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16 Jan 2022

Guidance - Pt.2

Last week, I introduced the concept of guidance in our human experience. I suggested that guidance, from Almighty God, can be very real - by those who don't even accept His existence, as much as for those who actively seek to follow Him. 

It is in the light of that statement that, this week, I want to consider the promise of such guidance. You see, this isn't simply some strange idea that I have thought up, all by myself!  I have actually found that it is assured throughout the written Word of God - the Bible.

For example, in what would surely be a strong contender for the title "the best-known part of the Bible", the 23rd Psalm, we find these words of the psalmist-king, David:

"He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness, for His name's sake." (vs.2-3; emphases added). The promise of guidance.

In Psalm 25: 8ff we read: 

"Good and upright is YHWHtherefore He instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His wayAll the paths of YHWH are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.  For Thy name’s sake, O YHWH, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Who is the man that fears YHWH  Him will He instruct in the way that He should choose.(emphases added). The promise of guidance.

The 32nd Psalm contains this clear promise:

"I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;" (v.8; emphasis addedThe promise of guidance.

When we look at Psalm 48, the message is even more clear:

"... this is God, our God for ever and ever. He will be our guide for ever." (v.14; emphasis added). The promise of guidance.

Through the prophet Isaiah, God also promises guidance for His people:

"I will lead the blind in a way that they know not, in paths that they have not known I will guide them." (42:16; emphases added)                                                                                                                               "... He who has pity on them will lead themand by springs of water will guide them." (49:10; emphases added).                                                                                                                                                        "... YHWH will guide you continually," (58:11; emphasis added). The promise of guidance.

And, lest any should be thinking that such guidance only applies to the Children of Israel, God's guidance is also promised in the pages of the New Testament.

The apostle John, recording Jesus' last discourse with His disciples before He was crucified, writes these words of the Master:

"When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth;", (16:13; emphasis added). The promise of guidance.

Paul, writing to the early believers in Corinth, is able to proclaim:

"... thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph," (II Cor.2:14; emphasis added). The promise of guidance.

But perhaps the greatest promise of all, is what is referred to as "The Great Commission", given by the Lord Jesus, just before He ascended to the Father:

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." (Matt.28:18-20; emphasis added).

And, of course, because these are the promises of Almighty God, we may depend upon them. They become, indeed, not merely promises (that may be broken!), but assurances! Wasn't it Albert Schweitzer who once remarked that if Jesus Christ was the Gentleman he believed Him to be, then he ought to be able to take Him at His word!? Jesus is, of course, much more than a "Gentleman"!

The promise of guidance - implicit, and explicit throughout God's own Word. But we must not forget that these promises are made to those who are, indeed, His people. Does that include you? I hope so - and I hope that you will read the next part of this little series on "Guidance".

Until next time.

9 Jan 2022

Guidance - Introduction!

It was just this week that my wife and I received an e-mail, from a very dear friend that, while not using the word, was all about the subject of guidance - "What should I do next?"; "Did I make a mistake in what I have just done?" Now I should make clear, at the outset, that our friend and her husband are disciples of Jesus, and that her concern is that they may have stepped outside God's will for their lives, and that they want to be back in it! However, I suspect that we all seek guidance in the different situations that we experience in our lives.

Many things make it difficult to believe in the guidance of Almighty God. When astronomers inform us that the nearest star (other than our own Sun!) is approximately 4.25 Light Years away; and when we realise that a Light Year is the distance that light travels in an earth-year (travelling at more than 186,000 miles per second!); and that that computes to more than 25,300,000,000,000 miles: and when we compare this with the 70 - 100 years of life that some humans attain: it seems impossible to assert that such creatures as ourselves can possibly be under the care of, and even have fellowship with, the Being Who created all of this (if you accept that it is all just the result of random events, then I would respectfully suggest that you need to expand your horizons!).

We may consider the words of the psalmist:

"When I look at Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers,
    the moon and the stars which Thou hast established;
what is man that Thou art mindful of him,
    and the son of man that Thou dost care for him?" (Ps.8:3-4)

In the bewildering vastness of the known universe, and as we peer down the long vista of time, it does seem to be pitifully naïve to ask: "Does God care for me?"; "Is He interested in my doings?"; "Will He direct me in every detail of my life?"; "Does He long for the worship, and adoration, of my heart?" 

When such questions are asked, the answer seems to be, to many people, a resounding "No! God, if there is a God, isn't interested and, if that is the case, we can't expect any guidance."

However, there is another side to this! Neither the vastness of the universe, nor the apparent endlessness of time, have the final word. A baby, surely, is more than a mountain, even although it is nothing by comparison of size, for even a baby can love. A man is more than a star, for a man can think. And even although a tortoise may live for well over 100 years, a child is much, much more.

Astronomy, and other sciences, may conspire to prove the utter insignificance of mankind - but man is still the astronomer, and the scientist in other disciplines! More than that, we are made in the image of Almighty God - although not in any physical sense. Even more, it is only a human being who may be born again of the Holy Spirit, and become the very child of God!

So I believe that, certainly for the disciple of Jesus, God's guidance can be very real indeed. And even the unbeliever, who doesn't seek that guidance, may receive it! Cyrus, the Persian king of the 6th century B.C., was a worshipper of idols, but the Hebrew Scriptures assert that he was a chosen instrument of the living God. The prophet Isaiah speaks these words concerning the Persian king: " ‘He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfil all my purpose’; saying of Jerusalem. ‘She shall be built,’  and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’” (44: 28), and "Thus says YHWH to His anointed, to Cyrus, ... ... 'I will go before you and level the mountains, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut asunder the bars of iron, I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, YHWHthe God of Israel, Who call you by your name. For the sake of My servant Jacob, and Israel My chosen, I call you by your name, I surname you, 'though you do not know Me.'" (45: 2-4, emphases added).

Unaware of it though he was, this great conqueror was being guided, and girded, by the Divine hand. Behind all of his conquests and empire building, the purposes of YHWH could be found.

However, it is in the context of disciples of Jesus that I propose to spend the next few posts looking at the subject of guidance. Not that the posts will be, in any way, exclusive, and I trust that those who would not claim to be His disciples will still read, and consider what they read!

Until next week!

1 Jan 2022

The return of - not the Jedi, but "yours truly"!

Well, after a very lengthy absence - four months to be precise! - I have again gained access to my Google accounts - including this one. I confess to not even having been aware that this was a Google site and, when I lost access to my gmail account, thought that I could, at the very least, keep up with posts here. How wrong can one be?! I have actually been able to access since Dec.15th, but "inherited" more than 3,400 emails that awaited my attention and, of course, as quickly as I deleted those that were out of date, others were coming in!

So, here I am, on Ne'erday (New Year's Day for those unfamiliar with the Scottish expression!), with the first of what I trust will continue to be my weekly posts for 2022.

In Luke 5:4, we read these words of the Lord Jesus to Simon Peter: "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." A carpenter telling a fisherman where to catch fish! The background to the advice is that Peter, and his friends had been fishing all night, and caught nothing (v.5). Indeed, when Jesus had arrived at the spot on the shore of the lake of Gennesaret, they were washing their nets, and it was Peter's boat that Jesus had used as a "pulpit" to teach the crowd of people who were wanting to hear the Word of God. Peter, however, responded: "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets." The result was miraculous! "And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, " (vs.6-7).

Why did these fishermen have to go out to the deeper water? Because when you want what you don't have - in this case, fish! - you've got to risk going where you haven't yet been! Some may have heard of, or even read, the book by John Ortberg - "If you want to walk on water, you've got to get out of the boat". This also involves dear Simon Peter and, again, he has to be obedient, even if all of his previous experience tells him that what he is about to do is a waste of time!

This is, of course, for many businesses a time to take stock. In such businesses, the directors wish to find out how their business has fared – has it progressed; has it done better than it did last year; can they report an increase in profits to the shareholders?

I suggest that it is a good time for us, too, to take stock spiritually.  We should ask ourselves if there has been any improvement, any progress, in our spiritual lives; if we are walking any closer to the Lord now than we were a year ago? That, of course, has to do with our sanctification. And sanctification may be simply defined as “becoming more like Jesus – day by day”, something that happens only by the working of God the Holy Spirit within us.

If a business is failing, or if there has not been satisfactory progress, then new policies, or a new manager, will be required. If there has been no progress in your spiritual life, or in mine, then the same solution will apply.

For the true disciple of Jesus, the new policies will often centre around our attitude to, and out time spent in, prayer and Bible Study. It is even possible that there are some who would refer to themselves as “Christians” for whom the need is greater submission to the true ‘Manager’ – the Lord Jesus. For the unbeliever, I would claim that that is the only solution. 

A new year! What will it bring? That is something that I am unable to say - indeed, that no-one is able to say with absolute certainty! However, as I quoted at the end of our annual newsletter, sent out just before Christmas, I don't know what the future may hold, but I know Who holds the future.” (Ralph Abernethy, Martin Luther King's chief aide and closest associate.). For those who are disciples of the Lord Jesus, the Christ, that is our great strength and encouragement. 

I wish each and all, a happy, healthy, and hope-filled year. 

22 Aug 2021

Code Red for Scotland’s Children

In one sense, this post is relevant only to Scots, and those living in Scotland. However, in these last days, it is a warning to others who may, sooner than they think, be faced with the same situation. The post is from David Robertson, who currently lives in Australia, and is reproduced with permission. It is considerably longer than my usual posts, but it is well worth persevering to the end! (Even if you don't read every word, please scroll down to the end for some additional thoughts).

«  It is so important to understand how real this is – the Scottish Government is sanctioning and promoting child abuse.   I do feel upset about this – I was warning about it for years before I left Scotland and got little support – people (including many in the church) saw it as exaggeration, irrelevant and so unbelievable that it would never happen.  One of the reasons I encouraged the Church to consider Christian schools was because I saw this day coming.  They didn’t take it seriously and now the day they said would never happen – has arrived.  We are not prepared for it.  We need to repent and make up for the years that the locusts have eaten.

The cynical would suggest that it’s not often that a politician or government keeps their promises. But sometimes they do. In 2018 the Scottish Government Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced that Scotland would become the first country in the world to have LGBT inclusive education embedded in the curriculum. He was following up on the priority stated in 2014 by his boss Nicola Sturgeon who declared that “it is trans issues that are the next big challenge”.

Sturgeon has been determined to follow the trans ideology – even getting rid of one of her more competent ministers, Joanna Cherry, simply because she dared to stand up for women’s rights. No one should be surprised at the trajectory that Scotland has been going. The SNP promised it and they have kept this promise.

This week it was reported by The Telegraph that “children as young as four will be able to change their name and gender at school without their parents’ consent under new LGBT inclusivity guidelines drawn up by the Scottish Government.”

You have to stop, take a breath and re-read that sentence again. Many people just simply don’t believe it. As someone said to me, it’s so mad that it cannot be true. Four-year-olds sometimes think they are animals or Thomas the Tank Engine – they are certainly not capable of determining that they are a different gender from their body.

When my children were at primary school they were not even allowed to have sun cream put on them by a teacher without written permission from a parent. Now a four-year-old can change their gender without their parents even being told! Following that logic, there is no reason why a child should not also determine that they want to be sexually active! One atheist contacted me to say that if this were true he would be on the streets protesting – but of course it can’t be true. But such denial doesn’t help. This is happening in Scotland today.

The guidance states that pupils should be allowed to use whatever toilet or changing room they want, have gender neutral uniforms, and transgender characters and history should be included. Of course all this comes from Stonewall – who are funded by the Scottish government to tell the schools what they should be doing.

Women’s groups are rightly concerned. Again to quote from the article: “This is really, really worrying,” said Marion Calder, co-director of the For Women Scotland campaign group. “The bottom line is that this is a dangerous ideology that the Scottish Government is pushing.

“It shows a failure in safeguarding and a removal of parental rights. It used to be commonly understood that children should be able to play and experiment with gender roles, with clothing, their likes and dislikes.

“Those children are now being encouraged on to a medical pathway, potentially for the rest of their lives. We should not be teaching children, and especially primary school children, that you can change sex, because you cannot change sex.”

I have a great deal of personal experience of this. I could tell you so many stories. The-7-year old returning home from school in tears because the teacher said that she had to choose whether she was a boy or girl; the 14-year-old teenage boy advised by a guidance teacher that his depression might be because he was a girl trapped in the wrong body (the school was after a Stonewall award and as they had no trans pupils that was difficult); the posters in a classroom for six-year-olds telling them to ‘respect others’ pronouns’ (are you not impressed that six-year-olds know what pronouns are?); the angry young woman in tears because after detransitioning she wanted to know why no one in authority discouraged her from taking such a damaging path; and so many more. A trail of damaged young lives all because our leaders are enslaved to this harmful ideology.

The Scottish government has now gone down this damaging route. What Abigail Shirer calls ‘Irreversible Damage’ in her insightful and disturbing book of the same name, is now official State doctrine in Scotland. The extraordinary thing in this is not just that the government is encouraging this – but that it is also displaying its utter contempt for parents in doing so.

A few years ago, because of my writing on the subject, I was asked by the Scottish government to meet with their civil servants who were drawing up the legislation. They asked me if I could ever see my way to support the proposed gender recognition act and the changes in the law. I said no – but that I would ask for compromise on three things. Firstly, women would be guaranteed women-only spaces in jails, hospitals, refuges and sport. Secondly, I would not go to jail for saying that a man could not become a woman or vice versa. And thirdly, that this queer theory ideology should not be taught to children. At the end of our discussions, it became clear that none of these things would be given. Even then the Scottish government was set on this abusive and destructive path.

A month later I was summoned to meet Shirley-Anne Somerville, who is now the SNP education secretary, and who has stated that the new government guidance for schools does not promote transitioning. When we had what is often called a ‘full and frank discussion’ I suggested to her that this was a suicidal route for the SNP to go down (I didn’t fully realise what a stranglehold the SNP has over the Scottish press and the civic institutions) and that if she and I had a debate on this issue in front of any group of parents in Scotland, she would overwhelmingly lose, not because of my brilliance but purely and simply because most parents have far more knowledge and common sense than our civic elites.

I have never forgotten her chilling reply: “That’s because most parents are ignorant.” In that one phrase the contempt of the Scottish government for parents and the family was exemplified. So this week’s announcement that four-year-olds can transition under the influence of teachers, but not parents, was not a surprise to me.

What can be done about this? You would hope that politicians, teachers’ unions and medics would all speak out. But the truth is that the civic institutions have either been indoctrinated into this insanity, or people within them are too scared to speak out because it could be career ending. This will be even more so now that the SNP are to go into a formal government with the Greens – who under their leader, Patrick Harvie, are the foremost advocates of Queer theory and will insist on even more indoctrination.

You would hope that the Church leaders would speak out. But I suspect that whilst they will have no qualms about making proclamations about racism in America, or Brexit, or climate change, it will be a hot day in Scotland before they say a word on this issue. Perhaps an odd mix of women’s groups, left wing social conservatives, evangelical Christians and parents can be mobilised to work together to oppose this evil. Because it must be opposed.

‘You’re upset,’ I’ve been told. Absolutely! This is not about cultural wars. This is not about politics. This is not about oppressing those who suffer from gender dysphoria and need proper help. This is about the abuse of children. This is about my grandchildren and many others. This is about Scotland heading down into Hellish depths.

I share the upset of Jesus. “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

This is Code Red for Scotland’s children. Enough. »

Those who have read to the end may wish to support the petition against these proposals by the SNP administration. Please follow the link:

If you live in Scotland, you may also wish to communicate your concern to your Holyrood representative and, if that representative happens to be Kate Forbes, or John Mason, or any other member who claims to be a disciple of Jesus, ask them to give you a straight answer as to whether, or not, they are willing to go against the Party line if, and when, this matter comes to a vote.

15 Aug 2021

Promoted to Glory.

At the end of last week, my wife and I received the news of the death, in Scotland, of a very dear friend of more than 30 years. Sadly, we were unable to travel back to attend the funeral service. We are so glad that we were able to attend the wedding of our friend Peter, to his second wife, Kate - both of them having been widowed, but having known one another before either of them were first married!

Although current restrictions meant that, in order to broadcast the service, it had to take place in the Chapel of Rest, in the Border town of Dumfries, Peter and Kate worshipped with the Salvation Army. I love the way in which the Salvation Army refers to the death of a disciple of Jesus. The person has not "passed away", or "been lost", or started "kicking up the daisies", or any other euphemism! No! When a disciple of Jesus in the Salvation Army dies, that person is "Promoted to Glory"!

Promotion, in any area of life, is seen as a very good thing. Many spend their lives seeking it - in work, in organisations, in many other fields of existence. However, I have not a shadow of doubt that the greatest promotion that anyone can experience is to be "Promoted to Glory". So what does the expression mean?

Well, "glory" refers to heaven - the "dwelling-place" of Almighty God. The eternal spirit of the  disciple of Jesus, at the moment of physical death, leaves the mortal body that had been its dwelling-place for the earthly life of the individual, and goes directly to be "with the Lord". Paul writes: "So we are always of good courage; we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. We are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord." (II Cor 5:6-8; emphasis added). The Lord Jesus, Himself, assured one of those who was being crucified alongside Him, but who had recognised that this Man was no common criminal, that "Truly, ..., today you will be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:43; emphasis added).

Now that, of course, is not the full story! Thinking along such lines was the problem for the early believers in Thessalonica, that led Paul to provide this assurance: "But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord." (I Thess 4:13-17; emphasis added).

What Paul is emphasising is that, until the Rapture*, it is the spirit of the disciple of Jesus whose earthly sojourn has come to an end, that goes to be "in Paradise" - the mortal remains are dealt with in an appropriate manner. Then, at the Rapture, those 'dead' bodies will be resurrected and instantly changed into 'resurrection' bodies (see I Cor.15:52), that shall never decay and, as they rise to meet the Lord Jesus "in the air", those disciples of Jesus who are alive at that moment, will be caught up with them, and all of His people will be with Him throughout eternity*.

Of course, as my repeated reference to "disciples of Jesus", and equivalent terms, will have emphasised, the written Word of God, the Bible, makes clear that all of this is only true for those who are "in Christ" and who have the Christ "in them". If you are not in that position, or if you have some doubts, then I would encourage you to read the previous four posts. I do not believe that it is 'coincidence' that I am composing this post immediately after them!

As always, if I may be of further assistance, at a more personal level, please feel free to contact me at the e-mail address above.

*These words are dealt with, more fully, in my first book - Great Words of the Faith. Please remember that I urge folk to purchase any of my books, not for personal gain, as ALL royalties are sent, directly, to Release International, in support of the persecuted church, but because I believe that they will be found to be helpful to those who are seeking, and also to those who have found!