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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Incarnation (3)

In this final post on the Incarnation, I want to suggest that the authority of the Incarnation must be accepted!  Already, I can hear some ask: "You want to suggest, and then you speak of compulsion?!"  I guess that that is correct.  Of course, those words may be interpreted somewhat differently!  Let me explain!

We are thinking here of where the real crunch comes; where the rubber hits the road; the crux of the matter.  It is not that mankind can reasonably reject the idea of God revealing Himself; but that mankind does not like the revelation that God made in the Persona (not a typo - see the chapter on "Trinity" in my book - Great Words of the Faith) of Jesus the Christ.  Writing to some early Messianic Jews - Jews who accepted Yeshua ha Mashiach (Jesus the Messiah) - the anonymous writer states that "In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son, Whom He appointed the heir of all things, through Whom also He created the world." (Hebrews 1:1). 

"He has spoken"!   This means that mankind has to deal with two facts.  The first of these concerns the ignorance that the Christ dispels; the second with the obedience that the Christ demands.  This is what I meant by that statement above.  It's not that anyone is obliged to accept the authority of the Incarnation, but that those who accept the Incarnation find that there is an authority that they must accept!

It was three years ago that I quoted some words of King George V from his first Christmas broadcast to the Nation and the Empire (1932).   However, I don't know in which year it was that he spoke to the children of the Empire, commencing with the words: "Boys and girls, the king is speaking to you."  In the Christ, Almighty God is speaking, and speaking to each and every one of us.  We really ought to listen!

And now, the full text of the poem that George V quoted:

"I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year -
'Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown.'

And he replied,
'Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than a light, and safer than a known way!'


So I went forth and, finding the hand of God,
Trod gladly into the night.
He led me towards the hills,
And the breaking of day in the lone east.

So heart be still!
What need our human life to know if God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife of things, both high and low, God hideth his intention."

Minnie Louise Harkins (1875-1957)

A happy, and peaceful, 2015 to one and all!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Incarnation (2)

In the previous post, I suggested that the possibility of the Incarnation must be admitted.  Only the most arrogant of people would disagree with that statement.  In this post, I want to further suggest that the necessity of the Incarnation can be asserted.

If we look at human love, we quickly realise that it has the distinctive quality that it is never content to remain unknown - it must reveal, and express, itself; it can do no other.  The apostle John, in his first letter to the church at large makes, and repeats, the basic truth about Almighty God - "God is love" (I John 4:8, 16).  This love is not to the erotic, or sentimental 'love' that is most prevalent in contemporary western society, but is, in the Greek language, agape.  Such love was often described by my former minister, spiritual mentor, and personal friend, the late Rev George B Duncan, as "a minimum of emotion, and a maximum of evaluation".  It is a self-giving love that sees something of inestimable worth in its object.  It is, indeed, the very love of that Almighty God Whom it describes.  Since He is love, we may be assured that God would wish to reveal Himself to the objects of His love!

Human life then determines the manner of such a revelation.  Humanity is the only level of life that mankind can truly understand.  If God wished to reveal Himself, and His love, it is surely not unreasonable to expect that He would do so on that level, and reveal Himself as a Man.

This, as has been sung so often over the past weeks, is exactly what the Christian faith, and the Christmas message, claim that He did.  "Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail! the Incarnate Deity. Pleased as Man, with man, to dwell; Jesus, our Immanuel."  And that title "Immanuel" means "God with us". (see Matt.1:23).   Or what about words that are usually sung more quietly, and gently, but that proclaim the same message?  "Love came down at Christmas; Love all lovely, Love divine."

Yes, the Incarnation - the coming of the Creator in the very human flesh that He had created - is not only possible, it also makes perfect sense.  Those of us who believe that it is all wonderfully true can only join the shepherds and, much later (in spite of what nativity plays portray!) the Magi in bowing before the Christ-child in love and adoration.  "O come, let us adore Him - Christ, the Lord."

Sunday, 28 December 2014

The Miracle of the Incarnation

One of the familiar Biblical texts that will have been read many times over the past week or so, is John 1:14: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father."   This is a simple statement of the miracle that lies at the heart of the Christian faith.  As we move, inexorably, towards the end of this calendar year, it is my intention to share a little about it, in three posts, starting with this one.

In this post, I wish to make the point that the possibility of the incarnation must be admitted.  In other words, no-one has the right to say, dogmatically, that it could not have happened.  It is impossible to deny in the light of the limitations of man's knowledge.  We simply do not know everything that there is to know.  That is why billions of pounds are spent, each year, on research of one kind or another.  It is part of our human DNA to constantly seek to learn.  If we knew everything, then there would be nothing left for us to discover!   Ray Comfort, in his book "God doesn't believe in atheists" makes the very point that even if I can claim, honestly, to have 80% of the sum total of the knowledge available in the universe, that would still leave 20% that I did not know.  In that 20% could well be the particular piece of information that I seek.  If I claim, categorically, that the incarnation is an impossibility, I am claiming that I have complete knowledge of the whole of the created universe - and no person has that!

However, not only is the Incarnation - the Creator of all that is, taking upon Himself the very human flesh that He had created, and entering the time-space continuum in which we live out our mortal lives, and which He also created - impossible to deny in the light of the limitations of man's knowledge; it is also impossible to deny on the grounds of the basis of man's knowledge.  All of our knowledge is, initially, revealed knowledge.  By that, I mean that it is revealed through both my perceptive, and receptive, senses.   I depend on them to come to the conclusions that I reach.   I am incapable of 'manufacturing' knowledge; only of discovering what is already there!  Christianity also claims that spiritual knowledge is based upon revelation - in which man is, again, the recipient.

So, however we may look at it; whether, or not, we believe it; the possibility of the incarnation must, by any right-thinking, and fair-minded, person, be admitted!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Eve

"Twas the night before Christmas"   So starts the popular poem that, as far as I know, provided the modern picture of "Santa Claus" - a corruption of Saint Nicholas.   The poem was written at the end of the 18th, or the beginning of the 19th, century and is now a part of traditional folklore.  Of course, it is pure, unadulterated, fiction - the one lie that even the majority of Christian parents happily pass on to their children!

Some 1900 years earlier, a different story was enacted - and this one is fact, not fiction.  In the unimportant town of Bethlehem in the Roman province of Judea, a child was born.  There was, as far as the record goes, nothing special about the birth.  The expression "virgin birth" is a wee bit misleading - it was a virginal conception but, after that, everything seems to nave gone as it would with any successful pregnancy.   What was really special about this Child was that, while he was borne by a young girl (Mary was, in the contemporary culture, probably only about 14 years of age), the husband of that girl, the carpenter Joseph, was not the Child's father.  Indeed, we are assured, this Child had no human father.  His conception was miraculous because it was Almighty God Who caused the egg in Mary to be fertilised, without a male sperm!  This Child was, truly, both human and divine.

And that begs the question: "Why?"   Why could He not have been a 'normal' Child Who was then, as some have suggested, 'adopted' by Almighty God at His baptism?   Why could He not have been a 'normal' Child endued with miraculous powers?   Why did He have to be so digfferent from any other person ever to be born?

The answer is really very simple, and has to do with the reason for His birth.  This was not a child who merely gave great joy to his biological parents.  This was the Child with a special mission - "... to destroy the works of the devil." (I John 3:8).  

One of the songs that, traditionally, is sung at this time of the year, is "Christians, awake, salute the happy morn,"   Unlike many of the favourite carols, it takes us beyond the Christmas story.  In the fifth verse we sing:
          Like Mary, let us ponder in our mind
          God's wondrous love in saving lost mankind;
          Trace we the Babe, Who has retrieved our loss,
          From His poor manger to His bitter cross.

That was how He achieved His purpose.  In Hebrews 2:14-15 we read, "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage."   You see, because Jesus rose from the dead, He showed that He was, and is, more powerful than it.  This, in turn, shows Him to be more powerful than the devil - the one who, currently, has the power of death!

I have already commented on the tragic incident in Glasgow, and do not wish to repeat what I said there.  However, we know that, prior to the Rapture of the true Church, each one of us will experience physical death.  This, for many, is something that they try to avoid - even to deny.  But for those who are "in Christ Jesus" (see Eph.2:13, inter al), there is no fear of death.  We are one with the One Who has conquered it!

This Christmas-time, permit me to encourage you to look beyond the tinsel, and the turkey, and the trimmings; beyond the presents, and the parties, and the Perignan.  Look to the One Who truly is the reason for the season - to Him Who loves you, and gave Himself for you.  Look to Jesus - to the One Who alone can save you from your sinfulness.  Kneel, not at the manger, but at the foot of the cross, and own Him as Your Saviour and Lord.

It will be to His eternal glory - and for your eternal good.

A very Happy Christmas to one and all.



Monday, 22 December 2014

The transcience of life.

In an age when we are assured that, at least in the 'developed' world, life expectancy is constantly rising, an event such as that in George Square, Glasgow this afternoon is a stark reminder that there are no guarantees as to how long the individual mortal life will last.

Just one year after the tragic failure of a helicopter over the Clutha Bar, which saw the deaths of nine people, a bin-lorry has crashed and, at the latest count, six people have died, with another eight having suffered serious injury, and an unknown number having sustained non-life-threatening injuries. 

The precise cause of the accident is still not clear, and it would be unwise of me to speculate therupon.  However, with just a couple of days to go before we celebrate the birth of the most amazing Child ever to be born, it is perhaps worth remembering that He came to die; that the Babe of Bethlehem became the Christ of Calvary, taking upon Himself the penalty for your sin, and for mine. 

Why is this important?  Simply because you, and I, and everyone else, is a sinner.  As such, we deserve nothing other than the wrath, judgement, and punishment of Almighty God.   What we need is a sinless sacrifice to be made on our behalf.   And that is the real story of Christmas - that in the persona (not a typo - read my book: Great Words of the Faith; chapter on the Trinity) of the Son, Almighty God became that sacrifice.  Indeed, He became sin, in all of its foulness, and evil, and nauseous disgust (see III Cor.5:21) so that we might be set free, and experience His forgiveness, and His eternal life.  "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom 6:23).

Of course, just as with the gifts that most of us will receive on Christmas morning, that gift has to be received, and opened, before it is of any benefit to us.  That's where so many go wrong.   They recognise the Gift, but ignore it! 

So why raise such a subject just now?  Because the only opportunity that we have to accept the Gift is while we are alive in our mortal bodies.   Once that life has gone, our eternal destiny is sealed and settled.   The incident in Glasgow this afternoon reminds us that not one of us knows the moment when our mortal life will end!

It's a sobering thought, and one that is dealt with in God's Word.  Under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, Paul writes: "... in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We beseech you, on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He [Father God] made Him [the Lord Jesus] to be sin, Who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.  Working together with Him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain. For He says, 'At the acceptable time I have listened to you,
and helped you on the day of salvation.'  Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation
." (II Cor 5:19-6:3).

If you have not yet placed your trust in Him, please do not put doing so off any longer.  You simply do not know when a vehicle might career off the road, striking you fatally.  If you wish to discuss this on a more personal basis, please use the e-mail address at the top of the page to contact me.  Alternatively, check out some of 'My favourite links'.



Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Christmas Scale

One of the regrets that I have is that we did not have a piano in our home, when I was a child.  I would love to be able to sit down at a keyboard, and produce even pretty standard music!  However, as this clip shows, one does not have to be a virtuoso concert pianist to get a very important message across.  It's only a couple of minutes.  Enjoy!


Thursday, 18 December 2014

One week to go!

Yes!  This time, next week, will be Christmas day.   Only six more shopping days - if one uses Sunday!  For some, it is a time of  unwanted pressure and anxiety: frantic last-minute shopping when a gift arrives from a relative who had been forgotten!  For others, it’s sweet sentimentality: a time for the children; Mary, and Joseph, and the infant in a manger.   For yet others, it’s no more than a mid-winter festival that brings an opportunity for an extra party, or two.

Oddly enough, the verse from the Bible that best sums up Christmas – from a Christian perspective – is one of the best-known in the New Testament.  It’s John 3:16 – “For God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”  That verse speaks to me of three simple things.

There’s a fact – “God loved the world ...”  Not just the nice people; the good people; the charming people; but the world – the unlovable and the unlovely; those who are loved by no-one else; those who never give Him a thought; those who rebel against Him, and use His name as nothing other than a profanity.  Love, according to the Christian Gospel, is the very mainspring of the Being of God.  “God is love”, writes the early apostle, John. (I Jn.4:8,16).  And part of the wonder of this is that it’s not a scientific theory to be changed in the light of fresh evidence or experimentation; it’s not a legal speculation to be argued over in a judicial court; it’s not some popular idea to be maintained only while it’s fashionable.  It’s a Biblical fact - “God so loved the world”.   And it’s the basic message behind this Christmas season.        

But the love, even of Almighty God, if it were merely passive and un-communicated, would not be sufficient.  And so, after directing our thoughts towards the fact, this well-known verse goes on to speak of an act.  “God loved the world so much – that He gave His only-begotten Son…”    And here is the love of God being put into action.  God so loved, that He gave.   And He gave sacrificially – even giving Himself in the Person of the only-begotten Son.

Christmas is traditionally the time for giving.  And isn’t it wonderful to remember that, at the very first Christmas, the greatest and best Gift that could ever be, was given?  God gave His own Son; putting His love into action; giving the very best that He had; giving all that He had.

A fact; an act; and a pact.  That’s the third thing of which that well-known verse speaks.  “... that everyone who has faith in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” God’s love; God’s Gift; are not mere handouts.   Free they may be – but the Christian faith teaches that they are only so to those who are willing to enter into a living relationship with that same God through the Son; only to those who have faith in Him; who put their trust in Him; who receive Him with humble and thankful hearts. 

And that’s the true heart of CHRISTmas!

                                                     

                                                       

Monday, 15 December 2014

Santa?

There have been a number of reports, in recent days, telling about the mother who decided to teach  two of her young, and apparently naughty, children a lesson.  She hung a letter - ostensibly from "Santa" - on the fireplace but, when the children opened it, they discovered that it contained the devastating news that it was "certain" that they were on the "naughty list."!

The mother's intention was, of course, that the children might start to behave better in the remaining time until Christmas Day - but she didn't anticipate how seriously the children would take the initial message!

Needless to say, the reports instigated comments from the leftie-liberal-loons.  One person stated, with reference to the mother: "What a nasty bit of goods.  I wouldn't mind putting her on some sort of stop list, but it would harm her kids again (sic)".(emphasis added).  Another wrote, again with reference to the mother: "Pure evil, no wonder kids are manic.(sic)". (emphases added).

Personally, I agreed more with the person who wrote "Absolutely brilliant.  It might, to some of the PC brigade, be cruel but it did have the desired effect.  Well done, Mum!"

However, what about some really radical thinking!   What about thinking right outside the box!   What about explaining to our children (as my wife and I did to ours - with no apparently bad effect) that this person "Santa" is nothing more than an advertising ploy?  That while there was a man named St. Nicholas, who did help some poor people in the area in which he lived, there was no 'magic' sleigh, pulled through the air by 'flying' reindeer, and carrying all of the gifts for all of the children in the world (!) to be delivered in a 24-hour period!  That the real reason why we give gifts to one another at this time of the year is because we are supposed to be celebrating the greatest Gift of all: "God loved the world so much that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever places their trust in Him should not perish but have, here and now, eternal life - that is, the very life of God Himself."

You see, I am convinced that, as children grow older, and discover that "Santa" isn't a real person, they decide that the Jesus bit of the celebration (if they hear about that at all, these days!) is probably no more real.  That, I would contend, is doing our children a real dis-service.

Christmas without "Santa" is perfectly possible.  Christmas without the Christ is totally meaningless!
Absolutely brilliant. It might, to some of the PC brigade be cruel, but it did have the desired effect. Well done Mum.
Pure evil, no wonder kids are manic!
What a nasty bit of goods. I wouldn't mind putting her on some sort of stop list, but it would harm her kids again.
What a nasty bit of goods. I wouldn't mind putting her on some sort of stop list, but it would harm her kids again.
What a nasty bit of goods. I wouldn't mind putting her on some sort of stop list, but it would harm her kids again.
What a nasty bit of goods. I wouldn't mind putting her on some sort of stop list, but it would harm her kids again.
 

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Twelve days to Christmas!

No, the heading is not an invitation to sing a well-known song about leaping lords, dancing ladies, and a partridge in a pear tree, etc.  It is just a reminder that there are only twelve more days until that special celebration of the birth of the Christ-Child.  By the way, this post is also the first of the second thousand on this blog - yes, it is post 1,001!

It is also a visual post that reminds us that, without the Christ, Christmas is just another consumer-driven, debt-inducing, party-attending, season of the year.  The video is only 45 secs in length - so do take a look!


Tuesday, 9 December 2014

I'm a chef, as well!

Not everyone who accesses this blog would be expected to know that I commenced my adult working life in the catering trade.  I am, in fact, a fully time-served, experienced, chef having risen "through the ranks", from Commis Chef to Head Chef, and even Chef-Manager!

Perhaps that is why I was particularly interested in the furore caused by the comment made by Baroness Anne Jenkin that poor people are going hungry because they “do not know how cook”.  She gave the interesting illustration that: “I had a large bowl of porridge today. It cost 4p. A large bowl of sugary cereal will cost 25p.”

Of course, the loonie lefties were falling over themselves with indignation.  What did this toff know about poverty?  When did she have to go to a Food Bank for supplies?  Alright for her with her daily allowance for attending the House of Lords.  So, as seems to happen all too readily these days, the Noble Lady apologised.  

Why?  Her statement was only slightly inaccurate.  She ought to have said that, in many cases, they are just too bone-idle lazy to do so.  After all, cooking a bowl of porridge isn't exactly Cordon Bleu catering!  Yet it is one of the healthiest breakfasts that is available and, as Baroness Jenkin pointed out, is amazingly inexpensive.  The trouble, for too many (but not, by any means, all) of our Welfare State dependents, is that it requires a wee bit more effort than does opening a packet of breakfast cereal with its high sugar and salt content (of course, one ought never to cook porridge without a pinch of salt!).

It certainly seems to me, from my observations, that a considerable number of those on state benefits are among the more obese in our society.  Perhaps some basic exercise (even walking a couple of bus stops, instead of using a bus pass), and some freshly-cooked food (mince steak, potatoes, and fresh veg) instead of processed, and 'carry-out', meals would make a difference.  Of course, that would require taking responsibility for themselves, and not expecting others to pander to their wants!


Monday, 8 December 2014

The search for justice.

It has been one of today's major news items.  A murder trial has ended - stopped by the judge on the ground that the prosecution evidence was not strong enough; indeed, that the evidence of the main prosecution witness was: "improbable, contradictory, even laughable".  The reaction to this situation could not be more different.  On the one hand, there is the grieving family of the murder victim, unable to comprehend how a justice system could allow such a thing to happen.  On the other hand, there is the accused - who, it is now reported, may even be able to sue the authorities for having disclosed certain unsavoury aspects of his private life.

I do not have the evidence before me to comment on the case, or on the decision of the judge.  I am not able to make any comment on the real guilt, or innocence, of the accused.  However, I do know that, instinctively, we long for justice but, so often, seem to be unable to find it.

The wisest man of his day, Solomon the king of Israel, faced similar frustration and disappointment.  He saw that imperfect human beings could never administer perfect justice.  He wrote: "I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness." (Eccl 3:16).

If all that we trusted in was the wisdom and justice of imperfect people, we would lose all hope.  However, Solomon continued: "I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for He has appointed a time for every matter, and for every work." (Eccl. 3:17).

The search for true justice can be satisfied only by trusting the God Who is always just.  One day, as each of us stands before Him, the scales of justice will be perfectly balanced.

I trust that the family of Anni Dewani will look to Him for comfort and for peace.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Personhood, and human rights!

We live in a society, and a culture, in which there is considerably more emphasis placed on "Human Rights" than on personal responsibility.  So, we are informed, violent killers; Islamist hate-preachers; illegal immigrants, including an Algerian illegal immigrant who was barred from seeing his family after threatening to burn them alive – and who won his appeal against deportation on the grounds that he is entitled to a family life; et al, are entitled to their "Human Rights" - regardless of the rights of the community at large!

However, it would seem that at least one group does not have any "Human Rights".  I refer to the unborn!  It has been widely reported that a child who was left disabled because of her mother's alcohol abuse during the pregnancy, is not entitled to a payout from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board because, according to the Court of Appeal, she was "not a person" at the time!  Lord Justice Treacey is reported as having stated that "Parliament could have legislated to criminalise the excessive drinking of a pregnant woman - but it has not done so."

An unborn child, at any stage during the pregnancy, is not a person!  This begs the question: "What is such an unborn child?"   There was a time when many were convinced that it was nothing more than an amorphous mass of cells - the "blob of jelly" to which reference was sometimes made.  However, with the advent of medical, and scientific, techniques such as ultrasound pictures, we now know that, from its earliest days in the womb, what is forming there is a unique, individual, human being!  Have the learnèd judges at the Court of Appeal failed to keep up with contemporary developments?

Of course, as the old adage has it, "It's an ill wind that blows no good" so, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (an organisation that supports abortion for any reason) stated that, "This is an extremely important ruling for mothers everywhere.  Women must be able to make their own decisions about their pregnancies."

Many rightly condemn the Hitlers, the Stalins, the Pol Pots, and others for their activities that led to the deaths of so many.  However, not one of them ever came close to the numbers of unborn children, murdered in their mothers' wombs, almost always because they are seen to be "an inconvenience".

The following is from a letter by Billy Graham posted, a few years ago, on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website:
"Some years ago, my wife, Ruth, was reading the draft of a book I was writing. When she finished a section describing the terrible downward spiral of our nation’s moral standards and the idolatry of worshiping false gods such as technology and sex, she startled me by exclaiming, “If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologise to Sodom and Gomorrah.” ... ... ...

"I wonder what Ruth would think of America if she were alive today. In the years since she made that remark, millions of babies have been aborted and our nation seems largely unconcerned. Self-centered indulgence, pride, and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle."
Sadly, the same kind of comment could be made about much of the western world.  We stand condemned in the eyes of the Creator and Sustainer of all that is.

However, there is hope!  Writing to the early church, the apostle John states: "This is the message we have heard from [Jesus] and proclaim to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.  If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth;  but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." (I John 1:5-10; emphases added).

Did you notice those words that I have emphasised?  They are the assurance that, if we come to Jesus, confessing our personal sins and sinfulness, then He is able to make us new creations (II Cor.5:17), and to live our lives, ever after, for Him!

If we do so, then we have the further amazing promise: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Rom 8:1).  That word 'now' is so important.  Salvation, in and through the Christ, is not "pie in the sky when you die"!  It is for here and now.  I have eternal life, in Him - it's not something that I will only receive when I have done with this mortal body.

You, too, may have eternal life.  Not, necessarily, a 'bed of roses' - in spite of what some tele-evangelists appear to promise - but a life that makes Him more important than anyone, or anything else.  If you wish to know more, then please feel free to contact me using the e-mail address at the top of the page or, alternatively, check out some of the links at the bottom right-hand side.

Regardless of the decisions of the UK Court of Appeal, you have been a person since the moment of your conception - and you have been loved by Almighty God since before the world was even formed!!  Now, that's Good News!




Thursday, 4 December 2014

Marriage - the Good News!

Having commented on marriage just a couple of posts ago, I was more than a little interested to read, in the Revival Prayer Bulletin for today, some encouraging news about that God-ordained state.  The item comes from Joel News International, and reads as follows:

"You've probably heard the grim fact: ' half of all marriages end in divorce.'  But what of this 'fact' is actually a myth?  In a recently published book, The Good News about Marriage, best-selling author Shaunti Feldhahn presents the results of her 8-year groundbreaking research that reveals that, contrary to popular opinion, most marriages are strong and happy for a lifetime, and 72% of people are still married to their first spouse.

She reveals:
  • The actual divorce rate has never got close to 50%.
  • Those who attend church regularly have a significantly lower divorce rate than those who don't.
  • Simple changes make big differences to marriages.

For too long, our confidence in marriage has been undermined by persistent misunderstandings and imperfect data.  This landmark book helps to bring hope back into the most fundamental of God-given institutions."

If you would wish to access the Revival Prayer Bulletin, please go to www.revivalmedia.org  It is available in a paper version, or online.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Advent.

Sunday, as many will be aware, was the First Sunday of Advent - the season in the Christian calendar during which we prepare to celebrate the miracle of the Incarnation.  That miracle is explained, as succinctly as is possible, by the name given through the prophet Isaiah, and reiterated - and defined -  by the apostle Matthew: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel (which means, God with us)." (Matt 1:23; cf Is.7:14).


But can we unpick that definition a little more?  What does Matthew mean by "God with us"?  Well, the easy understanding is that, in the Persona (see the chapter on the "Trinity" in my book, Great Words of the Faith; - details at top of page) of the Son, Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of all that is; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the great "I AM"; took upon Himself human flesh, and entered the very time-space continuum that He had created.  I am reminded of that great saint of the Old Covenant, Enoch.  I make reference to one of my favourite Old Testament characters in "Great Words", where I write:


"Remember the great old patriarch, Enoch?  I love those words recorded of him in Gen.5:23-24 – “Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.” Or, as the older translations put it, “... he was not; for God took him.” (KJV).


So what happened to Enoch?  Well, what I am now going to share is, I confess, totally speculative.  But I share it with you because I am convinced, not only of its possibility, but of its probability!  I believe that those words are telling us that, every morning, when Enoch awoke, his first words were “Well, Lord, where are we going today; what will we be doing?”  And the Lord told him.  Then, one day, he awoke and, having asked the same question, was told by God, “Today, Enoch, dear friend, you are coming to my place.  Let’s go!”  And Enoch simply walked through that ultra-fine veil that separates time from eternity."   

Enoch knew the reality of "Emmanuel" - God with us!

But "Emmanuel" doesn't just refer to the presence of God; it also refers to the purpose of God.  You see, He came among us not as some cosmic experiment, but for a definite, and specific, reason.  He came, so that He could live among us; experience all that we experience ("yet without sin": see Hebrews 4:15); and, at the end, take upon Himself the punishment that we deserve - bearing "... our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness." (I Peter 2:24).  He came in order that sinful people like us could know His eternal pardon - and His eternal life!


Christmas is the time, for so many, when gifts are given and received.  Indeed, for too many in the western world, that is now all that it is!  Yet the majority will ignore the greatest Gift of all - salvation through faith in the Lord, Jesus the Christ: an act of divine grace that we can never, ever deserve.
The Gift is available to all.  However, like any gift, it may be rejected. 

It would be my longing that all who read this post would accept that Gift.  If anyone requires further, more personal, help then please feel free to contact me using the e-mail address at the top of the page.  I only check that one a couple of times each week, but I shall respond.  Alternatively, there are some useful links in the right-hand margin of the blog.