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Monday, 29 February 2016

BREXIT, or not?!

With the date for the referendum on the UK's continued membership of the European Union now set, I confess that I am a natural "BREXIT"er.  I object, strongly, to unelected eurocrats making decisions that effect my life; to laws being made by people who have been"appointed"; by even the Supreme Court being able to be over-ruled in its decisions by a group of foreigners (who, as has been pointed out elsewhere, are not even judges!).  On June 23rd, therefore, I shall be voting (DV) to LEAVE the EU.

But note those two letters - DV.  As many will know, they stand for the Latin words "Deo volente" which translate as "God willing".  I may not survive until June 23rd; the world, as we know it, may not survive until June 23rd; the EU might collapse before June 23rd!

There is more!  Some years ago, after the signing of the Lisbon Treaty - regarded by many as an EU Constitution, in disguise - I submitted the following to a Christian forum of which I am a member:

"SO, the Lisbon Treaty has now been ratified by each of the European Union’s member states. Well, if we are going to be accurate, in almost every case, it has been ratified by the political elite of the member states. Only the Irish had the luxury of being asked in a national referendum – and when the unelected, unaccountable, EU ‘powers-that-be’ didn’t like the answer that was received, the Irish were instructed to vote again. As far as I could see, there was so much spin exuded during the campaigning for the second referendum, that it is little wonder that the Irish reversed their earlier decision.

I have been opposed to the EU since its inception. Even when former UK Prime Minister Edward Heath – a man who, in my opinion, was a greater traitor to his country than Lord Haw-haw – led us into the EEC (European Economic Community), I voted against. I could not see how the breaking of cherished ties with other Commonwealth countries was going to be of any particular benefit to the United Kingdom.

I'm no anti-European

Of course, as anyone who knows me will understand, I am not some xenophobic anti-European! I have very dear friends in a number of European countries and, while I am only truly fluent in the English language, I can get by very well in French, have a smattering of German, a little bit of Dutch, and a little bit of Italian. And, of course, for many years, our main summer holiday has been spent in the countries of western Europe. I am just one of what I suspect is a rapidly growing number of people who are totally opposed to a European Super-state, in which I, as an ordinary tax-payer, am expected to accept every diktat, even as I fund the blatant corruption of the Brussels-Strasbourg gravy-train.

However, I have recently been wondering about the advice given by the Jewish rabbi, Gamaliel. “…my advice is, leave these men alone. If they are teaching and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is of God, you will not be able to stop them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God." (Acts 5:38-39)

Am I opposing part of God's bigger plan?

I am having to ask myself: “Is this ever-expanding, ever-devouring, man-made entity a part of the plan and purpose of God? Is the EU a clear sign that we are in the end-times, when time and history, as we experience them, will be no more?” What is certain is that, climate change, space exploration, or whatever, history does have an end. And was it not Albert Einstein who worked out that time has a beginning, and an end, as well?

So, in opposing the EU, might I be opposing the plan and purpose of God? For me, it’s a big question. For anyone, it’s a question worth considering. My only assurance is that, as an adopted son of the Living God, my future is secure. As one of my cousins states at the close of every e-mail: “I don’t do worry, I know the ending!” History, I was often told, is ‘His story’. That story hasn’t ended, but the day is coming, sooner or later, when the heavens will open, the Lord Jesus will return, and Paul’s amazing prophecy will be fulfilled as “…at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil.2:10-11)."

As the referendum date approaches, and as I read all of the conflicting arguments, this question continues to loom large in my mind.  As I look at the changes that have occurred since November 2009 when I wrote the above - the rise of Daesh (aka ISIS); the return of blatant anti-Semitism; the ever-increasing persecution of disciples of Jesus - and their marginalisation even in many countries in which there is not overt persecution; when I read that the Pope is working towards a "one-world religion"; when I learn of the moves of the secular élite to bring about a "one world order"; I am more convinced than ever that we are in the last times, and that much of the Biblical prophecy that has not yet been fulfilled is being fulfilled before our eyes.

I shall still vote for the UK to LEAVE the EU.  However, I shall do so in the certain knowledge that the Creator and Sustainer of all that is; the Sovereign God of the Universe; is in control; and that He will have His way!   Yesterday, in Café Church, I preached on the immutability of God - His "unchangableness".  On that I rest and, regardless of the eventual result of the referendum, I shall seek to serve Him until He calls me home - whether that be by my mortal death, or by the glorious rapture. (see the relevant chapter in my book "Great Words of the Faith" - link above).  

I trust that you will be there with me!

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Are you a cackler?!

One of my friends is passionate about sharing the Gospel of Jesus the Christ with those who do not know Him.  He takes every possible opportunity to share that amazing message.  Would that there were more like him around!

I am reminded of the old saying: "If a man builds a better mouse-trap, the world will beat a path to his door"!  It's a saying that is no longer true (if it ever was!). You see, unless the man makes us aware of his superior product, no-one will buy it! In other words, it pays to advertise - just ask any of the companies who do so: almost ad nauseum!

One of my great-uncles - my paternal grandmother's brother - kept a farm.  Our town was relatively small, and I could walk from my home to the farm.  I didn't become a farmer - but I learned a wee bit about farms and farm livestock!  Did you know that, when a hen lays an egg, she cackles?!  She spreads the news, far and wide.  She wants everyone to know that she has laid a wonderful egg.  A duck, on the other hand, keeps quiet when she lays an egg.  She keeps it a secret; she doesn't make a sound.  Have you noticed that vastly more people buy hens' eggs than buy the eggs of ducks?!  It pays to advertise!

Disciples of Jesus have a 'product' that is needed by the world more than any egg. It's the message of the Gospel - the Good News that "... God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16).  Now, there is much more to the Gospel message - John continues: "He who believes in Him is not condemned; He who does not believe is condemned already, because He has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (John 3:18-19; emphasis added).  However, it is the love of Almighty God that is at the heart of the message.

So, if we have such an amazing message, why do so many of us act like ducks, and keep it to ourselves?  Why are more of us not out there "cackling" this great news?   Even without the full knowledge that is available to us, the psalmist could say: "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from trouble ..." (Ps 107:2).  We who claim to be followers of Jesus need to start shouting the message to a needy world!

Did you commend Jesus to anyone yesterday.  Are you constantly sharing the joy of your salvation? Men, women, and young people are being lost all around us because we have failed to share with them about our Saviour!  It's time for us to emulate the hen - not the duck.  That, one might say, is simply 'ducking' the issue!  

Remember, there are times when silence is not golden - it's just plain yellow!

Thursday, 18 February 2016

ISIS v. Israel

No, the title is not suggesting that this post has to do with a direct confrontation between ISIS (aka Daesh) and the nation of Israel.  I suspect that any unbiased writer would have no difficulty in predicting the outcome of such a conflict!  (Clue: Israel would not come out of it as second-best!!).

However, in the last couple of days, I have viewed two specific photographs that clearly display the difference between these two entities.  The first has also appeared in today's online Daily Express.

The executioner is in the act of beheading a 15 year-old boy - in front of a large crowd, including many teenagers.  Ayham Hussein was handed the death sentence after being tried in a strict Sharia law court.   ISIS thugs had found the teenager listening to a portable compact disc player inside his dad's shop in an open-air market in western Mosul, in Iraq.  Sentenced to death - for listening to music!  No words of mine could ever suitably describe such an act!  Those responsible will, in eternity, if not before, answer for such a crime - because their's was the crime; the boy was innocent of any crime - certainly in any civilised society.

The second picture was e-mailed to me from the Scottish Friends of Israel.

In his short life, Mohammed al-Farra has known just one home: the yellow-painted children's ward in Israel's Tel Hashomer hospital.  Born in Gaza with a rare genetic disease, Mohammed's hands and feet were amputated because of complications from his condition, and the 3½ year-old moves about in a tiny red wheelchair. His parents abandoned him, and the Palestinian government won't pay for his care, so he lives at the hospital with his grandfather.  
Mohammed was rushed to Israel as a newborn for emergency treatment. His genetic disorder left him with a weakened immune system and crippled his bowels, doctors say, and an infection destroyed his hands and feet, requiring them to be amputated.   In the midst of his treatment, his mother abandoned Mohammed because her husband, ashamed of their son, threatened to take a second wife if she didn't leave the baby and return to their home in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis, al-Farra said. In Gaza, polygamy is permitted but isn't common. But it's a powerful threat to women fearful of competing against newer wives.  Now Mohammed spends his days undergoing treatment and learning how to use prosthetic limbs, while his 55-year-old grandfather cares for him. Mohammed's Israeli doctors, who've grown attached to the boy, fund-raise to cover his bills, allowing him and his grandfather to live in the sunny pediatric ward.
Two children; two cultures; two situations; two outcomes.   For ISIS/Daesh, death for listening to music; for another Arab Muslim boy, life because of the dedication, love, and concern, of Israel and its medical staff.
Such stories could, of course, be multiplied many times over.  Sadly, although ISIS/Daesh do have their evil actions publicised, you will rarely find the "western" media informing people of the situation of children such as Mohammed al-Farra.  To do so, of course, might cause the unthinking among us to realise that the bias against the State and Nation of Israel is unfounded.
I believe, as a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth - Himself born and raised as a Jew; tried and falsely convicted, as a Jew; crucified as King of the Jews (in accordance with prophecy: see Isaiah 53) - I have a moral, and even spiritual, obligation to support Israel.  I may not agree with every policy decision of the Israeli government (although I would gladly exchange the current incumbent of 10 Downing Street, for Mr Netanyahu!) but, as Corrie ten Boom's father reminded her at the time of the Holocaust: "They are still the apple of His eye"! (see Deut.32:10; Ps.17:8; Zech.2:8 - the reference is to the keen sensibility of the eye, and denotes the careful protection, and security, of Almighty God - HaShem).
If you have a heart for Israel, please do all that you can to publicise the truth and, of course, pray for the peace of Jerusalem - Sh’alu shalom yerushalayim.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

The Shepherd Psalm

Probably one of the best-known (or, at least, recognised!) passages from the written Word of God, the 23rd Psalm, was written under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit (II Tim.3:16, cf Mk.12:36) by David, the shepherd-king of Israel.  The following is not my original, but has been "doing the rounds" for many years.  I have no idea as to the identity of the original author, but if anyone can enlighten me, will be happy to add the appropriate acknowledgement.  It brings out many wonderful truths, from the Psalm, that I trust readers will be able to apply to themselves.

On this Valentine's Day, it is a reminder of what the love of God means to all who have committed themselves to Him, in faith, through the Lord Jesus, the Christ.

Psalm 23
The Lord is my Shepherd: that’s RELATIONSHIP!
I shall not want: that’s SUPPLY!
He makes me to lie down in green pastures: that’s REST!
He leads me beside the still waters: that’s REFRESHMENT!
He restores my soul: that’s HEALING!
He leads me in the paths of righteousness: that’s GUIDANCE!
For His Name's sake: that’s PURPOSE!
And even 'though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death: that’s A TRIAL! 

I will fear no evil: that’s PROTECTION!
For You, Lord, are with me: that’s FAITHFULNESS!
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me: that’s DISCIPLINE & GENTLENESS!

You prepare a table before me, in the presence of my enemies: that’s HOPE! 
You anoint my head with oil: that’s CONSECRATION!
My cup runs over: that’s ABUNDANCE!
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: that’s BLESSING! 

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord: that’s SECURITY! 
Forever: that’s ETERNITY!

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Be like Jesus!

One of the books on my Study shelves is entitled 'Imitation of Christ', written by one, Thomas à Kempis, in the early 15th century.  It is, in fact, a devotional book, in four parts, written in order to encourage believers to follow the example of the Lord Jesus, the Christ.

However, being 'like' Jesus may be interpreted in different ways.  There are some who would like to walk around in traditional Middle Eastern garb of 2,000 years ago.  Of course, even I am able to remember being told that the sandals I was wearing, many years ago, were "Jesus sandals"!

Then there is the notice-board outside the church building that read: "Be like Jesus; attend services regularly" - presumably referring to Luke 4:16 "And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and He went to the synagogue, as His custom was, on the Sabbath Day."

The songwriters don't like to be missed out, either!  I recently came across this little gem:

"To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus; all I ask to be like Him;
All through life’s journey, from earth to glory,

All I ask to be like Him;

To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus; all I ask to be like Him;
Not in a measure, but in its fullness,
All I ask to be like Him."

But does the simple emulation of an example; or an expressed desire to emulate, actually make one person like another?  Apparently Alexander the Great had a twist in his neck that caused him to carry his head to one side.  All of his courtiers tried to imitate their hero - but it didn't make any of them a great general!  

There is, in the heart of every true disciple of Jesus, the desire expressed by another song-writer:

"I want, oh, I want to attain some likeness, my Saviour, to Thee. That longed-for resemblance once more to regain; Thy comeliness put upon me."

But does the copying of the Master; the following of His pattern; make us more Christlike?  We surely must recognise that the disciple of Jesus is not a carbon copy, but a channel through which the risen Saviour must manifest His life!  The branches do not attempt to be like the Vine (see John 15). Rather, the life of the Vine flows through the branches.  His life in us, released and unhindered, produces a likeness to Him that is genuine.  Someone has said that "When we become citizens of heaven, we can claim Christ's resurrection life.  All that He achieved and won becomes ours - if we desire, receive, and use it."  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have [i.e. have, here and now!] eternal life." (John 3:16).

Are you allowing the Christ to live His life in you?   "... Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Col 1:27).  And that 'hope' is not the vague uncertainty of Charles Dickens' character, Mr Micawber - the 'hope' that "something will turn up".  It's a certain conviction that the promises of God are true, and will be fulfilled.   What are you going to do about it?!

Saturday, 6 February 2016

It's unbelievable!

Should I give up on Facebook?  Or ought I, at least, 'unfriend' all of the former pupils who asked to be friends, and whose own posts I regularly read?  Or, perhaps, I should simply be grateful for the opportunities that the current situation provides.

Just a few minutes ago, one of my former pupils posted the following photograph of a statement made by a 'community'; that identifies itself as "Peace begins when religion ends":

"Christianity: The popular belief that a celestial Jewish baby who is also his own father, born from a virgin mother, died for three days so that he could ascend to heaven on a cloud and then make you live forever only if you symbolically eat his flesh, drink his blood, and telepathically tell him you accept him as your lord and master so he can remove an evil force from your spiritual being that is present in all humanity because an immoral woman made from a man's rib was hoodwinked by a talking reptile possessed by a malicious angel to secretly eat forbidden fruit from a magical tree. Sounds perfectly plausible..." (sic)

Well, no-one who knows me could ever expect me to simply 'move on' and ignore such a statement. My response was as follows:

"Modern humanism. The popular belief that nothing became something. That the something that came from nothing then managed to do what has been indisputably proven to be physically impossible, and add genetic material (that also came from nothing else) to itself in order to become something else. That this kept happening over billions of years - in spite of the fact that, if there had been those billions of years, the known universe would have been totally different from what it currently is understood to be. The belief that conveniently disregards the amazing complexity of interacting molecular machines - microscopic machines that are as precise and intricate as a mechanical watch, but instead of being run on gears and springs, are powered by the fundamental rules of physics and chemistry. The belief that the amazing order, and precision found in the cosmos either "just happened", or is a direct result of the 'laws' of physics - but fails to explain the origin of those very laws!

Sounds even less plausible than the above! However, I suspect that my personal knowledge and understanding of physics and biology, is a tad greater than the author of the piece above has of the Bible! Check out my blog at for loads of information - and some useful links!"

I could, of course, have written/typed much more.  However, there tends to be a limit to what most folk are prepared to read on a Facebook posting.  I simply trust that some who do read what I shared will access this blog, and read some of the most recent posts that I have published here.

If you are a believer, you will realise that the original statement is full of holes and misunderstandings.  Perhaps some of those who read it will even spend the price of a fish supper, and purchase one of my books (or both of them  - price of two fish suppers, when purchased as e-books, and definitely less fattening, and more nutritious!) - see the top of the page.  Whether, or not, anyone does, I trust that they will realise that the humanistic, evolutionary worldview that they appear to espouse, is as much a matter of belief as anything else!

Friday, 5 February 2016

The most wonderful places to be!

Facebook, and my former pupils, are definitely providing a lot of thought-provoking material, this week.  The latest one, on a background of a sweet little girl sitting on a wooden fence - and with a cat (with its back to us!) sitting beside her, says:

"The most wonderful places to be in the world are: In someone's thoughts. Someone's prayers. And in Someone's heart." (sic)

As I read those words, I thought of how they apply to the God Who loves us with an everlasting love.

I am in  God's thoughts.  The Psalmist writes: "As for me, I am poor and needy; but the Lord takes thought for me.  Thou art my help and my deliverer; do not tarry, O my God!" (Ps 40:17).   Every child of God is always before the mind of the eternal God. With all the attention and focus of His divine mind He contemplates each one of His children. There is no forgetting and then remembering. There is no calling to mind. What a wonderful truth! Our thoughts of God are often too small. The eternal God never ceases to think about us.  I am not only in "someone's" thoughts.  As a disciple of Jesus, I am constantly in the thoughts of Almighty God.

I am in God's prayers.  That may sound strange to some.  However, the writer of the Letter to Jewish believers, referring to the Lord Jesus, writes: "The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; but He holds His priesthood permanently, because He continues for ever. Consequently He is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." (Heb 7:23-25; emphasis added).

The Lord Jesus is constantly interceding, praying, on my behalf and, since He is God, then I am assured that I am in God's prayers.

I am in God's heart.  The heart is usually used as a picture of the seat of one's emotions.  The greatest, and strongest, emotion is love.  When we illustrate love, graphically, we use a drawing of a heart - witness countless shop windows in this run-up to the Feast day of St Valentine!  John 3:16 tells me that "... God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."  I am the object of God's eternal, unconditional, unparalleled, love - therefore, I know that I am in His heart (anthropomorphically speaking!).

Now, I am blessed to be in the thoughts, prayers, and hearts, of a number of people; and I appreciate each and every one of them.  However, my greatest joy, my hope, and my confidence is that I am in the thoughts, prayers, and heart of Almighty God - my Creator and Saviour.

Are you?

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Love is in the air!

It was a Facebook post put up by one of my former pupils.  The message was simple.  On a background of a rather vicious-looking cat, were the words: "If you're sad about being alone on Valentine's Day, just remember ... ... no-one loves you on the other days of the year, either"!

I "Liked" it - and then thought about it!  The songwriter assured us that it is love that makes the world go round.  There are more songs, and poems, written with love as their subject than on any other topic.  It's the theme of countless books and films.  It's the glue that holds society together.

How sad it would be, therefore, not to be loved at all - throughout the year!   Thankfully, that post has it completely wrong.  Every single one of us is loved, throughout our whole life.  I'm not, of course, referring to the Mills & Boon kind of soppy, sentimental 'love'.  I'm not even referring to the love of family and friends.  I'm referring to the love that is better described by the Greek word "agape".  It is nothing more, or less, than the love of Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of all that is.   That love is directed towards each and every one of us.

It's a sacrificial love.  In what may well be the best-known quotation from the Bible, John records that "God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16).  The sinless, incarnate God, allowed Himself to be hung on a Roman cross, in order that He might pay the just penalty for your sins, and for mine!  That is sacrifice; that is love.

It's an unconditional love.  "... God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." writes Paul to the believers in Rome. (Rom 5:8).  God didn't set out conditions that we must meet in order to be loved by Him.  He simply loved, and loves, us - as we are!

It's an eternal love.  Eternity is greatly misunderstood by so many.  That's why I devote a full chapter to the concept in my book "Great Words of the Faith" (please see above!).  It is often viewed as 'endless time' when, in fact, it is timelessness!  The love of God is not constrained by time.  It is above and beyond time.

There are many other aspects of the Love of God that we could consider - but this is a blog post, not a sermon!  Just one question to ask - Do you know that love of God at a personal level?  Is it real to you, because you have responded to it with the love of your own heart?   If not, then why don't you do something about it now!  His love is so great that He will meet you more than half-way.

Don't be unloved - when the greatest love of all is reaching out to you!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

God sent a Saviour.

Many may already be aware of the following.  I have just come across my copy while doing some further 'organising' in my study!  I share it, with some slight amendments, for those who are unaware of it.

If our greatest need had been information,
God would have sent us an educator.

If our greatest need had been technology,
God would have sent us a scientist.

If our greatest need had been money,
God would have sent us an economist.

If our greatest need had been pleasure,
God would have sent us an entertainer.

However, our greatest need was, and is, forgiveness;
So God sent us a Saviour.

Have you submitted your life to Him?