Important Information.

STOP PRESS: My second book - Foundations of the Faith - is now available as a Kindle e-book at http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00XTAE98C?*Version*=1&*entries*=0
My apologies! I have just discovered that, in fact, this book is NOT yet available as a paperback! I will have it ready for sale as quickly as possible!


The first volume - Great Words of the Faith - is still available at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B009EG6TJW
Paperback to come!

If you haven't got a Kindle (I haven't!), there is a FREE app at
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_pc_mkt_lnd?docId=1000423913

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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

At least I have a choice!



Working in the garden this evening, I checked the thermometer that is in the shade - 41C!   I brought out the one in the house, that was reading a comfortable 25C.  It rapidly moved to 41C.  I left it in the sunshine, just where I was working.  Before I knew it, it had reached 50C - the maximum for which it is calibrated.  However, it just kept climbing!  It stopped at what I reckon must have been 60C!!!  Little wonder that I was having difficulty working for more than fifteen minutes at a time!!

 However, I then thought of the hundreds, indeed, thousands, who must work in those kinds of temperatures without any breaks.  They have to do so because that is the only way in which they can earn even a meagre living; or because they are prisoners - many of them incarcerated for no other reason than their allegiance to Jesus the Christ, and their faithfulness in witnessing to Him.  I, at least, had the choice as to whether, or not, I attended to the work I was doing. They have no such choice.  I was able to stop when I wanted to.  They stop when they are permitted to do so.  I could enjoy a glass of fresh, ice-cold, water.  They can only dream of such a privilege.  I eventually came into a comfortable home.  They return to what may be little more than hovels; or to prison cells.
This all raises a very important question.  It's not a new question - I think of it every morning as I give thanks for, and ask a blessing upon, my breakfast.  It's a question that many have asked, and continue to ask.  It's the simple question: "Why?"

Why is it that I am so blessed, when others suffer in ways that I can barely imagine?  I wish that I had a nice easy answer to that one!  I don't!  David, the psalmist-king of Israel, wrote these words: "The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage." (Ps. 16:6).  That is really all that I can say.  I do not know the mind of God.  I recalled, this morning, an old couplet that may be known to some: "That Thou shouldst love me as Thou dost, and be the God Thou art; is darkness to my intellect - but sunshine to my heart"!

What I can do is two-fold.  I can constantly thank Father God for His undeserved blessing and favour.  Indeed, I am certain that there are many who do not enjoy the material blessings that I enjoy, who are walking much more closely to Him, and are in deeper and sweeter communion with Him, than I will ever enjoy in my mortal body.  The other thing that I can do is ensure that I share the blessing that I have received, and continue to receive, with those who do not experience the same abundance of provision that is mine.  If you follow the links at the bottom of this page, there are some to a number of Christian organisations who work with the disadvantaged, the persecuted, the imprisoned, and who are able to provide much-needed material relief - provided that we who have so much are willing to support them in their work!

God willing, I shall be working in the garden again, tomorrow.  The indications are that it will be just as hot.  However, I shall not complain.  Rather, I shall give thanks to Him "... Who richly furnishes us with everything to enjoy." (I Tim 6:17).  And I shall remember, especially, my brothers and sisters in the Lord who do not enjoy the privileges that are mine.  I am convinced that they will be closer to the Lamb, in Glory, than we who have so much here and now!


Friday, 19 August 2016

A fragrance of life and death.

The market for perfume is a large one - at least in the so-called "western world".  What self-respecting woman would go anywhere without at least a dab of perfume behind her ears?!  There is also a large market for candles that, as they burn, provide a fragrance that can permeate a large room - and even, if appropriately positioned, a full house!  Add to those the various aerosols that 'freshen' your clothes, your curtains, your furniture, your pets - and, of course, not forgetting "the smallest room" - and it is easy to understand why fragrances are so all-pervasive (and I haven't even mentioned the various toiletries for both males and females!).

The apostle Paul made mention of fragrance, in one of his letters to the early disciples of Jesus in Corinth.  He wrote: "... thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life." (II Cor 2:14-16).

So what was Paul saying with those words?  Well, he was using a metaphor drawn from a Roman triumphal march.  This was a parade that took place when a general returned after having won a major victory.  The high political officials would lead the procession, followed by trumpeters blowing their instruments.  Then would come waggons displaying some of the spoils taken from the conquered territory and, just behind them, soldiers and officers who had been captured alive.  They, of course, were in chains!  The priests, carrying burning censers from which a fragrance pervaded the air, were next in line.  Bringing up the rear would be a group of cheering military men of various ranks, delighted in the victory of their commander.

The smell of the incense symbolised joy, and triumph, and life, to the victorious general and his troops; but, to the wretched captives who knew that they were on the way to their own deaths, it savoured of nothing but that death.

A disciple of Jesus is, Paul is telling us, already in the victory parade.  Such a one is, him/herself, a fragrance that others will notice.  There should be something about the believer that is "fragrantly attractive" to others.   However, to any who do not, themselves, respond positively to that aroma; anyone who rejects (or even neglects!) the Gospel; it is "a fragrance from death to death" as they continue on their way to a lost eternity.  It is to those who do respond positively; who become children of God; that it is "a fragrance from life to life" as they have the assurance of a place prepared for them. (see John 14:2-3).

If you are a disciple of Jesus, please be aware of the tremendous responsibility that we have to make our lives as savoury as possible, by staying close to Him Who is constantly using us to influence the lives of others, for eternity.

Monday, 15 August 2016

A father's love.

It was a video-clip that a dear cousin posted on Facebook that reminded me of the one below.  I saw this clip many years ago.  I defy anyone, who does not have a brick in place of a heart, not to become at least a little bit emotional as you watch it. It is, of course, a genuinely true story!


So, did you manage to watch to the end with totally dry eyes?  I know that I cannot do so!  However, I see so much more in that clip.  It is, to me, a picture of, not just a father's love, but of THE Father's love.  For the true disciple of Jesus, the sequence in which Dick Hoyt carries his son, in his arms, from the ocean to the cycle, is surely a picture of our homecoming.  When I arrive in glory, I shall be all too aware that it is nothing that I have done, or ever could do, that has got me there.  It is the Lord Jesus, God the Son, Who has carried me.   I love the way in which so many are applauding.  I am reminded of those wonderful words penned by the anonymous author of the Letter to Hebrew disciples of Jesus: "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, 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." (Heb 12:1-2).  

The story of Team Hoyt is, indeed, inspirational.  Dick Hoyt should be honoured, at least by his own government.  However, the story of the salvation that is made available to each and every one of us, is even greater.  Dick Hoyt has the personal pleasure of a great achievement (although I doubt that that is what is uppermost in his mind as he faces the challenge that the IronMan entails).  When the Lord Jesus "carries me over the finishing line" it will be to His glory.

Are you running the race - with Him?  If not, why not?  His love for you, and for me, makes even the amazing love of Dick Hoyt pale into insignificance by comparison!  He's a wonderful Saviour.  I commend Him to you.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

The power of the Blood.

This morning, in L'Église Évangélique Libre, in Bergerac, was another first - for me! Having already been the first native English speaker to preach in French, I spoke this morning at the monthly bi-lingual worship service - in BOTH English and French (i.e. I provided my own translation of the English into French!). The response, I am happy to be able to say, was very positive - with one native Frenchman even asking me, afterwards, if I would give him some French lessons!!! (he was joking, of course!).
I'm not going to provide the text of the message here (it should be online at http://eel-bergerac.fr/apercu.htm within a few days), but do want to share a story that I included in the message which, itself, was on the Power of the Blood of the Christ. For the benefit of the few who follow this blog, and who speak French - either as a first, or second, language - I will provide both versions!
The story is told of an old woman who lay dying.  Her pastor visited her.  “I am told,” he said, “that you are dying”.  “Yes”, she replied.  “And have you made your peace with God?” asked the pastor.  “No”, came the simple response.  “And aren’t you afraid to meet God without having made your peace with Him?” “Not at all”, was the answer that startled the pastor.  He grew more earnest.  “Dear woman,” he asked, “do you realise that you have but a short time to live, and that you must soon meet a holy God?”  “I do.”  “And you are not afraid?”  “Not at all.”  “And you haven’t made your peace with Him?”  “No.”  “Whatever are you thinking of?” cried out the pastor.  A smile passed over the features of the dying woman.  “I have not made my peace with God because I do not need to do so. Jesus made peace, almost 2,000 years ago, through His blood, shed on the Cross, and I am simply resting in the peace He made!”

On raconte l'histoire d'une femme agée mourante. Son pasteur lui rend visite. « On m'a dit, » dit-il, « que vous êtes mourante ». « Oui », répondit-elle. « Et avez-vous fait la paix avec Dieu? » demanda le pasteur. « Non », fut la simple réponse. «Et n'avez pas peur de rencontrer Dieu sans avoir fait la paix avec Lui? » «Pas du tout». Cette réponse fit tressaillir le pasteur. Il devint plus sérieux. « Chère madame, » demanda-t-il, « ne réalisez-vous pas que vous avez peu de temps à vivre, et que vous devez bientôt rencontrer le Dieu saint?» «Je le sais.» «Et vous n'avez pas peur?» «Pas du tout. » « Et vous n'avez pas fait la paix avec Lui? » « Non ! » « A quoi pensez-vous? » s écria le pasteur. Un sourire s’afficha sur les levres de la femme. « Je n'ai pas fait la paix avec Dieu parce que je n’ai pas besoin de la faire. Jésus a fait la paix, il y a près de 2000 ans, par Son sang, versé sur la Croix, et je peux tout simplement me reposer sur la paix qu'il a faite! »
The lesson from the story concerned the happiness of those who have learned to thus rest in the peace that the Christ has made - peace between sinful people like you and like me - through His own blood, shed at Calvary. As Paul write to the early believers in Ephesus, "In Him [Jesus] we have redemption through His blood" (1:7). Jesus has paid the debt that we owe, but that we could never repay. Because of His perfect sacrifice, the just demands of God's law have been fully met, and we may enter into communion with our Creator.
Have you entered into that peace? It is available to all - regardless of your social position; your educational achievements; your employment (or lack thereof!); your financial standing; the size of your home, or car, or wide-screen television set; or any other of the many criteria by which society tends to measure and judge us. All that we need to do - but it is a BIG "all" - is to confess to our sinfulness; accept that we are unable to do anything about it; receive the offer of salvation that is made to us; and turn away from the sins that weigh us down. Not something that we are capable of doing on our own, but that can be achieved as we open ourselves to the working of God the Holy Spirit - the "Breath of God" in the Hebrew language - and let Him have His way in our lives.
Are you resting in the peace that is offered in Christ Jesus? You may do so - and you will never regret it, either in this life, or in eternity.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Heaven and hell; and what we deserve!

could still obtain them, but having read the provided synopsis, I don't think I want to do so!  

I'm referring to a couple of books that I was offered, online, earlier today.  
The first was:
Heaven and Hell, by Kenneth Zeigler, about which it is explained that "Chris and Serena Davis die in a crash — but while Chris enters Heaven, his wife is sentenced to Hell. Can Chris save his beloved?   A thought-provoking, intensely emotional Christian novel with over 200 five-star Amazon reviews!"
The second was:
Dancing with Jesus, by Linda Fitzpatrick, and the associated synopsis reads: "An enchanting work of biblical fiction: Abia is convinced that an accident has left her unfit to be loved. But one special person will renew her faith and show Abia just how deserving of happiness she is... "

Interesting titles; interesting subject matter.  The first book, with its "... over 200 five-star Amazon reviews!" would suggest that there is more interest in these concepts than would be expected by the constant barrage from secular humanists and atheists who insist that this life, itself the result of billions of years of random mutations and accidental meeting of sub-atomic particles, is less popular than they would have us believe, and would want to believe themselves!
However, both titles also display a lack of understanding of, at least, Christian theology as based on the written Word of God - the Bible.  Look at the first title and the little synopsis.  Can Chris, from the bliss of heaven, save his beloved wife Serena from the horror of hell?  Not according to the Bible!  It is in this life that we make the decisions that decide our eternal destiny.  If we have entered into a saving relationship with the Lord, Jesus the Christ. in this life then we will continue in that relationship after our mortal death.  If we have failed to enter that relationship here, then we have no further opportunity to do so!  In Hebrews 9:27 we read that "... it is appointed for man (generic - includes females!) to die once, and after that comes judgment,"  There is no "second chance" - through a loving spouse, or anyone else.  Paul reminds us, in Romans 2:6-8, that "He (Almighty God) will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, He will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury."
So what about the second book?  The words that made me raise my eyebrows were at the end of the synopsis: "... show Abia just how deserving of happiness she is."   The problem, here, is that none of us deserves anything but the wrath of Almighty God because of our constant sinning against Him!  His wrath is provoked when we rebel against His Word.  Of course, there are those who do not like to think on the wrath of God. They want a loving, fluffy, stuffed rabbit, kind of God who looks down benignly upon His erring creatures, and smiles understandingly at their faults and failures.  That, however, is not the God of the Bible.  Yes, He is Love - that is His essential Being.  But, as the totally sinless One, He cannot bear to look upon sin.  Sin must be punished. "... the soul that sins shall die." is His word through the prophet Ezekiel (18:4, 20).  Indeed, as a study of any good concordance will show, there are more references in the Bible to the anger, fury, and wrath of God, than there are to His love and tenderness!
That is a major problem for "Abia", for you, for me, and for every other member of the human race. That's why some of us seek to share the Gospel message as often as we can. Because that message is the answer - not an answer that any of us can provide, but one that is provided by that same Almighty God.  At its most simple, it says that the same Almighty God Who is sinless, and holy, and just, loves us so much that, in the Persona (not a typo - see my book: Great Words of the Faith; chapter on "Trinity") of the Son, He came among us, showed us His love and compassion, and then satisfied His justice by paying the penalty that we deserved to pay!  It is summed up in that well-known verse: "God loved the world so much that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in (places their trust in) Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16). 
That involves, for us, the recognition that we are, indeed, sinners in the sight of God; that we can do nothing about our own debt of sin; that He has already done all in Jesus, and then accepting the salvation that is offered, so freely through Him.  The life we then lead is so totally different that we right speak of having been "born again".
There is a heaven, and there is a hell.  You and I deserve nothing but hell.  Praise God for His love and mercy that provide us with the opportunity to spend the timelessness of eternity, in heaven, with Him.