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Sunday, 28 December 2008

New Year

As my dear wife and I are heading off to the peace and quiet of rural Dumfries-shire to bring in the new year, I guess I should add a final post for 2008 before we go!

We were at Preshal, again, this evening. I was speaking there for the last time - at least for this year! I was sharing about how we face different endings - the ending of a good meal; a good book; a relationship; even a job! And, of course, there we were, facing the end of another year.

Some face the end of the year with regret. For them, it's been a good year; they have many happy memories to carry forward - from coming to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus, to an addition to the family, to moving into a new home, and a thousand other things as well.

Others face the end of the year with relief. 2008 has been a year that they wouldn't wish to repeat. It's been a year of bereavement, of illness, of redundancy. They may not have understood the Latin that HM the Queen used a number of years ago, but they certainly understand the concept of an annus horribilis!!

The one thing that is certain is that it is a year that none of us will repeat. We face a new year, with a fresh bundle of challenges and opportunities; of joy and sadness; of good and bad. I was reminded of some words quoted by the Queen's father, George VI, in his Christmas broadcast of 1939:

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:

"Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown!"

And he replied:

"Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.

That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way."


That's the way in which to go forward to a new year! It's also the way to face that ending that, until the return of the Lord Jesus, will be faced by each one of us - the end of our human lives. Does that prospect fill you with dismay and dread? Or do you have delight in the assurance that, when it happpens, you will be with Jesus, throughout eternity?

I rejoice that I don't worship an unknown God (see Acts 17:23), but I do worship the One Who is the God in control of my unknowns. I trust that you, also, worship Him. To do so brings glory to Him, and is good for you.

A happy, peaceful, and Holy Spirit-filled 2009 to one and all.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Jesus our hope

Most of us are familiar with the old adage "Where there's life, there's hope." However, many true stories assure us that the opposite is equally true - if not even more so! "Where there's hope, there's life."

The Christmas story is, of course, a story of HOPE as we see the Creator of all that exists become part of His creation in order that a world that has no hope might be offerd hope through Him. As we face a new year of financial uncertainty; of redundancy; of house repossession; and all of the other negative aspects of the current "credit crunch", let us lift our eyes beyond the temporal and material, and see, in the Christ-child, the Hope of all mankind.

In case you don't have time to log on tomorrow: "Have a happy, peaceful, and blessed Christmas-time."

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Emmanuel: God with us.

The penultimate video-message from Damaris - only one more shopping day to go!

Monday, 22 December 2008

Staying faithful

Fidelity (faithfulness) seems to be one of those commodities that is in short supply in our western culture. We see the evidence for this in the myriad of broken promises that lie around us like the shards of a broken mirror.

Couples who once made a promise, before Almighty God, that they would be faithful to one another for as long as they both lived, finding that divorce and remarriage is the world's easier answer than the sheer hard work and, often forgiveness, that would save a marriage that is in difficulty. Bosses who willingly had their employees enter into contractual obligations that did have a certain inbuilt reciprocation, cut and run as the "credit crunch" bites ever more deeply - leaving those same workers with bleak prospects for the new year. Politicians, of whatever political hue, who promise the electorate almost anything in order to secure their privileged positions, and the accompanying perks, and who then quietly forget those whom they are supposed to be serving as they feather their own nests.

Perhaps that's the very reason why so many find the concept of a God Who truly is faithful so difficult to accept - along with angels; a virginal conception; miracles of healing, and over nature; resurrection; and everything else that makes up the Gospel message, it's outwith their knowledge and experience. If everyone else lets me down, why should I trust God?!

Of course, as countless numbers down through the millennia can attest, He is faithful but, as Stuart Pascall reminds us in today's video-message, that same God demands my faithfulness in response.

Only three more sleeps ......!!!

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Get ready

This brief video message should have been posted some days ago - but I managed to miss it out, and only realised my mistake when I counted forward to Christmas Eve (and discovered that I was going to be one message short!!). Anyway, it's an important message whenever it might be heard. Getting ready for the return of the Lord Jesus is of even greater importance than celebrating His birth!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Serving God

It amazes me that, in the culture of "the West", we seem to have totally lost the idea of service. This is no more obvious than in the related concept of "ministering/ministry". I often wish that I could explain to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom that his job is to serve the people, not to "lord it over them".

Jesus had something to say on the matter: "Jesus called [the disciples] together and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'" (Matt.20:25-28)

Service - it's the true way to greatness - even if it means following the way of the cross!

Friday, 19 December 2008

Light of the world

Whilst growing increasingly unhappy about the continuing commercialisation of the Christmas period, and all of its associated hype, I confess to enjoying the displays of special lighting that grace so many of our streets and homes at this time. There's something about them that "gladdens the heart". They are bright; they are beautiful; they are colourful. As Peter May reminds us in today's brief Advent video-message, Jesus is "the Light of the world" - and He brings illumination, beauty, and even colour, into the lives of those who place their trust in Him.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Ready every day

Although all of my uniformed organisation activity was in the Boys' Brigade, I always liked the motto of the Boy Scouts - "Be Prepared". Many of us have been preparing for Christmas (just one week to go!) for ages. But the big question is: "Are we prepared for the return of the Lord Jesus - not as a helpless Infant, but as King of kings and Lord of lords?"


Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Be expectant

Since my elder daughter's pregnancy in 2007-8, I seem to have developed a ministry of praying for pregnant women - some of whom I know, and some of whom I don't - and their unborn children! It has meant that, for the past twenty months or so, there has not been a day when I have not been expecting the birth of, not just one, but a number of babies. However, today's message about expectancy isn't even to do with that momentous birth that we celebrate next week. It's to do with an event that will be, if no more important, then certainly even more momentous! Enjoy!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Get on with it

I was asked, a few days ago, if I had completed my Christmas shopping! My response was - "What's that?"

It's a "man-thing", I suppose! But, if I think about it a less glibly, then I realise that sometimes, if something is going to be accomplished, then I am the one who has to "get on with it".

Philip Yancey shares a similar thought in today's video-message. Enjoy - and be challenged!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Interpreting the prophecies

Two weeks from now, and it will all be over for another year. Make sure you don't miss any of the remaining video-talks from Damaris!

Friday, 12 December 2008

Bringing peace.

Today’s issue of The (Glasgow) Herald reports on a
“£5m bid to bring peace between city gangs”
That aims to “… bring together hundreds of rival gang members …”

This sounds like a great initiative! Of course, some of us know that a similar work is already being accomplished, on a shoestring budget, by The Preshal Trust (“Preshal” is the Gaelic word for "precious") in Govan.

This work, headed up by May Nicholson, and sponsored by former Govan boy, Sir Alex Ferguson, is centred in an old, corrugated-roofed, single-storey building, supplemented by a shipping container, and is predominantly among people who are disadvantaged in many different ways - mental health problems; alcohol, and other drug, addiction; those in prison; people with literacy and numeracy problems; etc. The story of Preshal is too long to share on this blog, but is well worth checking out. (Try http://www2.stv.tv/info/newsWest_Central_Scotland/20080303/Sir_Alex_Ferguson_backing_a_Glasgow_char_2008030 for a taster - sorry, you will have to "copy and paste"!)

A recent move has been to reach out to some local gangs and now, on a Tuesday evening, upwards of 40 youngsters, out of a database of over 100, will be found playing pool, table-tennis and the like, instead of fighting over territorial claims, hanging out in closes or the local park, and generally being a nuisance! If everyone turned up at the same time, there simply wouldn’t be room for them all!
Of course, it's not just "play" as classes are provided in, e.g., healthy eating, computer work, and digital photography.

Wouldn’t it be good if some of the cash now being made available could be channelled towards Preshal as improved facilities are desperately needed for the expansion of this most worthwhile project - currently operated on a voluntary basis?

It will happen!

Sitting at my desk this morning, during my private devotions, I became unusually aware of the electrically-operated clock that sits on it. With that power source, the hands move around silently, and smoothly. I was suddenly fascinated by the second-hand, realising that, as it went around so constantly, it was counting down every second that is left of my earthly existence! It's a sobering thought! But, of course, what is of the greatest importance is that I am ready for death when it comes - as come it most certainly will, if the Second Advent doesn't take place first!

There has been much written, in the media, about the film shown a couple of nights ago on one of the satellite TV channels showing the final moments of a man who had chosen to end his own life. I didn't watch that programme, and I know nothing else about that man, but I can't help wondering what preparation he had made for that final event of his physical life. I only know of one worthwhile preparation - to come, in this life, into a personal relationship with the Creator God before Whom we must all stand, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

As we prepare to celebrate His first coming as a helpless, incontinent, needing-to-be-fed infant, we should remember that the Babe in the manger grew up to be the Christ on the cross; that He experienced physical death for our sakes; and that He calls us to respond with the love, gratitude, and obedience of our own hearts.

And now - today's video message, by courtesy of Damaris (http://www.damaris.org)

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Sharing

This little story arrived, today, in an e-mail from my cousin Heather. It's a story I've heard before - in slightly different version - and, being me, I've tidied up the syntax a wee bit!! It's not a theologically-accurate picture of that dimension that we call "Heaven", but it does carry a very important message!

One day a man was having a conversation with the Lord and said, “Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.”

The Lord led him to two doors. He opened one of them and the man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew, that smelled delicious and made the man's mouth water.

However, the people sitting around the table were thin and sickly, and appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and, while each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, the length of the handle meant that they could not get the spoons back into their mouths.

The man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering as the Lord said, “You have seen Hell.”

They went to the next room and opened the door. The scene was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew that made the man's mouth water. The people around the table were equipped with the same long-handled spoons but, in this room, the people were well nourished and plump; laughing and talking.

The man was confused! “I don't understand.” He said. “It’s simple,” replied the Lord. “It requires but one skill. You see, these people have learned to feed each other. The greedy think only of themselves.”

When Jesus died on the cross, He was thinking of you.

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35)

"But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;" (I Thess 4:9-10)

"For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another," (I John 3:11)

God keeps His promises.

Another brief Advent message, courtesy of Damaris (http://www.damaris.org) - and, as it happens, the 100th post that I have placed on this blog!!


Wednesday, 10 December 2008

What are we waiting for?

Christmas is coming;
The videos are good.
Make sure you listen in each day
For "mind and spirit" food!!

A lengthy chat with both Brian and Stephen at Damaris has identified, and repaired, the "glitch"! The bonus is that I have learned a little bit more about HTML coding!! Thanks, guys!! Now, enjoy all three messages - and that brings us up to date! By the way, start at the top, and work your way down!



Jesus' Return



What can we look forward to?

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Continuing problems!

Sincerest apologies!

Damaris now have the videos for the next week on their site - well, they have the coding, but none of them are working!!

Looking on the bright side, you may well be able to enjoy a feast of three - yes, THREE!! - messages tomorrow!!

Keep checking! You know it makes sense!!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Food for thought!

The following (slightly edited, to take out some of the specifically USA references) just came in to my e-mail Inbox. It was apparently read out by a certain Ben Stein - who, I am assuming, is better known in the USA than in the UK! -on "CBS Sunday Morning Commentary".

"My confession:
I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me
even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees.. I
don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas
trees.

It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, 'Merry Christmas' to me. I don't think they are
slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it It shows that we
are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that
there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If
people want a crïeche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.
I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting
pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of
getting pushed around, period. ...

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should
worship celebrities and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess
that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. ...

In light of recent events... terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when
Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained
she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not
read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your
neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave
because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr
Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about.
And we said OK.

Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience; why they don't know right from wrong; and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.
Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great
deal to do with 'WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.'

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell.
Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny
how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start
sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd,
crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of
God is suppressed in the school and workplace. ...

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks
of us. ..."

I know that I have read similar messages before, but I felt that it was worth posting - in case anybody has missed it!

It wisnae me!!

Well, what I mean is that, for some reason, the video-message for today has not yet appeared on the Damaris site from which I was acquiring them. I will telephone Damaris tomorrow and, hopefully, will put up two messages then!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

“Unanswered” Prayer.

One of the great difficulties of the Christian life is the tension between the belief that God hears our prayers, and the apparent reality that He doesn’t always answer them! Recently, I have been reading in the Old Testament book of Daniel during my private devotions (aka Quiet Time). I have also been reading a book, loaned to me by a new friend. The book is entitled “God on Mute”, and is written by a young man named Pete Greig, who is a church-planter, based in Guildford, Surry.

The two came together, when Pete Greig made reference to one of the better-known events recorded by Daniel – the three young men who were cast into a furnace that had been heated to seven times its normal temperature, because they would not submit to the worship of an image set up by a human king, but only to YHWH the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Their words are full of godly defiance: “Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Dan 3:16-18).

Pete Greig comments: “The paradox of faith is encapsulated in this rousing speech. On one hand, the three young men assert that ‘the God we serve is able to save.’ What’s more, they believe that God is not just able but also willing to intervene miraculously on their behalf, declaring, ‘He will rescue us from your hand.’ But on the other hand, having made these unequivocal statements of faith, they add, ‘but even if He does not … we will not serve your gods.’ In the first part of their speech we see that [they] have faith for a miracle, and this is impressive. But then we see that they also have faith of a deeper kind altogether – faith to endure suffering should the miracle not happen.” (God on Mute, 2007, Kingsway Communications, Eastbourne. p.155)

This is the kind of faith that is exercised, on a daily basis, by those who are termed “the persecuted church”. I don’t pretend to understand it; I trust that, if I am ever in that sort of situation, that I will be given the grace to exhibit it. What about you?

Breaking the mould

The second Sunday of Advent - and No.8 in this video-talk series.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Meeting the need

As the countdown continues, I am aware that thse messages, while brief, contain enough to make it worthwhile listening to them more than once. No extra charge!!

Friday, 5 December 2008

The expected Messiah

It takes less than one minute - and the background music is starting to sound much more "Christmassy"!!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

When is the Bible not the Bible?

The answer would seem to be: "When it is The Princess Diana Bible"!

Earlier this evening, I received a weekly e-mail from the Evangelical Alliance. It's called FNT (Friday Night Theology) and seeks to give a Christian slant to items of news that might be talked about by non-Christians. That was when I learned of this new "version" of the Bible that is, apparently, to be published in the Spring of 2009.

This "version" - which appears to be a perversion - is, according to an article in the Guardian newspaper

(http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/01/princess-diana-gay-bible)

"A gay version of the Bible, in which God says it is better to be gay than straight,..."

This article continues: "New Mexico-based Revision Studios will publish The Princess Diana Bible – so named because of Diana's "many good works", it says – online at princessdianabible.com in spring 2009. A preview of Genesis is already available, in which instead of creating Adam and Eve, God creates Aida and Eve.

'And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Aida, and she slept: and he took one of her ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from woman, made he another woman, and brought her unto the first. And Aida said, 'This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of me. Therefore shall a woman leave her mother, and shall cleave unto her wife: and they shall be one flesh.' And they were both naked, the woman and her wife, and were not ashamed'
."

I have already posted on the EA site suggesting that they use Consumer Protection legislation to deal with this issue. After all, if I buy a bar of chocolate that is labelled "Plain", I don't expect it to be full of nuts! Likewise, if I buy a book entitled "The Bible" (Holy or otherwise), I don't expect it to contain that which clearly, and plainly, contradicts the real thing!

Of course, even the most rudimentary knowledge of biology would lead one to the conclusion that, if God had created "Aida and Eve", or even "Adam and Steve", then the human race would have stopped right there! Contrary to the apparent belief of some, no two people of the same gender are capable of producing offspring. Whether they use a surrogate mother, or a surrogate father, the fact remains that both a female egg and male sperm are required for conception. It's the way in which God designed it, and there's no getting away from it.

Let the real Bible - which, in its many translations and versions, always proclaims the same message - have the last word: "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." (Gal 6:7, NKJV).

Promised salvation

Number Five in this Advent series. That means that it is only another 17 shopping days before Christmas day (20, if you shop on Sunday!!). Blessings.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Covenant promises

This month is obviously going to record the greatest number of posts yet - and possibly, ever! I hope that you are appreciating these brief video-messages. Do return regularly (even daily!!) to receive the greatest benefit.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

The need for a Saviour

This must be much better than merely opening an "Advent Calendar" - and eating all of that chocolate!!

Monday, 1 December 2008

God's Big Plan!

This is the second of the series of video-talks for the Advent Season, provided by Damaris at

http://www.damaris.org



Be blessed