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Sunday, 31 January 2016

And then there were ...?

So, the first month of 2016 closes with yet another "celebrity" death being announced.  The front-page headline in newspaper; the top topic on social media; and, doubtless, the main subject of UK news programmes on both radio and television.  Terry Wogan is dead.

Now, I have every sympathy for the Wogan family.  I never met the man, but he always came across as a pleasant person who was willing to use his celebrity status in helping others.  However, what has happened is, at some point, going to happen to each and every one of us - at least while the rapture of the saints of God is delayed.  As Benjamin Franklin famously said: "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."  Actually, some people may manage to avoid paying taxes - but, as physical beings, we are mortal.

What, then, ought our attitude to this inevitable event be?!   There are, of course, those who believe that physical death is the end.  When I breathe my last, there is nothing.   My body may be buried, or burned, but anything of me that continues will only be in the memories of those who knew me.

Others accept that there is some form of 'after-life', but have the idea that where I spend it, and what it will be like, depends entirely on what I have done in this earth.  If my good deeds outweigh my bad deeds, then I go to 'heaven'; otherwise, I go to 'hell'.  Even the concepts of 'heaven' and 'hell' may differ from one culture to another.

Some are of the opinion that, when we die, God will forgive us all, and that everyone will end up in heaven "because a God of love would not want to see any of His creatures suffer"!

Yet another group believe in reincarnation.  I am born, physically, many times - either progressing 'upwards' if I live my present life as a good person (or animal/insect/tree/stone, etc!); or downwards, if the opposite is true.  Eventually, I may reach the pinnacle of human existence and be released from that cycle - to be absorbed into the 'oneness' that is the physical universe, but with no personal identity or personality.

Those, however, who accept the teachings of the Bible as the written Word of the One Who created, and Who sustains, all that is, hold a unique belief.   They (we!) believe that there is a very real heaven, and a very real hell.  We believe that where one spends eternity (timelessness - see my chapter on the subject in Great Words of the Faith; details above) depends, not on anything that I have done, or can do, but on the giving of Himself as a sacrifice, on a cross on a hill called Calvary, of One, Jesus the Messiah/Christ, in my place.  That sacrifice of the perfect Man was/is sufficient to cover the sins of every human being who ever lived, or who ever will live.

However, there is a "catch".  The idea that "all will be saved" conveniently ignores that the God Whose essential Being is, indeed, Love - and love that is actually beyond our feeble comprehension - is also the God Who is Justice, and Righteousness, and Holiness.  In the light of His laws and commandments, each one of us is deserving of nothing but His wrath and punishment.  As the apostle Paul wrote to the Roman believers in the 1st century AD: "... everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard." (Rom.3:23; NLT).

So, is that the "catch"?  No!  Paul goes on, in that same letter, to make clear that "... God showed His great love for us by sending [the] Christ to die for us while we were yet sinners." (5:8).  All that we are able to do, but what we must do, is to confess that we are sinners on the sight of Almighty God; that we are incapable of doing anything, ourselves, about our sinful state; and accept, by faith, the salvation that was gained for us at such great cost.  That is the "catch".  Salvation is free and full - but only to those who are willing to accept it.

Terry Wogan's eternal destiny is now sealed.  Forget reincarnation: "... each person is destined to die once,and after that comes judgement"! (Heb.9:27; NLT).  Where he, or any of the other "celebrities" who have recently died, will spend it is between them and Father God.  Nothing that you, or I, can do will change that.  For you, however, there is still time.  Have you confessed your sinfulness, and your sins?  Have you asked for the forgiveness that is available only from Father God?  Have you accepted, and professed, Jesus, the Christ, as your personal Saviour?  Are you seeking to serve Him as Lord of your life?  These are important questions - your answers to them will determine what happens to the real "you" when your mortal body reaches the end.  Please do not ignore them.  If I may be of any further assistance, please feel free to contact me via the e-mail address at the top of the page, or through my "AllExperts" page (Link below, and on the right).  Alternatively, seek the help of a genuine believer already known to you.  Whatever you do, act.  Follow the example of Boaz, of whom it is recorded: "... the man will not rest, but will settle the matter today." (Ruth 3:18).

Friday, 29 January 2016

It needs to be read!

Over the past week, or so, I have been with a couple of groups of people that included some who would appear to have very little knowledge of the Bible, although they are, I believe, regular "church-goers".  A number stated, openly, that they do not know it as well as they should and because of that, they do not know the basic message of the Gospel.  To hear, for example, a professed disciple of Jesus accept the possibility of reincarnation tells me that such a person either hasn't read Hebrews 9:27 - "... it is appointed unto man to die once, and then comes judgement." - or has totally failed to understand it! 

Of course, important 'though the reading of the Word of God is, that is not enough if we are to be true servants of the Lord Jesus.  I have been reminded of the story of the man who announced to his pastor that he was planning to visit Israel.  After having shared his planned itinerary, he asked the pastor : "And what do you think I'm most looking forward to doing?"  The pastor thought for a moment before replying.  "Well," he said, "a number of things come to mind.  However, since you want me to name just one, I would think that it would have to be the empty tomb."  "No," responded the other.  "Obviously I do want to see that, but the highlight of the tour will be to climb a mountain. Then, when I reach the summit, to read aloud the entire Sermon on the Mount!"

The pastor knew his flock!  He shook his head, all too aware of the man's spiritual problems - and the reason behind them.  "Brother," he remarked, "why go all of that distance just to read it?  Wouldn't it be better for you to stay at home, and keep it?!"

It is, of course, commended, and commendable, to read the Word of God.  Indeed, it is actively encouraged within its own pages!  So the Psalmist declares: "With my whole heart I seek Thee; let me not wander from Thy commandments!  I have laid up Thy word in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee." (Ps. 119:10-11).  Paul reminds the believers in Rome that "... whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope." (Rom 15:4).  The same apostle instructs his "son in the faith", Timothy, to "... attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching." (I Tim 4:13).

However, if all that we do is read, then we are in danger of treating that Word, that is "... living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Heb 4:12), as little, if anything, more than literature. C.S.Lewis writes: "... in most parts of the Bible everything is, implicitly or explicitly, introduced with 'Thus saith the LORD'.  It is if you like to put it that way, not merely a sacred book, but a book so remorselessly, and continuously, sacred that it does not invite, it excludes or repels, the merely aesthetic approach. ... ... It demands, incessantly, to be taken on its own terms: ..." (The Literary Impact of the Authorised Version").

Reading is good, but it is insufficient.  James urges his readers to: "... be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." (James 1:22); while Paul assures the Romans that: "... it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified." (Rom 2:13).

You may be a faithful reader of the Word - but are you a keeper?  Do you, perhaps, just scan its pages superficially; merely perusing it as a spiritual exercise (that can, all too easily, degenerate into some form of "salvation by works"!), or to salve your own conscience?  Or does it move you to effective action?  As the titles of many of the commentaries on the Letter of James make clear, there are two parts to the Gospel - believing it; and behaving it!

Remember that, while it is true that it is "... by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God - not because of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph 2:8-9), it is also true that: "... we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works , which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (v.10)! 

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

It was for you!

I have just downloaded an e-book, and read the most delightful, and challenging, story.

A number of years ago, there was an old German farmer by the name of Klein. He was an ungodly man. Although he lived across the street from the building used by an evangelical church, he never went in; and, of course, he did not believe the gospel. To his way of thinking the gospel was for other people, not for him.

One day, however, the Bible school of the church began to teach the Bible school children the chorus of the hymn which goes:
"Grace! ‘tis a charming sound, harmonious to the ear;
Heav’n with the echo shall resound, And all the earth shall hear.

Saved by grace alone! This is all my plea:
Jesus died for all mankind, And Jesus died for me."

From his listening post across the street Mr. Klein heard the children sing. He heard most of the words clearly. But when they came to the line “Jesus died for all mankind,” he thought they were singing “Jesus died for old man Klein, and Jesus died for me.” The thought that Jesus died for him personally finally sank into his heart. Klein crossed the street to the church, attended services, and eventually committed his life to the Lord Jesus Christ.

To the best of my understanding, that is a true story.  However, even if it were not, it contains a glorious truth.  That truth is that Jesus died for you, and invites you to come to Him.  What does that mean?  It means, quite simply, to place your trust in Him; to have faith in Him.

There are those who seem to think that this kind of faith is some sort of "leap in the dark".  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The great Baptist preacher of a former generation, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, wrote: "Faith is not a blind thing; for faith begins with knowledge. It is not a speculative thing; for faith believes facts of which it is sure. It is not an unpractical, dreamy thing; for faith trusts, and stakes its destiny upon the truth of revelation. . . . Faith is believing that Christ is what He is said to be, and that He will do what He has promised to do, and then to expect this of Him." (All of Grace, pps 46, 47).

Of course, you may consider that you are not good enough!  Join the club!  Not one of us is.  The truth of the matter is that it is because you are not good enough, that you need to come!  Jesus, Himself, said: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2:17).  However, He also said: "... him who comes to Me I will not cast out." (John 6:37).

Who, according to this text, may come to Jesus? The answer: anybody. How may they come? In any way. When may they come? The answer is: at any time. How can it be more universal? The first half of that verse is written in the abstract: "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me;"  This is the part of Christ’s sentence that deals with election. It is plural, designating a great number. It is abstract, for we do not know who those who are called by God are. The second half of the verse, however, is both singular in number and personal—"him." It is Jesus’ way of saying "you," whoever you may be, and however and whenever you may come.

The offer is there - for you!  However, it may not be there for long.  There is a Day coming - and many believe that it is coming very soon, when, "... the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God."  (I Thess 4:16). After that, it will be too late!  Come to Him, today.  Your eternal destiny is at stake!

Friday, 22 January 2016

Of Sirens, and Bellbirds!

The Sirens, in Greek mythology, were three sea-nymphs who lured sailors to their death with their bewitching song.  The hero, Odysseus, however, managed to escape their deceptive call as he sailed by, by tying himself to the mast of his ship, and having his crew block their ears with wax.  The Sirens were so distressed to see a man apparently hear their song, and yet escape, that they threw themselves into the sea, and drowned.
That story, we may safely accept, is untrue.  However, the following story, related by Rev. George B.Robeson, a former Acting Principal of Jaffna Central College in Sri Lanka, is given as accurate. Lost in the jungle, a man sought desperately to find his way to safety. His strength was ebbing fast as the insects and stifling heat did their deadly work. Suddenly he heard what he thought to be a bell tolling in the distance. Believing he was nearing civilization, he struggled bravely onward; but he never seemed to draw closer to the sound. Finally, he fell to the ground exhausted, never to rise again. The mysterious bellbird had claimed another victim!   Mr Robeson says many a traveller in the heart of the rain forest of Central and South America has been led to his death by the bell-sounding call of this seldom-seen bird. Many times this bird with its call entices people to get off of the path to seek out the sound. 
This, also, is all too true.   Satan employs subtle devices to ensnare the human race. Even as individuals seek to free themselves from the grip of sin, they are lead astray by the tempter’s “bell” ringing in the distance. “At last,” They think, “I’ve found a way of escape,” and so, following the call of the evil one deeper and deeper into the jungle of despair, they are eventually lost for eternity. 

Many are following the deceptive call of the sirens, or of the devil’s “bell-bird”, because it seems right to them. However Jesus, the Christ, Who declared that “No man comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6), is the only One Who can lead us to the promised land of salvation and safety!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Who is in charge?

This morning, at L'Église Evangélique Libre in Bergerac, the message was based on Psalm 33:13. However, as I followed reading, my eyes caught the earlier verses in the Psalm, particularly vs.10-11. I read: "YHWH frustrates the plans of the nations and thwarts all their schemes.   But YHWH's plans stand firm forever; His intentions can never be shaken."

What wonderful words those are!  We live in an age of increasing tension; of nations either attempting to band together in opposition (whether military, economic, or whatever) to other nations, or coalitions of nations; of terrorism at a level that may well be unparalleled in human history.  Many are in despair. Financial markets are apparently facing total melt-down.  Where can anyone turn?

Those words of the Psalmist remind us that, in the words of the old adage - "Man proposes; but God disposes".  In other words, mankind does not have the last word!  How can this be?  The answer to that question is found in words like those of the prophet Isaiah: "I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all My purpose,' " (Isa 46:9-10; emphasis added).  Or we might consider these words form the Book of the Revelation given to John: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." (Rev 22:13).  I deal with this more fully in the chapter on Eternity in my book "Great Words of the Faith" (see above!) but, basically, Almighty God sees everything from the perspective of eternity.  This means that He is not bound, as we are, by time. From His vantage point, He sees all of time simultaneously!  What is, to us, "future" is, to Him, "now"!

So, let men (I use the term generically) who think that they are something make their grandiose plans. Let them plot and scheme to bring about their desires.  At the end of the day, Almighty God is in charge, and for that we may be truly thankful. People with authority make decisions that affect the destinies of nations - but when God is not permitted to rule, He over-rules, for His will shall be accomplished.

The story is told that, in the heat of the American Civil War, one of President Lincoln's advisers said that he was grateful that God was on the side of the Union. Lincoln replied: "Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right."

On whose side are you?  Who is in charge in your life?  May I commend the Creator of all that is; the One Who, alone, knows the end from the beginning?  Others will let you down; He never will.

Friday, 15 January 2016

McCheyne's watch!

Publishing the piece by David Robertson leads, not unnaturally, to a post about Robert Murray McCheyne who, as I intimated in the previous post, was one of David's predecessors as minister of St Peter's, Dundee.  McCheyne did not enjoy the best of health, and died at the tender age of 29 years.  It is not unlikely that the manner in which he threw himself into the Lord's work was a contributory cause as he expended his energy in ministry and mission.  

His great motivation was the word of his Master: "We must work the works of Him Who sent Me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work." (John 9:4-5), and he was constantly zealous in his desire to both seek the lost, and encourage the saints of God.  It is said that he had a picture of the setting sun on the dial of his pocket-watch.  Over the lovely scene, in small but legible letters, were inscribed three words from his motivational text: "The night cometh". Every time he looked at it, he was reminded of the shortness of life, and the urgent necessity of pursuing his divine calling. Accordingly, he could not tolerate the inactivity of, even in the first half of the 19th century, many who confessed to be Christian!  It is recorded that, on one occasion on which he visited a congregation that was complacent, and ineffective, in the service of God, he cried out: "Oh for activity, activity.  I cannot impress you enough with the thought that we are all here with measured tasks for a measured time."

Too many believers, today, are content to receive the gifts of grace, but are lazy and unproductive when it comes to showing their gratitude to God for His unfailing mercies, by serving Him with enthusiasm  and joy.  In spite of the warning to "... not grow weary in well-doing," (Gal 6:9; see also II Thess.3:13), they quickly tire of responsibility, and are easily dissuaded for attending to any spiritual task that does not fit in with their personal schedule!   

McCheyne's watch should remind us all of the lateness of the hour.  Let us be up and about the service of the Master.  The "... night comes, when no one can work."

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

David Bowie – The Hysteria, the Sorrow, the Frustration and the Hope

The following is, with permission, from "The Wee Flea" - the blog of David Robertson, minister of St Peter's Free Church of Scotland, in Dundee; and, currently, Moderator of the Free Church General Assembly.   He is, in my opinion, one of the most gifted speakers/writers/debaters/apologists in modern Scotland - a worthy successor to Robert Murray McCheyne who was a former minister of St Peter's.  
The post is longer than my own usually are - but is well worth reading.
David Bowie’s death, grief, and the frustration of a society that has nothing to offer the lonely
It was a shock. Of course it was. Make your coffee, switch on the radio and you hear Life on Mars on Radio 4. What had happened? Had Bowie died? Indeed he had. An unconventional celebrity life, with an unconventional celebrity death. In this age of social media, gossip columns and photographers desperate for that one image, it is astonishing that David Bowie had cancer for 18 months and it never once got into the media. No one – apart from close friends and family – knew. He did something really unusual for a modern celebrity. He died privately.
Bowie Bingo
But now everyone wants to have their say. I played Twitter Bingo that morning. David Cameron – check. Nicola Sturgeon – check. Media stars – check. Church leaders – check. It wasn’t long before I had a full house. Even the Vatican got in on the act – its newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, paid tribute. “One might even say that, beyond the apparent excesses, the legacy of David Bowie… is enclosed in its own sort of personal sobriety, expressed even in the lean physique, almost threadlike.”
I’m sure that many people were genuine in their tributes and did feel a real sorrow. Others may just have been playing the game; saying something for the sake of being seen to say something and show that they ‘cared’. God alone knows. I suspect the wall-to-wall coverage combined with the political, religious and cultural leaders’ interest was largely because those who are now in charge grew up with David Bowie as part of the soundtrack of their life. And to lose that is a sorrow.
But what really interested and saddened me was the number of spokespeople who made comments about him being in heaven. I hadn’t realised that so many of the great and good believed in heaven – and surely they would not be lying to us? Or just using heaven as an excuse to make a corny pun about ‘starman’ now looking down on us? And that set me thinking – what do we really think about heaven? I thought that in this naturalistic, materialist world we could be all grown up and just say, “He’s gone, he had a good life, did a lot of daft things, did a lot of good things, we will miss him, but he’s gone”. I haven’t checked, but I almost expected Richard Dawkins to tweet, “He’s gone. There is nothing left of him but his music and family. He’s not in heaven”. But it appears that in popular culture, we still cannot face up to the nihilist existentialism of atheistic naturalism. It seems that the Bible was right about eternity being in our hearts. “I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end”(Ecclesiastes 3:10-11).
So those who were happily singing “Imagine there’s no heaven” a few months ago are now telling everyone that David Bowie is in this heaven that they imagine does not exist?! And those who want to say something nice and believe that everyone goes to heaven, think that Bowie is up there along with Lemmy, Hendrix and of course Stalin, Hitler and Jack the Ripper. That is, after all, the logic of their position. And again I have not looked, but I am sure that in the bloggersphere somewhere, there are some ‘Christians’ who are taking the opportunity to tell everyone he is in hell and how as a bisexual rock star drug addict he is a warning to us all. And there will be those who are writing about how he was converted on his deathbed and they can tell this because of a) something Bowie said, b) a dream they had or c) a very reliable source, a friend of a friend, who is ‘in the know’.
All I can say is that I feel a real and frustrating sorrow. Let me explain. Bowie, like most human beings was a complex man, who experienced many changes in his life. For example he moved from being gay/bisexual to being heterosexual. In an interview with Tony Parsons in Arena magazine in 1993 he said, “In the States, towards the end of the Seventies, I think the gay body was pretty hostile towards me because I didn’t seem to be supporting the gay movement in any kind of way. And I was sad about that. Because I had come to the realisation that I was pretty much heterosexual”.
He cannot just be simply pigeonholed according to what we want to be true. I didn’t know David Bowie and I am in no position to pass any judgement upon him. I do think he was a musical genius and much of his music was also part of the soundtrack of my early life. But the sorrow comes from what I heard him express, and the pathetic solutions offered to him by a society that he helped create.
Firstly, there is no doubt that he was not an atheist. He said so. In that interview with Tony Parsons he explained why he had said the Lord’s Prayer at the Freddy Mercury tribute concert. “In rock music, especially in the performance arena, there is no room for prayer, but I think that so many of the songs people write are prayers. A lot of my songs seem to be prayers for unity within myself. On a personal level, I have an undying belief in God’s existence. For me it is unquestionable.”
Incidentally, I personally found that moment of saying the Lord’s Prayer absolutely extraordinary. It was so unexpected and somewhat surreal. Did Bowie not realise it was a public ‘secular’ event? How dare he bring religion into it! Did he not care how many people he would offend? Probably not.
Does this mean that we can claim him as a card-carrying Christian? Not at all. As far as I know he never professed to be one. But like all intelligent and creative people, he did show a great interest in the Bible, in Jesus Christ and in the great questions that Christ is the answer to. In his 1993 Album, The Buddha of Suburbia he wrote the following lines in the song, Sex and the Church:
Though the idea of compassion
Is said to be
The union of Christ
And his bride, the Christian
It’s all very puzzling.
All the Lonely People
The most poignant moment in the Parsons interview was when Bowie explained his collapse into drugs, sex and despair by saying, “I felt totally, absolutely alone. And I probably was alone because I pretty much had abandoned God.”
And that is where the frustration part of the sorrow comes. Because Bowie himself was clearly a seeker. He recognised that the ‘hole within’ would not be filled by ‘sex and drugs and rock ‘n’roll’. He needed to know that there is “a way back to God, from the dark paths of sin, there’s a door that is open and you may go in; at Calvary’s Cross is where you begin, when you come as a sinner to Jesus”. A society that has itself abandoned God has nothing to offer the person who is lonely because they feel they have abandoned God.
I mourn for David Bowie. As I mourn for ‘all the lonely people’, whose need for fulfilment, forgiveness, faith and a future can only be met by Christ.
Bowie’s last album, Blackstar, realised this month, has a poignancy about it that is painful. Especially this from the song Lazarus:
Look up here, I’m in heaven
I’ve got scars that can’t be seen
I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen
Everybody knows me now.
Life to the Living 
Bowie is gone. I know not where. Who knows what happened in the last years, months and moments of his life? We mourn his passing. Let the dead bury their dead. Meanwhile our task is to bring Life to the living. Let us bring the Good News to those who are lonely because they feel they have abandoned God, that He has not abandoned them.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Let in the light.

Earlier this evening, we - my wife and I - arrived back at our home in Gardonne, after having spent some time with our family, and a number of friends, over the Christmas/New year period.  We arrived to a house that was in total darkness, apart from in the garage!  The problem was that some micro-switches in our brand new Circuit Board (e-mail already gone to the electrician who rewired the house, and who has already had one call-back!) had tripped.  Thankfully, the fault seems to have occurred in just the past 28 hours, as the food in the freezer appears to be okay!

Light is so important to us.  Little wonder that it was Almighty God's first act of creation (see Gen.1:3).  The Psalmist wrote: "The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand." (Ps 119:130; NLT).

In 1972 a missionary aeroplane crashed in West Irian (now Irian Jaya).  Five missionaries died in the crash and, among them, was Dr Darlene Bee, a Bible Translator/linguist for the Summer Institute of Linguistics in Papua New Guinea..  She had spent some 14 years translating the Bible into the dialect of a small tribe in the heart of New Guinea.  She wrote: "If you are able to read, and have a copy of the Word of God in your language, the truth of this Book will fill your soul with light.  The good news shines in our hearts when we expose ourselves to the printed page.  We live in darkness, not because we are buried under the mountain of an alien tongue, but because we never take down the shutters from the windows of our minds, and allow the magnificent 'sun' of sacred Scripture to shine upon our lives with its unspeakable radiance.  'Though we can dim a lantern, or turn off a lamp, we cannot diminish the light of the sun.  So it is when we read the Bible with an expectant heart."

I wonder if you have ever awakened in a darkened room and imagined that it was still night-time, or that the sky was heavily overcast?  Then, when you pulled back the curtains, or raised the blind, the room was filled with glorious sunlight!  In such a way the unchangeable, inexhaustible, incomparable Word of God imparts life to the spiritually dead; purifies the daily walk; and promotes growth in the believer.  However, as Dr Bee stated, we must "... take down the shutters from the windows of our minds ..." and allow His holy light to enter.

I imagine that anyone who reads this post has access to the written Word of God in their own language.  Let us make it a practice to read it daily, and to allow the entrance of God's Word to illumine our paths, and bring spiritual light to our spirits.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

I think that you will like it!

Ol' Fred had been a faithful Christian and was in the hospital, near death. The family called their preacher to stand with them. As the preacher stood next to the bed, Ol' Fred's condition appeared to deteriorate and he motioned frantically for something to write on. The pastor lovingly handed him a pen and a piece of paper, and Ol' Fred used his last bit of energy to scribble a note, then suddenly died.

The preacher thought it best not to look at the note at that time, so he placed it in his jacket pocket. At the funeral, as he was finishing the eulogy, he realised that he was wearing the same jacket that he was wearing when Ol' Fred died. 

He said, "You know, Ol' Fred handed me a note just before he died. I haven't looked at it, but knowing Fred, I'm sure there's a word of inspiration there for us all."

He opened the note, and read, (Scroll down - it's worth it!)

 "Please step to your left - you're standing on my oxygen tube!"

Monday, 4 January 2016

Disciples of Jesus - and alcohol!

With the New Year now into its fourth day, there will be many who will, only now, be returning to "normality" after a round of parties and, in all probability, the consumption of more alcohol than is considered to be "reasonable"!   Among them will, I suspect, some who would claim to be "Christians" (aka disciples of Jesus).

It may be claimed that no-one knows alcohol better than a recovering alcoholic!  Such a person will have known the grip that alcohol - an addictive drug, albeit a legal one - can have on an individual.  Last week, I came across a list of "50 reasons to be teetotal".   As someone who is, himself totally teetotal, I was interested.  However, what made me even more interested was the discovery that this list had been compiled by a recovering alcoholic who has been saved by the grace of God, and who is now pastoring a Christian Fellowship!

Remember, this list (I am only printing the first ten on this post) is intended to be of special interest to those who would happily describe themselves as disciples of Jesus - or, at least, as "Christians" (which is not always recognised as being the same thing!).

1. I can't be sober-minded if I'm not sober.

2. Alcohol has an assignment: destruction.

3. Alcohol is a depressant. Anything that depresses should be avoided at all costs.

4. I don't want to make my brother or sister stumble in the name of exercising my "Christian liberties." My choice to drink could lead to someone's demise.

5. Alcohol skews my judgment.

6. Alcohol leaves me worse, not better.

7. What I do in moderation, my children will do in excess.

8. Even the unsaved know I shouldn't drink. Bible in one hand, beer in the other—any lost person could point this out as a confusing contradiction.

9. Alcohol doesn't bring others closer to the Lord when they see me drinking, but further away.

10. Alcohol doesn't bring me closer to the Lord when I drink, but further away.

You may not agree with any, or all, of the above points.  However, do please remember that they were written, not by teetotal me, but by someone who has experienced, all too clearly, the destructive aspects of alcohol consumption - and who probably started with just a little "social drinking".  I am not seeking to judge anyone on their alcohol intake - merely, I hope, providing some "food for thought"!