asked if it would be ok if she prayed with me. As she started to pray I felt this overwhelming feeling of Joy and Peace, I started to cry! ( it takes quite alot to make me cry lol ). They weren't sad tears though they where ears of joy! It felt As if it was Gods way of showing me that he was there , reasurring me that he really did exist! It was the strangest thing ( a good strange though! ).

From that night I have realised that the guilt I used to feel after a "Mad" night out was Gods way of "calling me". Since summer madness I have been trying to get to know more about christianity . I am so pleased that I went to summer madness and that My friend Rachel came with me as I wouldn't have went if she didnt go! I have taken home with me the most precious thing i could have and that is a realationship with God , Its going to need some building but i have the rest of m life to do that! =] I cannot wait to see what He has planned for me in the future. I know that this journey isin't going to be all fine and dandy but what I do know is that with god wth me every step of the way it will be that much easier.


Emma