Important Information.

STOP PRESS: My second book - Foundations of the Faith - is now available as a Kindle e-book at http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00XTAE98C?*Version*=1&*entries*=0
Paperback NOW available at:


The first volume - Great Words of the Faith - is still available at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B009EG6TJW
Paperback NOW available at:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-

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

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

As I am currently unable to access any comments/questions that may be left, please feel free to use author@minister.com as a contact e-mail address. I don't access that Inbox on a daily basis, but I shall respond whenever I do!



Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Nothing secret!

I have mixed feelings about the latest WikiLeaks!  On the one hand, it is my understanding that the lives of certain individuals may be at risk because of these disclosures, and this would certainly not be something for which I would wish.  It is also claimed that the reports of China 'cooling off' towards North Korea - a situation that might be of benefit to the persecuted disciples of Jesus in that country - might have a negative effect, and encourage the Chinese government to continue its support of the 'hermit nation'.  This, too, I would find to be very unfortunate.

On the other hand, in a culture in which various governments, including the U.S.of A. and the U.K. appear to wish to know everything that I say and do, why should I not know something of their 'private' thinking?

I was reminded of some words of Jesus: "The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.  Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear!" (Luke 12:2-3; NLT).  Perhaps some of our senior politicians and diplomats - and even a member of the royal family! - ought to heed the advice of the King of kings!

I have also been reflecting on the relationship between time and eternity!!  My current conclusion (if that isn't an oxymoron!) is that while time is separate from eternity, it is encompassed by it; that eternity 'touches' time at every point.  It's a bit like a submarine, stationed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, half-way between the ocean bed, and its surface.  The submarine represents time - the bow being the beginning of time, and the stern, the end of time.  We can imagine the different points along the length of the submarine as being various points in time - past, present, and future (by the way, I believe that, using this illustration, we are very close to the stern of the vessel!).  The ocean, of course, represents eternity.  It is all around the the submarine, but is also touching it at every point.

So, what does that suggest?  It helps me to realise how close the Lord is to me - so close that I should almost be able to reach out and touch.  He is not a God Who is far off, but the very One in Whom "... we live, and move, and have our being." (see Acts 17:27-28).  It helps me to better understand those words in Heb.10:20 "By His death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place." (NLT).  The writer may be speaking of more than a symbolism of the Temple Veil, by emphasising the 'thin-ness' of the barrier between here and there!  I wonder is this why there are so many reports of saints of God who, at the moment of their physical death, can say with Stephen "Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honour at God's right hand!" (Acts 7:56).  It confirms my thinking of many years that, when we read in Genesis 5:24 that, "Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.", it was as if, one morning, that dear Old Testament saint awoke, asked the Lord "Where are we going today?", and was told "You're coming to My place, Enoch.  Walk on through".  And Enoch simply stepped through that invisible barrier into glory.

It also reminds me that there is One Who knows, not only my every word and deed, but also my every thought!  Is this why Paul has so much to say about that aspect of my being?  "... letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace." (Rom 8:6); "Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Rom 12:2); "... whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (Phil 4:8).


It's something worth keeping in mind!

An alternative Christmas!

It's beginning to look as if I am not alone in the desire to reclaim the Christmas Season for the One Who should be its central Character - the Lord Jesus!  The following has just arrived from GFA (Gospel for Asia - http://www.gfa.org/ )

Soon we'll hear the greatest story of all time! If you look hard you may find the main character, Jesus Christ. He's resting quietly, hidden among the inflatable snow globes, the singing Christmas trees, and the wood-carved nutcrackers. 

Have we forgotten what Christmas is all about? Have the snowmen, presents and colourful lights obscured the true reason for celebration?

Watch the video, become inspired and find practical ways to impact a life this Christmas.




And now - some of the ways in which you may act - remembering that while I-pods, and Wiis, and X-boxes wear out, a goat, or a pig, or a cow reproduces, and provides a long-term income for a whole family!  (And you save on wrapping paper, as well!! :-) )

Sunday, 28 November 2010

The beginning of Advent

Having made some reference to the subject just a few days ago, I was interested to receive the following 'take' on the original poem by Clement Clarke Moore (1779 - 1863).  Please feel free to copy and paste - and send to your own friends!  Many (if not all!) of the retail/personal references are to North American (USA/Canada) stores/people - but the message is, I think, clear enough!  I have made some slight amendments to enhance the scanning!!!

'Twas the month before Christmas
When all through the land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.  
For the 'PC Police' had taken away
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.
The children were told, by their schools, not to sing
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
"It might hurt people's feelings", the teachers would say,
"December 25th is just a 'Holiday'".
Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, cheques and credit
Pushing folks to the floor in their rush just to get it!
CDs from Madonna, an X-BOX, an I-pod
Something was changing, something quite odd! 
Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken and Fonda.
As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas - was not to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.
Inclusive, sensitive, di-ver-si-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.
Now Daschle, now Darden, now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Barack, on Kerry, on Clinton !
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter  
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
And we spoke not a word, as they slaughtered our faith,
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace.
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The Reason for the season, didn't even get started.
So celebrate 'Winter Break', 'neath your 'Dream Tree',
Whilst sipping your Starbucks - but listen to me.
Choose your words caref'ly, be clear what you say;
Shout "HAPPY CHRISTMAS" , 
Not Happy Holiday !
 
Please, all Christians join together and wish everyone you meet during the Holidays a "HAPPY CHRISTMAS".

Christ is the Reason for the Christ-mas Season!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

The secret 'Halal' meat scandal.

This is a longer video clip than I would normally post, but it just arrived in my mail-box and is, I believe, worth viewing. 

 

If you wish to register your own protest about this situation, please go to

https://barnabasfund.org/halal-petition/?m=10%2523245%2523445%2523522  (copy and paste!)

and sign the online petition sponsored by the Barnabas Fund.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Is this the beginning of the end for the EU?

So, at long last, there is a focal point for those of us who long for the U.K. to get out of the discredited (and you may take that in any way you wish!) E.U.  The Daily Express newspaper has commenced a 'crusade' to "... liberate Britian from the stranglehold of Brussels."  Mind you, I trust that those who run this campaign remember that "Britain" or, more accurately, "Great Britain" (as in Grande Bretagne - size rather than importance!) consists of only England, Scotland, and Wales, even if the adjective 'British' is applied to all of the peoples of the U.K.!  If N.Ireland (which is still separate from the Republic of Ireland) is included - as it should be - then one should refer to "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and N.Ireland" - see your passport for confirmation!  The two islands, and their associated smaller ones, are The British Isles!

However, I digress!

Let me state, for the record, that I love Europe, and have very good friends in each of a number of European countries.  Even after our experience of the summer that has now passed, my wife and I plan to return to France in 2011.  Indeed, we are seriously considering a wee holiday home in the Dordogne, or the Vendeé, or Charente, or Charente-Maritime!  However, when I voted, almost 40 years ago, against joining the European Economic Community, I was at least voting about a trading partnership.  Only in his latter years did the late and, in my opinion, treasonous, Edward Heath confess that he had hidden from the British public the truth that a political union, with its associated, and manifestly corrupt, bureaucracy, had always been the ultimate vision!

The current Coalition Government (for whom I still pray, on a daily basis!) has done no better.  'Students' may continue to riot over what they claim is Mr Clegg's broken promise with regard to the proposed increases in their fees in spite of his repeated explanation that the Lib Dems did not win the last General Election, and that he has had to make compromises - especially when the scandalous state of the nation's finances, after the abysmal performance of the previous administration, is taken into consideration!   However, many have pointed out that the 'stiff' (well, it's hardly 'hard'!) line of the Conservative leader on Europe has had to be watered down because of the Lib Dem love affair with the E.U.!

I welcome the move by The Daily Express, and trust that there will now be such a groundswell of public opinion that not even the Government will be able to ignore it.  I do not claim to have the gift of predictive prophecy, but I am fairly certain that, if a referendum were to be called on the matter, there would be an overwhelming majority who would wish to say "Cheerio" to the E.U. and the Brussels' bureaucrats.  I certainly know which side would be getting my vote!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Advent message - Part 1

After my little 'rant' in the second part of the previous post, I was glad to receive this audio-message from deovox, via Damaris.  Damaris are also providing their usual Advent series of very brief messages which I hope to start posting on December 1st.  So, forget the secularism of Santa; the tinsel and the turkey; the crackers and the cake; and chill out for a few minutes as Richard Collins shares the first of these reflections on the Advent season.

Bits and bobs!!

It would appear that, even for a Bishop of the Church of England, free speech is no longer an option in our multi-cultural society!  Perhaps Pete Broadbent - whom I have had the pleasure of meeting on a couple of occasions - should have joined the group of Muslims who burned a wooden poppy, and shouted out abusive slogans during the 'Silence' on Nov.11th.  They appear to be a protected species - he is banned from public ministry!!

Of course, it may have to do with the seriousness of the 'crime'.  After all, he actually said (or typed!) what, I suspect, many of the British people think  I was certainly hoping that 'the' wedding would take place while I was away on holiday.  Now I shall have to arrange an extra wee break just to be able to ignore all of the hype of the day!  Okay - the prediction that the marriage would only last seven years may have been a bit silly - but is he not entitled to express a personal opinion?  It's interesting that the superior (in status!) bishop who has taken the step of 'suspending' him, is reported as being a friend of the current immediate heir to the throne!

Thinking of hype, you may have noticed that the Christmas season is upon us.  That time of the year when we celebrate the Incarnation - the coming of the Creator God into this world that He had created, in the Persona of the Son, as a helpless Infant.  Well, that's what I believe it should be.  That's why I wrote to a newspaper, some years ago, commending a particular city for having decided to do away with 'Christmas' and replace it with a totally secular 'Winterfest'.  I suggested that the 'world' could have its commercial, materialistic, consumerist mid-winter break with its central figure of 'Santa Claus' - and let those of us who endeavour, however imperfectly, to follow the Child of Bethlehem get on with celebrating His human birth (which, of course, did not take place on Dec.25th!!!).

He has been mentioned a lot in recent days - Santa, that is, not Jesus!  So far, every Christmas-related comment that I have heard, or read, has contained a reference to the bearded gentleman.  Yet his popularity is not, as some try to suggest, based on the historical Nikolaos of Myra; but on a figure from a fictional poem written in the early years of the 19th century, and then made popular by its use in advertisements for Coca-Cola in the 1930s - more than 100 years later.

Thank goodness for the Church, the Body of Christ, for keeping the Biblical Christmas untainted by human input!  Not!  I have yet to be connected with a congregation/fellowship, however strong it might claim to be on Biblical truth and doctrine, that has not perpetrated the centrality of Santa Claus by having 'him' (i.e. someone dressed in the appropriate clothing, and with a false beard) arriving at the children's party (and, sometimes, even a party for adults!) with his bag of gifts and goodies. And so we perpetrate a lie!  I find it sad that, even for many (most?!) children brought up within Christian families, and with a strong church background, Christmas centres as much, if not more, around Santa as around the Christ-child.

Perhaps, in the same way that some in the church are wakening up to the idea of having an alternative celebration - usually of light - at Hallowe'en, the time will soon come when, at the children's Christmas Party in the church, the singing will be of carols that praise the Lord Jesus; that gifts, if they be required, will be provided by an angelic figure - or, at least, by the Magi; that the real story will not be compromised with Bethlehem being, in effect, replaced by the North Pole!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Democratic abortion???

Having been away for a few days, I am only now catching up with some of the news items that I missed; and I have come across one that, in all honesty, I would rather not have known about.

It is reported that a married couple, from Minneapolis, in the U.S.of A. have set up a website on which they ask people to vote on whether, or not, the wife should have an abortion!  This, it would appear, is because the two IT workers aren't sure that they would be able to juggle parenthood with their full-time careers!  I have to wonder if this was a case of a failed contraceptive (not an unknown phenomena - as many a young girl has found out to her cost!), or failure to consider the potential consequence of unprotected sex!

The couple even upload images of pre-natal scans, showing a healthy male child, currently at the 17th week of gestation.  Their basic argument seems to be that, as they vote for their president, and for 'American Idol' (which, I think, is something akin to the British 'X-Factor' - a programme that I have never viewed!), then it should be prefectly acceptable to vote on whether, or not, a pregnancy should continue!

This situation must surely take the whole pro-abortion argument to a new low.  Do these people not realise that voting for a president, or for a 'talent'-show participant causes no physical harm to the person(s) involved?   Are they so obtuse as to be unaware that this is a living human being in the wife's womb - growing steadily until the day it is ready to leave that womb and continue the journey to adulthood.  Have they considered that the deliberate taking of a human life, at whatever stage of development it may be, is murder?

There are only two possible outcomes to this situation.  Depending on the 'vote' this child may be killed - a life destroyed before he has drawn breath; the potential to do much good for humanity, snuffed out like a candle.  Alternatively, and hopefully, this little life may be spared.  But how will that child feel when, having arrived at years of understanding, he discovers that he is only alive because of a vote by total strangers?  I somehow doubt that he will be thrilled to know that his existence was so democratically decided!  What will that knowledge do to any relationship that has been built up between parents and child?

Without any of the medical knowledge that we take for granted; with neither ultrasound scans nor heartbeat monitors; but inspired by God the Holy Spirit; the Psalmist-king of Israel wrote these words:

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb.  Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.  You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed" (Ps 139:13-16; NLT).

In an age in which it used to be thought that 'life was cheap', David realised that the unborn child is a miracle of pro-creation. To treat it as despicably as this couple are doing with their unborn son is, I am convinced, to fly in the face of Almighty God.  That, we always do to our own peril!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Another wedding!

We (my wife and I) will shortly be heading north, with the caravan, to Banchory.  Tomorrow, I am to participate in the wedding, in Aberdeen, of one of the daughters of dear friends who are currently serving the Lord in Nepal - well, they have taken a break ('furlough' is the official term!) in order to be at the wedding!  We plan to return home on Sunday, and I would hope to add a fresh post then!

It won't be as grand an affair as the wedding that is being planned for next year.  The television cameras will not be there.  It won't even get a mention on the various news programmes - although the local newspaper might show a single photograph.  But Hayley and Carl have something that I suspect is not the case with William and Kate.  They are entering marriage with the Lord.  He won't be just a convenient backdrop for a lavish ceremony, but an integral part of their life together.  We pray His abundant blessing upon them.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

A wedding is announced!

I am not a full-blown Republican.  I have too much admiration for HM The Queen.  However, I am not a full-blown monarchist, either; having little time for most of the rest of the Royal Family.

So, while I am as happy for young William and Kate as I would be for any couple who announced their engagement to be married, I am already fed up with the OTT response of the popular media.  Some twenty minutes of the less-than-half-an-hour of the BBC early evening news given over to that one event - even to the extent of showing me how it was announced on television in the United States of America (why not, at least, a country that is a member of the British Commonwealth??).  Then, as we went on to Reporting Scotland, the circus started all over again!

Would that the media gave as much publicity to the plight of disciples of Jesus who are being constantly persecuted for their allegiance to Him!  It has been encouraging to see the situation regarding Asia Bibi, in Pakistan (see Monday, Nov.8th), receiving some coverage in some of the national newspapers in the U.K.  Unfortunately, that is the exception, rather than the rule.  I would love to see much more of that kind of reporting on our television screens, as well.  Perhaps someone would publish, nationally, the details of the case of Pastor Youcef Nardarkhani in Iran.  This dear brother is also under sentence of death - for the heinous crime of requesting that his son not be taught the Qur'an in school!!!!

These cases are but the tiniest tip of a gigantic iceberg.  Those of us who live in the 'free' west have no real idea as to what persecution is.  We may be ignored (some of our brothers and sisters would consider that to be a major blessing!); we may even be mocked; we may miss out on a promotion; we may be pilloried in the press; we may lose our jobs.  However, if the police call at my door, it will be to collect me for something to do with my Force Chaplaincy - certainly not because I have been reported as owning a copy of the Bible, or of having shared my faith in the Lord Jesus with a non-Christian!

Mind you, I am recalling the question that used to be put to some of us in the seventies and eighties - "If being a true disciple of Jesus was a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict you?"  Now there's a thought!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Slave labour!!!

Much has been said, over the past week, about the plans announced by the Coalition Government for reform of the welfare system in the U.K.  Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, a lot of it has been negative and sensationalist.  I confess to having become somewhat annoyed at being told, repeatedly, that the unemployed - who are fit and able to do so - being expected to provide voluntary labour for a number of weeks in the year, is slavery.  Those who make these grandiose pronouncements appear to have no idea as to what slavery really is!  The folk who will be expected to work in these ways are being paid, all the year round, for the work that they will be expected to do!  They receive a number of additional benefits due to the fact that they are receiving the Job Seekers' Allowance!  The purpose of the exercise, as I understand it, is to break the cycle of benefit dependency that has become a blight on British society - and, many would claim, a magnet for criminal elements from other countries who set out to deliberately exploit the system!

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Dr. Rowan Williams is, reportedly, opposed to the whole idea, claiming, among other things, that "It can make people who start feeling vulnerable feel more vulnerable".  With all due respect to the Archbishop - the same one who, not so very long ago, claimed not only that the acceptance of Sharia (Islamic) Law in the UK is inevitable, but also that it wouldn't be a bad idea; who has consistently failed to provide strong leadership with regard to active homosexuality within the ranks of the Anglican/Episcopal clergy; and who appears, at times, to be esconced in an ivory tower - I would refer him to, for example, the inspired words of the apostle Paul, to the early followers of Jesus in Thessalonika:
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don't follow the tradition they received from us. For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you. We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so we would not be a burden to any of you. We certainly had the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow.  Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: "Those unwilling to work will not get to eat."
Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people's business.  We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living
." (II Thess 3:6-12, NLT)

It seems to me as one who, at the last General Election, voted for neither the Conservatives nor the Liberal Democrats, that while it is right and proper to care for those who are genuinely unable to provide for themselves, everyone should be encouraged to support themselves as far as is possible.  If this new system brings about, for many, a new attitude to work, then it will not have dealt with all of the unfairness in our modern society - both real and perceived - but it will have lifted some out of the 'poverty trap', and made them positively-contributing members of the society to which we all belong (whether big or small!).  That can't be a bad thing!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Education, education, education! (ex-PM Tony Bliar) - no typo!

When I was (much) younger, entrance to University was available to all who had the academic ability to successfully cope with a course that would lead to the award of an academic degree.  There was, already, a system of financial grants that ensured that one didn't have to be from the aristocracy in order to be able to attend University.  That academic ability was the main requirement and, I always felt, was necessary merely to matriculate!.

Under successive governments - and especially, it must be stated, those of a Socialist persuasion - University entrance appeared to become increasingly easier, as 'new' courses, complete with professorial chairs, were introduced in areas in which, twenty or thirty years earlier, no-one would have expected, or have been expected, to obtain a degree!  This meant that student numbers started to rise but, of course, this was spun as "equal opportunity" - the pre-eminent socialist mantra (although I have always detected something of the Orwellian thinking that, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."!).

The increase in student numbers resulted in a situation in which the awarding of financial grants could no longer be afforded by the taxpayer, and neither of my own daughters received the financial aid that was afforded to me.  However, low-interest loans were available, and repayment was deferred until one was earning a reasonable amount.

The end result of all of this (admittedly simplified) was demonstrated in the rioting of, so-called, students in London, earlier today.  I can understand that they are unhappy with the propsed increases in fees (although how many will knuckle down to more time in the Library, studying, than in the bar, getting drunk?); I can understand that they are angry with the about-turn of the Lib-Dem members of the Coalition Government (although they should realise that promises are easily made in opposition - especially when there is no realistic possibility of being in government - but that the cold reality of office can make one see a situation somewhat differently!); but what I fail to understand is the indiscriminate damage caused to property, and the injury caused to police officers who, themselves, are subject to the austerity measures that effect most of us.  The word for the behaviour of that minority of 'students' - disowned by the president of the National Union of Students - is 'vandalism'; and those who are capable of academic research could do worse than to check out the etymology!

It was interesting that, in this evening's edition of The (Glasgow) Evening Times there is an article about the behaviour of 'yobs' in Glasgow City Centre!  One might be excused for saying that they had their counterparts in London, today.  The only difference is that the latter, or at least some of them, are presumably better educated!!!!

Monday, 8 November 2010

PAKISTAN – First woman sentenced to death for blasphemy.

The following has just arrived, from Release  (see my fav links):

Christian mother-of-two Asia Bibi has been sentenced to death for blasphemy – the first woman ever to receive this sentence for blasphemy in Pakistan.

Release has just learnt that a sessions court judge gave Asia the maximum sentence yesterday at the end of a trial lasting more than 16 months. Asia, a farm labourer in her late-30s from Ittanwali, Punjab, was also fined more than £700 – the equivalent of two-and-a-half years' salary for the average worker.

Release partners at Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan (SLMP), who have been supporting Asia and her family throughout their ordeal, say that they and the family are shocked by this outcome.

No one sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan has ever been executed – but Asia could now spend years in appalling conditions on death row. If she appeals to the High Court, it may take years before her case is heard.

Police first filed a case against Asia in June 2009 after local Muslims accused her of making derogatory comments against Islam's prophet, Mohammed. She had reportedly been discussing matters of faith with fellow labourers in the fields when Asia and her daughters were attacked by local villagers and Muslim clerics. She had reportedly been under pressure from her fellow workers to convert to Islam.

A spokesman for SLMP described Asia as having a strong faith – but said that this decision would be a crushing blow to her and her family. 'She was longing to go back home to her children, but her dreams of release have vanished now,' he said. 'She desperately needs peace in her heart, the peace that comes from God.'  The SLMP team plan to visit Asia in prison as soon as possible.

Release is concerned that Asia's conviction could set a dangerous precedent. Martha Bibi is currently on trial for blasphemy in Lahore. She was charged in 2007, after a dispute with builders who allegedly refused to return equipment belonging to her.

I cannot help but wonder if the 'western' media will give as much coverage to this situation, as they have been giving to the Iranian woman, senenced to death for adultery, and alleged complicity in the death of her husband!

Let those of us who believe in the power of prayer, seek God's perfect peace, that passes all human understanding, over Asia Bibi and her family. Ask Him to intervene to secure her earliest release. Ask Him to grant wisdom and strength to SLMP workers supporting this family.
Pray, too, for the immediate acquittal of Martha Bibi in Lahore.
 

Some may also wish to sign the petition calling for justice for Christians in Pakistan at www.releaseinternational.org/current.

If you live within the U.K., you may even wish to write to the Pakistan High Commissioner in London, expressing polite concern about Asia's conviction. Write to: His Excellency Wajid Shamsul Hasan, High Commission for Pakistan, 35-36 Lowndes Square, London SW1X 9JN. Also, write to your local MP at: www.writetothem.com
 

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Bigger than Jesus!!

Today's edition of The Sunday Herald contained an article that was as interesting in the reported comments, as it was in the event that was being reported!

The piece was headed: “New weapon in bid to beat Easterhouse gangs: the Bible” – and informed readers that “a group of evangelising Christians” is going to Easterhouse “in the hope that the Bible will persuade the enemy factions to put down their weapons and begin a more moral life.” This referreds to the invitation, by a group of local Christian fellowships, to The Scottish Bible Society’s travelling, and ‘hi-tech’, exhibition “Bibleworld”.

Comments made by spome of the 'locals' were also published, and I found these to be very interesting indeed. Mr Richard McShane, a lifelong Easterhouse resident, and community organiser, is of the opinion that, “God hasn’t been here once in the 60 years since we were built. We have suffered from deprivation, neglect, violence and lack of facilities since day one. Does Easterhouse really need God when he hasn’t ever been here?” (sic).

I am reminded of the reply allegedly given by Anne Graham (daughter of Dr Billy Graham) when she was asked where God was in the events of 9/11. Part of it was “...for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?” Perhaps Mr McShane, and others, omitted to seek God’s help! At least he appears willing, now, to give the Lord’s servants a chance!

However, I must admit that it was the reported comments of three teenagers that created, in me, mixed feelings of amusement and sadness. Miss Cassidy – at 16 years of age, already a “painter and decorator” (not even an apprentice!) – has the split personality that allows her to be “a Catholic” but to be able to say that she doesn’t “believe in God”! Without going into the different possible meanings of that latter statement, is her comment not a wee bit like claiming to be a jockey, but never having ridden a horse?! And, for the record, believers do not claim that “God invented everything”, but that He “created” all that is. There is a big difference there!

Miss Conner – another 16-year-old – doesn’t “believe in God” but is, apparently, willing to invoke His help at two of the crucial stages in a person’s life: the beginning and the end. Is there not some sort of contradiction in that particular stance?

The older (all of 17 years of age) and, one must assume, more mature Mr Robertson seems to think that the problems of Easterhouse are “much bigger than Jesus”. He is, of course, fully entitled to his opinion – as are the two girls – but until he has checked out the change that a personal encounter with the risen Christ can make in a person’s life, he might be well advised not to go public with it!

As Anne Graham said, God will not force His way into the life of any individual. But I have yet to meet, or hear of, anyone who has entered into a genuine relationship with Him, based on repentance and faith, who has ever regretted having done so – and that includes countless numbers in some fifty countries around the world, even today, where to claim to be a disciple of Jesus is to invite persecution of an intensity that makes the gang warfare of Easterhouse look like games in the nursery school!

Why a supposedly 'quality' newspaper like The (Sunday) Herald would give such prominence to the obviously uninformed, biassed, and contradictory, opinions of three children, is beyond my own understanding. I am just grateful that none of them, as yet, is allowed to vote in political elections! However, Jesus is in the business of changing lives. May it be that He will find some hearts that are softened and ready to respond to Him in Easterhouse - even as He did when David Wilkerson first went to work among the gangs of New York in the 1950s.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Sex, and Alcohol.

One of this week's more sensational stories concerned the Romanian girl who, in Spain, gave birth to her first child - while the mother was only ten years of age!  One report stated that: "The birth has shocked Spaniards and created an international sensation. The girl's mother told reporters earlier this week that she was delighted to have a new granddaughter, and does not understand the fuss the birth has caused. She said the baby's father is a 13-year-old boy who is still in Romania.  She also said since they are Romanian Gypsies, or Roma, it is their custom to marry very young."

I suppose that it's all to do with sex.  Sadly, it's actually to do with the abuse of sex!  And there are even more serious consequences of the latter.  A report from the Centre for Disease Control (in the U.S.of A.) reported, this week, that 87% of all reportable disease is sexually transmitted!  We certainly know about the effects of HIV/AIDS.  According toWorldwide HIV & AIDS Statistics, more than 25 million people have died from AIDS since it became prominent in 1981.  A further 33.4 million were recorded as living with HIV/AIDS in 2008 (the latest year for which figures would appear to be available).  And, of course, there are all of the other sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, and chlamydia - all of which can have more severe consequences that many (particularly young) people seem to realise!

Of course, there is an answer!  It's to be found in the Maker's Handbook - the Bible.  The seventh of the Ten Words (the 10 Commandments) instructs us not to commit adultery.  I mentioned on a post of many months ago, that if I were to have sexual intercourse with a woman other than my wife - or if I had indulged in that activity before we were married to one another - then I would, by proxy, be having a sexual encounter with evey other male with whom she had been involved; every other woman with whom each of them had been involved; and so on!  That could add up to a very large number of people!

Unfortunately, the perceived wisdom of mankind is simply what is referred to as "safe sex" rather than behavioural change.  Just ensure that you use a condom, and all will be well - with no apparent consideration of the less than 100% certainty of a condom's effectiveness; the straightforward desire for some - especially the males - to have 'unprotected' sex; and the simple fact that so much of the sexual activity that goes on is performed when both parties are under the influence of alcohol, and unlikely to be considering how 'safe' their sexual act might be.

And alcohol is a much abused substance.  In spite of the awareness of its contribution to crime, violence, liver disease, traffic accidents, etc., so many - even among many of my former pupils, if their Facebook comments are anything to go by! - feel that they can only have had "a good night" if they have managed to end up drunk (and incapable?).

Sex is good!  It must be - it was God Who invented it!  But He designed it to be between a man and a woman (not two men, or two women), within the bonds of a committed relationship, and to the exclusion of all others.  Even alcohol is not, per se, a bad thing.  Jesus was willing to provide the finest wine at a wedding feast (John 2:1-11); and Paul instructed Timothy to take some wine for medicinal purposes - with the underlying assumption that there was some to hand (I Tim.5:23).  But, in the Bible, drunkenness is always frowned upon.

Sex, and alcohol.  Both extremely potent.  Both requiring to be "Handled with Care", and with due regard to the Word of God. 

It's an interesting thought that most of the violence, crime, and disease that plagues so much of mankind, would be done away with in just one generation - if the Maker's instructions were followed!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Nice work - if you can get it!

In the Broadway Musical show Crazy for You, is a number by George and Ira Gershwin entitled "Nice work if you can get it: and you can get it - if you try."  It came to mind as I read the news that former U.K. Prime Minster Gordon Brown had made his first speech in the House of Commons since his Labour Party lost the last General Election.  Indeed, he would appear to have seldom, if ever, set foot in the Chamber during the intervening months preferring, instead, to concentrate on writing a book about the financial crisis which, in the eyes of many, was largely of his personal making.  During those months he was, of course, drawing the full salary of a back-bench M.P. - £65,738 (before expenses!) - but, apparently, not representing the very people who, for reasons that I am unable to fathom, re-elected him as their Member of the U.K. Parliament!  It would seem that Mr Brown is still somewhat lacking in integrity, and has not yet found his famous "moral compass"!

I cannot help but wonder how many 'ordinary' employees, on any level of salary, would be able to retain their employment if they took as much time off to attend to a personal project!  Surely it is time for politicians to be required to be 'on duty' for a minimum number of hours each week - or lose a percentage of their salary for time taken off!  Of course, the problem is that the only people who are in a position to make any changes to the working conditions, and salaries, of politicians are - politicians.  As the last couple of years have shown, too many were (are??) more interested in feathering their own comfortable nests, and in toeing the party line,  than in finding out the views of the people who elected them, and representing those same people in the various debates and votes.  As the saying goes - "Turkeys don't vote for Christmas (or Thanksgiving, if you are reading this on the other side of 'the pond'!)."

Of course, the Body of Christ has much for which to answer in this situation!  For too many years, the majority of those who call themselves 'Christian' (a much devalued term, in our modern western society!) either ignored the political realm entirely - in spite of the fact that they were/are effected by it on a daily basis; or did no more than recite a written prayer for the Queen and her ministers of government!

I don't honestly know if I coined the phrase myself, or if I heard it from another, but I suspect that it is true to say that we get the government for which we failed to pray!  However, the promises of Almighty God stand above all of the fickleness, the self-centredness, and the spin doctoring of even politicians; and He has said "... if my people who are called by my Name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." (II Chron 7:14; RSV - my emphasis).

As Scotland is already anticipating elections to both the Scottish Parliament and local Councils, in May of next year, may it be that those who are called by the name of the King of kings will take seriously the call to pray - that God might yet raise up an army of committed men and women who will serve Him, by their service of their constituents; and seek His wisdom in every decision that they make.