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Sunday, 23 April 2017

Answers - and a remembrance.

Thanks to my dear wife for reminding me that I had not provided the correct answer to the quiz I posted, ten days ago (in spite of my good intention to post them on Resurrection day)!!!! So, with my apology to anyone who has been waiting, here they are:

1. (a); 2. (b); 3. (c); 4. (c); 5. (a); 6. (c); 7. (c); 8. (b); 9. (c).

How did you do? If you scored from 0-3, it would appear that you have never looked at the hard evidence that Jesus, the Christ, rose from the dead.  If you scored 4-7, then you would appear to know something about the resurrection. If you scored 8-9, then you certainly know the facts. However, question 10 would be: "Do you know Him as your own Saviour and Lord, alive today?!

********************


On a different note, sunset today in Israel sees the beginning of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day). All over the nation, places of public entertainment will close, and a state ceremony will be held in the Warsaw Ghetto Square in Jerusalem to honour the Jewish people who perished in Nazi Germany.

The flag will be lowered to half-mast, prayers will be recited, and six Holocaust survivors will light the six torches that symbolize the Six Million Jews who perished in the Holocaust (half the world's Jewish population at the time) under Hitler's "Final Solution".

Multiple railway tracks led from all over Europe to concentration camps like Auschwitz. Jewish people were crammed into cattle cars and shipped to these death camps. Very few survived. Of course, the Nazis intended that no one survive. Many were gassed immediately upon arrival and their bodies burned in ovens.  Those who were healthy enough to work when they arrived were literally worked to death.

This horrible, unfathomable number—six million murdereddoes not count the many Jewish children who will never be born because of this genocide. Whole families were destroyed.  Some Jewish people who came out of the Holocaust were the sole survivor of their family.  They were left completely alone. 

May We Never Forget.

If you are a praying person, please take a moment to pray for the survivors and families of survivors, and the emotional scars they carry.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Deeper than that!

Fridtjof Nansen was a Norwegian explorer who tried to measure the depth of part of the Arctic Ocean. On the first day he used his longest measuring line - but was unable to reach the bottom. Having recorded the length of his line in his log-book, he wrote: "The ocean is deeper than that."

On the following day, he added more line, but was still unable to measure the depth so, once again, the log-book entry read: "Deeper than that!" After several days of adding more and more lengths of rope and cord to his line, he had to leave that part of the ocean without having learned its actual depth. All that he knew was that it was beyond his ability to measure.

Here, in S.W.France, I have the privilege of, among other things, ministering the Word of God to a group of anglophones. We are currently nearing the end of our study of the First Letter of John - a letter that covers a number of important areas, none less so than the love of God and the fact that "God is Love" (I John 4:8,16).

Nansen's experience reminds me that we cannot plumb the depths of the love of the God Whose very essence is Love, because our human measuring line is too short. The Russian folk-song, come hymn, reminds us:

"Vaster far than any ocean,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Is the love of Christ my Saviour,
Reaching through eternity."


John, in his record of the Gospel, provides what is probably the best-known verse from the New Testament scriptures: "God loved the world so much that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever places their trust, unreservedly, in Him may not perish, but have eternal life." (my paraphrase!). 

Paul. writing to the early disciples of Jesus in Ephesus, reminded them that: "...  God, Who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and made us sit with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, ..." (2:4-6; emphasis added).

In the light of such incredible love, ought not our gratitude cause us to serve, and praise, Him more zealously during the years that we are granted on this earth? Grace Reese Adkins wrote the lovely old hymn: "By and by, when I look on His face", with these words in the chorus:

"More, so much more;
more of my life than I'd e'er given before.
By and by, when I look on His face,
I'll wish I had given Him more."

As we try to comprehend God's love, we may well exclaim: "It's deeper, much deeper than that.", and determine, by His grace, that we shall give Him more.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Resurrection Day.

It was, if memory serves me well, the late David Jenkins who, as Bishop of Durham, made a statement about the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth being nothing more than a story about a load of old bones! (If it was someone else, I apologise to the late Bishop!). Of course, he certainly knows the truth now!

Today is Resurrection Day. There is, of course a sense in which, for the true disciple of Jesus, every day is Resurrection Day. We who seek to follow Him do not confine our thinking of His resurrection to one day in the year. It is, of course, the central teaching of the Christian faith. Paul wrote to the early believers in Corinth that "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep." (15:17-20).

So is there any real evidence for the resurrection of Jesus - or is the whole story just a load of old bones. Sadly, there are many, even within the ranks of the Christian clergy, who seem to think so! However, if we approach the question reasonably, and logically, we find that there is ample evidence to support the claim. Let's look at some of the attempts to explain the resurrection away as less than it was.

1. Jesus didn't die, but merely swooned. He then revived in the cool of the tomb, and made His way out, convincing His disciples that He had risen from the dead.
    Those who advocate this scenario have totally ignored a number of facts. The first, and most obvious is that crucifixion was a means of executing the death penalty. The whole point of the exercise was that the victim would die - as surely as if beheaded. People simply did not survive crucifixion. Secondly, the Roman soldiers were men who knew a dead body when they saw one. All of them, and particularly the centurion in charge of the execution squad, were battle-hardened men who had killed others, and seen comrades fall dead beside them. However, when Pilate, the Roman Procurator, was asked for permission to take the body down, he insisted that a check be made that Jesus was well and truly dead. Anyone who believes that Roman soldiers would send back a false report needs to do some studying in history! The, again, there is an eye-witness account that, when the soldiers started to break the legs of the three victims - in order to hasten their demise - they discovered that Jesus was already dead. Hammering at the knees to break them was not easy with the object being above head height. So they contented themselves, as a precaution, with one of them stabbing his spear into the body of Jesus - upwards, and at an angle. This means that the heart would have been pierced. The eye-witness records that "...  at once there came out blood and water." (John 19:34). Now this was not two substances flowing beside one another like a Mr Softee two-flavoured ice-cream. It was, according to modern pathologists, a clear serum that contained clots of blood - and that is incontrovertible proof that the body is dead!

But let's give the sceptic the benefit of the doubt. Let's imagine that, having already endured hours of questioning, and being pushed around; being flogged by a Roman soldier with a whip of multiple thongs that had bits of bone and metal tied into them; having His head pierced with the long, hard thorns of the mock crown forced down on it by the Roman soldiers; and having carried the horizontal beam of the cross to the extent that the soldiers - who were not renowned for having any excess of "the milk of human kindness" - realised that He was physically unable to carry it any further, and hauled a man from the watching crowd to carry it for Him; He was then tied and nailed to the cross and left there, naked, subject to the verbal abuse of His enemies. The rough wood of the cross would have caused agonising pain against a back already lacerated by the whipping. His body would have sagged. This would have constricted His breathing. He would try to raise His body by pushing with His feet (the reason why the breaking of legs speeded up the dying process), and the pain from the nailed feet would have shot through His body. The blood would have risen in His throat, choking Him. Eventually (according to this far-out suggestion!) He faints. The soldiers are fooled; the body is taken down from the cross - and wrapped in sheets with spices - before being laid in the tomb. We must now assume that Jesus revived; managed to extricate Himself from the binding; rolled the heavy stone away - from inside the tomb (requiring it to be moved with just His hands on the inner surface); walk away, naked, without the Roman guard noticing anything amiss; find some suitable clothing; make His way to where the disciples were in hiding; and convince them that He had arisen from the dead! As one might say in certain parts of Scotland: "Aye, right!"

2. It wasn't Jesus Who hung on the cross; that one of the disciples took His place so that He could appear as if He had risen from the dead (the usual Islamic explanation)! 
   This requires a number of factors to come together.  Jesus was not some non-entity.  He was well known to the authorities.  Accordingly, His ‘substitute’ would have had to be identical in build and appearance.  This man would also have to be one of the disciple band.  However, at this stage, the number of followers was relatively small, and most of them would have been known by others.  Certainly, if there had been a ‘double’ that man would already have been marked out.  Such a man would also have had to agree to take the punishment and death that was ahead.  People at that time were all too aware of what crucifixion involved – let alone the previous flogging and other suffering – and it would have been an unusual man who would have volunteered to take another's place.  Finally, there is the matter of the empty tomb – one aspect of the record that appears never to have been seriously questioned!  Where was the body of this amazing ‘substitute’ going to be hidden while Jesus went around claiming to have risen from the dead?  No, once again, the proposed ‘solution’ requires a greater leap of faith than does accepting the Biblical claim.

3. The disciples stole the Body of Jesus, and then went about with these wild stories of His alleged appearances.  
   This does have, at first sight, a measure of feasibility that is missing from the previous suggestions, and is the story which the Roman guards were bribed to repeat.  They were even assured that they would not suffer the usual penalty for having ‘lost’ a prisoner (their own deaths) as the chief priests would square things up with the governor! (Matt.28:11–15).
Certainly, it could be argued that the disciples had a motive for so doing (although, remembering that they were scared for their own lives, such an action seems unlikely).  But any police officer will assure us that, in investigating a crime, motive alone is insufficient.  So, we must also ask about opportunity.  How could the disciples have got past the guard and remove the body – and done so without disturbing the grave–clothes in any way?  And is it reasonable to expect that a group of people, whose morale was completely gone, who were shattered and frightened, who were locked away for fear of the Jews(John 20:19)would have made such an attempt in any case?

4. The authorities – Roman and/or Jewish – removed the body to a different location in order to ensure that the tomb did not become a focus point for other dissidents!  
   This theory certainly deals with some of the difficulties involved in suggesting that the disciples stole the body. There would have been no problem with the guards, and the authorities could have arranged for the safe disposal of the body.  However, if that had been what happened one must ask why, when the reports of the resurrection started to circulate, they did not simply produce the body and parade it around Jerusalem!  Such a simple action would have stopped the spread of the Christian Church right at the beginning.  The irrefutable fact that they didn't do so, is evidence enough that they had not removed the body!

5. The disciples were hallucinating when they claimed that they saw the risen Lord. 
    Could it be that the disciples were simply "seeing things"? An hallucination may be defined as a false or distorted sensory experience that appears to be a real perception. Such sensory impressions are generated by the mind rather than by any external stimuli, and may be seen, heard, felt, and even smelled or tasted.  Normally, there are two pre–requisites:
            (a) an inward desire, the climax of a long period of wishful thinking;
            (b) outward circumstances encouraging the experience.
However, in this case, there was no wishful thinking.  Indeed, the exact opposite was the case.  We read that “... some doubted.” (Matt 28:17)“... He appeared to the eleven themselves as they sat at table; and He upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed ...” (Mark 16:14)they were “... slow of heart to believe ...” (Luke 24:25); they were, as already noted, hiding behind shut doors “... for fear of the Jews ...” (John 20:19).

We might also note that the very psychological make-up of the disciples varied from the blustering of Peter to the cynicism of Thomas. 

The outward circumstances were also varied!  It appears that Jesus was seen, not only in the Upper Room but also while they were working, walking, and even trying to forget it all!  And while clinicians inform us that no two people will perceive the same hallucination simultaneously, we find that more than five hundred individuals claimed to have seen the risen Saviour at the same time! (see I Cor.15:6).

6. The disciples concocted the whole story!
    This, of course, still doesn't explain the empty tomb; the complete absence of a dead, and wrapped-up, body.  Nor does it explain why these same disciples suffered unspeakable torture, and why many of them died, for what they would have known to have been a deceitful lie.  

So, we are left with only one reasonable conclusion - that the resurrection of the Christ is proved as well as any historical fact has ever been proved. That only leaves one issue - you need to ask yourself the question, put to the crowd by Pontius Pilate: "... what shall I do with Jesus Who is called Christ?” (Matt.27:22). Read these words from Albert B. Simpson (1843-1919):

"Jesus is standing in Pilate’s hall, Friendless, forsaken, betrayed by all;        Hearken! what meaneth the sudden call? What will you do with Jesus?

What will you do with Jesus? Neutral you cannot be;                                   Some day your heart will be asking, “What will He do with me?" 

Jesus is standing on trial still; you can be false to Him if you will;                 You can be faithful through good or ill: What will you do with Jesus?

Will you evade him as Pilate tried? Or will you choose Him, whate’er betide?         
Vainly you struggle from Him to hide: What will you do with Jesus?

Will you, like Peter, your Lord deny? Or will you scorn from His foes to fly,   Daring for Jesus to live or die? What will you do with Jesus?

Let the last words of the song be your personal response:

“Jesus, I give Thee my heart today! Jesus, I’ll follow Thee all the way,         Gladly obeying Thee!" will you say: “This I will do with Jesus!"

Friday, 14 April 2017

He took my place.

Many will have watched the video of a doctor being forcibly removed from an aeroplane, in the USA, at the beginning of this week. The social media reaction was, I suppose, not unexpected as the airline - United  - was deluged with a torrent of abuse, and demands that the crew be sacked; the airline closed down; and the doctor be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honour! (Okay, I didn't read that last one anywhere - but I wouldn't have been surprised!).

It was interesting, to say the least, to read a response from someone who describes herself as a pilot's wife, and who begins by making the point that there are always two sides to a story. She makes the following points, that none of the MSM have made, and that appear not to have been considered by the 
general public.

"Things to consider:
1) “You can’t just kick a paying customer off the plane!”    Psssst! It’s in the fine print. They can, indeed, do just that. And it’s not an airline specific rule, it’s a commercial aviation rule. Every ticket you purchase comes with a plethora of fine print–you know, the stuff we just click ‘next’ on without actually reading what we are agreeing to. Yeah, that. Well, it’s in there, and you checked the ‘I agree’ box when you purchased your ticket. You can read about it and oh-so-much-more here. Kind of makes you want to read all those tiny words on your next phone update before you click ‘I agree’, huh? You should. United did not break any law, and he agreed to the policy and possibility of involuntary bump when he bought his ticket. And so do you.
2) “Kicking a paying customer off an airplane!? I’m taking my business to Southwest!” Ummmm, okay. But just be sure you understand that every major airline, Southwest included, has a similar policy for involuntary bumping in a ‘must ride’ scenario.  Don’t believe me? It’s called the contract of carriage. If you’re really bored, you can read Southwest’s here. Or Delta’s here. Believe me, it’s in there.  This could have been any airline.  In fact, it happens all the time. Most people just don’t wrestle the feds in the aisle.  
3: “So what’s this ‘must ride’ nonsense anyway? They shouldn’t bump a paying customer for a free employee ride!” I’m afraid you’re going to have to take this up with the federal government, not United. And it’s actually pretty important to you as an airline traveller anyway. They were not ‘freeloading home’. That’s called non-rev and they have to wait in line behind your checkbook and often don’t make it home to their families if flights are booked (believe me, I know). No, this was a must fly, a positive space situation. In layman terms, it means that a crew must be flown to an airport to man a flight in order to avoid cancellation of said flight due to crew unavailability. This is a federal DOT regulation, not an airline one. The airlines are required to do so to avoid disruption of air traffic. In other words, if there are no willing volunteers and they need seats to get a crew somewhere to avoid disruption of aviation flow, they can, will, must by federal regulation bump people for the better good of the 1000’s. Why? Because one cancelled flight has a serious domino effect in the delicate, complicated world of connections and aviation law.
4: “It’s the airline’s fault for not planning better!” You obviously have no clue about the complexities of aviation travel and should do some research. There are about a million and one things that can cause a crew shortage including but not limited to weather, maintenance, weather, connecting fight delays, weather, FAA timeout regs, and did I mention weather? I wish I could control Mother Nature because I would be one filthy rich person. But I can’t. And neither can United. So they inconvenience one, or four, to keep hundreds on track. Do the maths. And of course, if we were on the other end of this thing, we’d be tirading and blowing up the internet because United didn’t bump a passenger to make sure our flight didn’t get cancelled and left hundreds stranded. Damned if you do; damned if you don’t. We’re a fickle crowd, we social media folks.
5: “They shouldn’t have picked the minority Chinese doctor! It’s racist.”    That’s just silly. Though federal regulation demands they involuntarily bump to prevent interruption of flights when necessary, each airline does have the leniency to determine how they choose the bumped passengers. They did not play spin the bottle or walk down the aisle looking for the Asian guy. Use your heads, people! There is a computerised algorithm that takes into account  price of ticket, how long ago it was purchased, whether or not they can get the passenger to their destination in a timely manner, etc. It wasn’t an ‘Asian thing.’ Stop, people. Just stop.
6: “United should go under for assaulting that passenger! Fire the entire crew!”   Read the facts. United never touched the passenger. In fact, by all witness accounts, the United flight crew remained calm and pleasant throughout the entire event, never laying hands on the passenger. They followed protocol as required by law. Once law enforcement became involved (also as required by federal protocol), United stepped out of the decision-making process. They had nothing to do with the rest. The passenger was forcibly removed by federal aviation security (the disturbing clip that everyone is talking about) after running back into the secured area after being escorted out once. Once he did that, like it or not, they (law enforcement) were under full discretion of the law to apply necessary force to remove the threat. I’m not saying it’s pretty, but the only one who actually broke a law was the passenger. There’s a reason for these laws – it’s called 9/11. We can’t have it both ways. But by all means, let’s berate and punish an entire flight crew – in fact thousands of pilots, flight attendants, gate attendants, ground crew, etc. – because it makes us all feel a little better.
7: “You piece of **it!”     I get that the passengers were upset, angry, maybe even confused. I get that you are too. After all, media is tossing you out chunks of bloody meat like you’re a pack of starving wolves. But I’m seriously disgusted that the poor must ride crew that had to take those seats after the unfortunate mess that unravelled were verbally abused and threatened. Can you imagine the very uncomfortable position they were in? Then they were demeaned, belittled, threatened. Along with many others all over the internet and airports today. They were and are men and women doing their jobs to feed their families. Just. Like. You.  They didn’t have a choice. They didn’t ask for this. They didn’t assault anyone. They are not a corporation; they are individuals who need a job. They are my friends and maybe even my husband. There’s a very fine line between what you despise and becoming what you despise.  Many of the comments and actions I have seen perpetrated against United employees cross it. 
Don’t become what you hate.
Like I said, I know you’re mad at United, but there’s much more to the story than hits the media fan. I truly hope that this gives you something to chew on and gives you a smidgen more insight into the complexities of aviation. I’m not making excuses. I think there were bad decisions made on both sides. However, I am saying there are always two sides to every story. Make sure you consider them both.
Tailwinds.
***A correction to the previous article. Mr. Dao was indeed Vietnamese and not Chinese.  That quote was verbatim from a comment off the internet. I apologise profusely for the confusion.
Angelia (A Pilot Wife)"
That is not the whole piece. If you wish to read it all, you may do so at:
Now I am not another supporter of the United airline - until this story broke, I wasn't even aware of its existence! - but an American pastor has taken an important lesson from the story.
Today is Good Friday. This is the day in the year when many people take special remembrance of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, the Christ. There was no need for the incident in the airplane to happen. All that was required was for one other passenger to say: "This man is a doctor. His flight is more important. I'll take his place and leave the aircraft." That passenger would have been lauded; he would have been very well compensated; and, according to the pilot's wife, the airline would have pulled out all of the stops to get him on an alternative flight (I suspect, if necessary, even one operated by one of their commercial competitors!). It didn't happen!
Yet, almost 2,000 years ago, on the first "Good Friday", that is exactly what Almighty God, in the Lord Jesus, did. He looked at you and at me, in all of our sin; worthy of nothing but His righteous judgement, wrath, and punishment.  And He took our place!  Centuries before, the Jewish prophet, Isaiah, had been granted a glimpse into the future, and had written " ... He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." (53:5-6; emphases added; read the whole chapter!).
On this Good Friday, are you willing to confess your sins and your need of the forgiveness of Almighty God? You see, He won't force salvation on you; you have to recognise your need of it, and then come to Him to receive it. If you need some more personal counsel, please feel free to use the e-mail address at the top of the blog; or speak with a disciple of Jesus whom you already know. Any true disciple will be delighted to help.
Oh, and don't forget - "It's Friday - but Sunday's coming"!!!



Thursday, 13 April 2017

A topical quiz!!

Work in both the house and the garden have, it is true, been taking up a great deal of my time recently - as well as preparation for various preaching, and singing, opportunities. Well, that's my excuse for the current neglect of the blog!

Anyway, with the annual, special celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, taking place on Sunday, I thought that I would throw in a wee quiz - after all, I haven't published one for quite some time!

So, what do you know about the season of the Resurrection? This is a multiple choice quiz, so that should help.

1. Jesus is mentioned by name in
                             (a) very early Roman writings;
                             (b) the Gospel records and later writings, only;
                             (c) only the Gospel records.

2. Jesus was hanging on the cross for
                             (a) 3 hours;
                             (b) 6 hours;
                             (c) a whole day.

3. Jesus was taken from the cross
                             (a) conscious;
                             (b) in a coma;
                             (c) dead.

4. Jesus' body was left in the tomb
                            (a) uncovered;
                            (b) covered only with a single sheet;
                            (c) wound with a cloth and partially embalmed.

5. The tomb was
                            (a) closed carefully, sealed, and guarded;
                            (b) hurriedly closed;
                            (c) left open.

6. The tomb was later found
                            (a) in utter chaos;
                            (b) with the grave-cloths neatly re-folded;
                            (c) with the grave-cloths intact, and the cloth that had been wrapped around the head, folded and separated from the rest.

7. The resurrected Jesus appeared to a maximum of
                            (a) 12 people;
                            (b) 20 people;
                            (c) 500 people.

8. When Jesus appeared, after His resurrection, He was
                            (a) sometimes unrecognised;
                            (b) eventually recognised;
                            (c) immediately recognised.

9. The early disciples said that Jesus rose
                            (a) some weeks after His death;
                            (b) at some unidentified time;
                            (c) two days after He was laid in the tomb.

Okay, see how you get on (without cheating, of course!!). I'll provide the correct answers in the post that I plan to publish on Sunday.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

An answer to prayer!!!

As those who know me well are aware, I am of the firm belief that there is no such thing as unanswered prayer that is offered, in faith, in the Name of the Lord Jesus. It is true, of course, that I do not always receive that for which I prayed, at the time for which I prayed, in the manner for which I prayed. However, that is NOT "unanswered" prayer! It is merely Father God over-ruling my immediate desires and requests with His perfect will and timing.

Yesterday, I was reminded that there is another way in which I may look at "answers to prayer". That is when I discover that I, myself, am that answer!! Let me explain.

My wife and I were over at the static caravan yesterday, for a viewing by a family from England. Regretfully, we have not yet heard from them if they wish to purchase!! On our way home, we were discussing the possibility of attending to some shopping before we got there. We had, in fact, decided to leave it until Saturday as there was nothing that we needed urgently. Then, about three miles from the shopping complex at Pineuilh (pronounced "Pinoy"!) my wife decided that she wanted to buy some croissants for her breakfast this morning (I had my usual bowl of porridge!) and so we turned off to the Lidl store. 

Of course, we do not go into Lidl and merely purchase a couple of croissants! We did our usual "splitting up) and, as I headed down towards the fruit and veg, I passed a young woman with a trolley, accompanied by a young girl whom I assumed to be her daughter. It was as I passed by that I heard the mother say something about what they would have that evening - in perfect English. That, in this area is, itself, not unusual. What made me make a beeline for my wife, in order to share this information with her, was that I detected a distinct Scottish accent!

I told my wife that I was going to go and say "Hello" - and that is what I did. It turned out that she hails from Aberdeen - but she was willing to speak to a couple of folk from the West Coast! She was as delighted as we were to find someone else from Scotland living in the area and, after a good conversation, we gave her a card and invited her to call in any time she was passing our home.

We had been back in the house about an hour when the 'phone rang. The number was not known, so I answered it. It was our new Aberdonian friend. She assured me that she was not a stalker (I should be so lucky!!) and informed me that she had looked up my blog. That was when she realised that she had been speaking to a couple of disciples of Jesus and she had 'phoned to tell us that she had been converted, just a couple of years ago. She had one believer friend who is Polish, but she had been praying that the Lord would send into her life, fellow-disciples of Jesus who would lead her to an evangelical Fellowship! We, my wife and I, were His answers!

We are so excited, and look forward to getting to know our new friend better in the coming months and beyond. Was the sudden decision to shop; my walking past just as she and her daughter were in conversation; my decision to go back and say "Hello"; a series of random events? Not as far as I am concerned. Father God was simply bringing about His answer to our friend's prayer in His way, and at His time.

Have you been praying about something for a long time? Don't give up! And always be seeing the possibility that you might be the answer to the prayer of another. It's a wonderful feeling!

Friday, 31 March 2017

Grace sufficient.

One of the amazing facts about the written Word of God, the Bible, is that however often one reads a passage, one regularly notices something that was never noticed before! Often, that fresh insight will be because of a particular need in our lives. Sometimes it will be the sudden remembrance of a well-loved verse, or passage, that suddenly takes on a whole new depth of meaning. I was reading an article about Charles H Spurgeon the great 19th century preacher. If anyone knew his Bible, it was Spurgeon. Yet he was able to testify to such an experience in his own life.

"One evening, after a hard day's work, I felt weary and and sorely depressed. Suddenly, like a flash of lightning, the verse came to my mind: 'My grace is sufficient for thee.' (II Cor.12:9). Going to my study, I examined the text in the Greek, and was impressed by an emphasis I had never seen before. When I read, 'My grace is sufficient for thee', I said aloud, 'I should think it is, Lord!' The abundance of His supply compared to my need caused my heart to rejoice, and made unbelief absurd. I never fully understood what the holy laughter of Abraham meant, until then. (Gen.17:17). A great God can make good on anything that He promises to men.

"Pondering this blessed truth", Spurgeon continued, "I imagined myself as a tiny mouse in the granaries of Egypt after seven years of plenty (Gen.41:46-49), fearing I would die in the famine. But Joseph would say, 'Cheer up, little one, my granaries are sufficient for thee." Again I pictured in my mind a man standing on a lofty mountain, saying to himself, 'I inhale so much air each year that I fear the supply of oxygen will be exhausted.' But the earth would say, 'Breathe on, O man, and fill your lungs a s long as you live; my atmosphere is sufficient for thee.'" (Scripture references added)

How meagre is our faith when we fail to draw upon the unlimited resources of Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of all that exists! Are you weary, and discouraged, by whatever faces you at this time? Then trust the Saviour completely, and remember - His grace is sufficient for you!

Friday, 24 March 2017

Terrorist attack in London.

At the outbreak of the Second World War there were around 80,000 potential enemy aliens in Britain who, it was feared, could be spies, or willing to assist Britain's enemies in the event of an invasion. All Germans and Austrians over the age of 16 were called before special tribunals and were divided into one of three groups:
  • 'A' - high security risks, numbering just under 600, who were immediately interned;
  • 'B' - 'doubtful cases', numbering around 6,500, who were supervised and subject to restrictions;
  • 'C' - 'no security risk', numbering around 64,000, who were left at liberty. More than 55,000 of category 'C' were recognised as refugees from Nazi oppression. The vast majority of these were Jewish.
As the war continued, more and more Germans and Austrians were rounded up. When, in June 1940, Italy and Britain went to war, there were at least 19,000 Italians in Britain, and Churchill ordered that they all be rounded up. This was despite the fact that most of them had lived in Britain for decades.

In 1971, the UK government introduced internment of terrorist suspects in Northern Ireland. Although it could be, and has been, argued that this may not have been the wisest course of action in the particular circumstances, it does show what can be achieved if there is the political will to achieve it!

In the light of the murderous attack at Westminster on Wednesday, may I suggest - as many others have done - that it is time for the calling before similar tribunals, of all Muslim males over the age of 12 (radicalisation takes place long before 16!), and the internment of all who are deemed to be high security risks - and even the "doubtful" cases? I am fully aware that not every Muslim living in the UK is a jihadist. However, I am also aware that jihadists do not go around displaying a lapel badge to identify themselves. 

Regretfully, we do not currently have a Churchill in 10 Downing Street. Instead, we have a woman who was, in the opinion of many, a totally useless Home Secretary - who reduced the number of police officers in England, Wales, and N.Ireland - and is now revealing herself to be a useless Prime Minister!

Jesus said, "... he that is not against us is for us." (Mark.9:39-40), and it is perhaps time that the British government threw out the so-called "Human Rights Act" - that, in terms of truly basic human rights, is not really necessary in the UK - so that effective measures may be taken against all who seek to destroy the peace that should be expected in an allegedly democratic nation during peacetime.

The numbers involved are, of course, higher than in the Second World War - but women and younger children would be excluded (unless there was reasonable cause to intern some females who appear to be happy to support jihadists). However it is reckoned that over 70% of "refugees" are young men of fighting age, and we know, from the evidence of our own eyes, that the vast majority of the "children" who have been accepted into the UK are in their late teens, and twenties. 

As we mourn the deaths that occurred on Wednesday, and those that have taken place since, but as a direct result of Wednesday's events; and as we express our genuine concern for those who have been injured - with some of them still on the critical list; may those who have accepted the responsibility of governing us, be willing to take positive, effective, action that will , if not guarantee, at least increase, the safety of the general public, and of the members of the emergency services who, yet again, showed their true calibre in the selfless assistance that they rendered to others in the immediate aftermath of that Islamist terrorist attack. 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Shut that door!

"Shut that door!" was the name given to a British comedy talk show hosted by Larry Grayson in the seventies.  I don't recall ever having watched the show, but the words also became something of a "catch-phrase" among the general public.

Why would we want to shut a door? Well, there are many reasons. If it is an outside door, it may well be to stop a draught. We think of a closed door as a means of keeping out those who are unwelcome. I recall being on holiday, many years ago, in a certain seaside town in Scotland. We must have only arrived on a Saturday evening but, for whatever reason, we did not know the time at which the worship service commenced for the local church with which we had decided to meet on the Sunday morning. We arrived at the building in what we thought would be plenty of time. However, we then discovered that the service commenced fifteen minutes earlier than we had anticipated - and that, already, the doors were shut! We were less than impressed!

However, a shut door may also signify that we desire to be shut in with someone who is very dear to us, and with whom we wish to spend time without any interruption. This, of course, is the sense in which the Lord Jesus spoke of the need for seclusion if His disciple wants deep, and sweet, communion with God in prayer.

In what we know as "the Sermon on the Mount", Jesus told the people that, when they pray, they should go into their room and shut the door! The word translated "room" means "a place of retirement and privacy." In the privacy of their own room - or, if one does not have a room of one's own, in any private and secluded place - the Heavenly Father will meet with His child in holy intimacy. By the very act of deliberately closing themselves off from everything outside, one is better able to be in a position of openness to God.

Of course, as I reminded the congregation on Sunday, the devil doesn't like it when we pray; and I know from personal experience how easily distracting thoughts fill my mind as I seek to do so. These are, usually, perfectly acceptable thoughts - but they are still a distraction!

This practice of drawing aside is illustrated, to some extent, by the event recorded in John 20:19. Following the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples met, in seclusion, because they feared that their enemies. John records: "On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”" (emphasis added). We might say that, when we shut ourselves off from the world, behind our shut door, in prayer, that it is an invitation to the risen Lord to fellowship with us! In the solitude of what we used to call the "Quiet Time", He may meet with His disciple in a special way, and bring strength to a needy heart.

By separating yourself from the din and distraction of people and things you will demonstrate how important is communion with Him; and you will be better able to both open yourself to Him, and hear His response in your heart. That, I would claim, is when you will find power to live for Him.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Pictures!

It has been said that one picture can convey as much as a thousand words and, often this is very true. It certainly seems to be true with regard to the set of pictures below. I wonder how I can get that set of pictures to every Member of Parliament - and I wonder how many would actually be bothered, and shamed into doing something positive about the situation.

There is, of course, a faint (imo, very faint!) possibility that the pictures have been "photoshopped". However, they came to me from a good friend, and I have no reason to doubt their authenticity. Could that simply be because of the low esteem in which the majority of MPs are currently held?

If anyone can confirm that these are genuine - or even that they are not - please contact me at the e-mail address above. It may also be worth mentioning that I do not have information as to the dates of each picture - I suspect that they are from more than one Parliament! If they are, indeed, genuine, then they display, all too clearly, where the priorities of most of the "Honourable Members" lie!


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

"Pleasure" in pain.

As I am speaking, on Sunday afternoon, to a group of Anglophones, on the subject of the Persecuted Church, I have been doing a lot more research into that subject, than I normally do. I am also speaking on the subject of "The Power of Prayer" on Sunday morning and, in a prior e-mail conversation on the specific topic of so-called "unanswered prayer" with which I shall, DV, be dealing, a particular instance of prayer for healing that has continued for some twenty years, was raised.

It has been claimed that the amount of physical suffering that a person feels is not necessarily determined by the extent of the injury or physical trauma. In fact, I am assured, it can be modified by a person's past experience, and their expectation of what lies ahead.

Most people are aware of the Russian Nobel Prize winner, Ivan Pavlov, and his experiments with conditioning the responses of some dogs. However, not everyone is familiar with the full details of the experiment. Did you know that he was illustrating the above claim by associating feelings of pleasure with sensations of pain? When he brought an electrical current into contact with their paws, the animals (understandably!) growled and barked furiously. However, when the physiologist offered them some tasty food immediately after each painful stimulus, their reactions began to turn from fury to delight! Eventually, they even wagged their tails as they received the mild electric shock, and rushed to the table for something to eat. Indeed, this behaviour continued even when the current was increased.

Although the response of the true disciple of Jesus, to Father God, is never an automatic conditioning like that of Pavlov's dogs, the experiment does portray - at least in part - an important spiritual truth. The heavenly Father desires that His adopted children become so "conditioned" by life's adversities that each new trial will result in anticipation of a corresponding amount of God's grace to sustain and reward them. Those who willingly yield to the Master can find, in every distress, an opportunity to know the joy of receiving divine provision. The Rev.Dr.Arthur Fawcett was a wonderful man of God, He was also my Church History lecturer at the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow. As I read, and hear, of some of the atrocities committed against disciples of Jesus in more than fifty countries in the world today, I recall his words: "Martyr's grace for martyr's death". It is a simple fact that some of the most joy-filled believers are those who can say, with Paul, "... I bear on my body the marks of Jesus." (Gal.6:17).

Paul, who was no stranger to difficulties, also wrote: "... we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us." (Rom.5:3-5). In other words, if we wish to grow in Christian maturity, we should glory in tribulation, knowing that such endurance will result in a deeper confidence in God's love and wisdom. As is often pointed out, Jesus nowhere promises that our lives as His disciples will be all sweetness and light. Usually, the very opposite is true! However, He did promise: "I will never fail you nor forsake you." (Heb.13:5).

The hymn writer put it like this:

"Trials dark on every hand, 
and we cannot understand 
all the ways that God would lead us 
to that blessed promised land; 
but He guides us with his eye, 
and we'll follow till we die, 
for we'll understand it better by and by. 
Refrain: 
By and by, when the morning comes, 
when the saints of God are gathered home, 
we'll tell the story how we've overcome, 
for we'll understand it better by and by." (Charles Albert Tindley; "We'll understand it better by and by", v.3) 

May the pain of difficulty cause us to anticipate the Father's loving response to our every need, and situation - even if we don't understand it now. It's all part of the essence of faith!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Gratitude - and blackmail!

The following is an e-mail sent out by Dr. Arieh Eldad an M.D. at Hadassah Hospital in Israel:

"I was instrumental in establishing the "Israeli National Skin Bank", which is the largest in the world. The National Skin Bank stores skin for every day needs as well as for war time or mass casualty situations.

This skin bank is hosted at the  hospital Hadassah Ein Kerem University i wherJerusaleme I was the Chairman of plastic surgery.

This is how I was asked to supply skin for an Arab woman from Gaza, who was hospitalized in Soroka Hospital in Beersheva, after her family burned her.

Usually, such atrocities happen among Arab families when the women are suspected of having an affair.

We supplied all the needed Homografts for her treatment. She was successfully treated by my friend and colleague, Prof. Lior Rosenberg and discharged to return to Gaza .

She was invited for regular follow-up visits to the outpatient clinic in Beersheva.

One day she was caught at a border crossing wearing a suicide belt.  She meant to explode herself in the outpatient clinic of the hospital where they saved her life.

It seems that her family promised her that if she did that, they would forgive her.

This is only one example of the war between Jews and Muslims in the Land of Israel.  It is not a territorial conflict. This is a civilizational conflict, or rather a war between civilization & barbarism.

Bibi (Netanyahu) gets it, Obama did not, but Trump does. I have never written before asking everyone to please forward onwards so that as many as possible can understand radical Islam and what awaits the world if it is not stopped.

Dr. Arieh Eldad"

So, in the allegedly "apartheid" Israel, this Gazan Arab woman received first-class treatment after having been treated so badly by her own family! She shows her gratitude by being prepared to die, as long as Jews died with her! Of course, one may give her the benefit of some doubt by saying that she was, effectively, blackmailed into this suicide bombing attempt. Perhaps she was caught because her heart wasn't really in the deed she was sent out to accomplish. However, it is also true that, had she successfully detonated those explosives that were strapped to her body, she would not have been able to enjoy the "forgiveness" of her family! Surely she must have realised that!

Please feel free to share this account. In a world in which anti-semitism is on the rise; in which the propaganda of the Arabs who occupy parts of Israel, and claim that it is their birthright as "Palestinians" (conveniently ignoring the fact that there has never been a nation of "Palestinians"); in which even the UN seeks to re-write history by denying any Jewish claim to the "Temple Mount" - when even that name gives the lie to their Arab-nation inspired stupidity; those of us who recognise the truth must not be backward in coming forward in support of the Children of Israel who, as Corrie ten Boom's father reminded her, are still "the apple of His eye"! (see Zech.2:8, inter al).

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Mything the boat!

No - the title is not intended to indicate that my keyboard has developed a lisp! I've taken it from an article I read, some time ago, that described the insidious manner in which some modern scholars pass off many of the Biblical records as unreliable legends, rather than accepting them as true historical accounts!

With a display of humour, the writer pointed out that, when it comes to the record of Noah, the worldwide flood, and the ark, such an unwarranted approach to the written Word of God is "mything the boat"! To be accurate, the word "myth" is being used, in these situations, in its modern, 'popular', sense of "untrue"; when it is originally a very precise word that means "a usually traditional story of apparently historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon."

Those modern (and some are not so modern!) critics of the Word are not concerned about the accuracy of certain passages, considering them to be of little significance. They discount them by referring to them as "myths" - using the word in its original definition. However, those who read their books, or listen to them speak, assume that these learnèd people are accepting that much of the Bible is false!

This, of course, discredits the Lord Jesus Himself, as He clearly accepted the Old Testament (the Tanakh) as a reliable document of people, places, and events! For example, He believed that Moses really lived (Matt.19:8; Mk.12:26; Lk.20:37, 24:44; Jn.3:14; inter al). He believed that Sodom and Gomorrah really existed (Mt.10:15). He believed that Jonah was actually swallowed by a great fish - the Bible nowhere states that it was a whale! (Mt.12:40-41; Lk.11:32; inter al). He believed that Noah built an ark that floated on the flood that covered the whole earth (Mt.24:38; Lk.17:26; inter al).

The Lord Jesus didn't "myth the boat" - and neither should we! One of the gravest consequences of minimising the historical accuracy of Biblical events is the risk of eliminating, in the process, the reality of God's redemptive work! If jesus did not literally die on the cross, and literally rise from the dead, then His Person and work are stripped of all meaning and significance. As Paul wrote to the disciples in Corinth: "I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, ... if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.  But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep." (I Cor.15:3-4; 14-20. emphases added)

Beware of those who would turn the truth of God's Word into fables! Whether it involves Noah, or the Lord Jesus, if you accept their teachings, you are "'mything' the boat"!

If you would like to look at some of these issues further, you will find a fund of information at https://answersingenesis.org   Well worth a look!