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Saturday, 30 October 2010

Treat - or trick?!!

In the neighbouring town of Hamilton, is a retail outlet named Dazzle.  It's a 'fancy-dress' shop and normally, when I pass by, it is very empty.  On Wednesday, however, as I made my way back from the gym (honestly!) there was a queue stretching past the front of the shop, and many yards beyond.  There was a gentleman standing at the door, monitoring the situation, and only allowing a few people at a time to enter.

There was a reason for this unusual state of affairs - the shop was crammed full of shoppers!  I didn't stop to look at them, but the queue outside seemed to be predominantly adults accompanying young children, so it is not unreasonable to assume that those inside were of a similar make-up.

The reason for this sudden interest in the fancy-dress shop was, of course, the desire to purchase appropriate costumes for that annual pagan celebration of Hallowe'en.  Unfortunately, so many are blind to the origins of the festival.

It actually began as the Druid festival of Samhain.  The Celtic (sounded as Keltic - no known connection with the Glasgow football [soccer] team) peoples considered November 1st as the day of death as, with the shortening days, it appeared that the sun god was losing strength, and was being overpowered by Samhain, the lord of death (there are voodoo connections here, also!).  The druids also taught that, on October 31st, the eve of the feast, Samhain assembled the spirits of all who had died during the previous year, so that they could visit the living in their former homes.  This, of course, is the origin of "guising" - dis-guising oneself as a harmful spirit in order to avoid harm!

I have noticed recently, in our local supermarkets, a preponderance of pumpkins.  For many years, these have been used in N.America as the 'Jack o' Lantern'.  What few probably realise is that it has its origins in the candle-lit pumpkin (representing a skull) that served as a sign to mark those homes that supported the druidic beliefs.  One encylopaedia states “The apparently harmless lighted pumpkin face of the Jack-O-Lantern is an ancient symbol of a damned soul.”

Although there appear to be many who assume that Hallowe'en has a nominal connection with All Saints' Day -a Romanist feast day in honour of all of those who have been declared 'saints' (although, Biblically, every committed disciple of Jesus is a 'saint': see, for example, Rom.1:7; I Cor.1:2; Eph.1:1), it is actually a festival of paganism and the occult.

Paul writes: "Therefore, let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the Armour of Light" (Rom.3:12) and, again, "... have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather expose them." (Eph.5:11).

Hallowe'en, as popularly practised today, is no treat!  It's another trick of the evil one to which, sadly, many have fallen foul.  I am glad that some in the Body of Christ are waking up to the reality, and that my own Fellowship is holding a Children's Light Party tomorrow evening.  May such events be supported by more and more children - and their parents - that the hold of death might be loosened (ever noticed how many 'skeleton' costumes are worn at this time??) and replaced by the offer of eternal life,, through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Your will be done.

The story is told of a certain guide who lived in the deserts of Arabia, but who never lost his way.  He carried, with him a homing pigeon, to the leg of which he had attached a very fine, but strong, cord.  Whenever he was in doubt as to which path he should follow, he would throw the bird up into the air.  It, of course, quickly strained at the cord in order to fly in the direction of home, thus leading the guide accurately to his goal.  Because of this unique practice, the guide was known as "the dove man".

Before a man (or a woman!) is made spiritually alive, he walks "... following the course of this world ...", lured by the evil "... spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience." (Eph.2:1-2).  However, after having experienced the regenerating power of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ, he is given new and holy longings and desires, and is empowered to do the things of God as he is divinely led.  God the Holy Spirit (the Third Persona of the Trinity), Who is the heavenly Dove, continually bears witness, through the written Word, regarding the path that should be pursued if he wants to reach the heights of victory and full blessing.  The real danger for the believer comes when he caters for the flesh, and stops seeking the Lord's will for his life.

All of us who claim to be disciples of Jesus ought to be 'dove men (or women)' - sensitive, and fully responsive, to our heavenly Guide, Who tugs at our hearts through both the 'strings of circumstance' and the direction of the Word.  There is a valid prayer in the words of the old hymn:

"Holy Spirit, faithful Guide;
Ever near the Christian's side.
Gently lead me by the hand;
Pilgrim in this desert land." (Marcus M.Wells;1858)

... and a thought:
Don't hinder the Spirit's leading - unsatisfied lives are caused by unsurrendered wills!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Broken promises!

The last (Labour) government of the U.K. had a manifesto pledge that it would allow the British people a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. It reneged on that promise - only too aware that the likelihood was that the referendum would go against the, apparently insatiable, desire of the European Union to grab more power for its own unelected beaurocracy!

The apparent failure of the current (Coalition) government to make any firm stand against the E.U. - particularly the obscene demand for increased funding at a time when the rest of us are being told that we must make do with less - either, has led to the formation of a movement named "The Pledge".  Some details may be found at

I have already signed the pledge, as have many others.  If you feel that the E.U. is a drain on our national finances, and a massive gravy train for the eurocrats, then you might wish to add your own name to the growing list.

You may go straight to the 'pledge button' via this link

Saturday, 23 October 2010

The worth of a man!

There is a story told of an abbot who lived so luxuriously that the king accused him of plotting against the throne - and said that he must die!  The abbot protested his innocence and the king, in a magnanimous mood, gave him an opportunity to save his life.  He told him that if he could answer three questions that the king would put to him, his life would be spared.

The abbot agreed and so the king asked him: 1.How quickly may I ride round the world? 2. How much am I worth? and 3. What am I thinking right now?  The abbot was perplexed, and asked for time to think.  He was given three weeks!

Having consulted - to no avail - with learned professors, and fellow-religious, he was making his way home to prepare himself for death when he met a poor shepherd.  The shepherd enquired as to why the abbot was looking so downcast, and was told the story.  "Fear not, father abbot," he said.  Lend me your clothes, and I will answer your questions for the king."  Not knowing what else to do, the abbot agreed, and the shepherd duly presented himself before the king to give him his answers.

The king repeated his first question: “How quickly may I ride around the world?” The shepherd said, “Your Majesty, you must rise with the Sun, and ride with it the whole day and night. In this way, you will be able to go round the world in twenty-four hours.” The king, who had a sense of humour, laughed.  "Very well", he said, "but what am I worth? I am the king.”  “Your Majesty,” replied the shepherd, “according to the Bible, Jesus, the King of Heaven and Earth, was sold for thirty pence. Your worth must be at least one penny less. It should be twenty-nine pence.”  Once again, the king laughed, and commended the abbot for his wisdom.
Then he looked very serious and said, “Tell me quickly. What am I thinking now?” “Sire, you are thinking I am the abbot. But I am not the abbot. I am only a poor shepherd. I have come to ask pardon for the abbot and for myself.” Then he quickly removed the abbot’s clothes. Now he looked like a shepherd. He knelt down before the king for pardon which, as you might have guessed, was readily granted.

That little story - especially the second of the king's questions - came to mind this morning as I read, and listened to, the news.  Two items concerned the perceived worth of a man.  The footballer, Wayne Rooney is to be paid - allegedly - a total of some £230,000 by Manchester United, including various bonuses and payments for 'image' (!!) rights.  Oh, and that's not for each of the years of his 5-year contract.  It's for each week!  Almost £12 million per year for kicking a ball around a field - and, I understand, currently not even doing so particularly well!  The other story was about Scotland's most senior Judge, who lambasted some "... lawyers for allowing a 'straightforward' case to turn into' protracted' proceedings, with 52 days of evidence earning lawyers £1 million in fees." (The Herald), most of which would be paid for by the public purse through legal aid.  These stories, of course, came hard on the heels of the person(s) who won £113 million in a lottery.

There is, in my opinion, only one word for these situations - GREED!  I know that bank interest rates for savers are not very high at the moment.  However, I could probably get a 5% return on these kind of deposits.  That would mean that Mr Rooney could net almost £600,000 per year in interest alone - more than enough for even anyone with expensive tastes.  The lawyers wouldn't do quite as well with a mere £50,000 per year - and divided among a team.  But that was for only 52 days plus preparation time.  The lottery winner(s) could bring in almost £6 million per year in interest alone!

Around the world, millions are starving; within the so-called 'western' nations, there is a severe tightening of the belt - unless, of course, one is part of the EU bureaucracy (but that's a possible topic for another post!); but Mr Rooney and a team of lawyers are out to feather their own nests, regardless.  Even the lottery winner(s) didn't buy the ticket simply in order to support some charities!

The early Christian leader Paul did not say, as he is often accused of having done, that "money is the root of all evil".  What he did say is that "...  the love of money is the root of all evils;" (I Tim 6:10; RSV; my emphasis).  We, in the west, live in what is referred to as a 'post-Christian, materialistic, humanistic, society'.  We have, in the main, turned our backs on God.  We reject His influence in our lives - and then complain when He allows us to reap what we sow! (see Gal.6:7 ff)

I trust that, in spite of the example set by so many of those who are in the public eye, most of us will heed those other words of Paul, and claim them for ourselves, when he says "Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.  I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want.  I can do all things in Him Who strengthens me." (Phil 4:11-13; RSV).

Friday, 22 October 2010

He became sin

 It wasn't so very long ago that I was reading, in my personal 'Quiet Time', in Paul's second letter to the young church in Corinth.  At the end of what we know as chapter 5 (although, of course, Paul didn't write his letters in chapters and verses any more than you or I would!), I read, "For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." (v.21; RSV).

It was those words "... made Him to be sin ..." that suddenly jumped out at me.  Paul is telling us that, when He hung on the cross, Jesus, the sinless, holy, perfect and without blemish Lamb of God, did not merely take my sin upon Himself, and pay the penalty that I owed.  He says that He became the very essence of sin.  He didn’t just die for my sins; He became all that sin is – all the ugliness, and blackness, and virulence, and bitterness, and maliciousness, and pollution, and poison, that is sin.  Was that what Isaiah saw as he was allowed to look over the horizon of time and get that glimpse of Calvary centuries before the event?  He had no form or comeliness that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him.” (53:2).  No wonder that, for a brief moment of human time, the Father could not even look upon the Son, causing Jesus to cry out, in anguish, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt.27:46; Mark 15:34)
And He did all of that; He became sin; for you, and for me!  The hymn-writer didn’t quite get the message when he wrote “O help me understand it, help me to take it in; what it meant to Thee, the Holy One, to bear away my sin.” (K.A.M.Kelly).  H.G.Spafford was closer when he wrote “My sin – oh the bliss of this glorious thought – my sin, not in part, but the whole is nailed to His Cross, and I bear it no more; Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul
I thought of all of that when I watched the video below - posted on Facebook by my good friend Margaret Ollivier, a GLO missionary in Quimper, France.  I found it to be both beautiful, and powerful.  I trust that you will find it to be the same.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Response from S.U.

The following is the response from S.U. - in the person of Dr Andrew Smith.  I am grateful to Andrew for his prompt reply that came as a comment on the original post.  However, I am never sure how many people (apart from the authors!!) look at the comments that are made so, in fairness, I am 'posting' it as well.   My only continuing concern is that the Muslim young people might end up having a greater influence on their Christian counterparts - even if they are already youth workers!  To that end, I would encourage all of my Christian readers to uphold these young disciples of Jesus in prayer - and to visit the website for additional information!

Dear Brian

I'm writing to you in response to your post about the Discipleship and Diversity training day. My name is Andrew Smith, I am the director for Youth Encounter and am running the training day. Firstly can I thank you for alerting me to the fact that it was mentioned on Radio 2 - I missed that programme. Also for raising these important questions which many people have, and with which I am always happy to engage.

Youth Encounter is a Scripture [Union?] project which has the clear aim of 'Helping Christian young people live out their faith amongst their Muslim friends', an issue which is important for many young people across the country. The Discipleship and Diversity training day is part of this project and is designed to help Christian youthworkers in their discipleship of young people. At the day we will be looking at:
• What issues does living amongst Muslims raise for young people and how can we speak into this?
• How can we help them build friendships with Muslims?
• Can they share their faith with Muslim friends? If so how?
• How do we help them deal with conflict?
• What kind of events could they invite Muslim friends to?

As you can see this is not about assuming that we all believe the same, but aims to help young people love their Muslim neighbour with a genuine love whilst also loving the Lord their God. It also equips the young people to 'give the reason for the hope they have within them. With gentleness and respect'.

The other main work of Youth Encounter is the bringing together of Christian and Muslim young people to build friendships and to understand and explain what they believe. Once again this is not about claiming that our faiths are the same. At every event we run (and you can see many examples on the Youth Encounter website)we look at an issue of interest to young people and look at how Christianity and Islam speak into the issue. We then clearly identify the similarities and differences between the teachings of the two faiths. In doing this we challenge the young people to discuss difference peacefully.

I hope you can see that this work strives to be faithful to Scripture and relevant to the lives of young people.

Finally you raise the challenging passage in 2 Corinthians, with Paul's injunction that we must not be yoked to unbelievers. I believe this passage is a real challenge to the whole church. I'm not sure that in our work we are 'yoked' with Muslims. In fact in many ways I am yoked to other non-beliers not least through the fact that I have a mortgage with a bank with no Christian basis. I'm also aware that there are churches up and down the country doing very good work in conjunction with local authorities, the police and others. These partnerships could be considered ‘yoked’ as they carry contractual obligations. In the light of this I think it is important that people like yourself keep asking these questions so that the church more widely can wrestle with these important issues.

Thank you, once again, for asking these questions and for taking an interest in the work of Youth Encounter.


Dr Andrew Smith
Director of Youth Encounter

Sunday, 17 October 2010

What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?

I don't normally listen to BBC Radio 2!  However, I awoke very early this morning and, for some reason, my MP3/Radio, that had been left on Radio 4, was on 2.  I hadn't even realised that from 0600 to 0800 there is a 'Sunday programme' but, there it was - the 'God-spot'!

It was the end of a report on a training day on Discipleship and Diversity to be held, next month, under the auspices of Scripture Union - a well-known Christian (and evangelical) organisation.  What surprised me was learning that it was part of Youth Encounter - designed to help Christians and Muslims learn about and reflect on youth work in a multi-faith context. 

Now it must be admitted that Christianity and Islam do have certain things in common.  Both believe in the existence of a Creator God; both hold the written Word of God in high regard; both give a special prominence to Jesus of Nazareth; both anticipate a 'heaven' and a 'hell'. 

However, the differences are very important.  The Allah (not, by the way, a name; but simply the Arabic word that I would translate into the English language as 'god') is not the God of the Bible.  The Islamic conception of Allah is of a distant deity who has arranged the fate of every human being - a fate that cannot be avoided.  In Islam, it is the Qur'an that is claimed to be the final written revelation of God.  In Islam, Jesus is an honoured prophet  - but no more than that (and, of course, second in importance to Mohammad).  In Islam, it is my actions in life that determine whether I spend the after-life in heaven or hell.

The Gospel provides a totally different picture.  Almighty God is not a distant deity.  He is One Who is intimately involved in His creation.  For the Christian, it is the Bible - both the Old Testament and the New Testament - that contains His written Word.  Jesus, of course, is God incarnate - God 'clothing' Himself in human flesh.  He is the pre-eminent One; "... the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through Him [Father] God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.  He made the things we can see and the things we can't see - such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.  Everything was created through Him and for Him.  He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together.  Christ is also the Head of the church, which is His body.  He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So He is first in everything.  For [Father] God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through Jesus, [Father] God reconciled
everything to Himself.  He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ's blood on the cross."
Col 1:15-20).

The Gospel also makes clear that I can never earn my salvation by my own good works.  "God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  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." (Eph 2:8-10).

So, while I am all for dialogue with anyone, I am concerned that someone in S.U. may have forgotten that clear injunction given to the early church in Corinth: "Don't team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?  What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?  And what union can there be between God's temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: 'I will live in them
and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says YHWH.   Don't touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.  And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says YHWH Shaddai.'"
(II Cor 6:14-18).

If S.U. is encouraging an involvement with Muslims, then surely it should be, not to work together, but to work (and pray) for their salvation!   It should be to introduce them to Jesus, not merely as a prophet, but as Saviour, and Lord, and God.  It should be to lead them to the One Who said, "I am the way , the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me." (John 14:6).

I plan to send this post to S.U. headquarters for comment.  I will report, at a later date, on any response that I may receive!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Miracle! Salvation! What's the world coming to?

The big story of the past week has been, understandably, the rescue of the Chilean miners after 69 days underground in conditions that were far from ideal!  But it's the language that the newspaper headline writers have been using that I have found equally interesting. In a 'post-Christian', humanistic, materialistic, culture like that of the UK, it is strange to see words such as 'miracle' and 'salvation' emblazoned across our national press!

It does, of course, fly right in the face of what is pushed at us so regularly.  The so-called miraculous can always be explained; 'salvation' is merely part of the name of a uniformed organisation that has a lot of brass bands; religion in general, and Christianity in particular, is an outdated, useless, concept.

And then a group of miners, in a lonely desert, in a country that many people would be unable to pinpoint on a map of the world, are trapped by a cave-in, at 2,300 feet, and feared to be dead.  It is only after some 17 days that it is discovered that they are alive, and claim to be all well!  A major rescue attempt is put into operation and, eventually (and much earlier than originally expected) the man are raised, one-by-one, to the surface.

But, of course, it is the testimony of so many of these man that must cause some consternation to those who seek to deny the very existence of God.  Certainly, the comments made by the usual sceptics seem to have missed the point that these men are the ones who were there!  Mario Gomez, at 63 years of age the oldest of the miners, knelt in prayer when he reached the surface.  Alex Vega gave 'two thumbs up' before embracing his wife for a long time, and then showing his tee-shirt - emblazoned with “Gracias Senor” or “Thank you God”.  Jose Henriquez, the 24th to be rescued, is a 54-year-old preacher who has worked in mining for 33 years. He became the miners' pastor and organised daily prayers.

Now, of course, no-one is claiming that every single miner was/is a disciple of Jesus.  The one whose wife discovered his infidelity when his mistress appeared at the head of the mine-shaft at the beginning of the ordeal would certainly not appear to fit into that category!  But a lot of them appear to have had some level of faith that, in spite of their predicament - not, by the way, caused by God, but by what appears to have been slip-shod safety regulations (or a lack thereof!); the result, it could be argued, of the free-will that God gave mankind right at the beginning - there was One Whose hand was still upon them, and who would bring them safely through.  I am unsure as to how something like that 'evolves' from a 'lower' level!

So, let's be grateful for the skill and determination of those men who planned and executed the rescue.  But let us also, like so many of the miners, give thanks to the God of grace.  And let's pray that all of those involved will come to a deeper, and more personal, knowledge of Him Who came to enact the greatest miracle of all - dying for the salvation of a sinful mankind, and rising from the dead to live for evermore.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Just by chance!!!

A pleasant surprise - the Conference Centre in which my wife is attending the annual conference for Aglow (see my favourite links!), is kindly allowing me to wait for her inside.  The icing on the cake is wi-fi access!!  :-)

Please take less than two minutes to view this video-clip, before reading on!

What you have just watched is a very short sample of the Dancing Waters on the promenade at Blackpool, recorded when my wife and I spent the day there on Tuesday, and waited on to enjoy, and appreciate, the world-famous Blackpool Illuminations.  The most amazing thing, of course, is that the whole show is the result of an amazing sequence of random, and accidental, events that have taken place over many millions of years.  Quite by chance, a number of water droplets came together with some random sounds, and a selection of colours, to produce such an amazingly orchestrated and synchronised feast of audio-visual pleasure.  Now, please don't ask me about the origin of the water, sound, and colour.  They have just always been!

The above explanation is, of course, to even a small child, a load of absolute garbage.  No right-thinking person would suspect for an instant that that particular spectacle had "just happened"!  It was patently obvious, as one stood and watched the display, that someone (or, more likely, a team of people!) had planned, and worked hard at, putting the show together.  And they have done a splendid job!  If I lived a lot closer to Blackpool, I would be returning again, and again.

How strange then that there are those who can look at the magnificence of the known universe (and that adjective is of immeasurable importance!) and declare with all of the assurence - and arrogance - of fallen human beings, that it all came together "just by chance"!  They deny even the possibility of any intelligence that could have played a part in planning, and producing, it.

That's why I was so delighted to read in the online version of Sunday's Sunday Herald newspaper, of the formation of The Centre for Intelligent Design – headed by Professor Norman Nevin OBE, a geneticist at Queen’s University in Belfast; Dr David Galloway, who is also vice-president of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons; and Dr  Alastair Noble, a former HM Inspector of schools who is currently education officer for CARE, a Christian charity which campaigns for more faith teaching in schools.  The group has set up in Glasgow with the stated aim of promoting its beliefs to schools and colleges.

Let those of us who accept that there is a Creator (Who, of course, is much more than that!) uphold this new organisation in prayer, that we might yet see the fallacy of Darwinian evolution, and humanist philosophy, shown to be what they are - tools of the devil to blind mankind to the Truth. (see II Cor.4:1-6)

Monday, 11 October 2010


A wee note to mention that, later today, my wife and I are heading south for a week - making up for a little of the 'lost' summer holiday, and combining it with a conference for Aglow ladies, which she is attending. 

It is highly unlikely that I will have any internet access until I return, but please keep checking - just in case!!!  If you haven't checked out the audio messages on my second blogsite ( then this might be a good time to do so. :-)  I am hoping to add some more messages in the very near future.

Jesus - Name above all names!

In the days before the break-up of the Soviet Union - indeed, the days before the introduction of 'glasnost' and 'perestroika' - a Russian novelist was given permission to publish his new book on the condition that he had the Name of God printed in lower-case only!  When the book was later distributed outside the U.S.S.R., the author made the following comment in the preface:

'If we write the names of regional Party Leaders, and of the Secret Police, with capitals, why shouldn't we use capitals for the highest creative power in the universe?'

It was, and is, a good question!  It is unthinkable to many of us that we should 'downgrade' the Name of God in any way and, as I was pointing out in Coatbridge Baptist Church yesterday, we cringe when we hear, or see, that Name dishonoured.

Yet, even those of us who profess to be disciples of Jesus can be guilty of that very thing!  For example, the story is told of a prominent businessman who expressed the desire for reality in his life.  A friend asked, "How about God?  He is very real to some of us."  "Well," responded the businessman, "if He is, why don't you all begin to make Him real to the rest of us?  He can't be very precious to most Christians, or they wouldn't succeed so well in keeping Him out of their conversations!"

It is sad, but true, that for some who profess His Name, "God" is in small type!  Yet surely, every Christian should be able to sincerely echo those words of John Newton: "How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds in a believer's ear."

In these days, when many are praying for a reviving move of God the Holy Spirit in the U.K.; in Europe; in the world; it is not inappropriate to remember that the early Christians - the followers of the Way - 'gossiped the Gospel' - and saw the church grow.  They didn't all preach; they didn't all lead formal evangelistic campaigns; they didn't all plant fresh fellowships of believing people.  But they did talk Jesus, and live Jesus.

The lives of all who claim to be children of God (see John 1:12) should reveal the family characteristics (Gal.5:22-23).  The Psalmist said, "Ascribe to YHWH the glory due to His Name" (96:8).  By the words we speak, and the attitudes we manifest, we should always seek to magnify Him!

If we claim to be His, then in our lives, God should never appear in small type!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Happy Families!

It's probably a card game that isn't even known by today's children but, when I was young, Happy Families was a favourite - along with Snap, and Donkey; and non-card games like Ludo, and Snakes and Ladders!

The announcement of the new Shadow Cabinet, earlier today, reminded me of the Happy Families game.  Not only do we have Ed and Dave (and I don't believe, for one minute, that brother Dave will be out of the limelight for very long!), but we have the (in my opinion!) aptly-named Ed Balls and Mrs Balls (who, for some reason, prefers to be known by her maiden name of Yvette Cooper), and even a set of twins in the Eagle sisters!

So, is this a sign that renewed "new generation" Labour will favour the family unit, in the destruction of which their immediate predecessors (New Liebour - no, that isn't a typo!) played such a prominent part?   Sadly, I doubt it.  It looks to my 'non-professional-political-commentator' eyes like the usual cronyism that is one of the hallmarks of the Labour Party - and has been for as long as I have taken any real interest in politics.

These are the very people who stood (or sat!) by and watched the banks spend untold millions on useless assets.  These are the very people who allowed a property boom that was fuelled by people borrowing six times their annual gross salaries (and more!).  These are the people who watched a preponderance of television advertising that encouraged people to get into ever greater debt.  These are the people who ran the whole country into debt by spending money that the nation didn't have.  The only thing, I suppose, for which we may be thankful, is that young Ed didn't invite his immediate predecessor as Labour leader - the redoubtable financial wizard, "no more 'boom and bust' Mr Brown", to be the shadow Chancellor!

I recall, when I was in the Merchant Navy, meeting the most rabidly socialist person I had ever met - a ginger-headed Scouse baker.  However, when the time came for a postal vote for an election, he informed me that he would be voting for the Conservative candidate in his home constituency!  His answer, when I asked him why, was illuminating.  He informed me that, while he espoused Labour principles, he always voted Tory because they ran the country, while Labour politicians merely lined their own pockets!  As I look at Peter Mandelson pocketing 33% more, each month, in his EU pension than I receive each year in my own occupational pension, I recall my former shipmate - and conclude that he was absolutely right!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

What happened to childhood?

Two other items of news today have caused me a different kind of concern. 

The first concerns a 12-year-old girl who died in her father's arm.  The father claims that it was the stress of constant bullying that caused her death.  I do not have the relevant medical, or pathological, knowledge to make any comment on that.  However, the newspaper article went on to explain the grounds of the bullying.  It reported that, after this young girl's death, her family found various notes in her bedroom.  In them, "... she outlined her personal torment at being picked on 'for being innocent' about sex."  The father is also reported as having said that his daughter "... was a beautifully innocent girl, but the kids started to call her a lesbian because she didn't know as much as them."

On the same page was another disturbing article.  A group of nine-year-old boys (yes, that's 9!) have been suspended from their school after having been found selling cannabis in the playground.  They were, it is alleged, selling the drug at a ridiculously low price, on behalf of another boy!

A child of 12 doesn't know enough about sex; children of 9 selling drugs - even if one mother claims that her son only did so under pressure.  I don't know about a fairer, or a bigger, society; but it seems to me that these incidents are a clear indication that we have a badly broken society.

So, how might this broken society be mended?  Perhaps a return to the values of the Creator would be a step in the right direction!  Paul wrote to the disciples of Jesus in 1st-century Ephesus: "... submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the Head of the church. He is the Saviour of His body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.  For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up His life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God's word.  He did this to present her to Himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.  In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself.  No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of His body.  As the Scriptures say, 'A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.'  This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.  So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.  Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do.  'Honour your father and mother.' This is the first commandment with a promise:  If you honour your father and mother, 'things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.'  Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord." (Eph 5:21-6:4; NLT).

It may seem a bit old-fashioned to some.  But it works - and even those who are not committed followers of Jesus would do well to apply its instruction to their own lives.

Of course, there needs to be a protection for our children that doesn't just involve taking all of the conkers from a horse-chestnut tree at a school, lest one fall on a pupil, and the parents sue the local council!  The whole 'pushing of the boundaries' by television and film/DVD/video producers; the gradual ignoring of the 'nine o'clock watershed' (which was pretty useless as few children over about seven years of age seem to be in bed by that time - and those who are have a television set in the bedroom); the ready availability of pornograhic material on the internet - and all too few parents applying any level of responsible monitoring of their children; the preponderance of 'single-parent' families; all of this, and more, needs attention.

That's why government legislation will never be sufficient.  What is needed is a wholesale renewal of the mind (see Rom.12:2); what the late Peter Marshall referred to as "surgery of the soul".  It may already be too late - but it is surely incumbent upon all who claim to be disciples of Jesus to be much in prayer for a generation that seems to have been denied the opportunity to enjoy a real childhood!

Surely not because she's a Christian???

I have never watched the X Factor programme - apart from the occasional clip that makes it on to the national news!  However, the furore that has erupted after one of the 'judges' - a Ms Cheryl Cole (whom I would not recognise if I met her in the street!) rejected a young lady named Gamu Nhengu has ensured that I knew something about this 18-year-old girl.  It was when I saw her photograph in a newspaper that I realised that she looked familiar.  It only took minutes to recall why.  I had been sent a video-clip from the 2009 Praise Gathering in Glasgow.  This is an overtly Christian event and there, as a soloist, was the (then 17-year-old) girl from Tillicoultry - singing her heart out for the Lord Jesus.

The latest news is that she, and her mother, and her two brothers, having lived legally in the U.K. for, apparently, eight years, during which time the mother gained a nursing qualification from the University of Stirling, have been told that their visas will not be renewed, and that they must leave the country to return to their native Zimbabwe.

It makes me wonder why so many from the Islamic community, who live in this country - many at the expense of the British taxpayer - are not given the same kind of ultimatum!  I'm not referring, of course, to the law-abiding majority, but to the highly vociferous, substantial minority like, for example, the Muslim extremists who branded homecoming British soldiers 'murderers', 'rapists', 'terrorists', and 'baby killers', as they marched through the streets of Luton.  They faced a maximum fine of £1,000 but were instead handed two-year conditional discharges and ordered to pay £500 each towards costs.   Muslim cleric, Abu Hamza, who has already been convicted of inciting religious hatred here, recently managed to persuade the European Court to delay his extradition from Britain to stand trial for terrorism-related offences in the US.

Prime Minister David Cameron has been talking a lot about a 'fair society'. Perhaps he could intervene in this case, and let his actions speak as loudly as his words!  If the law-abiding immigrant is to leave, then let's also get rid of those who seem to want only to abuse our hospitality - and our benefit system!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Mum and Mum!!

It is reported, today, that Australian Rosemary Nolan (21) stated that her father has said that he would have no grandchildren.  "I proved him wrong", declared the young woman.

However, the rest of the story tells us that she is, in fact, in a lesbian relationship with Melissa Keevers - who has already given birth to a daughter, and is now (the 'newsworthy' bit!) expecting quintuplets!  Now, I am not medically trained; I am not a professional biologist; I am certainly not qualified in fertility treatment.  But I don't actually need to be informed that Ms Keevers has conceived each (all?) of her children by 'donor insemination' - using the same US company and donor.  So, let's put all of this together - each child will take its DNA; its physical characteristics; its genetic profile; from Miss Keevers (the biological mother) and the anonymous donor (the biological father).  Ms Nolan has absolutely no part in these children - or, to put it another way, her father is, so far, absolutely correct!

Of course, in my opinion, people such as Ms Keever and Ms Nolan are simply selfish.  They want to live in an unnatural realtionship, but to have the benefits that are normally enjoyed by those who live as God (or even nature!) intended.  You see, in Genesis 1:27-28, I read that "... God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply ..." (RSV, my emphasis).  Two people of the same gender cannot have children!  It is a simple, unarguable, fact of life - as the very use of donors makes abundantly clear.

Yet it's a growing trend.  Having returned to the gym, this afternoon, for the first time since before the summer, I picked up a copy of 'POLICE', the monthly magazine of the Police Federation of England and Wales.  It's always an interesting read.  However, I wasn't quite sure what to think when I read an article suggesting that officers ought to be better supported when undergoing IVF treatment.  It wasn't anything to do with the basic premis that it should be dealt with as would be any other medical situation, but the fact that the only example used was that of a Sergeant and her Inspector partner - both of them female!

When will the homosexual/lesbian community begin to recognise that their very use of these methods - Adam and Steve needing to use Eve; Amanda and Eve needing to use Adam - is proof positive that their relationships are not just opposed to the teaching of the Bible (and of every other major religious book), but are against the natural order?  I have often stated before that, if the whole of humanity were to adopt, overnight, these deviant lifestyles, then the human race would cease to be after just one generation!

Of course, it also seems to me that these people have not given sufficient consideration to the lives of the children involved!  I can imagine that, after school 'Parents' Evenings', a child would find it more than a little embarrassing to have to explain to its friends that the 'couple' who were there last night were "my Mum and my Mum" (or "my Dad and my Dad")!

Perhaps, in the current economic situation, a substantial saving could be made by refusing such treatment to those who seem to simply want to have the fruit of a heterosexual realtionship, while insisting on their 'right' not to live in one!

PAKISTAN – Christian lawyer and family shot dead for standing up to loan shark

The following has just arrived in my e-mail inbox.  I publish it without any further comment, believing that it will speak for itself.

A Christian lawyer, his wife and five children are believed to have been murdered by Islamic extremists after he dared to challenge a Muslim loan shark.
Edwin and Ruby Paul were shot dead at their home in Haripur in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, north-west Pakistan, along with their five children aged between six and 17, on September 28. A Muslim neighbour told Compass Direct news agency that the lawyer had been warned to leave the area by armed men the previous day.
Edwin had taken up the case of a Christian taxi driver who had taken out a loan of 150,000 rupees (just over £2,000) from an influential local Muslim to buy a taxi, only to find that the interest rate had been raised to 500% without his consent. When the Christian failed to pay the lender - a man with alleged links to extremists - his home and taxi were seized.
Edwin had only moved into the area with his family in February. When he registered a case against the loan shark with police, he was reportedly beaten and received death threats from the man’s associates. Edwin had appealed for help in letters to the provincial government, Christian organisations and churches – but no one was prepared to intervene for fear of extremist reprisals, according to a local church leader.
(Source: Compass Direct)

 For those who are disciples of Jesus:

  • Pray God's peace and protection over Christians living in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Ask Him to grant His wisdom to pastors in the province.
  • Pray particularly for friends of Edwin Paul and his family. Pray that God will comfort them, and grant them His peace.
  • Pray that those responsible for this outrage will have their own hearts softened; repent of their actions; and seek the forgiveness that is available through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Druidry - the new religion.

It was one of those news items that isn't considered to be important enough to be put at the top of the programme, but that is considered to be quirky enough to get a mention towards the end!  Apparently, the Charity Commission in the U.K. have now recognised Druidry as a religion, and afforded the Druid Network charitable status!  The Commission says that the Network's work in promoting Druidry as a religion is in the public interest.

So what is Druidry?   Although its history in the British Isles goes back to pre-Christian times, it is very 'New Age'!  According to one article on the Druid Network web-site, "Druids work to build harmonious relationships with deities, ancestors, spirits of the land, animals, trees, rocks, rivers and humanity, both through ritual activity and through their everyday actions."  When I read that, I immediately thought of the inspired words of Paul, when he wrote to the disciples of Jesus in Rome about those who "... exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed for ever!" (Rom 1:25; RSV).

However, what I found to be much more sinister was a peom on the same web-site.  Written by W.William Melnyk - otherwise known as OakWyse - one verse reads as follows:

"It was the smoke I saw first,
but then the serpentine smell of something scaley,
and then,
in the growing darkness,
the soft, insistent red glow of eyes.
And the warmth. The warmth."

My mind went to another passage of Scripture - "Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the YHWH Elohim had made. He said to the woman, "Did God say, 'You shall not eat of any tree of the garden'?"  And the woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, '  But the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.  Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons." (Gen 3:1-7; RSV).   And so, the relationship between Almighty God, the Creator, and the human beings whom He had created, was broken.

It was "... the serpentine smell of something scaley,"; and "... the soft, insistent red glow of eyes." that were the catalysts.  It seems to me that "... the great dragon ... that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world" (Rev 12:9; RSV) is still working hard to keep many away from the truth that is found in Christ Jesus.

Praise God that, thorugh that same Lord Jesus, and His atoning sacrifice at Calvary, the way is open for us to enter into a new relationship with God.  It still requires confession of our sinfulness; repentance of our sins; and a commitment to Him as not only Saviour, but also Lord.  But it is the Way - the only Way - to a life that continues even after this earthly life is over; continues in a dimension that is beyond our human understanding, as we "... sit with [the Father] in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus," (Eph 2:6; RSV).