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

I may be contacted, personally, at author@minister.com




Saturday, 31 May 2014

Holiday reading!

After the initial interest, sales of my first book, Great Words of the Faith, appear to have come to an end.  All of the feedback has been very good and, of course, 30% of the profit goes to support the persecuted church!

If you are planning a wee holiday, and would like to have some informative, Biblically-sound, not-too-heavy reading, then I can recommend it.  The Kindle version is less than a fiver, so won't break the bank.

Details at the top of the page, including how to obtain the paperback.  However, as the latter is available only from me, and as we expect to be heading off to France by the middle of June, paperback orders would require to be made very, very soon!

Please also recommend the book to your friends!!!  :-)

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Just one of those weeks!

I suspect that everyone has "one of those weeks" from time to time.  The one that is drawing to a close has certainly been so for me - and, indeed, in some respects, for the family!

I don't intend going into the details.  Suffice it to say that we have had to deal with a number of situations that came at us 'out of the blue'.  One that I will share is that yesterday I paid a visit to the International Christian College in Glasgow.  As a former student of one of its 'grandparents' - The Bible Training Institute - I have had access to the Library there for many years.  I really appreciated that access while I was completing my M.Div., and continued to use it for research when writing a book.

As I entered the Library yesterday, I stopped.  Surely I was in the wrong place!  So many empty shelves - and people making up boxes that I knew were designed to hold books.  I already knew that there were problems - I am on the College mailing list - but had expected to be able to use the Library for at least another year.  Not so.  I spoke with one of the Librarians, and discovered that it will no longer be available after the end of June.  As we expect to leave to return to France in the middle of June, it looks as if I will only manage one (or, at most, two) more visit(s).

Apart from the death of a fellow human being, especially someone known and loved by me, the two things that probably tear most at my heart-strings are the sinking of a ship, and the destroying of books.  Now I have been assured that the ICC Library books are going to be either passed over to another establishment, archived, or stored in a basement.  However, as far as I am concerned, they will be gone forever.  I had even intended leaving most of my own modest library to ICC in my will!  Little point, now, in doing that!

However, one thing does hearten me.  If you have read my book Great Words of the Faith (details above!), you will know my position on the relationship between time and eternity.   I won't go into detail here (but please feel free to purchase the book - either in paperback, or Kindle) but it does mean that I am assured that nothing ever takes the Lord by surprise.  It's not just that He is able to 'look forward' into the 'future'.  It's more that He sees all of time, simultaneously, in an eternal present.   He is already watching those books being stored - and, I trust, being restored to those who would wish to make use of them.  He is the One Who knows the end from the beginning.

That is also true for your life, and for mine.  We may often be surprised by what happens in our lives - whether for good, or for bad.  He never is.  Your whole life is spread out before Him, and nothing, but nothing, happens without His knowledge and permission.  And, of course, because He sees, and knows, all; and because He is working out His own perfect plan and purpose for our lives, and for mankind; and because He is Sovereign; we may be assured that what happens, as we abide in His will, is for our ultimate good.

So, when you have 'one of those weeks' - or even days - hand it over to Him.  You may even wish to use this brief prayer that I lifted from a young friend's Facebook page: "Dear God, I may not understand why everything is happening in my life just now, but I just wanted to say that I trust You and I love You.  In Jesus' Name."

Blessings, and shalom.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

TRY praying?

I went to Hamilton, today, by public transport.  As the 'bus travelled through Motherwell, I noticed a banner tied to the railings of a church building.  On it were printed just two words: "Try Praying".

Now that might seem, at first glance, to be good advice.  However, as I thought about it, I realised that it isn't!  Now, those who know me well may be surprised at that.  I am a great believer in prayer, and its effectiveness.  Why would I not be in favour of people praying? 

Well of course, I am very much in favour of people engaging in that particular activity.  My concern is with the word "Try".  You see, if people merely 'try' praying, the results are unlikely to be positive.  If I am 'trying' something, I tend to approach it rather tentatively.  If I am merely 'trying', I am unlikely to have much in the way of confidence.

Perhaps it would have been better for that fellowship to have had just one word on the banner - "Pray"!  Even that requires some clarification.  Prayer is not some emergency button that we press when a situation is not to our liking.  Prayer is conversing with Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of all that is.  We ought not, therefore, to approach it in a casual manner.  We certainly ought not to assume that, even although we neglect, or reject, Him most of the time, that He will instantly spring into action on our behalf simply because we have uttered a few meaningless platitudes.  We most definitely ought not to think that prayer is a means by which we may manipulate God to meet our needs!

There are at least two basic requirements for prayer.  The first is that we believe that it does work - not by changing God, but by changing us.  During this period of transition in our own domestic situation, all of my study posters have been packed away.  But there is one that I don't really need to have on the wall.  It reads: "Sincere prayer is not an attempt to change the Will of God, but a genuine desire to bring my will into line with His".

The second thing to consider is that we not only need to believe in the efficacy of prayer; we also need to pray believing!   James writes: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, Who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord." (James 1:5-8).  The same principle applies to all requests!

A final word.  Some complain that God doesn't answer their prayers.  Untrue!  What, in my experience, that tends to mean is "I didn't get the result for which I had asked."!   However, all that that means is that God's answer was 'No', or 'Not now'.  However, He did answer - and always does so for our ultimate good, and for His glory.

So, with all due respect, please ignore that banner, if you see it.  Don't try praying - pray; and do so believing that Father God hears, understands, and responds - even if you don't always appreciate the answer!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Being in God's will.

Selling a house can be quite a stressful experience!  It can be an opportunity to learn to be patient in the Lord.  It can bring back memories of earlier years living in that home.

One of the memories that I have been revisiting over recent weeks is of the conversion of the loft area to provide bedrooms for my two (then) teenage daughters.  When I was planning that major project, I employed the services of an architect in order to ensure that all would be both sound, and legal.  It wasn't really a complaint, but he quickly made clear to me that, although I was asking him to design the conversion in a way that would satisfy all of the regulations, I had already made the plans in my own mind - and nothing that he might say say was going to change them!  What I really wanted was for him to give the O.K. to my own ideas!

Many of us, who would claim to be disciples of Jesus, seem to proceed in the same way when we ask God to plan our lives.  The words that we pray ask for wisdom, and guidance but, in our hearts, we have already decided what we will do with our lives.  Often, those plans are good, and seek to honour the Lord.  Often there is great effort put into areas of Christian service.  Somehow, however, we seem to have missed the message of Romans 12:1-2, "I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  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."  We gladly trust Christ for salvation, but we are less willing to make the full surrender of our very bodies which ios necessary of we are to "... prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

One of my favourite stories concerns Miriam Booth, a daughter of the founder of the Salvation Army (which, by the way, celebrates its 150th anniversary, next year).  She was, by all accounts, a beautiful and cultured lady who was used wonderfully by God as she sought to serve Him.  Suddenly, and unexpectedly, she contracted a disease that brought her close to death.  A friend who was visiting her commented that it was a great pity that a person with her capabilities should be thus hindered from doing the Lord's work.

Miriam's reply was, surely, classic.  "It is a great thing," she said, "to do God's work; but greater still to be in God's will."

If you are a disciple of Jesus, it's a thought worth pondering.  Whatever our work for Him, let us be certain that we are in His will for us!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Israel, Palestine, and the World Council of Churches.

My regular copy of Life & Work (the Church of Scotland's monthly magazine) arrived with the post this morning.  In spite of the fact that I have not been an official C.of S. minister for almost 35 years, it started arriving a few years back, and has done so ever since.  I'm not sure that it will be sent to France when we move there - but we shall see!

Usually, I tend to read only the parts that interest me - the deaths, retirals, and demissions (an increasing number of those known to me fall into the first of those categories!); the Letters pages; and the offerings of one or two of the regular contributors.  However, in this edition, I noticed a headline in the World News pages: "Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners", and stopped to read!  It was a brief article which I reproduce here (in the hope that it is acceptable to do so without written permission. I am assuming that with the annual meeting of the Kirk, in General Assembly, taking place this week, the editor will have more important fish to fry!).

"Observing Palestinian Prisoners' Day on April 17th, the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary expressed solidarity with 5000 Palestinian men, women, and children languishing in Israeli jails.
In an open letter to the WCC's members, the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said: 'As people of faith, we are called to pray for, visit, and tend to the needs of all prisoners, no matter the reason for their detention.  For Israel and Palestine, prisoners have taken on even greater significance than in the past.
We were disappointed when the government of Israel cancelled the scheduled release of prisoners who have been in Israeli jails [since] even before the Oslo Agreement of 1993', he added."

The Reverend Doctor ought, perhaps, to use his undoubted intelligence, and research skills, to probe a little further into the situation before automatically assuming that the Israeli Government are the 'bad guys', and that the Palestinians are all as pure as the driven snow!  That cancellation of a scheduled release of prisoners was not an arbitrary move.

It was a response to the lack of progress made in the U.S.-brokered peace negotiations, or any meaningful concessions on the Palestinian side.

It was a response to Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas who, while – with the support of the Arab League – is adamant in his refusal to recognize the Jewish state, but has been demanding a construction freeze in Judea and Samaria, and the freeing of terrorists, as a precondition for merely continuing the talks.

It was a response to the comment by PA Central Committee Member Tawfiq Tirawi who, as documented by Palestinian Media Watch, stated on official PA television that the negotiations are merely 'one of the methods of struggle. But the rifle is here, and it can burst forth at any moment.'

It was a response to the PA's President's receiving of released prisoners, with blood on their hands, as heroes!

Of course, the Kirk showed, at the last General Assembly, that it has little support for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but prefers to support the Philistines.  Perhaps it fits in well with the WCC!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Thar's a referendum a-comin'!

Apologies for the headline!  Oh, and I know that, before the Referendum on Scottish Independence (or, better, Separation) there are elections to the somewhat impotent European Parliament.  However, it was the Referendum on which the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and N.Ireland was pontificating today.

I watched the report of his speech on the early-evening television news bulletin.  If Scotland's residents vote 'No', we were informed, the LibDems would guarantee greater devolution.  I was glad that it wasn't breakfast-time - I would have been in danger of choking on my porridge!

The current likelihood of the LibDums (no, that wasn't a typo!) having any say about anything after next year's General Election are slightly less than the likelihood of me succeeding Barack Obama (yes, I know that I might do a better job - but I wasn't born in the USoA, and that is a major requirement for candidates!).  However, even if they were leading in all of the polls, for Mr Clegg to make such a promise is about as helpful, and meaningful, as him guaranteeing that there will be two blue moons in the sky on every Wednesday night between now and the end of the century.  In other words, his guarantees aren't worth the paper on which his speech-writer had written the words.

However, if Mr Clegg's words were pointless, those of the Deputy First Minister were no better.  She, if I recall accurately, accused Mr Clegg of making promises he can't fulfil!  Sorry, Nicola, but what is the 'Yes' campaign doing?  "We will have the pound sterling, because Alex Salmond says it will be better for everyone if we do."  He may even be correct in that assessment.  The problem is that it's a UK ball, and the rest of the UK don't want us to share it!  "We will have an automatic entry to the EU."  Not according to most of the EU pundits, who insist that a separated Scotland will have to make a formal application - and, if successful, would be anything but independent! 

The only concrete thing that came out of the report was further confirmation, if any is needed, that one can tell that a politician is lying simply by noting that the lips are moving.

Of course, it is pre-election time!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

My life is in Your hands.

The recent abduction, by Boko Haram Islamist terrorists, of between 200 and 300 teenage girls, in Nigeria, has caught the attention of the world-wide community - and rightly so.  However, this is merely one atrocity committed by this group of evil, and violent, men.   Regretfully, they are not even the only group that targets, in particular, Christian communities.  Another group comes from the Fulani tribe - who would also claim to be Muslims.

Kumaga Agini is a young Nigerian mother, struggling to get her life together again.  Her husband was shot, and killed, earlier this year in a raid on their village by Fulani militants.  She, and her two young children, now live with relatives, dependent on their charity.

The Fulani had attacked the predominantly Christian village, in central Nigeria, determined to burn it, and to kill anyone who got in their way.  Kumaga's husband managed to take his family to safety, but then returned to collect their meagre possessions.  Sadly, he was spotted by the raiders, and shot.  When he fell to the ground, the brutal attackers mutilated his dead body, before throwing it inside the house, to which they then set fire.

Kumaga is one of many people displaced from villages in the north of Benue State as a result of attacks by Fulani.  Although herdsmen by background, the Fulani have been armed with sophisticated weaponry - prompting many to believe that they are being supported, and encouraged, by Boko Haram, or even by other Islamic extremist groups outwith Nigeria.  Living conditions for such families - who are now, effectively, refugees in their own country - are often desperate.  However, Kumaga readily witnesses to the consolation that she finds in her Christian faith, regardless of the circumstances!  She finds strength in singing, and her favourite is a song entitled Lord, my life is in Your hands

This young woman, and countless others like her, are a challenge to many in the "West" who claim to be disciples of Jesus, but whose lives tell a different story.  If you pray, please remember these dear brothers and sisters before the throne of grace.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Rules!

Earlier, I came across some 'rules', allegedly given by Bill Gates (of Microsoft fame) to a class of school pupils. However, a check on Snopes.com, suggested that this is untrue - and also provides an additional three.  The full fourteen are here reproduced.   They make interesting reading! (I have edited the 'Americanisms'!)

Rule No. 1:   Life is not fair. Get used to it. The average teenager uses the phrase "It's not fair" 8.6 times a day. You got it from your parents, who said it so often you decided they must be the most idealistic generation ever. When they started hearing it from their own kids, they realised Rule No. 1. 

Rule No. 2:   The real world won't care as much about your self-esteem as much as your school does. It'll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. This may come as a shock. Usually, when inflated self-esteem meets reality, kids complain that it's not fair. (See Rule No. 1) 

Rule No. 3:   Sorry, you won't make £40,000 a year right out of high school. And you won't be a vice president or have a car phone either. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn't have a Gap label. 

Rule No. 4:   If you think your teacher is tough, wait 'til you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure, so he tends to be a bit edgier. When you screw up, he's not going to ask you how you feel about it. 

Rule No. 5:   Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping. They called it opportunity. They weren't embarrassed making minimum wage either. They would have been embarrassed to sit around talking about Kurt Cobain all weekend. 

Rule No. 6:   It's not your parents' fault. If you screw up, you are responsible. This is the flip side of "It's my life," and "You're not the boss of me," and other eloquent proclamations of your generation. When you turn 18, it's on your penny. Don't whine about it, or you'll sound like a baby boomer. 

Rule No. 7:   Before you were born your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the wardrobe in your bedroom. 

Rule No. 8:   Your school may have done away with winners and losers. Life hasn't. In some schools, they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. Failing grades have been abolished and Dux has been scrapped, lest anyone's feelings be hurt. Effort is as important as results. This, of course, bears not the slightest resemblance to anything in real life. (See Rule No. 1, Rule No. 2 and Rule No. 4.) 

Rule No. 9:   Life is not divided into terms, and you don't get summers off. Not even an Easter break. They expect you to show up every day. For eight hours. And you don't get a new life every 10 weeks. It just goes on and on. While we're at it, very few jobs are interested in fostering your self-expression or helping you find yourself. Fewer still lead to self-realisation. (See Rule No. 1 and Rule No. 2.) 

Rule No. 10:   Television is not real life. Your life is not a sitcom. Your problems will not all be solved in 30 minutes, minus time for commercials. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to jobs. Your friends will not be as perky or pliable as Jennifer Aniston. 

Rule No. 11:   Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all could.

Rule No. 12:   Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic. Next time you're out, watch an 11-year-old with a butt in his mouth. That's what you look like to anyone over 20. Ditto for "expressing yourself" with purple hair and/or pierced body parts. 

Rule No. 13:   You are not immortal. (See Rule No. 12.) If you are under the impression that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you obviously haven't seen one of your peers at room temperature lately. 

Rule No. 14:   Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a pain, school's a bother, and life is depressing. But someday you'll realise how wonderful it was to be a child. Maybe you should start now. You're welcome.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The first casualty!

It was, as far as records can show, Aeschylus, a Greek tragic dramatist (c. 525-456 B.C.) who first used the words: "In war, truth is the first casualty".  Certainly, propaganda (the art of persuasion - persuading others that your 'side of the story' is correct) can be as effective a weapon as any other - a fact well used by, for example, Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda and National Enlightenment in Hitler's Nazi Germany.

Donatella Rovera, an Amnesty International field investigator, wrote an interesting article about the challenges of fact finding in war situations.  One of her main points is that eyewitnesses are often unreliable. For example:
In GazaLebanonLibyaSyria, and other places I interviewed civilians who described what they thought were artillery or bomb strikes being launched by far away government forces and striking near their homes – whereas in reality the loud bangs and tremors were caused by mortars or rockets being launched by opposition fighters from their positions nearby. For the untrained ear it is virtually impossible to distinguish between incoming and outgoing fire, and all the more so for those who find themselves close to the front lines.
She also states:
Even if they disregard it, investigators must be alert to the fact that disinformation and misinformation can contribute to shaping the perception of events, the narrative surrounding the events, and the behaviour of people who take it in good faith and internalize it, including victims, witnesses, and others potential sources.
Here, Ms Rovera is referring to lies that spread quickly, and then become widely believed – including by “unbiased” NGOs (non-governmental organisations) – before anyone has a chance to investigate.  She gives a specific example from Gaza:
Fear can lead victims and witnesses to withhold evidence or give deliberately erroneous accounts of incidents. In Gaza, I received partial or inaccurate information by relatives of civilians accidentally killed in accidental explosions or by rockets launched by Palestinian armed groups towards Israel that had malfunctioned and of civilians killed by Israeli strikes on nearby Palestinian armed groups’ positions. When confronted with other evidence obtained separately, some said they feared reprisals by the armed groups.
What this means is that “eyewitnesses” will often claim that there was no terrorist activity in the area of an airs-trike and Israel wantonly and indiscriminately killed people for no reason.  Regretfully, this version tends to be swallowed, hook, line, and sinker, and is then parroted by the UN and other NGOs. 
This is why we ought always to be careful about western media reports concerning the modern State of Israel, and its alleged illegal occupation of certain parts of the Holy Land.  I would not wish to be the one who maintained that Israel is totally blameless in every situation.  However, much of what we read and hear is nothing more or less than propaganda - propaganda against a people who are still "... the apple of His eye" (Zech.2:8)!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Verse of the day.

I hope that many of my readers - including those who receive each post via an RSS feed,or through Google+, also access the blog and check out the Verse of the Day.  I know that I posted recently about the woman who has been my faithful, loving, diligent, encouraging, support for so many years; but to day's verse reminds me of her - as it always does when I read it.  

Can't say it too often!

Verse of the day.

“[Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character] A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:” -Proverbs 31:10, 27-28 Listen to chapter Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Postscript!

Back in wild, wet, and windy, Wishie! (actually, it's calm, and dry - but where is the alliteration in that?!). Among the mail that had arrived during our absence was a leaflet from, would you believe it, Ukip!  I had forgotten the voting system for the EU Parliamentary elections, but that reminded me that, of course, Scotland is just a constituency.  That means that I am able to vote for Ukip and, if I am allowed more than one vote, for the SCP as well :-)

One thing I will be doing is taking a pen with me, and using that to make my mark. There are rumours that the mark made by the pencil provided is too easily rubbed out, and the mark made against a different candidate/party.  It may be nothing more than a rumour - but I am not prepared to take the chance.  I'll be doing the same on September 18th!  I would encourage others to do the same!


Friday, 9 May 2014

The EU - what we aren't told!

As the European elections draw ever closer, I was interested to come across the following five important facts about the EU which the mainstream media and press appear to have deliberately ignored.

1..........This week a damning report by Civitas (an independent 'think-tank') has proved what many of us have known all along: Britain’s membership of the EU does not enhance our volume of trade with EU countries. In fact the proportion of trade Britain conducts with the EU has fallen since we joined the Common Market in 1973! So much for ‘insider advantages’. They have been proven to be imaginary.

2.........The EU has chosen to celebrate its own existence with pomp. It is spending €2 million (app. £1.66 billion!) of taxpayers' money to ensure Europe Day (today) is celebrated around the world in countries like Venezuela, Mozambique and Swaziland - obviously integral parts of Europe!!!!

3..........Last night on the BBC's Question Time, the panellists tried to shout down Nigel Farage as he pointed out that neither our politicians nor the shareholders of AstraZeneca (a UK-based pharmaceutical drug company) have any ability to block Pfizer’s (a similar company in the USA) recent take-over bid. After Farage was mocked by the Shadow Business Secretary Chukka Umunna, Reuters confirmed the truth. The European Commission has the final say and will probably block any attempt by the Government to intervene in the merger.  Of course,  the Hansard entry from the Commons statement (on the proposed merger) this week is clear.  John Redwood (Con. Euro-sceptic)) put it to Vincent Cable (Lib. Dumb Business Secretary), in 'Parliamentary speak', that “this is a concentration that falls to be determined by Brussels regulation”.  Cable acknowledged that “the main position is exactly as he described it”. The establishment is caught out deceiving the public again.

4..........We’ve seen the European Court of Justice recently ignore the British Government’s appeal against the ‘Tobin’ Tax which, as the Mayor of London Boris Johnson pointed out, will stamp on growth and drive business away from Britain. This demonstrates just how weak Britain’s influence is in Europe and will remain so as long as we are members of the EU.

5...........Earlier this week Herman “damp rag” van Rompuy said openly he doesn't know if the European public support EU expansion, but ‘we do it anyway’. He clearly considers democracy an obstacle to overcome, as he pursues his own personal agenda to reshape a federalist Europe.  I am reminded of some of the 'consultations' of recent years - not least with reference to the redefinition of marriage at both Westminster and Holyrood levels.  The 'powers that be' went ahead with their proposals regardless of the overwhelming opposition to them at grass roots level.

Of course, all of the above also has a bearing on another important voting occasion, later in the year.  On Sept.18th, Scotland will vote in a referendum.  There are many issues to be considered, but one of the major ones is, surely, the future of Scotland vis-à-vis the EU.  As far as I can see, if the 'Yes' vote wins, then it will certainly be the aim of the SNP to be an integral part of the EU - although I consider "Independence in Europe" to be one of the greatest oxymorons of recorded history!  Does any right-minded person truly want to be a part of the most discredited, disingenuous, disastrous, political entity of the past fifty years?  If not, then a vote for the 'No' camp in the referendum will at least allow for the possibility of a departure from it as part of a continuing United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

I doubt that there will be a Ukip candidate in my part of the world in the Euro election - but if there was, I suspect that (s)he would be getting my vote (A Scottish Christian Party candidate would also be a distinct possibility as, to the best of my knowledge, that Party is also opposed to the EU).

By the way, lest anyone construe my opposition to the European Union as anti-Europe, I would point out that I am posting this in France, and have just responded to a message from a very dear Dutch friend!  :-)

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Murder most foul.

A young woman, named Emily Letts, has caused something of a sensation by having herself filmed as she underwent an abortion procedure.  The video has been posted on YouTube, and has gone viral.

This young woman discovered that she was pregnant!  Wow - I wonder how that might have happened?! She obviously felt it unnecessary to take any precautions when she was sexually active - or, perhaps, she simply didn't care.  For her, abortion was a simple choice.  Towards the end of the video (which, significantly, does not show the procedure itself!), she comments: "I feel in awe that I can make a baby.  I can make a life."

Actually, she can not "make a life" - certainly not unaided!   A male also had to be involved and, for many of us, it is Almighty God Who causes that life to commence when the male sperm penetrates the female ova.  What Miss Letts fails to mention is that she can also (again, with assistance) end a life - a human life with untold potential!

Those who support a woman's right to have an abortion refer to that right as "pro-choice". However, I have never read, or heard, of any of them referring to the total lack of choice given to the unborn child!   

As this young woman gave her commentary on the lethal operation, she showed her own totally selfish, and self-centred, attitude: "I knew that what I was going to do was right ... because it was right for me."!   I don't know which of the various methods of abortion was used in her child's case, but it would appear that it was the one in which the little body - and it is a little body, not a bunch of impersonal cells - is literally cut up, and extracted from the womb, which is then scraped to ensure that no 'foreign body' had been left behind!  One could say that it was anything but right for that little life, so casually, and cruelly, destroyed.

She maintains that she feels no guilt.  I am not in a position to argue with that claim. However, I do know that, in the cases in which I have dealt with young woman who have gone through a similar procedure, they have certainly felt guilt!  The very first such occasion left me with nothing to say!  The young woman, sitting opposite me (a relatively young, and certainly inexperienced, parish minister) in her own living room, sobbed as she said "Mr Ross, I murdered my baby".  The reason why I was unable to make an immediate response was simply that I agreed with her!

I trust that this young woman will, eventually, repent of her action; seek the forgiveness of God; and put out another video encouraging others, in the same situation, to do the same.  In the meantime, she might want to watch another YouTube film called The Silent Scream.  She might just begin to understand the enormity of her recent action!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Polite request!

I have recently been looking at ways in which to increase the number of 'hits' on this blog, as I am given to understand that Search Engines grade sites by that means.  The number of folk who do access the blog is not bad - for someone who is not a 'celebrity' - but it could be increased.

I am aware of a number of folk who have set up RSS (Rich Site Summary) feeds.  Subscribing to a website RSS removes the need for the user to manually check the web site for new content. Instead, their browser constantly monitors the site and informs the user of any updates. The browser can also be commanded to automatically download the new data for the user.  Unfortunately, such feeds are not counted as 'hits'!

My Google+ contacts also receive each post, automatically but, again, these are not counted as individual 'hits'.

So my polite request is to all of those who receive the posts by either of these means, that you would be so kind as to then access the blog itself - and maybe spend a minute there!  That access would be counted, and the blog would move up the Google Search Engine ratings at least a little higher.

If you think that even some of what I post is useful/helpful/interesting, please increase the blog's potential circulation by taking that simple step.  I average about fourteen posts per month, so not a lot of your time would be required!

Of course, if you don't fall into either of the above categories, please access the blog on a daily basis - just to check if a new post has been published.  That, too, will help.

Thank you, all, in anticipation of your assistance!  :-)

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Christ in you!

A good morning at L'Église Evangelique Libre (Free Evangelical Church) in Bergerac.  This was my first invitation to bring the Word to the fellowship and I was, to say the least, just a little bit nervous.  However, by the time I had made a few introductory comments, and prayed, in French, I was feeling a bit better!  The message was then preached in the English language, with Lucie Bardiau translating.

We looked at just three words from Paul's letter to the early disciples in Jesus in Colossae.  They are found in the first chapter, and the twenty-seventh verse: "Christ in you".  That is, of course, a very succinct description of a Christian!   We were reminded that the whole of the Christian experience has to do with the life that Christ begins in an individual.  This involves an enslavement to sin; to society; to the satan himself; that Jesus wants to break.  However, there is also an enrichment that He wants to bring - "I have come that they may have life - in all its fulness." (Jn.10:10).  
There is also a love that the Lord want to beget in us.  Part of the wonder of the Christian life is that the Christ seeks, not only to enter our lives, but also to act in them!   Conversion is, in itself, just a beginning; a 'first step'.  Marriage is a good analogy.  When, all of those years ago, my fiancée and I took our marriage vows, we became, in the sight of God, husband and wife.  However, that wasn't, and isn't, all that there is to marriage.  Over the years, we have been drawn ever closer to one another, as we have shared our lives, and so many experiences.  It's the same when we invite Jesus into our lives.  As we share all that we are, and have, with Him, we are drawn ever closer to Him, in an ever-deepening love.

This relationship brings a correction to our thinking.  We discover that true happiness lies, not on what we get, but in what we give.  Paul shares an otherwise unrecorded saying of Jesus: "Happiness lies more in giving than in receiving." (Acts 20:35, NEB).   Of course, there is also a compulsion that this love - this agape love - brings to our living.  It compels us to live in a certain way.  "The very spring of our actions [what gives them power] is the love of Christ." (II Cor.5:14).

One more thing is involved if we would have Christ in us, and that concerns the Lord He wants to become in us.  This, of course, is why more people do not become His disciples - they do not want to surrender control of their lives to Him!  Yet that is His condition!  There is a control that He would assume.  He comes in as the invited Guest; He must be acknowledged as the undisputed Host.  However, there is also a consent He must await.  As Sovereign Lord of the universe, He could force us to be His obedient subjects.  But He will not take over my life - or yours - without our consent, and invitation.

As fallen human beings, we will fall; we will fail; we will let Him down.  But if we have made that initial commitment to Him, He will help us to grow more like Him.  How do we do so?  By confessing that we are sinners on the sight of Almighty God; by repenting of our sin - turning away from it, and turning towards Jesus; by trusting that He is both willing, and able, to save us.  It's a life-changing decision - but it's one you will never regret, however difficult the way may be.

If you would like further help, at a personal level, please feel free to contact me at author@minister.com

Friday, 2 May 2014

Withstanding pressure.

I had a cuppa Cuppa Soup for lunch, to day.  It was vegetable soup.  As  I tried to cool it down enough for me to drink, I stirred it with some force.  The liquid swirled around in the cup.  One by one, the little pieces of vegetable, and croutons, sunk under the pressure.  Except for one little piece of vegetable.  No matter how hard I stirred, it simply refused to go under.  Eventually, I pushed it under with the spoon.

As I watched it, I saw it as an analogy - an analogy of the persecuted church.  Disciples of Jesus in some fifty countries suffer for their faith in Him.  They are subjected to pressure that we, in the relatively safe 'West', cannot even begin to imagine.  But, like that one little piece of vegetable, these dear brothers and sisters maintain their trust in the Sovereign Lord of all that is.  

One of the countries in which I maintain a particular interest, is Nigeria.  The atrocities that have been committed in that country over recent months are almost beyond belief.  In February, Islamic militants stormed a Nigerian secondary school campus early Tuesday, locked a boys' dormitory and set it on fire, killing those who tried to flee and burning the rest alive.  News accounts report that suspected Boko Haram militants killed at least 43 young men during the pre-dawn attack at the school at Buni Yadi, in the north-eastern state of Yobe. A Christian charity active in Nigeria said its sources expect the death toll to rise to 100 or more.  "I heard the cries of some people outside the school even before they invaded the school," said a student who managed to escape, as quoted by Open Doors International (see link, below), which provides aid to Christians who live under pressure because of their faith.

On April 14th, at around 10.00 pm, suspected members of Boko Haram swooped into Chibok, northern Nigeria, in seven Toyota pick-ups. Some of the attackers set government and other buildings ablaze, but others went to the senior secondary school where they overpowered the security guards before herding around 230 of the female students - all between the ages of 16 and 20 - into trucks. They then drove the girls deep into the nearby Sambisa forest. Some 40 of the girls have escaped, but the remainder are still missing.  "Almost every house has a child in this school," said an Open Doors worker. "Cries of parents could be heard all over the town as they prayed for God's intervention."  The abducted girls will probably be responsible for cooking and cleaning for the insurgents. But there is every possibility that these young girls would be forcefully converted to Islam and married off to members of the group or other Muslim men, or simply used as 'sex-slaves' for the 'pleasure' of group members.  Christians in Chibok spoke to Open Doors following the abduction.  "I am not sure of what our daughters are passing through," said Elder Emma, a church leader in the town. "Please help us to pray and seek the face of the Lord on this situation and that the good Lord will reunite us with our beloved children."

Villages have been attacked; homes destroyed; church buildings set on fire - with members inside, and those who tried to escape, shot.  But, like that little piece of vegetable in my soup, these dear people maintain a faith that shames many in the 'West'.  

Of course, there are occasions when the might of the state, or the extremists, or whoever is responsible for the persecution, is too much.  People are swamped, and 'go under'.  However, this is usually by death, and they are assured of a martyr's crown.

Please pray for the persecuted church.  If you are a disciple of Jesus, you are, with them, part of the one body.  We may not experience their physical, and emotional, pain and sorrow.  But let us stand with them, as much as we can.  You will find much more information by following the appropriate links towards the bottom of this page.  Thank you for your support.