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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Praying like Elijah.

In his book, Miracles in Black, Dr John Wengatz tells of an African convert to Jesus who was left at a new mission station to carry on the Lord's work - among a tribe that still practised cannibalism!

It was the dry season when Joao Mbaxi took over but, soon, the tropical rains would be coming. However, month after month went by without as much as a cloud appearing in the sky. Then came the return of the normal dry period. By this time, everyone was suffering from the shortage of water, and many were on the brink of starvation. In all the years that the tribe had worshipped their ancient gods, the rains had never failed; so Joao was told that he must leave the country - and take "the white man's God" with him!

The courageous disciple refused to go. Then, flushed with anger, the tribal chief warned him: "If your God is as good as you say, and so powerful that He rules the sky, why doesn't He send us the needed showers? If it doesn't rain by sunrise tomorrow, we will drink your blood and eat your flesh!"

Recalling the Biblical account of Elijah (see I Kings 17 and 18; James 5:17-18), Joao went to his hut and prayed for divine help with the same kind of urgency as that of the prophet. Meanwhile, members of the tribe waited for the dawn, when this disciple of Jesus would become the victim of their nauseating practice.

Just before daylight, thunder was heard in the distance, lightning flashed across the sky, and an abundant downpour of rain refreshed the entire region! As a result, Joao was able to continue his work, and witness, for Jesus.

Elijah's God still lives! Let us, therefore, face our moments of crisis with faith instead of fear. Those who pray like the prophet of old will find the Lord pouring out His blessings with the same plenteous supply. Of course, that does not mean that we always receive what we ask for! Almighty God always answers our prayers - but not always in the manner that we want, or expect. However, as we walk more closely to Him, we will be more and more in tune with His will and purpose - and will experience more positive answers to our prayers.

James writes that "Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves ... and he prayed fervently ..."(5:17). Perhaps part of our problem is that we don't pray with that same urgency with which Elijah, and Joao Mbaxi, prayed!

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Unity - or uniformity?!

On Monday evening, in Bergerac, I was one of a fairly large number of people who had gathered together midway through the International Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. We were certainly a mixed bunch! Anglican, Roman, Romanian Orthodox, Pentecostal, Reformed Protestant, Free Evangelical and, of course, this Presbyterian! ( I apologise if I missed out anyone!).

It was a pleasant gathering, and I met some people whom I might not otherwise have met. I also learned that the Orthodox churches are as numerous as the groups/denominations within Presbyterianism!

And I thought of school! You see, I was privileged to receive my secondary education at a Grammar School - and I shall always be grateful for what I learned there, and for learning how to learn! However, what I thought about on Monday evening was my school uniform. I thought, specifically, of the blazer (jacket!) that I wore. Every pupil wore a school blazer. There was no option. And every blazer had two particular items that came to my mind at that ecumenical service.

The first item was the label. This was a very important item that gave a great deal of information about the garment. It named the manufacturer; it provided the size; it gave instructions for cleaning; it intimated the type of material with which the blazer had been made. Each piece of information was important - and there were a large variety of permutations! Your blazer might have been privately-tailored; it might have been a 36" chest size; it might have been made in pure new wool; it would have required very careful cleaning. Mine, on the other hand, might have been a 34" chest, polyester, manufactured by a department store, and able to be washed with anything else! 

The second item that came to my mind was the badge. This was the School Badge - and it was the same on every blazer, regardless of size, quality, or manufacturer. The badge provided only one piece of information - it proclaimed the identity of the school which its wearer attended.

There was another important difference between the label and the badge. The label, even with all of its important information, was tucked away inside the inside pocket, or underneath the collar. The badge, on the other hand, was displayed proudly on the breast pocket!

I see a clear analogy. If I tell you about my denominational label, you will know some important things about me. You will have an idea as to my views on church government; on the proper subjects for water baptism; on the centrality (or otherwise!) of the Written Word of God; on the use of musical accompaniment when singing at a worship service; etc., etc. 

However, my badge is "disciple of Jesus". My "label" has changed on a number of occasions over the years - just as did the label on my school blazer. My badge has remained the same since I first surrendered my life to the Lord Jesus, and promised to follow Him until that life's end.

When I meet with other people, I look first for the badge. Is this person a true disciple of Jesus; dependent upon Him, and Him alone, for salvation? If so, then we are brothers (or brother and sister) in the Lord. Oh, I may eventually want to know about your "label" - but it's the badge that counts; it's the badge that tells me that we are united in Him.

In that sense, I would contend that Christian Unity does, in fact, exist. Denominational unity may not; there may not be any sign of uniformity; but I truly believe that those who are His are already one in Him. Perhaps it will be as we recognise that fact, that we will see denominations working more closely together. Let us pray that it may be so - to the glory of His holy Name.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Sharia, anyone? FGM? Child 'marriages'?

Well, I guess that most of the shouting has died down. Donald Trump has been duly, legally, and properly sworn in as the 45th POTUS. What kind of president he will eventually turn out to be is, of course, no more than speculation. He has claimed that he is a man of his word - so I am looking forward to the Embassy of the USoA in Israel being moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; I am looking forward to a more realistic attitude towards Iran, and its nuclear ambitions; I am looking forward to less influence from 'professional' politicians; I am looking forward to the removal of federal funding for the inappropriately-named "Planned Parenthood". Yes, I am also looking forward to H R Clinton being prosecuted - but I'm not certain that he actually promised that!

What has been interesting has been the number of so-called "celebrities" who have been out on the streets continuing to complain about Mr Trump's election. One has even, allegedly, threatened to blow up the White House, and kill him (apparently making such a threat, even "in fun", is a punishable offence!). 

The majority of the protestors do appear to have been female - both those in the USoA and those in other countries, including the UK. And, of course, I would be the last person to deny them the right to protest - as long as they do so peacefully. However, I would like to know where some of these women were (and many of them were around at the time) when Bill Clinton was using even the Oval Office for his own sexual misdemeanours. I would like to know where they are protesting, in such numbers, against the imposition of Sharia (Islamic law) by groups of thugs in their own countries - sharia, that states that the testimony of a woman is worth only half that of a man; sharia, that permits a man to be "married" to a pre-pubescent girl (following the example of the paedophile pseudo-prophet, Mohammed); sharia - that allows captured females to be kept, or sold, as "sex-slaves".

I would also like to know when these outraged women displayed such outrage against the practice of FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) - a traditional cultural practice involving the cutting or removal of the external genitals of girls as little as a few days old. It can involve anything from the clitoris or clitoral hood being cut off; to the clitoris and inner lips (labia minora) being removed; to the clitoris, inner and outer lips (labia majora) being removed. The remaining skin is stitched or sealed leaving a small opening for the purposes of urination. This is not simply a female version of circumcision, but a much more invasive, and a harmful, process - often performed by non-medically trained women, in unsterile conditions and without anaesthetic.

I listened to writer and activist Gloria Steinem (of whom I have never heard before!) as she slammed President Trump's proposed Muslim registry at the Women's March on Washington.  "If you force Muslims to register, we will all register as Muslims.", she proclaimed. I wonder if she actually understands what she would be opening herself to if she were to do that very thing! The above is, in no way, an exhaustive list!

This year of 2107 is going to be, I suspect, a very interesting year - at least in political terms. If the rapture should be delayed, there could be a number of additional upheavals. Brexit and Trump could almost fade into insignificance when certain other political decisions are made over the coming months. However, in Psalm 2, we read these amazing words: 

"Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves,     and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and His anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.”

He Who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord has them in derision. Then He will speak to them in His wrath, and terrify them in His fury, saying:
I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.” ... ... 

Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, with trembling kiss His feet, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way; for His wrath is quickly kindled. 

Blessed are all who take refuge in Him."

He remains the Sovereign Ruler of all that exists. As the old chorus put it: "God is still on the throne" - and shall be, throughout eternity!

Friday, 20 January 2017

Why?

It was the title of a book that was mentioned in a specific Christian web-site, that caught my attention: "If you could ask God one question." Just one?! I suspect that I could spend all of eternity asking one question after another - and eternity is not just "endless time", but "timelessness"!

But if I were to be put "on the spot", and had this amazing opportunity to ask just one question of Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of all that is, what would it be? Well, as soon as I started to think about it, I realised that, for me, it wouldn't take much thought! If I could ask God just one question, it would be just one word: "Why?".

Now, it may be that you want to know the rest of the question! After all, "Why?" isn't really a question if it is on its own. Did I mean: "Why did you allow Adam and Eve to introduce sin into Your perfect creation?". Or perhaps it should be more personal: "Why did you allow me to make that decision that, much later, I realised was a wrong decision?" Maybe it should be: "Why did (name a particular relative/friend) die in such pain from an inoperable cancer?"

Well these, and many others, may well be valid questions. However, because God is God and, therefore, omniscient (all-knowing), He would know exactly what I meant when I asked: "Why?". He would know that I was looking at myself, and wondering why He would come, in the Persona (not a typo!) of the Son, and pay the penalty that I deserve(d) to pay for my sins, and sinfulness.

Hymn-writer Isaac Watts phrased the thought like this:

"Alas! and did my Saviour bleed
And did my Sov’reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?"


It's the mystery of the ages - the holy and sinless One becoming sin (II Cor.5:21) for you and for me!
And, actually, I already know - within my mortal level of comprehension - the answer to my question: "Why?" It's already been revealed in what may well be the best-known words from all of the Biblical writings. John, the beloved disciple, was inspired to write these word: "God loved the world (that's you and me!) so much, that He gave the only-begotten Son (Who came to this earth as the Lord Jesus), that all who place their trust in Him for salvation might not perish but, here and now, have God-quality life" (John 3:16; Ross paraphrase!). 

The celebration of that amazing event, when the Creator entered His creation, is still fresh in most of our minds. Many of us will have received gifts - from the sublime to the silly. I suspect that we will have gratefully received those gifts. However, we had the choice to reject them. To have done so would probably have upset the giver, and maybe even have destroyed a relationship. That would not have been good.

Rejecting the Gift of salvation through the Lord Jesus is MUCH more serious. Your eternal destiny depends, not on your social status; the importance of your job; your financial wealth; the size of your house, or car; or the number of exotic holidays you enjoy each year; but solely, and fully, on your relationship with Almighty God, through Jesus, the Christ.

Did you make any "New Year Resolutions"? If so, have you managed to keep any of them?! It's not too late to make one very important one - to come, in repentance and faith, to the foot of the Cross, and there yield your life to Jesus, receive the forgiveness of Father God, and go into the rest of the year in the power of God the Holy Spirit. Will you do that? Will you? You won't regret it if you do - either in this life, or in the life to come.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Foot-and-mouth disease.

It has been said, on more than one occasion and not entirely without warrant, that I suffer from foot-and-mouth disease! In other  words, every time I open my mouth, I put my foot in it!

The real disease is, of course a very serious one, and is highly contagious among cloven-hoofed animals. Blisters form around the mouth,and the feet become so painful that the affected animals lie down for most of the time. They become listless; will not eat or drink; and rapidly lose weight. Often.they go lame, and die.

Strict preventative measures have made the disease close to non-existent in the major developed countries of the world. However, there is evidence that a kind of "spiritual foot-and-mouth disease" exists within the church! It's not even the kind of condition of which I have been accused! It is, I would suggest, something even worse!

Writing to the early believers in Corinth, Paul compared the Body of Jesus (the church) to the human body. He pointed out: «For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single organ, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”» (I Cor.12:14-21).

Foot-and-mouth disease in the Body of the Christ breaks out when its members begin to compare themselves with one another. A "foot" may become morbidly depressed because of its calloused appearance, and its inability to express itself as can the "mouth"! On the other hand, the "mouth" may feel terribly inadequate because it is incapable of moving about, and bearing the weight of the whole body. The end result can be that these members lose their spiritual appetite, and become ineffective in their service. "Foot-and-mouth disease" has taken its toll because individual members want to be what the Lord never intended them to be!

God's children - those who are truly born-again of God the Holy Spirit, and adopted into His family - have been sovereignly designed, and placed in the Body of the Christ for a specific purpose. Each is vital to the well-being of the whole. When we fulfil His appointed role for us, there will be true harmony, and the Lord Jesus will receive the glory. There will be no more "foot-and-mouth disease" in the church!

So, if you are a disciple of Jesus, have you found His place for you in the body? It's the place in which you will know His blessing - whatever the function!

Monday, 16 January 2017

Residential static caravan for sale - in the Gironde Department of France.


As minds may be starting to think of warm summer days, we are offering our residential static caravan for sale. A full spec may be obtained by sending me a valid e-mail address to author@minister.com The spec is available in both English and French.

Comme les esprits peuvent être commencer à penser des jours chauds d'été, nous offrons notre caravane résidentielle statique (mobil home) à vendre. Une spécification complète peut être obtenue en m'envoyant une adresse e-mail valide à author@minister.com La spécification est disponible en anglais et en français.






Friday, 13 January 2017

Sha’alu shalom yerushalayim.

When I published my first post of 2017, I had not expected to be 'silent' for as long as I have. However, a combination of enjoying the hospitality of friends; sometimes having no internet access; and then, before leaving for home, having 'picked up' the virus that seems to have hit a lot of the UK; means that spending time online has been severely restricted!

Then comes the question - on which of the multiple topics of the past few days does one post? Not an altogether easy choice, but I have decided to make my own comment on the tragic murder of four young members of the IDF (Israeli Defence Force) on Sunday past. This was a calculated act, designed to kill and maim as many as possible - and sadly successful in its aim.

A Palestinian terrorist from eastern Jerusalem rammed his truck into a group of IDF (Israeli Defence Force) soldiers at Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv Promenade, murdering the four and wounding about 15 others, some seriously. Three of the dead victims: Erez Orbach, Yael Yakutiel, Shir Hajaj and Shira Tzur, one man and three women, were 20 years of age, and the oldest only 22 years old. The injured include soldiers and civilians. One eye-witness reported that, after mowing down the victims, the lorry was reversed over them! The terrorist, identified as 28-year-old Fadi al-Qanbar from the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, an apparent hotbed of terror, was shot dead at the site. It appears that he had connections to Daesh - the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group.
Any sane person is surely shocked and saddened at such an incident - and it is only one of far too many! However, reliable reports indicate that, while Israel and those who support the nation, were mourning, "Palestinians" were celebrating in the street - just as they did on the now infamous 9/11! Hamas, the terrorist organisation, held a massive midnight rally after news of the attack broke. In Gaza, people handed out candy to the occupants of passing cars. Fatah, the party of Palestinian President Abbas, celebrated the attack on its official social media. Palestinian leaders incite terror and the Palestinian Authority pays nearly US$140 million a year to terrorists and their families. 

All of this on the back of UN decisions that re-write recorded history by claiming that the Temple Mount is a Muslim site, and not a Jewish one! Of course, the motion was presented by a number of Muslim states - but that it was supported by the UK, and that the USoA abstained, is difficult to believe!

I make no apology for my personal support of Israel. I do not agree with absolutely every decision made by the Israeli government - but then, I don't agree with many of the decisions made by recent UK governments!  However, I never forget that the Jesus Whose disciple I am (however poorly!) was born into a Jewish family; was raised and trained as a Jew; was prosecuted as a Jew; and was crucified as a Jew. I recall that the earliest disciples of Yeshua were all Jews. I have learned, in just the past couple of years, how much the church was Hellenised ("Greek-ised") by Emperor Constantine, and separated from her Hebraic roots. I was reminded, earlier today, that Paul (another Jew!) made clear that it is Gentile disciples of Yeshua who "... have been cut from what is, by nature, a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, ..." (Rom.11:24). So I now see the Children of Israel as, at least, my 'cousins' - and certainly a part of the same family!

At the end of my e-mails is the brief phrase, in a transliteration of the Hebrew, that I have used as a heading for this post.  It translates as "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem." (Ps.122:6).  I encourage you to do so!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Why blog?

If my calculations are correct, this is the beginning of my tenth year of blogging (I'm not counting the couple of posts at the end of 2007!). I didn't give any thought as to the length of time for which I would maintain my blog. I suppose that it's a bit like my marriage! On my wedding day, I did not ask myself if the young woman to whom I was being married, and I, would still be together more than 46 years later - and with no intention of changing that situation! But we are!!

When I started my blog, I did so with the idea that it would be an additional area of ministry. However, even then I suspected that I would stray into other areas!  That is why the heading states that the blog is:
"The personal musings, and other writings, of a Ross who has maintained the Clan's ecclesiastical link! This is an unashamedly Christian ministry blog. Many of the posts are comments on current affairs, from a Biblical perspective, but I also include some straightforward Christian teaching; poems and songs that I have written; quotable quotes; and information on the persecuted church. Some of my posts stray into politics, and science!" 

My friend, David Robertson - who has been quoted on this blog on more than one occasion - recently wrote on his own blog (www.theweeflea.com): "The Lord has given us minds to think and to try and work out, in the light of His Word, where we are at and what is happening. That is all I am trying to do. In effect this blog is my thinking out loud, and trying to read the world, in the light of God’s word. In that I believe I am fulfilling not only the Creation mandate but also that of Paul in Romans 12: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will.”"

That, I would claim, is the rationale behind my own blog. It is personal; it has, on occasion, been controversial; it even cost me my Police Force Chaplaincy. However, I trust that it has never been offensive, and that, sometimes, it might even be helpful. I welcome comments and, when I was able to do so, published all apart from the abusive, crude, or blasphemous ones. I am always contactable through the e-mail address provided at the top of the page.

I do try to publish regularly, but only if I have something to say! It may be going too far to say that I am always inspired (sometimes I have spent a number of hours on just one post!), but I am always sincere in what I share. I know that the blog is read by a fair number of people, and would love to have it read by even more. However, one of my fundamental beliefs is that Almighty God is Sovereign. That means that nothing can, or will, happen outwith His knowledge and permission. So I am content that He will lead, to my blog, anyone He wishes to have read a particular post!

If you are one of those who has been following this blog for a long time, then I thank you for your support - whether, or not, you have joined the 'select' group which is displayed in the right-hand-side! Of course, it would be encouraging if many more were to join with that group!! If you are new to the blog, then I welcome you, and trust that you will become a regular reader. If you do, you will be joining with folk from more than a dozen countries around the world (see the bottom of the right-hand-side for details). 

Please feel free to advertiser the blog to your own friends. The greater the number of "hits", the higher is the Google ranking - and that means (I think!) that when someone instigates a Google search on one of the labels on a post, my blog moves towards the earliest sites that are suggested! 

Let me end with those well-known words of Minnie Louise Haskins:

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: "Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown."
And he replied: "Go out into the darkness and put your hand in the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way."
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East."

May you know His leading throughout the coming year - and until your time on this earth is done. Blessings, and shalom.