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Thursday, 19 April 2018

Al Kol Eleh

After having recently published a number of posts that had to do with death, it is good to be able to publish one that is full of life! 

However much false reporting there is in the MSM with regard to the State of Israel, and the Children of Israel (I would contend that the two descriptions are not synonymous!), no-one could deny the pride and enthusiasm that the ordinary Israeli has for his/her country.

The video below involves12,000 Israelis who have come together to sing "Al Kol Eleh" (Over all of these) in an inspirational celebration of Israel's 70th anniversary. Look at those faces!

President Rivlin joined the special production in singing “Al Kol Eleh” (“Over all of these”) by Neomi Shemer, along with guest artist Shlomi Shabat, and accompanied by the Jerusalem Street Orchestra. Enjoy!



Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Another Bush has died.

Spring has finally appeared in the Dordogne. This means that work on the inside of the house will wind down, and work in the garden will have to increase (where are people like my cousin-in-law name-sake, when I need them?)!! Lack of water will, of course, ensure the death of any bush, or any other plant - although I have also discovered that over-watering brings its own problems!

However, the Bush in the heading was not a plant, but a human being - Barbara Bush, wife of one President of the USA and mother of another. She has been described as "the no-nonsense first lady who ran the family that ran the country." (Newsweek), and the current POTUS and FLOTUS noted that "she will be long remembered for her strong devotion to country and family."

During the illness that resulted in her death, the Washington Post published an insightful story about Barbara Bush and her family that may help to explain her remarkable character. The daughter of a New York publishing executive, she met her future husband in 1941 at a country club dance in Greenwich, Connecticut. She was sixteen years old. They became engaged in the summer of 1943 and were married in 1945. Their first son, George Walker Bush, was born on July 6, 1946, as his father was completing his studies at Yale. Two years later, they moved to Odessa, a town in West Texas. They were transferred briefly to California before moving to Midland, where their family settled into the oil business. 
In 1953, their three-year-old daughter, Robin, fell ill with leukemia. Eight months later, she died. Barbara Bush was twenty-eight. The tragedy turned her hair white and has marked her family for the rest of their lives. She later explained what sustained her through the worst pain a mother can know: “We believed in God and that made an enormous difference in our lives then and now.” She also said, “Because of Robin, George and I love every living human more.”
Her life priorities – faith, family, service – have inspired millions since. But she is dead!
Earlier, on my Facebook page, a nursing friend had posted a video of a gentleman named Tom who, we learn, "... has his own internal defibrillator, which thankfully saves his life." The gentleman had experienced a heart attack, but this ingenious implant ensured that he lives to see another day. One day, however, the internal defibrillator will not be sufficient. One day, sadly, Tom also will die!
Two people - one known to millions; the other known to few. But, as people used to say, "Death is no respecter of persons"! Rich, or poor; tall, or short; black, or white; male, or female; IQ of 150, or IQ of 50; whoever you are, whatever you are; you cannot escape physical death. It is an incontrovertible statistic - 100% of people die!
Death seems to be frequent topic on this blog at this time. Perhaps it is as my own days advance, and I am acutely conscious that I have much less time on this earth. At the end, I am assured that there is a judgment! "... it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment, ..." (Heb.9:27). The verdict will not be based on my own (few!) 'good works', but solely, and fully, on my relationship with Jesus, the Christ, and my acceptance of His sacrificial death at Calvary. If I am in Him, and He is in me, then I am already acquitted. If not, then my eternal destiny is equally fixed - but it is not in His presence!
How do you feel about your certain death? It is, of course, in our contemporary, 'progressive', sexually permissive, politically 'correct', culture, something about which we tend not to speak. But that is what may be termed the "ostrich syndrome". "If I don't see you, you aren't there"! That, is a dangerous, as well as a foolish attitude to take!
I pray for the Bush family in their bereavement. I trust that Tom will have a few more years to enjoy life. But I also pray that many of those who read this blog will ensure that, when their own time comes, they are ready! Further information in some of the links below, or by contacting me at the e-mail address above. It is not my primary e-mail address, so I don't check it every day. However, be assured that, as soon as I read your e-mail, you will receive a response.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Friggatriskaidekaphobia!

This morning, I just wanted to stay in bed. I was afraid to get up, and get washed and dressed. The water would probably be too warm, and I would be scalded; my clothes would disintegrate on my body. If I went into Bergerac, I would probably be involved in a traffic accident; my wallet would be stolen. It is, after all, Friday the 13th - and we all know what that means! Indeed, the heading is the word that describes the irrational fear of this day when it occurs.

Let me state, first of all, that I did get up this morning; washed and dressed; went into Bergerac without any accident; and my wallet is here in my study! Indeed, I have done a great deal during the day without any inexplicable mishap. Of course I am, I would claim, one of the most non-superstitious people around!

However, here in France, I have discovered, many see Friday 13th as a "lucky day". It is claimed that twice as many Loto or Euromillions tickets are purchased on Friday 13th than on a Friday with any other date. Some 10 million superstitous French people will be at the tobacconists to make their purchases.

So what is the origin of the superstition? Believe it, or not, it comes from the Last Supper that the Lord Jesus shared with His disciples, prior to His crucifixion. There were, of course, 13 men present - the Lord and His 'inner band' of 12 including the traitor, Judas Iscariot. In ancient times, 12 was considered to be synonymous with perfection, while 13 was a symbol of imbalance. As a result, many people will avoid having a total of 13 people at a dinner party; in aeroplanes, the rows often go straight from 12 to 14; the majority of hotels miss out a 13th Floor - and even a Room 13 (113, 213, etc). A phobia is, of course, that "irrational fear" that I mentioned above - not "hatred of", in spite of all the silly words such as "homophobia", "Islamophobia", "transphobia", etc.).

What saddens me most about this superstition is that so many are willing to go along with it - in spite of there being no statistical support for Friday 13th being either cursed, or blessed! Yet so few follow up the origin to discover that Jesus of Nazareth went to an excruciating death on a Roman cross, and did so for them! "He paid a debt He did not owe, because I owed a debt I could not pay". My sin (and yours) separates me (and you) from Almighty God, the Creator of all that exists. There is absolutely nothing that I (or you) can do about that, in our own strength, or by our own merit. So, in love, the incarnate God the Son took my place (and yours); paid the penalty for my sin (and yours); and enables me (and you) to have a relationship with the Father, through Him, that is otherwise impossible.

That, in essence, is the Gospel message. It is beautifully encapsulated in those familar words of John 3:16: "God loved the world so much that, in the Persona of the Son, he gave Himself to death even death on a cross, that anyone who places their trust in Him should not perish but have, here and now, His life within them." Okay, those aren't quite the 'familar' words - but they are simply expanding, and paraphrasing what John wrote down. The BIG question is - "What have you done about them?"

At the beginning of the last century, Albert B. Simpson wrote a song. The words are:

  1. 'Jesus is standing in Pilate’s hall,
    Friendless, forsaken, betrayed by all;
    Hearken! what meaneth the sudden call?
    What will you do with Jesus?
    • Refrain:
      What will you do with Jesus?
      Neutral you cannot be;
      Someday your heart will be asking,
      What will He do with me?” (emphasis added).
  2. Jesus is standing on trial still,
    You can be false to Him if you will,
    You can be faithful through good or ill:
    What will you do with Jesus?
  3. Will you evade Him as Pilate tried?
    Or will you choose Him, whate’er betide?
    Vainly you struggle from Him to hide:
    What will you do with Jesus?
  4. Will you, like Peter, your Lord deny?
    Or will you scorn from His foes to fly,
    Daring for Jesus to live or die?
    What will you do with Jesus?
  5. “Jesus, I give Thee my heart today!
    Jesus, I’ll follow Thee all the way,
    Gladly obeying Thee!” will you say:
    “This I will do with Jesus!”'

Are the words of that final verse words that you have said? If not, are they words that you are willing to say, right now? Read, again, the words of the chorus - and ensure that this Friday 13th becomes a day of great blessing for you, as you enter into that new, saving relationship with Almighty God, through the Son, and live in the power of the Spirit. It's the only life worth living!

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Pallywood!!

The camera doesn’t lie?   Well watch this ....See how video “evidence” is faked...  in every skirmish the Palestinian film industry gets busy producing these staged incidents.

I recall seeing “corpses” come alive, moving under the sheets covering them.

In another unedited sequence a corpse being carried on a stretcher, covered by a sheet, fell from the stretcher and, picking himself off the ground, resumed his role as the “dead” victim of a fatal shooting!

However, judge for yourself as you watch some footage. The one clip that does not 'play' may be accessed by clicking on the YouTube link.

https://israelunwired.com/behind-the-scenes-of-the-gaza-march-victims-welcome-to-pallywood/

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Contrôle Technique

For those who do not understand the heading, it is the French equivalent of the UK Ministry of Transport test (MOT) and, I am delighted to report that, when I submitted our car, last week, it passed! Part of the reason for that was my having just replaced all four tyres - two because they had reached the limit of the legal tread depth; and two because, although they had plenty of tread depth, they were not the same brand of tyre on a single axle - a French requirement that is not a UK one!

Of course, while I was aware of the tyre situation, there were many other issues on which the car could have been failed - issues of which I would have been totally unaware! I am thinking, for example, of the exhaust emissions. I had no idea as to whether, or not, they would be within the acceptable range!

It occurred to me, afterwards, that this is a bit like sin in my life! There are some sins of which, like my unsatisfactory tyres, I am all too well aware. These are the sins to which. I believe, the anonymous writer of the Letter to Hebrew disciples of Jesus was referring when he wrote: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, ..." (12:1; emphasis added). There are areas in my life in which the enemy knows that I am most vulnerable - and he takes every opportunity to attack me there! Left to my own devices, I would always fail and, sadly, I often do. However, that quotation for Hebrews continues: "... looking to Jesus the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith Who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." (vs. 2-4; emphasis added). That's the answer - "... looking to Jesus ..."!

The important thing is to deal with these sins, as I dealt with my tyres - and to do so in the Name of the Lord Jesus, and with the assistance of God the Holy Spirit.

Of course, there may be other sins of which I have not yet become fully aware, or which I simply don't recognise as 'sin'! These are the equivalent of the exhaust emissions, or of a crack in a spring, in my car. This is where I have to ask for discernment, that I may recognise those "unconscious" sins for what they are. It may even be that I have to ask someone else - someone whom I trust! - to point them out to me, just as the Contrôle Technique examiner (or the MOT test examiner) would point out the problem with emissions, springs, brake discs, etc. Of course, when they have been identified, those sins, too, need to be dealt with!

Amost exactly five years ago, I published a post on "A spiritual MOT test!" You may be able to use the link to read the whole post, but let me repost a check-list (not my original!) that I shared then:

  • am I clean in word, thought, and deed?
  • is Christ, as far as I can make Him, the Head of my home?
  • do they know that I am a disciple of Jesus where I work?
  • are other people likely to be drawn to better things for knowing me?
  • do I guard time, each day, for reading my Bible, and for prayer?
  • do I regularly attend worship services, and attend at the Lord's Table?
  • do other people find it easy to work with me in Christian service?
  • am I generous, as far as I am honestly able, to Christian work?
  • am I growing in Christ?
That list stands. It is a useful set of checks for self-examination. However, I think that I would wish to add to it! For example:
  • what are the web-sites that I have marked as 'Favourites'? Are there any that would cause me embarrasment if my pastor were to see them? I recall some years ago, on a visit, asking my host if I might have access to the internet to check some e-mails. The access was readily given and, as I logged on, the 'Favourites' list was displayed. I noticed one site that I thought was that of a newspaper, but with a typing error in the name. I clicked on the link - and discovered, to my shock, that there was no typing error, as I was taken to a site that was obviously intended for those with an interest in homosexuality! To say that I was shocked would be something of an understatement!
  • am I in control of my temper? Or is it that, even in print, I constantly resort to the use of upper-case letters - the literary equivalent, I am told, of angry verbal shouting?
  • how am I treating those most close to me? I recall my own minister, spiritual mentor, and personal friend, the late Rev. George B Duncan, often commenting that if we really wanted to know what sort of person he was, we should ask his wife! We only saw him as "the minister"; she lived with him! We saw him at his best; she saw him at his worst! What would my own wife have to say about me?!! Perhaps I should ask her before anyone else does!
You see, all of the above applies as much to me as it does to anyone who might read this post - and maybe more than it does to some! The life of a disciple of Jesus is not a life of sinless perfection, but of sanctification as, through the indwelling of Holy Spirit, Father God makes me more like Jesus. A little home-made plaque on my study wall has these words: "In this life I shall never be sinless but, by God's grace, I may sin less!" (emphasis added). I think that the words are original! They are certainly true! 

My car is now, officially, considered to be roadworthy for another two years. But what about me? Am I still worthy to be a disciple of Jesus? If I am, and I trust that I am, it is all due to His grace, and mercy, and love. All of that is available to you, too.  Have you availed yourself of it? If not, why not?