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Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!

I love that title to Dr Tony Campolo's message - "It's Friday; but Sunday's coming!"  It's a wonderful, yet simple, reminder that so often, when things seem dark, we may still look ahead with hope.  That first "Good Friday" must have seemed, to the followers of Jesus, to have been as dark as it was possible to be.  But Sunday was coming, and with it, the wonder, and the glory, of the Resurrection!

On Friday, I asked the question "What's so 'good' about Good Friday?"  So, what's so special about the Resurrection of that same Jesus Who hung on the cross and died for your sins and for mine?  Well, apart from the fact that a resurrection is pretty special in itself, it's the result of that resurrection that is of the utmost importance.

The question, then, is: "What is the result of the Resurrection of Jesus?"

The first, and obvious result is that death has been vanquished.  So Paul can write, quoting the prophet Isaiah, that "Death is swallowed up in victory." (I Cor 15:54).  It follows, then, that neither can death hold those who die (physically) in Him.  As some of the sports commentators might say: "That's a result"!

However, wonderful 'though that result is, it is not all.  It is also worth noting that the resurrection of Jesus proves that God's plans are always fulfilled.  So Peter, on the first Day of Pentecost of the Christian era, preaches, "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves know - this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.  But God raised Him up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it." (Acts 2:22-24).

The Resurrection of Jesus also eases the pain when loved ones, who are in Christ, die.  Paul, again, writing to the believers in Thessalonica, assures them "... concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep." (I Thess 4:13-14).  We grieve when someone who has been loved by us dies.  But the disciple of Jesus has just moved to a better life - "promoted to Glory", as our friends in the Salvation Army would put it - meaning that our grief is tempered by our perspective on eternity.

So, on this Resurrection Day, we gladly affirm, "The Lord is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Hallelujah!"

And we rejoice!






Friday, 29 March 2013

What's so "good" about Good Friday?

It does seem to be a strange way in which to refer to the day in which the focus for so many is the excruciatingly painful death, of an apparently innocent man, almost 2,000 years ago.  "Bad Friday"; "Black Friday"; even "Miserable Friday"; would surely be much more accurate!  So why "Good Friday"?

To understand this, we must go back to the very beginning of the human race, in that beautiful Garden "... in Eden, in the east;" (Gen 2:8).  Have you ever stopped to imagine it?  Planted by the Creator Himself, in a world in which there was no sin - in which mankind could meet with, and converse with, his Creator in a perfect relationship.  Truly paradise on earth!

However, such an idyllic state of affairs didn't last for long.  The story is there for all to read (Gen.3:1ff).  mankind - male and female - the pinnacle of creation, disobeyed even a simple command, and sin entered the world.  What could be done?  Mankind was punished; but a promise was given.  In what theologians refer to as the protoevangelium (literally, the first gospel), Almighty God says to the serpent, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." (Gen 3:15).  That "seed" is Jesus - the Christ (Messiah); and it is He Who hung upon that cross on that first Good Friday.

And that is why it is good!  The essence of the Gospel is that God loved the world so very much that, in Jesus, He paid the penalty that we owed; He took upon Himself the punishment that we deserved; He made it possible, again, for us to enjoy close communion with Him.  But it all depends on that Figure on the Cross at Mount Calvary (Golgotha).  Centuries before, the Jewish prophet, Isaiah, was granted a peek into the mists of future time.  He wrote, concerning the Lord Jesus: "He was despised and rejected by men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as One from Whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth. By oppression and judgement He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made His grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in His death, although He had done no violence,and there was no deceit in His mouth.  Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief; ..." (Isa. 53:3-10).  And for us - you and me - that's Good News!

Hallelujah!  What a Saviour!  Praise Him for this Good Friday!





Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Equality already exists!

Yet another brief video from the Coalition for Marriage.  Dr Sharon James explains that, in the U.K., civil partnerships have all of the legal rights of married couples.  Indeed, we could add that two people in a civil partnership have greater rights than, for example, two elderly siblings who share a home,but not a bed!

This whole issue, as I have noted elsewhere, is far from finalised - in spite of the apparent attempts by some sections of the media to convince us that it is!

As with the earlier videos, this is only about two minutes long.  Do watch and listen - and feel free to share it on your own blog, or social networking site.  You can copy the embed code from YouTube!




Tuesday, 26 March 2013

One doesn't have to be religious!



Cameron's Gay Marriage policy: we've been lied to!
I want to continue connecting the dots today, seeing as I feel like I'm on a roll in exposing the Truth. This article, and the supporting material in our Video Library, bring together the legislation behind the non-manifesto policy suddenly introduced into Parliament by our Honest and Honourable leader, Le Bon Premier Dave Cameronie.

Preaching the verse about equal rights, and presenting the Coalition policy on same-sex marriage, Mr Cameron implemented an EU Commission Directive, not in the election Manifesto, and sold it to the UK Public as a national policy.

It was not! Here is the link to the full article that Andrew (Fear) investigated, with links back to the original EU program which mandates this policy as a Federal EU Law.

http://www.th-eu-nit.com/index.php/articles/1773-eu-aims-at-recognizing-same-sex-marriage-in-all-27-member-states

As supporting evidence to demonstrate that Mr Cameron's policy on Gay Marriage is not Mr Cameron's at all, but is the work of Mr Van Rompuy and Mr Barroso, and scribed by the hands of the Orcs of Mordor (a reference to elf-like creatures who could not stand the light of the sun, in Tolkein's Lord of the Rings) in the EU Commission, we have here a video of recent massive street protests in Paris, as the French Government implemented the exact same EU Law, and Gay Marriage which enraged many many French Citizens.

http://www.th-eu-nit.com/index.php/video-library/2097-street-protests-errupt-in-paris-over-eu-gay-marriage-laws"

So we may say, with apologies to ET, that "we are not alone"!

Grandeur - or Grace?

In the light of the revelations that are coming out concerning Steve Chalke, Rob Bell, Rick Warren inter al, in, among other things, the area of same-gender 'marriage', I was speaking with my own pastor (although officially 'retired', I am all too aware that there is neither retirement, nor redundancy, in the work of the Kingdom!) last week, and saying that there was a time when I wished that I could have had one of these "big" ministries. I would have liked to have everyone reading MY books, listening to MY tapes (now CDs, or even MP3 files!), watching MY videos (now DVDs, or even MPeg4 files!)! I would have enjoyed jetting all over the place as THE guest speaker at international conferences, at which hundreds hung on MY every word!

Older and, I trust, a little wiser, I am now so glad that the Lord spared me from such a life and ministry. It must be very difficult not to allow the adulation of the masses to have a negative effect on one's own walk with Him. As it is, I know that I'm a pretty poor specimen of a disciple (Paul and I disagree on that subject - he'll never be able to claim the 'title' "chief of sinners" while I'm around!). However, it is knowing what I am that constantly throws me on to His grace - and there can't be too many better places to be!

I do not begrudge the men to whom I have referred above their fame and fortune.  However, I suspect that my lower profile life (well, until my recent exposure over my former Force Chaplaincy!!) may have helped in ensuring that, on that Day, and in spite of all of my personal faults and failings (aka 'sins'!), I will hear those wonderful words: "Well done, good and faithful servant; ... ... enter into the joy of your Master." (Matt.5:21, 23; Lk.19:17).

Monday, 25 March 2013

Facebook - and Christianity!

It's almost six months since I closed my Facebook account.  There are occasions on which I would like to re-open it, but it was taking up more time than my blog (!!), and I didn't like the way in which changes were forced upon me.

However, during the time that I used it, I did see it as an excellent means of sharing Gospel truths with many who would not, otherwise, be exposed to them.  Some very interesting on-line discussions resulted - and that kept me sharp!

Dr Ravi Zacharias is a well-known Christian apologist and he, too, sees good in social media.  However, he also recognises the danger - and deals with both in this short video clip.


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Running scared?

To the best of my knowledge - and I am certainly open to correction - the only UK political parties opposed to the intention, in both Westminster and Holyrood, to redefine marriage are the Christian Party, the Christian People's Alliance, and the United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip).  Of these three, current polls would suggest that it is the latter that might have some influence on the other major parties.

Certainly, this seems to be the case with regard to the immigration problem.  Messrs Cameron, Clegg, and Milliband all seem to be going out of their way to show how tough they are becoming (or have become, if one is totally gullible!) on the subject.  Could it be that they are "running scared"?!

Today, we have been informed, the Prime Minister is about to make a speech in which he will state that immigrants are no longer to be permitted to 'jump the queue' for social housing.  In doing so, he will have taken a bigger step than either of the other two Lib/Lab/Con leaders.  However, he has not, yet, clarified the situation when immigrants who are denied access to council housing (as we used to call it!) move into private rental properties.  Will full housing benefit be immediately made available?  Will this actually cost the increasingly beleaguered tax-payer even more?

It will be of more than passing interest to discover the PM's perspective on this aspect of his pre-released speech!

However, what is also of more than passing interest is the realisation that much of this new-found back-bone with regard to one thorny political problem, has come to the fore "post-Eastleigh"!  In other words, it would appear that the results of that recent by-election, in which the most outstanding feature was the surge of support for Ukip - pushing the Conservatives into third place, and decimating the Liberal Democrat majority - have forced the other three into trying to sound as if they are on the side of the average British voter (which I do not, for one moment, believe they are!).

Now, if support for Ukip can galvanise these gentlemen into action on immigration, perhaps further success for Nigel Farage's party will make them realise that the pushing of same-gender 'marriage' is a net vote loser!  I fully support the two Christian parties - but, sometimes, one must be pragmatic!  As I understand the situation, the Scottish Government, even if it 'wins' the debate at Holyrood, will have its hands tied until Westminster passes/amends other legislation. 

I wish Ukip well in their forthcoming endeavours.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Marriage Mistakes #3

The final point from Phil Moore.  I trust that others found his article as helpful as I did.
                                                                                                                                                     "Mistake #3: Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage is a Religious Issue.
In the U.K., David Cameron and Nick Clegg have tried to frame the issue of same-sex marriage as a battle between free-thinking reformers and religious reactionaries.

They have shouted down opposition to their bill by promising that churches and mosques will be protected from being forced to conduct same-sex marriages on their premises, and the Church of England has been flattered into playing along in exchange for a seat at the discussion table. Even if we believe Cameron and Clegg (and let’s face it, it’s hard to do so when Cameron has just warned the church on another issue to “get with the programme” or face the consequences), it is missing the point entirely.   It isn’t just Christians, Jews and Muslims who want to have a say in this issue. Marriages make families and families make society. How we define marriage affects all of us. To deny this is ridiculous.
 
I received a letter from David Cameron a few weeks ago when I corresponded with him about same-sex marriage. He told me that he thinks marriage is so important that he wants to open it up to same-sex couples as well, which is about as logical as me saying that I like Italian food so much that I want to declare that every cuisine in the world be Italian. It isn’t just an issue for religious people when our governments start redefining marriage with political double-speak which wouldn’t be out of place in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Even in decadent Rome, when Emperor Nero briefly legalized same-sex marriage, his pagan Roman subjects opposed his law. The historian, Tacitus, complained that Nero “went through a formal wedding ceremony with one of the perverts named Pythagorus,” and implies that this added to the general public disgust with Nero which eventually led to his forced suicide (Annals 15.37). If the most anti-Christian city in the world opposed gay marriage (remember, these were the people who threw Christians to the lions), then let’s not pretend that opposition to same-sex marriage is a religious issue.

Besides, when Barack Obama refers six times in his inauguration speech to God and four times to the Creator or to Creation, it reminds us that religious people have always had an important role in shaping public policy for good. Not least among them were Abraham Lincoln (a devout Christian) and Martin Luther King Jr. (a Christian pastor). Politicians can’t have it both ways: either they want to associate themselves with God and with the great religious thinkers of the past, or they should come clean and say that they don’t want to.
 
The reason Barack Obama referred so much to God and to the great religious thinkers of the past is that every U.S. President knows he needs to stand on the shoulders of the founding fathers — who were religious thinkers — thus, to dismiss religious thinkers as nothing more than a group of political lobbyists is an act of insanity. They are those who have routinely submitted their own generation’s thinking to the scrutiny of the wise men and women of old, and who have learned to speak up for what they have learned.
 
The true political lobbyists are the pro-gay activists who have filled the staff roles in 10 Downing Street and in the West Wing. It is this small, but powerful, clique that has so influenced the politicians that they can’t see the three big mistakes which they are making. Same-sex marriage isn’t a religious issue any more than it is a civil rights issue. It is the coveted ambition of a group of powerful lobbyists who want to stifle debate by claiming the debate is already over.

We mustn’t let them succeed in rushing through this piece of hasty legislation."

Thursday, 21 March 2013

This is equality?

I have never made any claim to be an economist!  Helping to manage our household finances is sufficient for me.  However, I sometimes wonder if it should not be a basic requirement for the high office of Chancellor of the Exchequer that (s)he be fully qualified in money management!

Yesterday's U.K. Budget announcement did contain some welcome news.  I am happy that the planned increase in fuel tax has been abandoned - although I would be even happier to see the price of diesel back below that of petrol (as it is in, as far as I can make out, the rest of Europe, if not the world!).  Saving 1p off a pint of beer isn't going to affect this teetotaller one iota - but I am sure that it made some others a little bit happier (and it did replace a planned 6p/pint increase!).

However, one announcement left me confused.  A couple who earn up to a combined total of £300,000 per year (yes, that is three hundred thousand!) will soon be entitled to as much as £1200/year to help with their nursery-care costs - to a maximum of £6,000.  Now, unless a working couple have the time, and stamina, to bring a child into the world every year for five consecutive years, no-one is going to be receiving that maximum.  However, if a couple are earning up to £150,000 each, surely they can afford to pay nursery costs without expecting me, as a pensioner, to subsidise them!

At the same time, families with one working parent earning more than £50,000 per year, will soon be losing their Child Benefit Allowance!

This new deal is, we are informed, in order to enable more mothers to go to work!  That raises some additional questions:
1.  Where, with unemployment at its current level, are most of them going to get a job?
2.  Is not the full-time care of children a 'job'?  Or is it only so if one is caring for other people's children as a "nice wee earner"!?
3.  Is not the best carer of children, in the vast majority of cases, their natural, biological, mother?

If this is Mr Osborne's idea of equality, then heaven help us all.  The present Coalition Government certainly won't!

Marriage Mistakes #2.

"Mistake #2: Sexuality is a Civil Rights Issue.

When Lady Gaga sings, “Baby, I was born this way,” it makes for good music. [I don't agree with Phil on everything!]  When Barack Obama embraces it as a political philosophy, it makes for bad government.
He used his inauguration speech to liken the fight for same-sex marriage to the epic struggle won by Abraham Lincoln against black slavery, and by Martin Luther King Jr. against racial segregation, saying: “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.” Barack Obama is a master at rhetoric, but this is lazy at best and insulting at worst.

Issues of race and of sexuality are entirely different. To try to twist this is not to carry on the journey started by Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.; it is to insult what they stood for and try to hijack their legacy.
 
I have searched in vain for a robust medical study which shows that our sexuality is written deep into our DNA. It hasn’t been proven that homosexuality is genetic any more than it has been proven that homosexuality is caused by our environment. It appears that it is simply one of many sexual preferences that societies ought to weigh carefully, and then label right or wrong.

A boy who falls in love with his sister can’t marry her because we have ruled that incest is wrong. A man who falls in love with a twelve-year-old girl can’t marry her because we have ruled that child abuse is wrong.
We may decide that a man falling in love with a man is as equally valid as a man falling in love with a woman, but we can’t do so by appealing to genetics and civil rights. Men are twice as likely as women to become addicted to pornography, but their XY chromosomes don’t mean that their temptation is justified. 
 
It’s entirely right for us to have a free and open debate on whether homosexuality is right or wrong, but it’s entirely wrong to pretend that this is a civil rights issue like black slavery or racial segregation.
This is all about moral choices, not genetics. Barack Obama should be ashamed of himself for insulting the memory of Lincoln and King by suggesting otherwise." 

The above is Part 2 of Phil Moore's excellent article.  Be sure to check tomorrow, for the third, and final, episode!  Not having received any news to the contrary, I am now assuming that full permission to publish has been granted!   (No idea why this publishes in upper-case only!  It's in normal sentence style when I type it!).

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

It's more than love!

Video #10 from Dr Sharon James.   It arrived at the same time as I was informed that in order, it would seem, to pre-empt any decision by the House of Lords with regard to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, David Cameron is planning to install no less than fifty new peers - presumably people who will support his own point of view!  This seems, to me, to be about as devious as even a politician could be!  I trust, and pray, that the while issue will "blow up in his face" but, of one thing I am absolutely certain - he will answer for his decision, not in "the court of public opinion" but before the Judge of all the earth!


Be sure to check in, tomorrow, for Part 2 of Phil Moore's excellent article!

Marriage mistakes!

Okay, don't be concerned.  I am not about to launch into a series of jokes about marriage such as one might hear from any stand-up "comedian" (the word is in quotes because, in my opinion, most of what is given out is not even mildly funny!).  What I am going to do, over three days, is share some thoughts on "same-gender marriage" that were given by a London pastor, Phil Moore, in a website named Church Leaders.  I am grateful to Phil's secretary for granting me permission to use them - and just hope that he doesn't withdraw that permission!



"If you believe the newspapers then it’s already been decided. The fight to legalize same-sex marriage has already been won.
Prime Minister, David Cameron, introduced a bill to the British Parliament, which will be [was] debated on February 5, that is not being opposed by the opposition.
President Obama has used his second inauguration speech to signal that he also intends to legalize gay marriage in the U.S. through federal law.
The French President, Francois Hollande, has dismissed public protests over his support for same-sex marriage as the reactionary chattering of the no-longer-radical bourgeoisie.
But while politicians steamroll their proposals into law, they are ignoring some fundamental questions. Let me point out just three of the big mistakes that they are making:

Mistake #1: Everybody Knows That Same-Sex Marriage Should be Legalized.

Suppose we held a referendum that revealed this statement to be true. Suppose the majority of Britons and Americans actually did believe that same-sex marriage should be legalized — would that therefore make it right?

If the majority of Afghans voted that women should be barred from education, they wouldn’t therefore be right. When the majority of British people voted in the early 19th century that there was nothing wrong with slavery, campaigners didn’t stop arguing that the majority was wrong.

In fact, the essence of the pro-gay argument is that majority opinion has been wrong in the past on the issue of sexuality! Even in the purest of democracies, it is accepted that the majority opinion should be tested rather than turned into hastily drafted law. Consensus has long been the refuge of rascals, who attempt to stifle debate by claiming that the matter has already been decided.

What is becoming clear, anyway, is that the majority of people do not in fact back this major change to society.

Although the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, argued in last Sunday’s issue of The Times that redefining marriage will be a vote-winner for the conservatives, the real noise at the conservative head office is that of the large numbers of Tories who feel betrayed that this legislation was not in the party’s election manifesto. The British Youth Parliament has called on the government to drop gay marriage as a priority. In scenes reminiscent of the days before the war with Iraq, we are watching politicians make decisions without consulting those who elected them, only to regret their hastiness too late afterwards."

Of course, here in Scotland, we have our own "fight".  Please remember that, if you are reading this before 1650 (4.50 p.m.) GMT today, you still have time to respond to the Scottish Government's consultation - wherever in the world you may live.  The link to the website, into which you need type only a few personal details, is:
http://scotlandformarriage.org/consultation2013/

Every response helps!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Iraq + 10

It was, as this evening's news programme reminded me, ten years ago that coalition forces invaded the sovereign country of Iraq - ostensibly to oust the dictator, Saddam Hussein; more likely, to gain control of the substantial oil reserves that lie beneath that country!

However, the news programme showed some of the aftermath of the invasion (it was never really a 'war', as no such declaration was made by either side).  We watched a soldier who, even now, flinches at the sound of a loud bang - and who has lost wife, home, family, and work, as a result of his post-traumatic stress that included seeing two of his fellow-soldiers die beside him.  Another, who was paralysed from the waist down when he was shot in the back, is now able to walk - but with pain - and is happily married.  Reasonably normal, one might think - except that he confided that, every time he sees his own reflection, he is reminded of the two comrades who died  saving his life!

As I watched, and sympathised (I am not in a position, thankfully, to fully empathise!) I couldn't help thinking that this was all the result of former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, with his dossier on Weapons of Mass Destruction, and his ten (or was it fifteen?) minute warning.  Of course, to this day, I am unaware of any weapons of mass destruction ever having been uncovered, and the ten/fifteen minute warning was as much a figment of the imagination as the WsMD.  The dossier was, later, shown to have been based on knowingly faulty intelligence - but it suited Mr Bliar (not a typo!) to accept it.

And what of the aforementioned former politician?  Oh well, far from suffering from any stress or injury, he swans around, a multi-millionaire, still being féted by others of his own ilk.  It's an unfair world - but I am happy that, one day (and it may be very soon) there will be a truly new world order when Jesus the Christ takes His own to meet with Him "in the air" (I Thess.4:17) and, seven years later, return as Judge (Jude 15). 

As the song-writer put it: "What a day, glorious day, that will be"!


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Marriage Minutes

 In this latest Marriage Minutes, Dr Sharon James explains why the attempts by the UK Government to introduce same-gender 'marriage, is totally undemocratic.  It's always worth a couple of minutes of your time!



Don't forget - if you haven't already done so, please respond to the Scottish Government's Consultation.  Details are given below!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Richard Dawkins' Selective Courage

It has been noted, in the past, that Richard Dawkins - the 'high priest' of modern secular humanism - is very forthcoming with arguments, insults, and bullying directed at non-scientists and especially folks who adhere to Biblical creationism, even as he is notably hesitant about engaging scientists who advocate intelligent design (ID) and who would present him with the evidence of purpose and design in life. Even a fellow atheist has called Dawkins a coward for refusing to debate Centre for Science & Culture fellow William Lane Craig.  He has also refused to openly debate with Rev David Robertson, minister to St Peter's Free Church, Dundee, and Founder of SOLAS (Centre for Public Christianity).

In fact, Dawkins simply refuses to properly confront the arguments for ID - never mind in the high-stress context of a public debate but even in the safety of his own books, where he also prefers to lambaste creationists. In this he's a lot like other prominent champions of neo-Darwinism.

Now in a very different context, Prof. Dawkins is being called out as being somewhat less than heroic. He is of course a great fountain of abuse and contempt for Judaism and Christianity, but were you ever curious about what he'd say if somebody queried him on the merits of Islam?  Well, it's happened.  Douglas Murray writes in the Jewish Chronicle (February 24, 2013):
"In a recent Al-Jazeerah interview, Richard Dawkins was asked his views on God. He argued that the God of "the Old Testament" is "hideous" and "a monster," and reiterated his claim from The God Delusion that the God of the Torah is the most unpleasant character "in fiction." Asked if he thought the same of the God of the Qur'an, Dawkins ducked the question, saying: "Well, um, the God of the Qur'an I don't know so much about."
How can it be that the world's most fearless atheist, celebrated for his strident opinions on the Christian and Jewish Gods, could profess to know so little about the God of the Qur'an? Has he not had the time? Or is Professor Dawkins simply demonstrating that most crucial trait of his species: survival instinct."
Two cheers for Al-Jazeerah for posing the question. That is delicious. Clearly, the risk-averse Prof. Dawkins knows what's good for him! You can spend all your time railing in public against "hideous" and "monstrous" Christian and Jewish beliefs without fearing for a moment for your safety. 

Some members of other faiths would be less easygoing!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Mothering Sunday

Today, as the various retailers have ensured we don't forget, is Mothering Sunday - that day in the year when mothers are given a special recognition.  This morning, in Wishaw Baptist Church, I was able to share some thoughts on Timothy, the recipient of two of the New Testament letters written by the apostle, Paul. 

One of the points made about that young man was the Godly upbringing that he enjoyed: "I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lo'is and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you." (II Tim 1:5).  "... as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." (II Tim 3:14-15).

However, while acknowledging the part that parents, and grandparents, play in the upbringing of children - and also pointing out that those who are childless, for whatever reason, may 'adopt' a child whom they know, to pray for that child and even, if the family is known to them, to provide gifts for the child that might point him/her to Jesus - I also reminded folk, including the children who were present, that not everyone is in a position to wish their mum "A Happy Mothers' Day"! 

Now that is pretty obvious for someone of my generation, whose parents have both been dead for a number of years.  I was thinking a little more widely than that!  This morning's Radio 4 Appeal was on behalf of an organisation named Winston's Wish.  This is a charity for bereaved children, that helps young people re-adjust to life after the death of a parent or sibling.  The case that was highlighted involved a young mum who was killed when a car mounted the pavement and hit her.  Her husband, and two-year-old son were just a few paces ahead of her.  Here is a little boy who cannot tell his mum that he loves her, or bring her a card and a gift.

Then I thought of even further afield.  I remembered Danna, a 14 year-old who lives at a centre run by Open Doors in Colombia, South America. She has been there since she was 11. Before she arrived at the centre, Danna’s mother was an evangelist who led many people to Christ.  However, as a result, the guerrilla rebels told her to stop or there would be "consequences".  Her mother rebelled, and secretly continued bringing people to Christ.

One day, Danna’s mother and many other people were having fellowship on a local green. A friend came running to her mum, warning her to run as the guerrilla rebels were after her.  At the time, Danna’s mother was carrying Danna’s baby sister. As a result, the rebels caught her. Two minutes later Danna found her mother lying face down on the ground, having been shot 15 times in the face by the rebels. 

Mothering Sunday.  Let those of us who still have a mum whom we love with us; and even those of us who are orphans because of the natural deaths of our parents at a good age; take a moment to remember those who have to grow up without their mother - those for whom Mothering Sunday may bring only sadness.


Saturday, 9 March 2013

Redefinition of Marriage in Scotland – PLEASE ACT!

As already stated, the Scottish Government is currently consulting on the possible impact of redefining marriage.  We have seen examples, even before a change in the law, of ordinary people being penalised for believing marriage should only be between one man and one woman (my own situation is a case in point, but it is not the only one - see http://www.christian.org.uk/news/primary-teacher-job-threat-over-gay-marriage-storybook/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+christianinstitute+%28The+Christian+Institute%29).
Therefore, it is vital for as many people as possible to respond to the consultation before it closes on March 20th.  There are two ways by which you may take action:

1. Supporters in Scotland should have received a letter this week from CARE which contains an advice booklet for submitting a response which you can follow.
NB. Please remember to try to draft responses to questions in your own words.  There are also briefings available here: Short Briefing | Full Briefing and further information on responding can be found on the Scottish Government website here.

2. If you are short of time you can respond online using our response form which can be found here.  This will submit pre-drafted answers which is better than not responding at all but please, if you have time, try to submit your response as outlined in Option 1.

This is a very significant stage in the battle to maintain marriage as it has always been, and I would urge all who care for traditional marriage, as ordained by God, to make a response.  

Friday, 8 March 2013

Make the Devil Take His Bags

It's turned out to be a particularly busy week.  From speaking/preaching maybe a couple of times a month (three in a 'busy' month!), I have ended up with no less than seven speaking engagements in one week - with all of the associated preparation!  No time for any more blog-post preparation.

I was grateful, therefore, to receive the following in one of my regular e-mails.  It speaks to me; I suspect that it will speak to many! 

You got out of a bad relationship because it was bad, but you are still resentful, and angry.
(you let the devil leave his bags)

You got out of financial debt, but you still can't control the desire to spend on frivolous things.
(you let the devil leave his bags)

You got out of a bad habit or addiction, but you still long to try it just one more time.
(you let the devil leave his bags)

You said, I forgive you, but you can't seem to let it go and have peace with that person.
(you let the devil leave his bags)

You got out of that horribly oppressive job, but you're still trying to sabotage the company after you've left.
(you let the devil leave his bags)

You cut off the affair with that married man/woman, but you still lust after him/her.
(you let the devil leave his bags)

You broke off your relationship with that hurtful, abusive person, but you are suspicious and distrusting of every new person you meet.
(you let the devil leave his bags)

You decided to let go of the past hurts from growing up in an unstable family environment, yet you believe you are unworthy of love from others and you refuse to get attached to anyone.
(you let the devil leave his bags)

When you put the devil out, make sure he takes his bags, too!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Respect!

Yet another brief video clip from the Coalition for Marriage (C4M).  In this one, Dr James considers the notion of respect.  That's something that a lot of folk, on either side of the argument, appear to be sadly lacking!


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Serious drink-driving warning!

After some pretty serious postings, it's perhaps acceptable to bring a smile to some faces!  The following was included with a letter of support with regard to my own current 'newsworthy' position, that was slipped through our letter-box.

"I would like to share an experience with you all - about drinking and driving.

As you well know, some of us have been known, over the years, to have had brushes with the authorities on our way home after the odd social session!

A couple of nights ago, I was out for a few drinks, with some friends, in the Queen's Hotel.  Having had a few too many beers, and some rather nice red wine, and knowing full well that I may have been slightly 'over the limit', I did something that I've never done before - I took a bus home.  Sure enough, I passed some Traffic Officers who were checking the state of the drivers of cars that they had signalled to stop.  However, as I was on a bus, they just waved me past.

I arrived home without incident - which was a real surprise, as I have never driven a bus before, and am not even sure where I got it from!"

lol (or, for the French, mdr!)

Monday, 4 March 2013

Hypocrite - or repentant sinner?

So, my faith in Keith Michael Patrick O'Brien was misplaced!  I had said that, from the little personal knowledge I had of him, it would require some very clear, and incontrovertible evidence before I would consider him to be guilty of the alleged offences that had become headline news only a week ago.  I have to accept that a personal confession is pretty compelling evidence!

So that's it - at least as far as some appear to think!  The man is a total hypocrite.  There he was, helping to spearhead the move against the redefinition of marriage, referring to same-gender marriage as "a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right" while, all of the time, he had been playing 'hanky-panky' with some junior priests!

At least two things need to be said.  First of all, "inappropriate behaviour" - which is the charge levelled against the Cardinal, and to which he has now confessed - does not even suggest homosexual activity!  However, there is an even more important point.  These activities, whatever they were, appear to have taken place some thirty (or more) years ago and, even although it now appears to be "open season" on the Cardinal, no further (and later) accusations have been made.  This would indicate, to this particular sinner, that he had repented, i.e. turned away from the relevant sin. If that is true, then his forgiveness is, surely, assured.  Last night, I quoted from the (old) Anglican Prayer-book, in its call to the Lord's Table:“You that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in His holy ways; draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort, and make your humble confession to Almighty God, meekly kneeling upon your knees.”  Who am I; who is any one of us; to assume that Cardinal O'Brien did not, all of those years ago, repent of his sins? 

Someone else has asked the questions: "Which of us has nothing in our past that could be made to look bad in the newspapers? Which of us has not “fallen short of the standards” expected of our state in life?" Alongside such perfectly legitimate questions, I would simply place the words of the only One Who could ask even His enemies, "Which of you convicts me of sin?" (He received no answer!): "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone!"

The Cardinal, it could be argued, has an even more difficult path to tread now than even those with whom he behaved in an inappropriate fashion so very long ago.  While in no way condoning his former actions, I wish him well - as one sinner (saved by grace) to another!

[By the way, there is a whole chapter on the subject of "Repentance" in my e-book: "Getting to know you - Great Words of the Christian Faith".  Details at the top of the blog!]

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Marriage Consultation.

The high number of 'hits' continues!  I hope that many of those who have checked out this blog will do so at least one more time, in order to read the following.

In the next couple of days, supporters in Scotland will receive a postal mailing from CARE which contains information to help them respond to the Scottish Government's ongoing consultation on the implementation of their plans to redefine marriage.  In particular, the consultation looks at the impact of redefining marriage on civil liberties, e.g. for teachers, registrars and public authority workers.  As you will appreciate, my own case has a bearing on this!  However, there will be many who are not on the CARE mailing list - or on any other that might be used.  Accordingly, I am providing the links to both the consultation paper and the CARE briefing.

The best way to respond to the consultation, which closes on 20th March, is to formulate a personal response, using your own words.  You can do this by completing the form on the Scottish Government website which can be found here.  A CARE for Scotland briefing giving advice on what you might like to say can be found here.

A webpage will also be published next week to help those who are pushed for time make a submission online – do look out for this next week!

Thank you for all of the support that you can provide to uphold the current, God-instituted, definition of marriage.  Please share the above information with as many people as possible!

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Publicity!

Someone once said that there is no such thing as "bad publicity"!  I can only comment that yesterday's publicity re my (former!) Police Chaplaincy led to over 200 hits on this blog - a substantial increase on the previous highest daily record.

I have also had a higher than usual number of comments - thankfully, all supportive - and have had a number of folk contact me through my AllExperts page with, again, supportive comments and/or serious questions.  This is over and above those who were able to contact me via e-mail.  I am genuinely appreciative of each, and all.

Since the whole issue of my position within Strathclyde Police was triggered by the views that I had expressed, on this personal blog, on marriage - and my obvious support for that God-ordained institution - some may wish to check out what I published.  There is a little 'box' at the top left-hand-side of the blog, with the Blogspot logo to the right, and a magnifying glass icon to the right.  Typing 'marriage' into that box, and clicking on the magnifying glass, should bring up everything that I have posted on the subject!

However, while I am so very grateful for all of the support given by so many, it was when I went on to the blog, earlier today, that I wept with emotion.  For many months I have had a 'widget' that provides a 'Verse of the Day'.  As I looked at today's randomly (??!!) chosen words, I could scarcely believe my own eyes!  For the sake of any who reads this after midnight (when the verse will change), it was: “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed His steps; I have kept to His way without turning aside.” -Job 23:10-11

Now, please don't get me wrong.  I am not for one split second classing anything that I have ever gone through in the same league as that dear Old Testament saint of God.  But what a wonderful word of what I am being bold enough to refer to as "Divine encouragement"!

It was on Wednesday evening, at the mid-week fellowship meeting, and before I was even aware that I was going to be a newsworthy item, that we sung those lovely words, written nearly three centuries ago by Joseph Hart :
How good is the God we adore; Our faithful, unchangeable Friend.  
Whose love is as great as His power; and knows neither measure nor end! 
 'Tis Jesus, the First and the Last; Whose Spirit will guide us safe home.  
We'll praise Him for all that is past, and trust Him for all that's to come!

He is, indeed, a good and faithful God - as my brothers and sisters in the truly persecuted church will gladly affirm.  I commend Him to all who are going through troubled times - and who are willing to confess to their own sinfulness, and accept His wonderful offer of salvation, full and free!

To Him be all of the praise, and all of the glory.




Friday, 1 March 2013

Marriage Minutes #7

Another brief video statement from the Coalition for Marriage.




By the way, I'm "in the news" myself - see the Christian Institute box in the right-hand-side of the blog!  (You may have to wait, or hover over and click on the right arrow until the relevant article is shown.  Then click on blue 'headline' to read the full article).