Important Information.

STOP PRESS: My first book (the first in a planned series!) is now available in paperback format. :-)
It is being published by AfJ Publications, Glasgow, and sells for £8.99 (for 230 pages). Initially, copies may only be ordered from me (p&p not included - but they may be collected in person!). Please contact me at
author@minister.com
The book is, of course, still available in its Kindle edition.


You'll find it at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B009EG6TJW where you may read some sample chapters!

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

I am also considering producing an audio edition. Any feedback as to how welcome this might be would be appreciated, as it would involve a great deal of time and effort!

30% of the profits go to support the persecuted church.




Thursday, 26 March 2015

A new home.

Today, we received an e-mail from a French Immobilier (Estate Agent; Realtor), letting us know that the offer that we had submitted for a house, here in France, had been accepted.  Because of the manner in which the French conveyancing system works, it will take about three months to complete the transaction, but at least the searching is over.

Although we have had a number of disappointments, property-wise, over recent months - both in selling and seeking! - this house actually exceeds our expectations and, for that, we are truly grateful to God.

A new home!  I suspect that it is almost always an exciting prospect.  Although we have been advised that nothing in France is really "sealed,. signed, and settled" until one has the keys in one's hands, we are confident that, having brought us this far, the Lord will not let us down!  Having said that, we have asked many praying friends to continue to uphold us in prayer, that there will not be any obstacles on the path.  If you are not on our mailing-list, please take this as an invitation to join with them!

Of course, this will just be a temporary home.  "What?", I can almost hear some exclaim.  "You've just has an offer accepted, and you are thinking of moving again, already?!"   Well, no.  That is not exactly what I am thinking.  My mind is going, rather, in the direction of the well-known song, made famous by the late Jim Reeves, the first, and last, verses of which are:

"This world is not my home I'm just a-passin' through;
my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door,
and I can't feel at home in this world anymore.

Oh Lord, You know I have no friend like you.
If heaven's not my home then Lord what will I do?
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door,
and I can't feel at home in this world anymore."

You see, for the disciple of Jesus, there is the promise of the Master: "In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also."  (John 14:2-3).

That's a promise that is available to all who come to Him in repentance and faith, accepting the salvation that He gained for us, at such great cost, when He hung from that "old rugged cross" at Calvary.  It's a promise that I, and billions of others down through the millennia, have claimed for ourselves.  It's a promise that can only be claimed for oneself.  It's a promise of eternity (timelessness, not 'endless time'!) in His nearer presence.

I wonder, how settled are you in your earthly dwelling - be it a palace, or a hovel?   May I encourage you to consider that the time will come, without any doubt, when you will be obliged to leave that home?    Whether you leave with a furniture van, or in a hearse, is the only variable!  If I may be of any assistance in pointing you, at a personal level, to the One Who, alone, has opened the way to heaven, then please feel free to e-mail me using the address at the top of the page.  Alternatively, there are a couple of useful links further down the page (right-hand side)) that may be helpful.

This world is not my home - is it yours?!


Sunday, 22 March 2015

Witnesses.

It's been a busy few days - attending a Fellowship Group, an all-day Seminar, and Café Church fellowship Lunch and monthly gathering - interspersed with some house viewings - all in Bergerac and its environs.  Our sincere thanks to the Coles for providing the hospitality that saved us countless 104-mile round trips from the static!

The one thing that stands out from all of that is, in fact, something of which we were reminded at the Seminar.  Apparently, only about 4% of disciples of Jesus are called and equipped to be evangelists.  However, when it comes to being a witness, the number rises - to 100%!

So what is a witness?  In legal terms, a witness is someone who tells what they know.  What they think, or what they have heard someone else tell, is irrelevant, and any jury would be instructed to disregard such "second-hand" testimony.  They are not allowed to share an opinion (unless called as an "expert witness" for that very purpose).  A witness is someone who "tells it as it is".

Sometimes, in a Christian context, that 'telling' will be vocal.  Someone will ask a particular type of question (perhaps to do with morals) and, in my response, I will be 'witnessing' to the Gospel truth.  More often, however, we are witnesses by the manner in which we live our lives.  Annie Flint (1862-1932) knew that, and was inspired to write a poem:

Christ has no hands but our hands, to do His work today,
He has no feet but our feet to lead men in His way.
He has no tongue but  our tongue to tell men how He died,
He has no help but our help to bring them to His side.

We are the only Bible, the careless world will read,
We are  the sinners' gospel, we are the scoffers' creed.
We are the Lord's last message, given in deed and word,
What if the type is crooked, what if the print is blurred?


What if our hands are busy, with other work than  His,
What if our feet are walking, where sin's allurement is?
What if our tongues are speaking, of things His lips would  spurn,
How can we hope to help Him, and hasten His return?


I wonder if you find those words as challenging as I do?  When we live, and behave, just as our unsaved friends do, we are doing them no favours.  When we criticise, and complain, we are being no different than the unsaved.  When we spend more time on worldly pleasures than we do in His service, and in seeking to know Him better, then we are allowing ourselves to drift away from Him - and the one who delights in that is the enemy, the satan!

Any barrister will tell you that there are good witnesses, and there are bad witnesses.  The same is true for the confessed disciple of Jesus.  I am either a good witness - in which case the praise and glory go to Him; or I am a bad witness - in which case the fault is entirely mine.   Only one thing is certain - I am a witness.

If you claim to be a disciple of Jesus, then you are also a witness.  Are you a good one - or a bad one? 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Only God can make a tree!

It would appear that I am going through a "secular poetry" phase as, once again, I make reference to a poem.  This time it is the poem "Trees", written by Joyce Kilmer at the beginning of the last century, but made famous when, set to music, it was sung by the famous American negro bass singer, Paul Robeson.

The words of the poem are:

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
 
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
 
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
 
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
 
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
 
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

I wonder if Joyce Kilmer knew any New Testament Greek!  If she did, then she may have been making quite a theological statement in that poem.  What I mean is that the Greek word from which we derive the English language word 'poem' is 'poiema'.  This word occurs only twice in the New Testament writings - in Romans 1:20, and in Ephesians 2:10.   

In the first of those references, we read, "Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made."  The context of these words is that if showing that no one has any excuse for not accepting the existence of Almighty God - the evidence is all around us, for those who have eyes to see.  In this verse, poiema is translated “things that have been made.”  All that we see around us - and all that is unseen - is testimony to the creativity and power of Almighty God.  The Psalmist-king of Israel knew this: "The heavens proclaim the glory of God.  The skies display His craftsmanship.  Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known.  They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world." (Ps 19:1-4; NLT).  If a poem - a mere ordering of certain words - requires a poet to create it, how much more does this amazing universe in which we live?!   And, of course, as Joyce Kilmer makes clear in her closing stanza, while mere humans are capable of penning a poem, only God can "poiema" a tree.

The second reference reads: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."  The context, here, is of salvation.  Paul reminds us that it is "... by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God - not because of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph 2:8-9).  In v.10, the word poiema is translated "workmanship".  How amazing this is!  What the apostle is saying, under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, is that those who have appropriated that wonderful grace of God, are God's 'poem'!  A life once dead in sin, now born again and walking in good works is God’s greatest poetic masterpiece of all!  Only He can "poiema" a lost soul; transforming it into one redeemed by His grace.
 
Are you one of God's poems?  Are you?!

Saturday, 14 March 2015

What is love?

According to the songwriter, "Love is a many-splendoured thing"; "the April rose that only grows in the early Spring.  It's "nature's way of giving a reason to be living; the golden crown that makes a man a king"!

One of the best video-tapes (remember them?) that I used in school lessons, was about love.  I would sometimes give advance warning of that showing - it did tend to whet the appetite of certain members of any class!   Of course, my pupils had their own ideas as to what defined 'love'.  They tended to range from those with a definite sexual connotation (perhaps with the idea of 'shocking' the teacher!), to "warm feelings towards another", or "being willing to put others first".

One of our difficulties is that we use the word "love" in so many different ways.   I love a glass of IrnBru, but not in the same way as I love to watch a beautiful sunset.  I love dogs, but not in the same way as I love my friends.  I love my daughters, but not in the same way as I love their mum - my wife.

The Greek language, as many are aware, has no less than four different words, each of which is translated into the English language by the single word "love".  The most important one, and the one used over and over again in the New Testament, is "agape".  This has nothing to do with the soppy, sentimental, psychological sensation of a Mills & Boon novel.  It has nothing to do with my physical appetites.  It has nothing to do with the most amazing earthly vistas.  It doesn't even have anything to do with my human friendships.  I could argue that there is something of it in my relationship with my wife and daughters - but even that would be an insufficient definition.  Perhaps the best way in which I have ever heard it explained was by my former minister, spiritual mentor, and dear friend, the late Rev. George B Duncan of St.George's-Tron Parish Church, in Glasgow.  He defined "agape" as "the minimum of emotion, and the maximum of evaluation."

"Agape" is, simply, the love of Almighty God - shown to sinful people like you, and me!   "God loved the world (i.e. its people) so much that, in the Persona (not a typo!) of the Son, He died on a cross; taking your place, and mine; paying the penalty for our sin; even becoming 'sin' for us; that all who come to Him, in repentance, and faith, may know full and complete forgiveness and, here and now, begin eternal life".  (see John 3:16).

John wrote: "In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (to satisfy the righteous wrath of God the Father against rebellious, sinful, humanity) for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." (I John 4:10-11).

Another songwriter claimed that "Love makes the world go round".  In that, there may even be an element of truth - as long as we think of the highest form of love, God's love, the love that is His very essence.  May all who read this post experience that love, for themselves. 



Monday, 9 March 2015

Looking up!

Although our former home in Motherwell is now the legal property of someone else, I pass it on a regular basis as I travel between that town and our current (Scottish) home.  My feelings are mixed!   As I pass, I can see some of the changes that are already being made to what was my home for twenty years.

There are, however, at least three things that I doubt will be changed - the three Velux windows that I installed many years ago.  This was all part of a major project to convert the loft area into two bedrooms - one for each of my daughters - and a 'common area' for use by both.   I still recall having fitted the first Velux, and lying down on the newly-installed bed, admiring my handiwork!   As I did so, even the Tower Block of flats across the road disappeared from view.  All that I could see was the sky, with the clouds drifting by.

It was the sort of view that dear old Noah had from the ark!  He had been instructed, by God, to make only one window in that massive, box-shaped, structure - and that was to be in the roof.  There was only one direction in which to look, and it was UP.  In fact, the opening was nothing more, or les, than a skylight towards heaven!

If there had been windows in the sides of that strange, multi-storied, craft then the righteous old patriarch would have been tempted to gaze on the devastation and destruction that was all around him as the flood waters rose.  The sight would certainly have filled him with sorrow and, later, as the ark floated on the surface of the heaving waters, with no landmark to be seen, might also have filled him with alarm.  The Lord knew this and so, in order to guard His obedient servant from such distressing thoughts, He endsured that he could only gaze heavenward.

We, too, are surrounded by despair; by political and economic chaos (in spite of the Chancellor's fine words!); by ever-decreasing moral standards; by violence and depravity that causes us to wonder if things can get any worse (they can - and probably will!); by exploitation, and greed - a stormy world of sin and death.  In all of this, we need to constantly 'look up', rather than let our hearts be troubled by external circumstances (cf.John 14:1ff).  The grace that is needed will come from above - as will our Saviour,Whose return is clearly predicted and, many of us believe, gloriously imminent.

"Looking Up" helps us to keep everything else in the perspective of eternity, and enables us to carry on with joy and assurance.  In a 'one-liner' that I picked up many years ago: "When the outlook is dark, try the uplook!"