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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Marriage.

On Tuesday, Feb 5th, the House of Commons, in Westminster, will have the first opportunity to vote on the Bill for the proposed legalisation of homosexual/lesbian "marriage".  It is, of course, not just a religious and moral issue.  More and more it is being realised that such legislation would open up a veritable Pandora's Box with regard to civil liberties; and would require an inordinate amount of Parliamentary time to be further used in the changes to primary legislation that would then be required.

However, that is not all.  There is the well-known (although often ignored!) "Law of unintended consequences".  The Coalition for Marriage have been providing some brief video messages dealing with some of them.  Now that I have discovered how to obtain the necessary embedding code, I plan to air them on this blog.  No.3 is here.



Please pray that many MPs will have the courage to vote against the Bill at its reading on Tuesday.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Is this hypocrisy?

There were a couple of interesting, and related, news items during the past week.  On the one hand, we were informed that the last active Church of Rome adoption agency in the UK is being forced to cease operations unless it takes homosexual/lesbian couples. The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator ruled that St Margaret’s Children and Family Care Society in Glasgow was discriminating against same-gender couples because it prioritises those who have been married for at least two years. The decision follows a ruling in England that Catholic Care, based in Leeds, could not claim an exemption under the Equality Act to allow it to operate in line with Church teaching. 

At the same time, Edward Timpson, the Children’s Minister in the UK government, announced that local Councils that fail to do enough to tackle a national shortage of adoptive parents are to be stripped of responsibility for recruiting them, and that the task of filling the backlog of would-be adopters in problem areas will be handed over to private agencies and charities instead!   Mr Timpson said that the Government could no longer “stand by” while the backlog of children cleared for adoption, but waiting to be found suitable homes, continues to grow. 

Does anyone else see the paradox here?  An admitted shortage of adoptive parents, but agencies unable to operate for no other reason than that they happen to believe - and, unlike many politicians, have the courage of their convictions to say so - that a child is best served by having two parents, one of each gender, as nature irrefutably demands!  

Meanwhile, in both Holyrood and Westminster politicians, pushing the matter of "same-gender 'marriage'" - not a part of any of their last manifestos - seem to think that as long as they are able to claim to be defending the rights of faith groups (not just Christians!) and clerics, there should be no opposition to their plans.  Of course, their so-called "safeguards" aren't worth the hot air spouted.   The recent judgements by even the European Court of Human Rights would indicate that the conscience of a Christian may be successfully challenged.  Indeed, a source close to Education Secretary Michael Gove has admitted that teachers could be sacked for opposing gay marriage - that the Government would be powerless to stop headteachers firing staff who refuse to endorse same-sex marriage! This is what those who support traditional marriage have been saying for many months.  One wonders for how long those in government have known this, but preferred to keep the information hidden!

However, as I was reminded at a recent meeting of Scotland for Marriage, "It's not over yet!"  I am fully convinced that The Lord will intervene to protect that which He ordained.  However, I also believe that He expects us to play our part by continuing in prayer; by signing petitions; by writing to, or visiting, our MPs and MSPs.  May those of us who claim to be His disciples not be found wanting.  It is to Him that we answer!



Friday, 25 January 2013

10 Rules for a Happy Day


TODAY I WILL NOT STRIKE BACK:
If someone is rude, if someone is impatient, if someone is unkind... I will not respond in the same way.

TODAY I WILL ASK GOD TO BLESS MY "ENEMY":
If I come across someone who treats me harshly or unfairly, I will quietly ask God to bless that individual. I understand the "enemy" could be a family member, neighbour, co-worker, or stranger.

TODAY I WILL BE CAREFUL ABOUT WHAT I SAY:
I will carefully choose and guard my words, being certain that I do not spread gossip.

TODAY I WILL GO THE EXTRA MILE:
I will find ways to help share the burden of another person.

TODAY I WILL FORGIVE:
I will forgive any hurts or injuries that come my way.

TODAY I WILL DO SOMETHING NICE FOR SOMEONE, BUT I WILL DO IT SECRETLY:
I will reach out anonymously and bless the life of another.

TODAY I WILL TREAT OTHERS THE WAY I WISH TO BE TREATED:
I will practice the Golden Rule - "Do unto others as I would have them do unto me" (see Luke 6:31) - with everyone I encounter.

TODAY I WILL RAISE THE SPIRITS OF SOMEONE WHO IS DISCOURAGED:
My smile, my words, my expression of support, can make the difference to someone who is wrestling with life.

TODAY I WILL NURTURE MY BODY:
I will eat less; I will eat only healthy food. I will thank God for my body.

TODAY I WILL GROW SPIRITUALLY:
I will spend a little more time in prayer today: I will begin reading something spiritual or inspirational today; I will find a quiet place (at some point during this day) and listen to God's voice!!!

"But since we belong to the day, let us be self controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and hope of salvation as a helmet."
(I Thessalonians 5:8)

Saturday, 19 January 2013

A parable to encourage!


The Wemmicks were small wooden people. Each of the wooden people was carved by a woodworker named Eli. His workshop sat on a hill overlooking their village. Every Wemmick was different. Some had big noses, others had large eyes. Some were tall and others were short. Some wore hats, others wore coats. But all were made by the same carver and all lived in the village.

And all day, every day, the Wemmicks did the same thing: They gave each other stickers. Each Wemmick had a box of golden star stickers and a box of gray dot stickers. Up and down the streets all over the city, people could be seen sticking stars or dots on one another. The pretty ones, those with smooth wood and fine paint, always got stars. But if the wood was rough or the paint chipped, the Wemmicks gave dots. The talented ones got stars, too. Some could lift big sticks high above their heads or jump over tall boxes. Still others knew big words or could sing very pretty songs. Everyone gave them stars. Some Wemmicks had stars all over them! Every time they got a star it made them feel so good that they did something else and got another star. Others, though, could do little. They got dots.


Punchinello was one of these. He tried to jump high like the others, but he always fell. And when he fell, the others would gather around and give him dots. Sometimes when he fell, it would scar his wood, so the people would give him more dots. He would try to explain why he fell and say something silly, and the Wemmicks would give him more dots. After a while he had so many dots that he didn't want to go outside. He was afraid he would do something dumb, such as forget his hat or step in the water, and then people would give him another dot. In fact, he had so many gray dots that some people would come up and give him one without any reason. "He deserves lots of dots," the wooden people would agree with one another. "He's not a good wooden person." After a while Punchinello believed them. "I'm not a good Wemmick," he would say. The few times he went outside, he hung around other Wemmicks who had a lot of dots. He felt better around them.


One day he met a Wemmick who was unlike any he'd ever met. She had no dots or stars. She was just wooden. Her name was Lulia. It wasn't that people didn't try to give her stickers; it's just that the stickers didn't stick. Some admired Lulia for having no dots, so they would run up and give her a star. But it would fall off.  Some would look down on her for having no stars, so they would give her a dot. But it wouldn't stay either. "That's the way I want to be," thought Punchinello. "'I don't want anyone's marks." So he asked the stickerless Wemmick how she did it. "It's easy," Lulia replied. "every day I go see Eli."


"Eli?"


"Yes, Eli. The woodcarver. I sit in the workshop with him."


"Why?"


"Why don't you find out for yourself? Go up the hill. He's there." And with that the Wemmick with no marks turned and skipped away.


"But he won't want to see me!" Punchinello cried out. Lulia didn't seem to hear him. So Punchinello went home. He sat near a window and watched the wooden people as they scurried around giving each other stars and dots. "It's not right," he muttered to himself. And he resolved to go see Eli. He walked up the narrow path to the top of the hill and stepped into the big shop. His wooden eyes widened at the size of everything. The stool was as tall as he was. He had to stretch on his tiptoes to see the top of the workbench. A hammer was as long as his arm.


Punchinello swallowed hard. "I'm not staying here!" and he turned to leave, he heard his name "Punchinello?" The voice was deep and strong.


Punchinello stopped. "Punchinello! How good to see you. Come and let me have a look at you."
Punchinello turned slowly and looked at the large bearded craftsman. "You know my name?" the little Wemmick asked.


"Of course I do. I made you." Eli stooped down and picked him up and set him on the bench. "Hmmm," the maker spoke thoughtfully as he inspected the gray circles. "Looks like you've been given some bad marks."


"I didn't mean to, Eli. I really tried hard."


"Oh, you don't have to defend yourself to me, child. I don't care what the other Wemmicks think."


"You don't?"


"No, and you shouldn't either. Who are they to give stars or dots They're Wemmicks just like you. What they think doesn't matter, said Eli... All that matters is what I think. And I think you are pretty special."


Punchinello laughed. "Me, special? Why? I can't walk fast. I can't jump. My paint is peeling. Why do I matter to you?"


Eli looked at Punchinello, put his hands on those small wooden shoulders, and spoke very slowly. "Because you're mine. That's why you matter to me." Punchinello had never had anyone look at him like this - much less his maker. He didn't know what to say. "Every day I've been hoping you'd come," Eli explained.


"I came because I met someone who had no marks."


"I know. She told me about you."


"Why don't the stickers stay on her?"


"Because she has decided that what I think is more important than what they think. The stickers only stick if you let them."


"What?"


"The stickers only stick if they matter to you. The more you trust my love, the less you care about the stickers."


"I'm not sure I understand."


"You will, but it will take time. You've got a lot of marks. For now, just come to see me every day and let me remind you how much I care."


Eli lifted Punchinello off the bench and set him on the ground. "Remember," Eli said as the Wemmick walked out the door. "You are special because I made you. And I don't make mistakes."


Punchinello didn't stop, but in his heart he thought, "I think he really means it." And when he did, a dot fell to the ground.


Remember that YOU ARE SPECIAL and YOU ARE LOVED, because YOU are God's most important and special creation!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Being a witness.

I see so many, in these days, who claim to be disciples of Jesus; who are actively involved in the life of their local Christian fellowship/congregation; and who appear to be seeking to serve the Lord Jesus according to the gifts and abilities with which they have been endowed.

However, it appears to me that, when they are with their non-Christian friends, they are virtually indistinguishable from them!  Now, it's good that they have friends who are not disciples of Jesus - this is how the Gospel message is shared.  Unfortunately, if they are no different from their friends; if something of the beauty of Jesus is not seen in their lives, and words, and actions; if they are "just the same" as everyone else; then there is no example to follow!

I am reminded of the old poem:

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

We are the only Bible the careless world will read;
We are the sinner’s gospel; we are the scoffer’s creed;
We are the Lord’s last message, given in word and deed;
What if the type is crooked? What if the print is blurred?

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

It took me many years to realise that, while there are only certain individuals who are gifted to be evangelists, every person who has accepted the salvation of God, through faith in the Lord Jesus, and who has submitted to His Lordship, is a witness.  The only question is: "Am I a good witness; or a bad one?"

Perhaps the reason why our non-Christian friends fail to be impressed by our Christian profession is that we only profess when we are with our Christian friends!  Perhaps we need to lose the fear of losing our popularity; the fear of being obviously different.  

When Peter and John stood before the Sanhedrin (the Jewish leadership), they were so different that it was recognised "... that they had been with Jesus." (Acts 4:13).  May those whom we meet, and with whom we enjoy friendship, recognise that we, too, have been with Him.  May they recognise that we are, indeed, different.  May they see so much of Jesus shining from our lives, that they are attracted to Him themselves.  May we have the joy of pointing many of our friends, neighbours, relatives, workmates, and anyone else whom we meet, to the One Who is the Saviour of the world.

May the Bible they read, in us, be accurate and true.

Friday, 11 January 2013

So where were the Christians?

Bombings across Pakistan killed more than one hundred and fifteen people yesterday, including eighty-one in an attack on a snooker hall in the troubled south-western city of Quetta, in one of the country's bloodiest days in recent years. Some of those who went to help victims of an alleged suicide-bomber were, themselves killed as a car-bomb exploded.

On the same day, the co-founder of the Kurdish PKK separatist movement and two other female activists were found dead in Paris on Thursday in a suspected assassination that has dealt a blow to "historic" peace talks between the movement and the Turkish government. 

Last month, a twenty-three-year-old student was gang-raped on a Delhi bus, and died from the horrific injuries she sustained in the attack - an attack in which her male companion was also badly beaten.

Each of these incidents, involving Muslims and Hindus, have been widely reported in the British media, and there can be no decent person who is not appalled at such wanton, and destructive, behaviour by other human beings who seem to be intent on delivering death and destruction, or on satisfying their own physical lust, regardless of the cost to their victims.

However, I must have missed the reports in the British media concerning Nigeria where at least twelve Christians were killed in Christmas Eve church attacks in northern Nigeria, and fifteen others were murdered in their sleep on Dec.28th.  Boko Haram (Islamist) militants are suspected in both cases. On Christmas Eve, gunmen opened fire during a time of prayer at the Church of Christ in Nations in Jiri village, Yobe province, killing five worshippers and the pastor. The attackers also set the church on fire, and several other Christians were seriously injured. On the same night, a deacon and five other Christians were killed at the First Baptist Church in Maiduguri, Borno state. Four days later, attackers invaded the homes of Christians in Musari, outside Maiduguri, and slit the throats of fifteen Christians during the early morning hours. A number of Christians had moved to the Musari area to get away from the violence in Maiduguri. This is the third consecutive year that Christians in the north have been violently attacked during the Christmas season. Understandably, church buildings in northern Nigeria were nearly empty on Christmas Day.  

So where, in the British media, were the reports of these, and other, atrocities?  Could it be that, in a country with such a rich Christian heritage, everyone else is important, but that Christians are not?

Perhaps editors of newspapers, and of television and radio news, and current affairs, programmes would be willing to check out what is happening to people of all belief-systems, rather than apparently discriminate against some!

PS  Apologies if this is displaying in upper-case letters only.  This is not the case as I type but is in the preview!  Any expert advice, as a comment, will be gratefully received!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Meet my dad and dad!

Elton John, well-known homosexual who, with his 'civil partner' David Furnish decided that they needed a child, and arranged same through a surrogate mother (they couldn't manage it by themselves!), is on record as having said that "It will break my son's heart to realise he hasn't got a mother."

Today's newspapers report that these two persons have welcomed a second child, through the same surrogate mother, into the world.  Despite expressing fears his son Zachery will be "stigmatised" for having two fathers, film-maker Furnish revealed that the pair had been eager to have another child to be a sibling (the gender of the new baby has not yet been reported) to their first born.

To me, this is a clear indication of the blatant selfishness of such people.  It's all about what "I" want; it's all about "me"; it's got nothing to do with the future of the child(ren) that are being brought into this situation. 

Of course, we see the same attitude being displayed in the drive towards the redefining of marriage.  Dr Liam Fox, M.P. (Con), in a letter to his own constituents that is reproduced in today's Telegraph newspaper, states that "The change in the status of marriage in the proposed legislation ... ... proposes to change the definition of marriage for all, for the perceived benefit of a much smaller number."   He is absolutely correct!  It is estimated that the homosexual/lesbian population of the U.K. is approximately 3%.  Allowing that there will be those who, even in these "enlightened" days, prefer to keep their deviant sexual tendency to themselves, we might raise that figure to 5%.  It is quite clear, from public statements made, that only a fraction of that 5% is pushing for marriage to be refined in order to include their own sinful relationships.  So, perhaps as few as 1% of the population want this!  This is as clear an example of "the tail wagging the dog" as one is ever likely to find!

Dr Fox has stated, in his letter, that he will be voting against the introduction of the proposed legislation.  I trust that many of his Parliamentary colleagues, both in Westminster and in Holyrood (where the SNP Government is pressing ahead with similar plans), will follow his example.  The sheer arrogance of both governments in totally disregarding the declared wishes of hundreds of thousands of those who pay their salaries (and, in the case of Westminster, their over-inflated expenses!), means that we need more members like him.

Of course, what we really need, in my opinion, is a direct intervention by Almighty God.  These people are, in a sense, spitting in His face by seeking to change that which, at the beginning of the human race, He ordained.  That is always dangerous ground on which to walk!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Waiting for Godot

One of the news items on this morning's Today programme on BBC Radio 4, was that today is the 60th anniversary of the opening, in Paris, of Samuel Beckett's play "Waiting for Godot".  I confess to never having watched the play, either on stage or in the televised version.  However, there is a wealth of material available that allows us to grasp the basic plot - such as it is!

Every time I see the title of the play, I want to separate the last two letters of the last word, reverse them, and add an ellipsis.  This would give me the statement "Waiting for God to ...". 

In a 1994 interview, Beckett said that he regretted calling the absent character 'Godot', because of all the theories involving God to which this had given rise.  Of course, he wrote the original script in French and, as the French word for 'God' is 'Dieu' he would, had he wished to add a theological ingredient, have had to name the unseen character "Dieuot"!!

However, the central point about Godot is that he never appears.  The two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait patiently - but no Godot.  I am reminded of the words of Paul: "We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." (Rom 8:22-25).  Similarly, he writes to the Corinthian believers and commends them that they "... wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ; Who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Cor 1:7-8).  Writing to the young church in Thessalonica, he rejoices in the report he has received, that they have "... turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead, Jesus Who delivers us from the wrath to come." (I Thess 1:9-10).

As I read, hear, and watch, the daily news, I become increasingly convinced that we are living in momentous times.  I see Biblical prophecy being fulfilled before my very eyes.  I keep a close watch on the nation of Israel and, remembering that they are still the "apple of God's eye" (see Deut.32:10), I also watch the surrounding nations and the manner in which Israel is becoming increasingly isolated - in human terms.  And I am waiting for God to ... ...!  How He will intervene, I do not know.  Precisely when He will intervene, I do not know.  However, of His intervention, I have absolutely no doubt.  And so, whatever Beckett's characters do or, more accurately, fail to do, I am waiting for God to ...!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Born - to die!

It is a simple fact of life that, at least until the Rapture (see my book: Link in post on Sept.20th, 2012!), each of us is going to experience physical death.  Indeed, as Benjamin Franklin famously said, ''In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

When I was designing our 2012 personal Christmas Card, a month or so ago, I was led to put on the front a crib with a faint picture of the crucifixion in the background with, underneath, the text from Matt 1:21 - "... you shall call His Name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."  My thinking was that the Babe in the manger was to become the Christ of the cross - something that is not realised, I suspect, by the average Christmas reveller!

This morning, my personal Bible reading was in Hebrews 2 - a passage that reminds us that Jesus' humanity was necessary in order that He might taste death since God, by definition, cannot die.  Of course, it's a link that is found throughout God's written Word.  The Christ, the Messiah, was born to die, not simply as a natural progression, but as a definite purpose.  This is why, on the cross, He gave that great shout: "Tetelestai!" ("Finished").  This was not the weak whimper of a man who had been defeated, and was acknowledging the bitter end of his life. No!  It was the loud, triumphant, declaration of One Who had completed the task committed to Him by God the Father!  And it was that death that enables those who place their trust in Him, and submit their lives to Him, to experience that great salvation.

Interestingly, it is in Hebrews 2 that we also find a question that no-one, not even the Omniscient God, can answer: "... how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?" (v.3).  But that's a sermon topic - far too much for a blog post!

It was the novelist and dramatist, Dorothy L. Sayers, who wrote the 1940s radio drama "The Man born to be King", in which the characters speak in contemporary colloquial English - which caused much disquiet among those more used to hearing Jesus and His followers speaking in the polished and formal words of the King James (Authorised) Version of the Bible.  The title is not, I would suggest, quite accurate!  He already was, and continues to be, not only King, but King of kings, and Lord of lords. The gift of gold was symbolic of that Kingship, just as the frankincense was symbolic of His eternal Priesthood.  However, the third of the magi's gifts - myrrh - was symbolic of His death.  He was born - to die.  The Man born to be King had to travel to His throne by the way of the cross.

As the latest Christmas season rapidly becomes no more than a faded memory; a depleted bank balance; an attempt to rid ourselves of excess weight; and the taking of unwanted gifts to our local Charity Shop; may we look forward to Easter.  And not just to Good Friday, but also to the glory of Easter Day, and the chorus that wafted from the blades of grass around the tomb, to the very portals of heaven: "Jesus is risen!  The stone is rolled away!  Glory, hallelujah!"