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Saturday, 29 May 2010

Ode to Carrickfergus - from an exiled son.

I'm just back from my annual visit to Carrickfergus, in order to tend to my parents' grave. Today, I was greatly helped by my second cousin, Jackie who, with Karen and young Rachel, have been such good friends for many a year. I am very grateful to them for all of their assistance.

Just over seven years ago, while sitting in the Ferry Terminal at Larne Harbour, I jotted down the following. It's maybe time to share those passing thoughts!

Old Carrick town - my childhood home;
What memories you hold
Of days gone by, when I was young,
'Though you, already old!

Your castle, built on ancient rock,
has guarded you so well
o'er centuries of conflict;
as other bards do tell.

Within its walls I often played,
when I was but a boy;
and every time I gaze on it
my heart is filled with joy.

St Nicholas' spire doth upward point;
'minds us of God above
Who, through the Son, at Calvary,
did show to us His love.

On Fisherman's Pier I often sat -
my dad was there to watch -
but length of string, and V-shaped pin,
left me without a catch!

At Joymount end, the Town Hall stands;
its stage I knew so well
when, as a lad, I medals won -
as 'Feis' records will tell.

The Big Lamp, and the Tramway bridge,
Legg Park, and Shaftesbury, too;
the Model, and the old Barn School;
all memories hold of you.

The North Road graveyard - special place;
my parents' grave is there.
Indeed, their deaths the reason why
my visits, now, are rare.

So, in the autumn of my life,
my thoughts towards you turn;
and, for those days in Carrick town
I find I often yearn.

And 'though I live a hundred years,
or go a thousand miles;
the thought of you, old Carrick town,
will wreathe my face in smiles.

But only death can bring me back,
when parents' grave I tend;
and, on that somewhat solemn note,
my Ode to you must end.


Easter Day. April 20th 2003.


Friday, 28 May 2010

Death - the final frontier!

Today began on a very sombre note, as I attended the funeral service for one of my former pupils who was only about 18 years of age. Funerals are usually quite sombre - particularly if there is no real sense of hope and victory - but especially so when the deceased is so young.

The only positive aspect was the opportunity to meet up with a load of other ex-pupils - and to be pleasantly surprised at the way in which certain ones had so obviously matured in the "real world"!

I do hope that many of them were made aware of the transience of human life. So many young people seem to think that death is only for 'oldies'. Yet, since I first joined the teaching staff of Lesmahagow High School, I have been at the funeral services of more pupils, or of those who had only recently left, than I care to remember.

Death is a topic with which I dealt when I was teaching. There are so many ideas about it - from total annihalation, to 'we'll all be together in heaven' (however, whatever, or wherever, heaven might be!). Even among those who claim to be disciples of Jesus, there is an apparent reluctance to face up to the reality of death. So, our loved one has 'passed away'; been 'lost'; even 'kicked the bucket'! Almighty God doesn't mess about! Speaking to Joshua, He says, "Now that My servant Moses is dead, you must lead My people across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them" (Josh.1:2)

The problem would appear to be that there is an uncertainty about what does actually happen after death. It's easy for those who aren't facing it to come to all sorts of conclusions about the after-life - or the lack of it. However, as I later stated on the Facebook thread referred to in my last post (it went on for so long, that I reckon it should be in line for a mention in The Guinness Book of Records!!), those who dismiss the old saying that "There are no atheists in a foxhole", tend never to have been in a foxhole! I cannot racall his name, but a British Army Major who, at the time, was deployed in Afghanistan, sent regular audio despatches to the BBC Radio 4 programme Today. In the final message, he made the point that hardened men in the barracks at home, were found to be seeking out the Padre, reading the Bible, and taking a much greater interest in both life, and death, while on deployment! Of course, when one doesn't know if the next patrol will be the last one, it does tend to colour one's perspective.

I confess to not looking forward to the process of dying - it can be painful (as many in the persecuted church have discovered), and may be prolonged. But of death itself, I can say, triumphantly, with Paul: "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Cor 15:55-57, NIV). That's my (open!) secret. Because Jesus has already conquered death, through His glorious resurrection; and because I am His, and He is mine; I have the same victory, and the assurance that death, for me, is nothing more than the gateway into a fuller, more wonderful life, in a dimension that is beyond my human comprehension, in His nearer Presence. That's why disciples of Jesus, down through the centuries, have been able to face death with a steady eye. May all who read this post, have that assurance.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Pascal's Wager!

Well, I had to quickly think of a suitable heading!! I had intended posting on a different topic, but having earlier got involved in a "Facebook Forum" on the page of a former pupil, and personal friend, I've decided to use some of the material published there - mostly from my own contributions!

My young friend (no names will be used!) had, somewhat vociferously, complained that she had not been successful in a particular job application because, although her qualifications and experience were acceptable, the fact that she is not (and, to give her credit, makes no pretense to be) a Christian! Well, that really started something!

My first foray was to state: "Sorry (Name), but you may be assured that an atheist organisation wouldn't employ me!! It works both ways. You have told us the kind of work involved, but still have avoided the direct question as to WHO you were applying to! I agree with (Name). Indeed, I wouldn't want to work in a place in which my personal viewpoint was diametrically opposed to the general ethos of the organisation!
You may well have been prepared to just do the job, but there are many who are concerned that some would "infiltrate" and endeavour to undermine the ethos from the inside. I would probably have said exactly the same in the same circumstances - but I hope that you don't think that I "... still live in the Middle Ages." :-)

However, it was some of the ensuing comments that really set me off in 'preaching mode'!! - as follows:
"I don't think that I know you, (Name), but may I suggest that you have a look at a site such as http://www.opendoorsuk.org/ to learn something of the sort of people whom you appear to think "... ain't got the balls to believe in themselves"?! As far as your "... being better than everyone else." jibe is concerned; making such a statement merely demonstrates your personal ignorance (in the correct meaning of the word i.e. 'lack of knowledge') of true Christianity. It is my awareness of my own sinfulness, and my inability - even after the many years that I have been around - to do anything about it myself, that drives me to the One Who voluntarily gave His own life in my place. I'm not 'better than anyone else' - I'm just a sinner, saved by the overwhelming grace of God.
You may have heard of Blaise Pascal - the 17th century French mathematician, physicist, inventor, philosopher, and writer. He once posed a question that has become known as 'Pascal's wager'. It simply suggests that if someone like you (based on the evidence above!) is right and, when I die, there is nothingness, then what does it matter? I have led a contented, fulfilled and, I would claim, useful life. I would not even be aware that I had been "wrong"! However if, when you die, you discover that I - and millions like me - am right, it is too late, according to the teaching of the Bible (one of the best-attested books in the world, btw) for you to do anything about it.
I had to leave my computer rather abruptly earlier, but (Name) has already made some of the points that I was going to make.
(Name) - if I was to apply for a job with an overtly atheistic organisation, whilst revealing my personal Christian committment, you may be certain that they would find some way to ensure that I did not come in as a possible 'troublemaker'!
(Name) - please don't judge Christianity by the nominality that is so prevalent in a country like this one! Check out the site mentioned above; do a Google search on 'the persecuted church'; check on the figures for church growth in other parts of the world! The Gospel has been progressing for nigh on 2,000 years
- in spite of the efforts of people like Nicolae Ceauşescu in Romania (to give just one example!).
(Name) - I wish that you had asked me to be a referee for you for that post. I might have advised you not to go aead with the application!
Apologies for my own rant (but, hey, (Name) and (Name) know that, once I start, I'm hard to stop!!)"

So why share all of this here? Simply because I believe it highlights much of the misunderstanding about the Christian faith, that is so prevalent in our 'sophisticated' western, materialistic, culture. Now, I know that some of the blame may be laid at the feet of the Emperor Constantine for making Christianity "respectable" - and thus setting in motion that nominality that has plagued the true Church (every disciple of Jesus) down through the centuries. This is one of my reasons for this blog - that I might endeavour to demonstrate that the true Christian message is relevant to even 21st-century men and women. How good a job am I doing? Well, that is for others to judge! Thankfully, I will not be judged by the Lord on my success, but on my faithfulness.

By the way, I have just rejected a comment on an earlier post - because it came from that weak, cowardly, character who signs him/herself as "Anonymous". If you haven't got the guts to use your name - or a pseudonym of which I am already aware, and that does instantly identify you to me - then don't waste your time leaving a comment. It will also be rejected!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Corroboration!

In the light of what I posted just last night, I was both interested and encouraged by the article in The Telegraph newspaper today, that may be viewed at:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/7753609/Craig-Venters-research-is-scary-but-not-in-the-way-you-think.html

It would appear that I was correct in concluding that Dr Venter had not 'created' life, but merely mimicked it - much as is done in the 'creation' of so-called 'test-tube' babies, where what happens is that the male sperm is introduced to the female egg in the unnatural locus of a petri dish.

I don't think that the Almighty would have lost any sleep over Dr Venter's work (He wouldn't, anyway - see Ps.121:3-4!).

Friday, 21 May 2010

Creator Man???

One of the major news items of the week has been the announcement that a 'maverick' scientist has 'created' a living cell!

The Scotsman newspaper reported as follows:

"To create the man-made cell, Dr Venter's team started by mapping the genome – an organism's entire genetic make-up – of a bacterium called Mycoplasma mycoides. Another team then used this code to recreate the genome in a synthetic form, using chemicals rather than biological material.

These chemical blocks were pasted together by Dr Venter and his colleagues to create a complete synthetic copy of the original genome. This artificial material was then placed into another type of bacterium, which had its own genetic material taken out, creating a synthetic cell – though only the genome was synthetic.

Dr Venter and his colleagues created a code, similar to Morse code, to "write" within the DNA itself. They used the sequence of four DNA chemicals – thymine, guanine, cytosine and adenine – as a code for any letter, number or punctuation mark.

Using the code, the team included the names of the study co-authors, an e-mail address and even philosophical quotes, as a distinctive "watermark" on the synthetic genome.

Dr Venter likened the synthetic chromosome – the collection of genetic material – to new "software" which then "booted up" the cell. Driven by the new genome, the bacteria took on the appearance and behaviour of the original cell, generating different proteins and multiplying. Describing the achievement in the journal Science, Dr Venter said: "This is the first synthetic cell that's been made, and we call it synthetic because the cell is totally derived from a synthetic chromosome."

Now I am no synthetic biologist, but I do notice a couple of anomalies in this report. It seems to me that this is not the creation of life, but the use of other life-forms to modify a chemical amalgam! Yeast, an even more erudite article in the same newspaper informs, was used to paste the chemical blocks together - and yeast, as any baker knows, is a living organism; the resulting material was then inserted to a living cell - which, if I understand it at all, it then took over, in a similar ('though not identical) fashion to the way in which a parasite takes over its host body.

Creation, in the strict sense of the first origination of being out of nothing, does not come within the scope of science. Therefore, I continue to be perfectly happy to accept that the universe - all that is contained in the space-time continuum that is our dimensional experience - "... was formed at God's command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen." (Heb 11:3).

Some may seek to 'play God' - but He is still on the throne!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

It's been a hard week, so far! Physically hard, that is. Yesterday, I took delivery of a total of nine tons (imperial!) of assorted garden landscaping materials - whin dust; red chips; decorative chips; and decorative bark - in order to bring one stage closer the end of the 10-year plan for the back garden, that was commenced almost 16 years ago!!! :-)

The problem is the the delivery lorry could only operate from the road, and that meant that I have been transporting barrowload after barrowload from the front to the back. Of course, before doing that, I had a lot of digging to do in preparation - the foundations are the most important part of any building! (see Matt.7:24-27). I have also been transferring decorative slabs from the area outside the back door, to the new 'patio' area at the very back of the garden.

Doubtless, when the job is completed, it will all have proved to be very worthwhile, and my wee wife will have a delightfully secluded area in which to enjoy the summer sun (before we head off to France to increase our chances of seeing it!). But without the hard work, nothing worthwhile would be achieved.

I suspect that this idea was in the mind of Paul when, writing to the young church in the Roman colonial city of Philippi, he exhorts: "Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear." (Phil 2:12). The life of the one who has placed his/her trust in the Lord Jesus for salvation, is "... hidden with Christ, In God." (Col.3:2). But that does not mean that, having been saved and justified, I may just sit back and await my call to glory!

Jesus, Himself, made that clear in the parable of the 'talents' (Matt.25: 14-30). the man who accepted the bag of silver from his master - and did nothing with it - ended up being thrown out into "... outer darkness ...". There was a time when I firmly believed in the 'doctrine' of "once saved, always saved". However, the older I get, and the more I get to know the Word of God, the less certain I am that the situation is as simple as that. Perhaps some who claim to have been saved have confused religious activity with divine grace! Jesus' words as recorded in Matt.7:21-23 would certainly seem to support such a teaching!

So, what am I saying? Basically that, once we have been saved - by grace, through faith, as a gift from God. Not as a reward for some good things that we may have done (Eph.2:8-9) - we are saved eternally. But that we must not forget the next few words in Epesians 2 - "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago." (v.10; my emphasis). A passage such as I Cor.3:11-15 is also highly relevant. My good works (that, in reality, are no more than 'filthy rags' - see Isaiah 64:6) do not save me but, having been saved, I must follow the example of my Saviour, and seek always to do the Father's will.

On that glorious Eternal Day when I stand in front of my Lord, I want to be able to do so with the confidence that He is going to utter those wonderful words, "Well done, My good and faithful (not successful!!) servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let's celebrate together!" (Matt 25:21). And if that means trundling barrow-loads of whin dust, then I will still say "Glory to His Name.!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Idle talk costs ...!!

Yesterday morning, in my position as a Force Chaplain with Strathclyde Police, I was involved in the annual Service of Remembrance for those serving officers and staff who had died during the previous twelve months. As my colleagues and I prepared for the service, radio microphones were issued to those who would need them. The understandable instruction was given that they should be switched off when not being used. "Don't worry," remarked one clerical colleague, "I don't want to do a Gordon" (showing, incidentally, how quickly and easily a new piece of terminology can become part of the language!). He was, of course, referring to the now infamous incident in which Gordon Brown - the previous Prime Minister of the U.K. - failed to switch his microphone off, and was heard by millions referring to a woman who had had the temerity to ask him a question that had not been carefully rehearsed, as "that woman" and "a bigot". There are many who would claim that that single act cost the Labour Party more votes in the ensuing General election, than any other.

I remembered it this morning when I heard on the radio news that the Chairman of the English Football Association, Lord Triesman, had been recorded making comments to the effect that the Spanish were planning to bribe referees at this summer's World Cup, while also offering their support to Russia's bid for the 2018 World Cup if they were to help. Lord Triesman has, subsequently, resigned from his position with the Association.

That's the problem when unguarded comments are made public! There can be embarrasment; shame; loss of position. It's why we should always be very careful what we say - regardless of who might be around!

In Matt.12:33-37 we find these words of the Lord Jesus recorded: "A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you." (my emphasis).

The point is that Almighty God hears every word that I speak; He knows every thought. To be caught, on a recording device, saying something that is later regretted may have temporal consequences; to speak in a way that is displeasing to the Lord, may have eternal consequences!

James wrote: "... if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can't draw fresh water from a salty spring." (3:2-12)

Let us emulate the Psalmist: "Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips." (Ps.141:3).

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Inestimably rich!!

It was as I sat at my private devotions this morning, that I realised in a way that I hadn't done before, that I am inestimably rich!

Now before I start receiving all the begging e-mails, I had better make clear that I hadn't just noticed that my bank account had been mysteriously credited with billions of pounds! But what I do have is the love of God, and the love of my wife and daughters. And I wouldn't trade any of that for the combined wealth of the 100 financially-richest people in the world.

Every day, I experience the love of my immediate family - those with whom I have a direct blood relationship (and that included my dear parents while they were alive), and the woman whom I chose, and who agreed to choose me! And every day I experience the love of Almighty God - that love that brings salvation: forgiveness, justification, sanctification and, ultimately, glorification. And all of that is priceless!

I wasn't the greatest fan of the Beatles, although I thought that they made a lovely sound. But one of their songs came to mind this morning - "Money can't buy me love". Love, health, and a sense of self-worth are much more important than money. Now money does have a place in our modern economy. But it mustn't be thought of as the most important thing. It's the love of money that is at the root of all evil (I.Tim.6:10). "Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to His Name. And don't forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God." (Heb 13:15-16).

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Marriage of love, or of convenience?

Through the mouth of His prophet, Amos, YHWH asked the question "Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?" (3:3)

Those words came to my mind as the post-election saga slowly came to an end. The U.K. has a government again. But who would have guessed, even a week ago, that the Conservatives would have joined forces with the Liberal Democrats - almost the old Tories and Whigs coming together!

Like a lot of folks, I am pleased with the eventual outcome - but concerned about the longer-term implications! Is this really a marriage of love - or is it simply one of convenience? There are a number of Liberal Democratic policies with which I have real problems. In the past, the House of Lords has proved to be a bulwark against some of the more extreme legislative proposals brought forward by the last administration. I would be loathe to see it changed, as the LibDems would want. Although I am a lover of Europe, and have dear friends in a number of European countries, I am totally opposed to the E.U., and would gladly see the U.K. withdraw from it. The LibDems are very pro-E.U. I find it difficult to forget that it was a Liberal - David Steel - who introduced the Abortion Act (1970), responsible for the deaths of countless unborn children. And when the new Scottish Executive (as it then was) decided to abolish Section 2A (Clause 28 in England/Wales), the Liberals were right there supporting its abolition - in spite of repeated polls that showed that some two-thirds of the Scottish population wanted it to be retained.

Still, as I have written elsewhere, "the proof of the pudding is in the eating", and we shall now just have to wait to see how events transpire. Once again, I return to my favourite theme - the sovereignty of Almighty God. There is more than a little truth in the old saying that "Man proposes, but God disposes"! He is still on the throne, and I take comfort in that. The hymnwriter got it absolutely right when he wrote "God is working His purpose out, as year succeeds to year" (Basil Harwood). May we be found co-operating with Him as much as we hope that the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats will co-operate in the government of the U.K.

Monday, 10 May 2010

The waiting continues!

So, Mr Brown has finally 'got the message', and has given a public assurance that he will resign as soon as a new government is formed. And there, as Shakespeare's Hamlet would say, is the rub! Because, as I type, there seems to be no sign of any firm agreement coming out of the lengthy, cross-party, discussions that are going on. Indeed, the water might be said to have been muddied by the news that, after however many hours of talking with the Conservatives, Mr Clegg's LibDems are also holding conversations with the Labour Party. There are those who are suggesting that Mr Brown's announced departure from the leadership of the Labour Party is a calculated move to enable the LibDems - whose leader was so public about not propping up Mr Brown, in government - to cosy up to the Labour Party.

It is all a bit of a mess! Yet, what can we expect from those who appear to be so determined, in spite of all of the evidence of past failures, to depend on their own perceived wisdom, and ability.

The Bible has a great deal to say about wisdom - which, by the way, is not totally synonymous with knowledge and understanding! Almost every chapter of the Old Testament book of Proverbs has a number of references to it. It is seen as something that: comes from the Lord (2:6 inter al); is of great importance (4:7); is a characteristic of those who do have understanding (10:13); and is of more value than even gold (16:16).

It is seen as just as important in the New Testament writings. It was to be one of the attributes of the earliest deacons (Acts 6:3); it is linked with 'spiritual understanding' (Col.1:9); it is differentiated from worldy 'wisdom', being "... first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy." (James 3:17, NKJV).

It must surely be our prayer that those most directly involved in this ongoing situation be filled with that wisdom - the wisdom that comes from God alone.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Thank you!

I've just checked and, with only 14 votes (at time of typing!) I have reached the Top 18 list for my blog/interview! A big "Thank you" to all who have taken the trouble to go to

http://bloginterviewer.com/politics/the-crazyrev-page-c-brian-ross

and support me!

However, it's early in the month and, already, there are those with far more votes. I suspect that they have got lots of folk who, having bookmarked the voting site, keep returning every 24 hours or so! Even 3/4 votes per week, from each of 30 people would give me between 450 and 500 votes over a period of a month (the counter is reset to Zero at the beginning of each month!). That might not be enough to get me to the No.1 position, but should keep me in the Top 5!

If you think that it would be good to have a specifically, and unashamedly, Christian blog receiving that kind of recognition - and having the number of hits increased, as a result - then please become one of those 30 people who will vote for me 3/4 times per week.

Thank you! :-)

Friday, 7 May 2010

Continuing confusion!

The country (well, some 66% of the electorate!) has spoken, and no political party has been given an absolute majority. The 'horse-trading' has commenced - behind closed doors, if not in public - and it may be some days before we know who has the responsibility of governing the United Kingdom.

So what is happening? Not being one of the political pundits, I really don't know. Mind you, I doubt if any of them are particularly sure either. They just have to keep spouting theories, and opinions - it's their job!

There is only one thing of which I am absolutely certain. That is that the sovereign God Whom I seek, however ineffectively, to serve knew the outcome of this particular General Election from before the world began! That's quite a claim, but it rests on the assurance that He sees the end from the beginning; that He is the Alpha and the Omega - the beginning and the end!

This is not to say that He looks into the future. It's much, much more than that. He is not in time at all, but outwith it! From the vantage-point of eternity, He sees all of time spread out before Him. He sees, simultaneously, Adam in the Garden of Eden; Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac; Moses facing up to the Egyptian pharaoh; David in Jerusalem; Jeremiah in Egypt; Jesus on the cross; Paul in Rome; John on Patmos - to say nothing of the history of mankind in the succeeding 2000 years.

This means that, unlike us, He already knows who will be the Prime Minister by this time next week. So, although I do not understand the current situation, I am content that "God is still on the throne."

Let those of us who believe in the efficacy of prayer seek God's face that He might graciously move in this unusual situation, that His will and purposes might be worked out. Last night, at the monthly prayer-meeting in Liberty Community Church, we were repeatedly reminded that "God is at work". Let us rejoice in that, and seek to make ourselves available to Him.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

The campaigning is over!

Well, as I start to type, there are only eight minutes left for the U.K. electorate to record their votes. The early evening news seemed to indicate that the turnout has been higher than in recent years but, understandably, we will not know for certain until all (or at least a fair percentage) of the counting has been done.

My personal problem was that the party with whose policies I was most in agreement did not have a candidate standing for election in my constituency. This, too, is understandable, as it is what is referred to as a "safe" seat (for the Labour Party). The one candidate for whom I might have voted as, for example, an Independent, was standing for a Party, most of whose policies I abhor.

However, I am all too aware that in many countries I would not even have the opportunity to vote; or that it would be a one-party election; so I am grateful for the element of democracy that assures me enfranchisement - although I do hope that there will be a change to proportional representation as soon as possible!

It has been my fervent hope, and prayer, that this General Election will see a vast army of men and women of faith and integrity returned to Westminster. Alan Storkey has written an interesting book entitled Jesus and Politics (a combination from which many would recoil!). In it, he states that "In order to be liked or supported, many politicians have traded their principles for acceptance by public, party, or peers." (pps 149-150). He goes on to state that "Amazingly, Jesus turns away, on principle, from every popular move." (p.150) "This is not a Man Who sets out to win friends and influence people. He does not need to be liked" ... "Jesus insists, 'Always integrity; never popularity'." (p.151)

By this time tomorrow, all will have been settled. God grant that integrity will have won the day, and that men and women, of whatever political hue, will work together to redirect this nation to walk in the paths of righteousness - for His Name's sake.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

The importance of persepective!

It was Saturday morning - after very heavy rainfall through the night. I looked out of the caravan window on a now dry, but very dull, day. The clouds were dark, and menacing; the prospects were not good.

Sitting after breakfast (while my wee wife made up our packed lunches - we were on holiday, and rain wasn't going to keep us in!) I looked out ot the opposite window. I saw breaks in the clouds, revealing patches of blue sky and even some sunshine forcing its way through! The situation had changed, and I was much more confident about the day ahead. And all because I had looked in a different direction!

Life can be like that! We may look to the popular media - newspapers; radio; television. And, when we do, all seems to be gloom and doom - an environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico; ongoing conflict, and death, in Afghanistan; the continuing economic depression; political confusion, and the possibility of a hung parliament, in the U.K.

But then I turn my gaze to Jesus and, suddenly, everything is seen from a different perspective. I see, in Him, the Sovereign God Who loves, and cares; Who understands every pain I suffer; Who comes into every situation, and says, "Peace; be still."

Some of the hymnwriters knew about this difference:

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace."

"Heaven above is softer blue; earth around is sweeter green. Something lives in every hue, Christless eyes have never seen."

Finding life dull, difficult, depressing? Look in a different direction!

Look to Jesus!