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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Colour blindness

I must confess that, until last evening, I thought that "colour blindness" involved no more than an inability to distinguish between certain colours; and I had never even heard of "Enchroma" spectacles.

However, a video clip on Facebook has set me right. Here is the YouTube link:

I hope that you found that to be as informative - and as moving - as I did! It certainly set my mind off in a particular direction. I recall, away back in the 1970s when I was the minister to St.Andrew's Parish Church in Bellshill, inviting the Rev Dr Leonard Small, who had been the Moderator of the Presbytery of Edinburgh when I was ordained to "the holy ministry of Word and Sacrament", to preach at the first anniversary of my induction to St.Andrew's. When he spoke to the children, Dr Small used the example of colour television, as against the monochrome television that most people still had, to illustrate the difference that becoming a disciple of Jesus makes in the life of an individual - regardless of age.

Life without Jesus is, in fact, colourless. It is bland and, in reality, uninteresting. Now, of course, if one has known nothing else, one is excited by monochrome television, and cannot conceive of anything better - until one sits in front of a colour television screen! William Reed probably did know that he was 'missing out'. He undoubtedly, during his 66 years of life up to the day of the video, heard others speak about these 'strange' concepts of red, and blue; green and yellow; brown and pink; etc. But he could only experience black and white (and. possibly, shades of grey).

Jesus said: "I have come that they (i.e. you and me) might have life in all its fulness". (John 10:10; emphasis added). What He was saying is that, without His input, we merely exist; we do not know what true living is all about. It is NOT about parties, and drugs, and sex, and fast cars, and the latest in computerised technology, and making as much money as possible as easily as possible. Oh, that's how a lot of people see it - but they are living monochrome lives! If you watched the video, you will know that William Reed was gifted a special pair of spectacles - Enchroma spectacles - that, somehow, enable him to now see all of the colours that were hitherto hidden from his sight. That's a bit like responding positively to the message of the Gospel that is summed up in the words of John 3:16: "God loved the world (that's you and me, again!) so much that, in the Persona (not a typo - see my book "Great Words of the Faith", the chapter on the Trinity) of the Son - Jesus - He gave Himself on the cross at Calvary, paying the penalty for your sin, and for mine, and enabling us to know, here and now, His own eternal life." (my paraphrase!).

Many years ago, one of the songs that I sung when on a deputation, had these words:

"Heaven above is softer blue,
earth around is richer green;
something lives in every hue,
Christless eyes have never seen:
songs of birds in sweetness grow,
flowers with deeper beauties shine,
since I know, as now I know,
I am His and He is mine."

It's like receiving a pair of spiritual Enchroma spectacles - and life is never the same.

I am delighted for William Reed. I would be even more delighted to know that he has accepted the Lord Jesus as his Saviour and Lord. I would be delighted to learn that you had done so as well - if you have not already made that decision. As always, if I can be of any assistance, please contact me using the e-mail address at the top of the blog. I don't access that Inbox on a daily basis but, as soon as I access your e-mail, I will respond. Blessings, and shalom.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Evolution - is it reality?!

Okay, later than intended (due to my failure to publish the previous post when I had intended to do so!), a few comments on the film that my wife and I watched at the "Cité de l'Océan" exhibition in Biarritz.

As already stated, the English-language version was narrated by David Attenborough - a convinced evolutionist. This meant that everything was interpreted as evidence for Charles Darwin's celebrated theory. There, of course, is the first problem for what is now known as "neo-Darwinism" - it is a theory! 

Now, I have been challenged on that claim before now. I have been told that the word "theory", when used by Darwin, does not mean what most people understand by it! What has never been made clear to me is what it does mean! The dictionary definition of "theory" will be slightly different depending on which particular dictionary is used. However, the Cambridge English Dictionary states that a theory is: "a formal statement of the rules on which a subject of study is based or of ideas that are suggested to explain a fact or event or, more generally, an opinion or explanation." In other words, a theory is not a proven fact! 

What I found interesting in the film that we watched, was the frequent use of the word "perhaps"! "Perhaps" this happened; "perhaps" that happened; "perhaps" something else happened! However, in the next sentence, that "perhaps" had become an established fact! That, I have to say, is something that I have discovered to be the case, over and over again, throughout a goodly number of years being interested in the subject. 

Science should be, I would claim, a constant seeking after knowledge. "The scientist ... must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors." (J.Robert Oppenheimer; Physicist). True science should look at evidence, not close its eyes to anything that doesn't fit its own particular ideas. A scientific "fact" is something that is both observable, and repeatable. The theory of evolution is neither!

On the other hand, when I observe the world around me - whether I look at the delicate petals of a tiny flower; the exquisite colours and patterns of the wings of some butterflies; the night sky with its myriad of stars, all moving in such a way that we are able to predict where they will be, in our line of vision, in six months' time - or sixty years!; a murmur of starlings performing their aerial acrobatics in the sky above me; an aeroplane taking off from the nearby Bergerac Airport; or a thousand and one other things; I see overwhelming evidence of design, and planning, and creation.

I am, of course, a fully convinced creationist - and I make no apology for being so. I would also claim that I am not some uneducated, mentally retarded, 'brainwashed', person. I have a considerable list of formal academic qualifications, and (for what it's worth!) a reasonable IQ. However, even if one does not accept the existence of a supernatural Being, Who created all that exists by the power of His Word, and to Whom, in the English language, we ascribe the nomenclature "God", I fail to understand how any unbiased, right-minded, person can fail to see order and design all around us.

Of course, "intelligent design" (ID) does raise the question of the identity of the Designer - but that is another issue!

If you have the time, and the inclination (and almost an hour to spare!), I commend this video to you. If, part of the way through, you decide that you don't wish to watch any more, at least scroll to 55'50 - and make sure that you wait until 56'00! You may be surprised!

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Evolution, and Reality.

I apologise! It would appear that, having previewed this post on Friday evening, I failed to publish it! Désolé!

My wife and I are currently spending a few days with friends who live in the Basque Region of SW France. When the arrangement was made, we had anticipated time at the beach and maybe even a swim in the sea! Sadly, the weather conditions are not conducive to such activities! :-(

However, we are still able to get out and about and, today, we drove to Biarritz and visited a major exhibition entitled "Cité de l'Océan". It was fascinating, and we learned a great deal about the oceans of the world; the many forces behind wave production; and denizens of the deep of which we had previously been unaware.

Two experiences stood out,especially, for me. One was "Virtual Surfing" - my first ever experience of the use of virtual reality technology. The other was a forty-minute, 3-D film, based on the Galapagos archipelago, and narrated by (in the English language version) David Attenborough. As with the other exhibits, it was totally biased towards the theory of evolution (no surprise there!).

Many years ago, I was invited to produce an article for a German Christian magazine on the subject of "Reality". Having made reference to, and quoted from, figures such as Plato, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Hawking, I posed the question: "Is true reality to be found in that dimension that we call the spiritual?" I then suggested that, if the spiritual dimension is indeed the true reality, then it follows that ultimate reality is the Being Who exists eternally; is neither created nor destructible; and who, in the English language, is referred to as God! 

Stephen Hawking has stated, somewhere, that: "The boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary. The universe would be completely self-contained, and not affected by anything outside itself. It would neither be created nor destroyed. It would just BE!" Take out the references to "the universe", and replace them with references to God and, with one exception, we would have a not unreasonable definition of the "Immortal, ineffable, God only wise; in light inaccessible hid from our eyes" Who is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, the Christ.

However, that one exception is of eternal significance! It is in the words "... not affected by anything outside itself." Because the core of the Christian Gospel is that Almighty God is affected by something outside Himself. And that something is your sin, and mine. But, being One Whose very essence is love - and neither the sentimentalism, nor the eroticism, that is passed off as 'love' in our contemporary culture; but the unconditional, immeasurable, unending love that is expressed by the Greek word 'agape' - He was not prepared to let our sin cut us off from His love, and from a living relationship with Himself. His justice demanded that justice be meted out; His love took that punishment upon Himself as, in the Persona (NOT a typo - see the chapter on The Trinity in my book: Great Words of the Faith) of the Son, He hung on a man-made cross, and died the death that we deserve. He paid the price that we might go free, and now offers salvation, and real life - "... life in all its fulness." (Jn.10:10).

Virtual reality may be great fun - but it is virtual! It is not genuine; it is fake. Certainly for the disciple of Jesus, true reality is found, as is salvation, only in Jesus the Christ. May this be the experience of all who read these words. It will be for your good; and for His glory.

I'll comment on the evolution film in the next post!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Defending a lion?!

Budding evangelists, and those who wish to witness more overtly concerning the Christian faith, could do a lot worse than take some lessons from that star evangelist, the Apostle Paul.

Dr Luke records, in Acts 17:1-15, two basic requirements for effective sharing of the Gospel message. The first of these is, quite simply, to concentrate on the Lord Jesus:

"Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and for three weeks he argued with them from the scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, 'This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ'.” (vs.1-3)

It is Jesus Who is the centre of the Gospel message, rather than the benefits He confers. Paul stressed two specific points. First of all, the historic man, Jesus, is the Messiah (the Christ). No one can properly respond to Jesus, the Christ, until they are sure as to Who He is. This requires the study of His claims, and how they were vindicated by His life, and His final triumph over the grave. Secondly, we need to be confident about the theological explanation of why it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and rise from the dead.In other words, granted the facts, what do they mean? So the Gospel proclamation must be Christ-centred, factual, and theological.

However, as we read on, and discover that Paul has now arrived in Beroea, we learn the second requirement. That is to use the Scriptures! So we read:

"Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with all eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see if these things were so." (v.11)

The Christian message is reasonable, but its reasons should be drawn from the written Word. This is the weapon that God has placed in our hands. This is "... the sword of the Spirit ..." (Eph.6:17). At Beroea, the preaching was made doubly effective because the hearers checked what they heard by the touchstone of God's Word - which was, of course, for them, the Tanakh (the Jewish Scriptures; what we know as the Old Testament!). I suspect that there are many in churches today who have not yet caught on that the early church did all of its evangelisation with just the Old Testament to hand. Check out Peter's great sermon on the first Day of Pentecost of the Christian era (Acts Acts 2:14ff); Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26ff); and note that when Paul writes to Timothy and tells him that "All scripture is inspired by God and[a] profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." (II Tim.3:16-17) he is referring only to the Old Testament of which, he also states, Timothy has from his childhood, "... been acquainted ..." (v.15). Because of Paul's use of the Tanakh, many believed (Acts 17:12). When our arguments make no headway, the written Word will often strike home, simply because it is the living Word of the living God. There is great power in the Word - power to convict; power to convert; power to construct (or 'build up' - but I do like my alliteration!!).

Even although others distort, dilute, diminish, deny, and even seek to destroy the truth of God's Word, the faith remains unaltered - this "faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." (Jude:3).

It was C.H.Spurgeon who once remarked: "Defend the Bible? I would as soon think of defending a lion!" Use the Word to share the Saviour. It's a great combination.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

A principled man!

Prior to the referendum on the United Kingdom's continuing membership of the European Union, I don't think that I had ever heard of the Hon. Jacob Rees-Mogg, Member of Parliament (Conservative) for North-East Somerset. However, his obvious depth of knowledge; his razor-sharp wit; his debating prowess; his ability to make his point in a mature, gentlemanly manner; and his overall demeanour; caused me to look more closely at this man - whose name suggests that he lives in an élite bubble, unaware of the circumstances of "ordinary" people (although that is, quite obviously, not the case!).

I have continued to keep a close eye on "JRM" in the many months since the result of that referendum was announced - even although the government have not yet represented the will of the majority of UK voters. He has become, as many will be aware, the favourite to replace Theresa "Sharia" May(be, maybe not!) as Prime Minister, and has an enviable following in social networking - many of his followers being from the younger generation!

Of course, this has meant that he is suddenly the man every radio and television presenter wishes to interview. One such interview, was on Good Morning Britain, which aired yesterday morning, and in which Mr. Rees-Mogg, in answer to a question, told presenters Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid that he supported the teaching of the Catholic church and opposed gay marriage, adding: “The teaching of the Catholic Church is completely clear.” He was also asked if his opposition to abortion included cases of rape and incest, and replied: “I’m afraid so. Life is sacrosanct and begins at the point of conception, and I think it is wrong.”

My first reaction to the reports of this interview was to be grateful for a modern MP who is not only a man of principle, but who is not going to hide his principles for the sake of "popularity". Of course, the usual leftie-liberal-luvvies went into a hyper-ventilated frenzy of opprobrium. "This homophobe wants to take us back to the 18th century" may not have been said, verbatim - but it sums up a fair number of the comments that I have since read by those who believe that they have the freedom to publicly disagree with JRM's personal beliefs - but who would deny him the right to publicly state them! As has often been said - the most intolerant people are often those who demand tolerance!

Now, let me state clearly that, with regard to matters of theology, I am opposed to certain matters of doctrine that JRM would presumably hold - even marriage is seen by him, as a member of the Church of Rome, as a sacrament. I do not agree with that. However, my mind goes back to when I was a student at the University of Glasgow. The former Trinity College had been "acquired" by the University, and was now the Faculty of Theology. In what was seen, by many, to be a bold move, a priest of the Church of Rome, from the nearby Cardross Seminary, was invited to speak to the new Faculty - staff and students - for the first time in some centuries. I was there, as a rabid evangelical, ready to denounce whatever this man might say that would be in any way opposed to my solid Protestant heritage. I left the lecture, somewhat chastened! I discovered that I had more agreement with this Roman priest than I had with some of my regular lecturers! Since those far-off days, I have counted a number of members, and clergy, of the Church of Rome to be among my friends - including a Prince-Cardinal of the church!

However, going back to JRM, I am - as those who know me well would expect me to be - in full agreement with him on these two specific issues. More than that, I firmly believe that, in speaking as he did, he was representing the views of many of the "silent majority" who recognise that the nation has not merely drifted away from its Judaeo-Christian roots, but has been deliberately led away by a succession of governments and others who have been under the influence - and, in some cases, have themselves been active participants - of militant atheists, secular humanists, sexual deviants, and devotees of the so-called New World Order. Certain newspapers have been quick to vilify him. There are those who claim that his views will have totally destroyed any possibility he may have had of becoming PM.

I have now added JRM to my personal daily prayer-list, and will be praying for him and his family that they may know divine protection from those whose metaphorical knives are being sharpened in order to metaphorically stab him in the back. Perhaps you will join with me in doing this!

As usual, my friend David Robertson has published an excellent post on his own blog. You may access it by clicking on this link:

If you have the time, do listen to the video-clips that David has provided. If short of time, then miss out the Ali-G one!