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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Heterophobia & Christianophobia : More persecution of Christians in UK

Senior teacher, Kwabena Peat, attended a compulsory 'training' session at a North London school at which a presentation was given by Miss Sue Saunders, the lesbian co-founder of an organisation called Schools-Out, which campaigns for homosexual and lesbian equality in education. It can be stated without fear of prejudice that she is biased against any opposition to homosexuality or lesbianism by nature of her own beliefs on the subject. These beliefs make it difficult, if not impossible, for her to make a completely unbiased stand on the subject.

Miss Saunders, it is alleged, made the comment that (teaching) staff who did not accept that being 'gay' (homosexual or lesbian) was normal had 'issues' that they needed to deal with. She allegedly questioned why people thought that heterosexuality was natural. This smacks of a typical example of heterophobic reactionary language.

Mr Peat, a committed Christian, was one of several Christian members of staff who walked out of the session, upset that people who disagreed with Miss Saunders' viewpoint on religious grounds were not given a chance to respond to her claims and statements.

Now, just because you repeat a claim over and over again, it does not make it right. In some cultures marriage between a pre-teen girl who may be as young as eight or nine is permitted with a man who is old enough to be her great grandfather, let alone her father, is permitted. In most civilised cultures this would be recognised as paedophilia, and repeating the course of events, even legalising them, does not make it right.

It would be possible to legalise killing another human being in certain circumstances (other than handing out the death sentence to a killer), but this would not make it right. In fact, the killing every day of unborn babies is perfectly legal, but for most people with a true code of morals and ethics it is wrong. The fact that many governments have legalised it does not make it right.

So it is with the matter of sexual orientation. After all, who is to say that given enough publicity, bestiality might not be considered just as natural as a same-sex relationship if enough come forward to claim that it is so?

The question here is perhaps not whether same-sex relationships are right or wrong, or natural or unnatural, but whether it is ever right to force an opinion by denying opposition and open discussion about it. There can be no doubt that, no matter what many people might think or even claim, many same-sex relationships are just as loving as any other relationship. Equally, whilst I believe that for many homosexuals and lesbians their lifestyle is a lifestyle choice, for many for whom the lifestyle is as natural as breathing. Hence, for heterosexuals, many will claim that homosexuality and lesbianism are wrong, and many from that group of people will claim that they are just as 'right' as anyone else.

Perhaps, rather than the old chestnuts being aired yet again, quoting from Leviticus, Deuteronomy or Romans, it might be considered that the matter is about fornication, which is an abomination in the sight of God. This does not infer that sexual conduct between same-sex couples is wrong, but rather that sexual conduct between unmarried people is wrong. Considering that it is impossible, no matter what some might like to claim, for two people of the same sex to be married in the Biblical sense, it stands to reason that any sexual activity between them falls under the banner of fornication and that, from a Biblical viewpoint, it is therefore not right.

Mr Peat, just like millions of others with a religious conscience, be it Christian, Muslim or any other faith, believes that homosexuality is wrong. It is his right to think that, and equally, it is his right to state it. To deny him that right is as much an infringement of his right to freedom of speech as it would be to prevent Miss Saunders or anyone else from expressing their own viewpoint.

That he has been suspended from his job for stating his beliefs is totally unacceptable. It is yet another example of the persecution which is increasingly faced by Christians in this country, no matter that in this instance it is probable that whatever faith he professed or even if he had no faith, a similar punishment for declaring his viewpoint might have been meted out.

Today I'm off to Cardiff . . .


I shall be getting ready in a couple of hours time to drive down to Cardiff, which is about three-and-a-half hours away from my home. I'll be attending a meeting of my denominational Association which is being hosted by Fairwater Presbyterian Church in Cardiff, one of the churches under the ministerial care of my good friend the Rev'd Tom Phillips.
I'll be staying with Tom for the two days, and look forward to catching up with him in general and a few good discussions about the state of the Church in particular. He is a Minister well-grounded in Scripture who believes passionately about the need for the Gospel to be preached in churches, and decries the rubbish that is spoken form so many pulpits where watered down versions, social gospel, and universalism, are preached, none of which serve any kingdom purpose.
Tomorrow morning I shall be preaching to the Minister's meeting on the subject of Salvation by Grace, preaching on Titus 3, verses 4-7. Think of me and pray for me, that the Lord will give me the right Word in season.

A few days in York


We enjoyed a few days recently in the beautiful City of York, one of our favourite cities.


We stayed at the St Raphael B + B, run by Dom & Zoe. It was a great place to stay, although the breakfast was too good to be wasted on dieters!



We were only a few minutes walk from the fantastic and inspiring York Minster.


It was disappointing that the only way to get into the Minster for a few moments peace and quiet was if you paid £6 to go in, which rather made it a place of entertainment instead of a place of worship.

We spent almost a half-a-day at the wonderful Castle Museum, which is on the site of the old York Castle, and overlooked by Clifford's Tower, the last remaining section of the Castle. The picture above shows the interior of one of the shops that has been reconstructed in the museum as part of the living history display.

Interior room to show the way that some people lived a long time ago in York.

Of course, not everyone was law-abiding, and so strong jail cells were needed!

This is one of the notices found in the museum displays. Whilst we were in York we joined the ranks of the 'eccentrics' who performed the daily 'unnecessary' task of washing ourselves for other than 'medicinal purposes'!!!


This fantastic 19th Century doll's house would have delighted the owner and provided endless fun.


The museum had many interesting exhibits such as this old steam-driven fire engine.

You could walk around in the reconstructed streets and feel that you were actually there as part of history, which in some sense, of course, you were.


York is home to the world-famous Betty's Cafe, and I guess that visitors from around the world have seen this familiar tea-pot sign.


No visit to York would be complete without walking through the medieval streets such as The Shambles, pictured above. Nothing Medeival about the shop's merchandise and prices though!

Whilst we were in York we went to the theatre where we saw Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. It was an excellent performance, well-recommended to anyone visiting York over the next couple of weeks or so.


All in all, another great visit to our favourite city.
Roll on the next time!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Prayers in School

Out of the Mouths of Babes!
One Nation,
"Under G-d".

One day a 6 year old girl was sitting in a classroom. The teacher was going to explain evolution to the children. The teacher asked a little boy: Tommy do you see the tree outside?

TOMMY: Yes.

TEACHER: Tommy, do you see the grass outside?

TOMMY: Yes.

TEACHER: Go outside and look up and see if you can see the sky.

TOMMY: Okay. (He returned a few minutes later) Yes, I saw the sky.

TEACHER: Did you see G-d up there?

TOMMY: No.

TEACHER: That's my point. We can't see G-d because he isn't there. Possibly he just doesn't exist.

A little girl spoke up and wanted to ask the boy some questions. The teacher agreed and the little girl asked the boy:

LITTLE GIRL: TOMMY, do you see the tree outside?

TOMMY: Yes.

LITTLE GIRL: Tommy do you see the grass outside?

TOMMY: Yessssss!

LITTLE GIRL: Did you see the sky?

TOMMY: Yessssss!

LITTLE GIRL: Tommy, do you see the teacher?

TOMMY: Yes

LITTLE GIRL: Do you see her brain?

TOMMY: No

LITTLE GIRL: Then according to what we were taught today in school, she possibly may not even have one!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Stand Up and be Counted : Latest

I recently wrote about the campaign by Premier Christian Media to get 100,000 Christians to stand up, sign up, and be counted as a Christian, the objective being to stand against the National Secular Society's move to try and get 100,000 people to sign a certificate to 'de-baptise' themselves.

One response that has arrived shows just how far the persecution of Christians has gone in the West, something that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Yet should we kowtow to the 'fear factor', or should the threats by Christ's enemies in fact make us stronger and more prepared to stand up and be counted? I have decided against publishing the comments here because I think that to do so would serve no positive purpose, despite the fact that they are genuine concerns by the individual who wrote them. Suffice to say that this person belongs to a church in the USA which, from all that I have learned, is very active in the Lord's work within the community, and which has already come under attack by the enemy for the work that they are doing. When you consider that their are many crazy people who are being used by Satan to disrupt church services, and even to shoot Christians, there is a need for constant vigilance and prayer for protection.

How easy it is to concur with the latter thought, and yet we have the example of Peter who denied Christ three times before the cockerel had crowed twice. When Jesus suggested to Peter that he would deny Him, Peter's reaction was absolutely predictable, protesting most strongly that he would never do such a thing, and yet just a short while afterwards he was doing what he had thought of as the unthinkable. We need to remember this in the case of Christians today who fear reprisal for their faith. How easy it would be to condemn them, yet how easy it would be to be exactly the same when faced with the same challenge.

It brings the question of not only living for Christ but also dying for Christ out of the realms of postulation and into the realms of reality. How would you do when faced with the question? In all probability the only answer for many people is that they don't know what they would say or do until faced with the need to stand up and be counted.

I have signed up myself. But there again, I have always been prepared to put my head over the parapet and declare my faith without fear. This doesn't make me any better than anyone else, simply the same as many and different to others when it comes to declaration of faith. Does it make those who are prepared to stand up and be counted the ones who are in the right? The answer to that is beyond our realm of knowledge I believe. certainly, I have every sympathy with those who are afraid because of the circumstances in which they worship. Consider the huge numbers of Christians who form/ed the 'Underground' church in many countries where it is dangerous to be seen to be worshipping Christ. Their bravery is demonstrated constantly by the fact that they gather to worship God in the name of our Lord Jesus, despite the persecution of Christians.

You see, whatever you decide, whether it is to keep your head down or to put it over the parapet, there are arguments that support both as being right. When it all comes down to the bottom line the thing that is most important of all is to be prepared to reach out in the world and share the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people, and in as many ways, as possible. The way that you are led by the Holy Spirit will be the right way for you.
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Monday, April 20, 2009

Violence is ALWAYS wrong . . .

Picture the scene. You are confronted by a large man whose face is hidden to a large extent by a black balaclava. He is armed with a weapon that has the power in the wrong hands to maim for life. He has taken great care to make it difficult to identify him in the future. As you come under attack he is shouting loudly in your face and gesticulating with his arms and hands to impel you to do as he demands. In fact, everything about him is specifically designed to frighten you into a submissive state.

In many situations it would be stated without question that this man is terrorising you, and that, to that extent, he is therefore, what might well be described as an urban terrorist. You are afraid, and you need to be, for this man has placed himself above the law, even perhaps, some may consider, beyond the law.

Hoping that you will get out of this situation without serious injury you think about others who have been thus confronted recently, confrontation that has ended in death. Your level of fear increases and perhaps you are shaking now and feeling sick inside. Your one hope is to turn to those who are appointed to help you in such a situation --- the police.

That's where your problems really start to hit home! The thug that threatens your safety, the one whose identity is hidden behind the black balaclava, the one whose identity number has been taken off to further protect him from future identification, is a policeman.

Yes, this thug wears, in addition to the threatening black balaclava, a riot helmet and a yellow glow-jacket, both enabling him to look even bigger and even more threatening. Small wonder then that respect for the servants of the law is so sparse, when those who are appointed to maintain the law deride it so mercilessly.

One of the things that marks out the corrupt regimes of the world is that the corrupt leaders use the forces of law to maintain the front-line protection that affords them the opportunity to carry on their 'business' unchecked, and, generally speaking, unanswerable.

I say that what we are experiencing is unacceptable. The reason that I say this is that I consider that violence is always unacceptable, no matter what side it stems from. Violent protest is unacceptable, of course, but so is violent reaction from those whose task it is to lead by example when it comes to keeping the law. What do you think?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

New Meditation from Joanne Lowe

IT HURTS HIM

 

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; 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 hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Isaiah 53: 3 - 6 (King James Version)

 

Jesus was not only beaten, tortured, rejected and crucified on a cross of horror and excruciating pain for us; He is still being rejected and abused today.  Every time that people refuse to open their hearts and invite Him into their hearts to be their personal Saviour, He is being rejected.  When we say cruel words to people and do hateful things to them, we are abusing Jesus. 

 

He has told us that when we are kind and loving to people, we are kind and loving to Him and when we are hateful to people, we are being hateful to Him.  We read in the Bible “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25: 40).

 

I’m reminded of an illustration that a pastor used in a sermon “A husband and wife were driving down a road and the wife said to her husband “Why aren’t we close anymore?  We don’t sit close to each other like we used to do.”  The husband replied “I haven’t moved.”  Jesus hasn’t moved away from us but there are times when we move away from Him.  

 

Yes, it hurts Him when we move away from Him and stop spending time with Him.  It’s time that we stop hurting Him and start making Him happy.  He deserves to be happy.  He has done so much for us and He asks so little of us.  May God forgive us for hurting His beloved Son.  Have you moved away from Jesus?  If so, ask Him to forgive you and run back into His waiting arms.  He longs to fellowship with you.  Please spend time with the One who loves you so much that He died for you.

 

Joanne Lowe

April 18, 2009

joannelowe8@cox.net

www.hesetmefreeforever.blogspot.com

New Song for Lisa Winwood

I've been working on new songs for Lisa Winwood to sing on the first CD that she's due to record with Sheer Joy Music later this year, and my USA partner, Greg Scheer, has just released a demo disc and leadsheet of one of them which is called A-Plus Student. You can click on this link to check it out for yourself and let us know what you think. I'm sure that once Lisa gets hold of it and sings it full of soul it will be a WOW!

The picture of Lisa above was taken recently on a two-day photo shoot in Prestatyn, North Wales and Runcorn, Cheshire. The photographer for the shoot was Paul Walker of Paul Walker Photography. Paul has recently become involved with Sheer Joy Music as the official photographer for them.

Latest Issue of 'The Voice Christian News & Views'

The latest issue of The Voice Christian News & Views is now available and will be in the post to subscribers early next week. This popular magazine, currently in its sixth year of publication, is now distributed to readers in 18 countries around the world, and is read by more and more people every issue. 

This may be because it's distributed entirely free of charge, no matter where you live, but I prefer to believe that it's because of the quality of the articles written by people like Andrew Strom, David Wilkerson, Victor Shepherd, David Servant, Coach Dave Daubenmire, Rev'd Colin Gordon-Farleigh and Canon Roy Laurence, to name a few.

Of course, on top of this there are regular features enjoyed by readers; features such as the Lindsey Cox Column, biographies of well-known Christians from the past who still inspire us today, and the ever-popular photo-features on places of worship. this month the feature is on Whitby Abbey and its next door neighbour, St Mary's Church.

Whatever the reason, I'm certain that it will continue to grow as the Lord blesses the work of this Ministry. If you don't already receive a copy and would like to check it out for yourself all you need to do is to register online by clicking on this link, and then you will receive a copy of the magazine every two months.
 

Empires Rise and Empires Fall!

I'm absolutely certain that if you had spoken to any of the citizens of either the Roman Empire or the Aztec civilisation that they would have scoffed at even the merest suggestion that their Empire might one day be consigned to the pages of history, yet history is the place where you find the remnants of those great civilisations today. Yes of course there are still physical traces of their existence such as the assortment of Roman ruins that archaeologists have recovered in this country, and even Roman cities such as Bath, where much evidence of the lost civilisation still exists today, but as for the Empire itself, there is no trace of that. It's long gone!

Today the only Romans who are left are the present-day citizens of Rome itself, and as for the Aztecs, all that remains are ruined sites and tourist-orientated tat. There have, of course, been many other empires as well, warring empires such as the great Ottoman Empire and trading empires such as the British Empire that was forged during the reign of Queen Victoria, splattering red across the atlas as like so much blood across the world.

The one thing that links all of the great empires of the past together is that they have all fallen in the end, no matter how strong they were at one stage. Today is no different. The excesses of today's society, the ungodliness, the violence, the anarchic behaviour of many, the fear that many more live under --- all of these are signs of a modern-day empire that is in decline. When an empire is thriving and well it is kept so by the disciplines that help to maintain its parameters. Those disciplines, together with the respect of the citizens, help to maintain the Status Quo.

In the Western World in particular, discipline and respect have become trodden underfoot as people have followed their baser lusts such as greed and immorality in a hedonistic display of self-gratification, yet, despite all that goes on in the world, people in general find that lasting contentment and happiness are things which seem to be too elusive for them to find, let alone hold on to.

When the political overlords and the Law-Makers are so constantly exposed by their corruptness as being more concerned in their personal hold onto power and personal increases in wealth then it is small wonder that society itself appears to be suffering from the same delusions that 'the good times can never end'. Yet now, finally, after decades of increasingly self-centred and greed-ridden behaviour, it is ending. Another chapter in the history of this once great nation is coming to its close. What will the next chapter be? Will it herald a return to a set of values that prize the quality of human life and the preservation of all that is good, or will it be a period where decadent living is accepted as the only way to live? Who knows?

One thing that has marked the society that has developed over the past few decades, particularly since the latter part of the 1950's, is that as people have become wealthier so they have dispensed in their hearts with the need for God. God has been side-lined in the search for greater wealth and that which is perceived as greater freedom. Around the world we find that where poverty exists then God is readily found amongst the poor, giving comfort and hope, but where wealth increases, particularly to the obscene levels that have occurred in much of the Western world, people have either turned their backs entirely on God or have boxed him into a corner of their making, ensuring that He is only a part of their lives when they want Him to be. 

Rather than their lives being God-centred they have made themselves the centre of lives in which God is, at best, allowed to play a cameo role. Until this changes, and people learn to put God at the very centre of their existence, then the downward spiral will continue. The British Secular Society, the assorted Humanist societies and atheistic spokesmen may be enjoying their '15 minutes of fame' for now, but their time will soon pass as people are forced to their knees in very real terms. It will not take too long for intelligent people to realise that the path that they have trodden for so long is the path that has led them to destruction and devastation. Ultimately the only place to turn will be to turn to God, for He will be the only place where any sense can be made of things, the only place where comfort and sustenance can be found.

In the West there is a move towards the New World Order. this is something which has been fomenting away in the background for a great number of years, and today's politicians readily subscribe to it because of the wealth and power that they believe it will bring them. in that belief they fool themselves! Watch for the signs of this happening, signs such as the devolution of power from sovereign states to a central system such as that which is steadily happening in Europe as more and more power is devolved from the European nations to the EEC. Oppose rather than accept! If you simply sit back and let everything happen then you help to plan the final annihilation of Europe as it has been for hundreds of years. That means, translated in more local terms, that the institutions that have made the nations great will be consigned to the trashcan of history, because they will be of no service in the New World Order.

Thankfully, there is an answer. In the Bible, we read that God spoke to Solomon and said, "If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn away from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:13-14 NAS). And in the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, we read "Return, O faithless sons, I will heal your faithlessness." (Jeremiah 3:22 NAS)

Yes, thankfully there is an answer, and the answer is to repent and turn to God; to confess in the name of Jesus Christ, and confess Him as Saviour and acknowledge Him as Lord. No matter what faith you currently profess, even if you profess none at all,and no matter how zealous you are in following the faith that you may profess, every one needs to turn to God in repentance if we are to find true salvation, and Jesus Christ has said that He, and only He, holds the key to the pathway to heaven, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:4 NAS). Today, more than ever before in our lifetimes, we need to heed these words.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cast Your Vote : Stand Up and be Counted!


Everyday Christians are finding it increasingly difficult to openly express their faith.

The National Secular Society has encouraged 100,000 people to sign a certificate to “de-baptise” themselves as part of their campaign to allow people to revoke their baptisms.

Premier Christian Media are asking....are there 100,000 people who are prepared to publicly stand up and declare that they are Christians?

Premier’s “I am a Christian” campaign is asking you to take this opportunity to publicly affirm your faith and declare that Jesus is relevant to your everyday life.

Make your declaration today and join together with thousands of other Christians around the world. Click here to sign up.
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Only the foolish or the ignorant person would dare to suggest that the UK is a Christian country these days. Of course there are hundreds of thousands of people who claim to be Christian, yet many of them are not even prepared to display the basics of their belief by attending a church, using an ever-increasing variety of reasons/excuses for this. The BBC are perhaps more openly Anti-Christian than much of the remaining Media, but then when one considers that they are the bed-fellow of the government then it's not a bit surprising. Throughout the Media there tends to be a definite anti-Christian slant, and the problem is increasing to the point that Christians are fast in danger of becoming the Persecuted Church in the UK.
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New laws are enacted which make it more and more difficult to practise your Christian faith without being questioned for doing so, and these laws marginalise those who dare to oppose them, ridiculing them for their belief. In short, not only the Media but also the Government tend to show bias against Christians and Christianity.
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Is this surprising? No, of course not! After all, if, as many believe, we are at the beginning of the end times, then everything that is currently happening is pretty well as predicted in Holy Scripture. We have wars in many parts of the world,and the numbers are increasing rather than diminishing. We have violence and anarchy on our own streets, and it's getting worse rather than better. Respect for the Police is at an all-time low, and is not helped by the thuggery of some officers such as that seen in recent times at demonstrations such as the Countryside Alliance March and the recent G20 Summit.
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We live in a country where many live increasingly Godless lives, where materialism rules, where greed is an everyday factor, where it is considered wise to help oneself and yet foolish to consider the feelings of others as you do so. The current economic troubles are, I firmly believe, an example of God's wrath being poured out onto the world.
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The attitudes that prevail have grown because there is a surfeit of wealth in many nations, and the populace have been misled into believing that it is that, and that alone, that will bring them happiness.
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Every true Christian needs to be prepared to stand up and be counted! The opportunity to register yourself online on the Premier Christian Media census is an important one, for if an overwhelming number of people sign up then it will tell us that there is at least some hope for our nation and our world. However, if people are too apathetic to be bothered then it will send the opposite message altogether. A lack of support for this project would be taken as a passive support for the aims of the National Secular Society.
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Jesus stated quite clearly that if you are not for Him then you are against Him. So, where do you stand? Are you FOR HIM or are you AGAINST HIM? Make no mistake about it, there is no middle ground. You must be either one or the other.
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Let us show the world that we are not ashamed to own our Lord! Let us aim, not for 100,000 signatures, but for
ONE MILLION!
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Heaven, Hell, and a Bowl of Stew


One day a holy man was having a conversation with God and said, ' God, I’d like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.'

God led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table, on which there was a large pot of the most delicious smelling stew placed in the middle, which made the holy man's mouth water.

The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly, and they appeared to be famished. Strapped to their arms were spoons with very long handles, and although the people found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, because the handle was longer than their arms, they couldn’t get the food into their mouths.

When the holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering, God said to him, 'You have seen Hell.'

Coming out of the room God then took the holy man through the other door. The man was surprised to see that it was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man's mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here they were well nourished, laughing and talking. The holy man turned to God and said, 'I don't understand.'

It’s simple,' said God. 'There’s just one important difference. These people have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The WORD grows by sharing!

Faith is, in the beginning, just like a tiny seed. It gets planted by the sharing of the Word of God. Sometimes, as in the Parable of the Sower, the seed falls onto barren ground and fails to grow, whilst at other times it starts to grow but stops after a short while because the soil is far too shallow to sustain it. Thankfully though, there are many occasions when the seed falls onto fertile ground, takes root and grows.

Unfortunately, however, all too often there is insufficient nurturing, and the seedlings never seem to grow any bigger in real terms. Oh yes, there is a show of greenery, sometimes enough to fool some of the onlookers, but when you make a prolonged study of the seedling then you find that there is no real substance to the growth.

There is an expression that 'From tiny acorns, mighty oaks grow'. So it is with the seeds of faith --- from the tiniest seed the mightiest tree can grow. Or, in other words, by you sharing the Word, just as you have been commissioned to by Jesus Christ, so faith is planted, and when that faith is nurtured then it grows. It grows bigger and bigger, the more that it is nurtured. It needs to be fed on the Word of God, watered , and yes, even pruned back on occasion, in order for it to ultimately bear good fruit.

The faith that we are blessed with is not a natural thing for us to have, which is why it is a gift that God blesses us with in order to help us and others as we make our journey through this life in preparation for the next.

What a great God we have! Even the faith that we need in order to believe and spiritually grow
is a gift of His grace.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The earth shook and the stone was rolled away!


Today, across the world, people are celebrating Jesus as the Son of God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who is victorious over death and is alive forevermore! Yet we do that every time that we gather together with fellow Christians around the Lord’s Table? Each time we take the bread and drink the cup, we proclaim that we believe Jesus died for us, and that He is coming again. In so doing we serve a risen Saviour, and we look forward to that day when He comes to take us home.

The Apostle Paul said, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing (2 Timothy 4:7).

I love the life that I’ve been blessed with and look forward to serving God for many more years, yet I still look forward to the day when I can see Christ Jesus face to face. Death is to be anticipated, not feared. One of these days it’s inevitable that my body will wear out, just the same as everyone else’s will, but the wonderful thing is, that because Jesus is my Saviour and Lord, I’m ready to go when I’m called.

One of the things that we learn in this life is that time never stands still, no matter how much we might want it to. The chief priests and Pharisees found that out. After they had crucified Jesus they came to Pilate and said, “We remember that while He was still alive that deceiver said, ’After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that He has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first." (Matthew 27:63-64). "Take a guard," Pilate answered, "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how." So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard."(Matthew 27:65).

They believed that God, who created the world and everything it contains, could be thwarted by the stone that they rolled across the tomb’s entrance. Can you imagine the God who created the power of the atom being stopped by a few Roman soldiers armed with swords & spears?

Matthew goes on to say, "There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook & became like dead men." (Matthew 28: 2-4). How amazing! God spoke and instantly an angel descended, the earth was shaken, the stone rolled away, and the soldiers dealt with. The stone was not rolled away for Jesus to get out. He was no longer in there anyway. It was rolled away so that those coming could see in.

You see, the chief priest and Pharisees were trying to stop the inevitable. They were trying to seal up the Son of God. But there was no way in the world they could succeed in doing that. Sometimes it seems as if people are still attempting to seal up Jesus still by putting Him in a little corner of their lives and saying, "Lord, you’re welcome to stay as long as you don’t interfere by trying to change the way I think or act or speak. yet the truth is that this life is a preparation for eternity - an eternity in which we will either be amongst the saved or the lost forever.

The message of Easter is that nothing can ever stop the inevitability of God. His desire will be performed. We believe that because the tomb is empty and Jesus Christ is alive. Even though I wasn’t there, I believe in the resurrection with all my heart. Throughout the years I’ve heard the testimony of those who were there and I have read their accounts of all that took place, and I believe them. I wasn’t there when Jesus rose from the dead but I believe it with all my heart, and I have two good reasons for believing that He arose. Firstly, I believe in the resurrection because eyewitnesses have told me that it is true. Paul said, "for what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time . . . Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also, as one abnormally born. (1 Corinthians 15: 3-7).

I believe it because the Apostle John, speaking of the events following Jesus’ death and resurrection, said, these are written that you may believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name (John 20:31). In other words, I believe it because reliable people who saw what happened passed it on.

But maybe more important than that, I believe it because our world is greatly different because Jesus is alive. Paul said, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith (1 Corinthians 15:14). We wouldn’t be here this morning if Christ were not alive. Thousands of Christian organisations wouldn’t exist today if Jesus were not alive. The fact that sin and death have been conquered and victory has been won makes our world different, and it’s all because Jesus is alive.

The resurrection also changes the way we look at life and death. When God talks about death in the Scripture He uses different words than we use. Jesus talked about death as being like a wedding. Paul write about a bride and bridegroom in comparison to Christ and the Church, saying that it’s: like a bride waiting for the coming of the bridegroom and that glorious moment when she will be with Him forever (Ephesians 5: 22-23).

God also says, "Death is like going home." One of the greatest phrases in our language is going home. At the end of a busy day it’s wonderful to be able to say, "I’m going home." It’s time to go home to relax and feel the love and warmth of home, and to know that you have a share in all that happens there. And God says, "Dying is like going home again."

In this Easter message I wanted to paint a beautiful picture of an empty tomb and to lift up the glorified Christ and say, "That is what it's all about." The problem is that I might paint a picture of false hope. I might tell you that it’s all beautiful and it’s all wonderful because it is Easter, and that everything is going to be alright, yet never tell you that some will go to be with Christ in heaven and some won’t. You see, some homes are peaceful while others are not. Some weddings succeed whilst others don’t. Whilst the cross is a blessing for those who come and kneel at its foot and accept its sacrifice, it’s a curse for those who turn away refusing to repent, and refusing to accept Christ as their Saviour and Lord.

The empty tomb is the greatest source of joy for those who know Jesus as Lord and Saviour, but it’s the greatest source of judgment and condemnation for those who refuse to.

You cannot stop the march of God. Not with stones in front of tombs or seals or soldiers. You can’t stop what God is trying to do in our world because in the end God will conquer all. He will be victorious and you will either be on His winning side or you won’t.

That is the message of Easter. God is preparing us for something much better. He’s preparing us for a new world. A better world. A greater world.

Our God marches on. He’s alive this morning and He comes to reach out to everyone who chooses to respond to His invitation with repentant and open hearts.
Amen

Friday, April 10, 2009

Meditation for Good Friday : Rev Colin


All too often theology and doctrine is not only allowed, but deliberately place, in our view so that God becomes obscured from our sight. He is, thankfully, nevertheless still there, and I'm sure that in human terms, He must surely shake His head constantly at the folly of humanity!

For so many people, their view of God, of Jesus, and of the Holy Spirit, is one which has been sanitised into a form of 'comfort blanket', the sort of thing that a small child so often has to help overcome fears and worries. In fact, perhaps that is the problem of many who profess Christianity, that they cling so tightly to their comfort zones that they never grow beyond infancy, and therefore never learn the true joys and the pains of knowing and following Jesus Christ, and of serving God in His name in the Spirit.

As a teenager I experienced many 'growing pains', yet none were ever so severe, nor equally so rewarding, as the pains of my Christian growth. The pain of discovering that I was not always right, of learning to bow and acknowledge always the superiority of God when it comes to the matter of Will, of learning to love the un-lovely, and so much more besides. Yet through all of this the one thing that keeps me going on is the knowledge and the certainty of the faith with which God has blessed me. My hope lies in Christ alone, and today of all days I am reminded of the cost to my heavenly Father for my salvation.

The world continues to turn, even as it appears to shift on its axis and bring the effects of that which is referred to as Global Warming. Atheism appears to be having its day here in the West, almost certainly fuelled by the cult of materialism that grips so many in its greedy, grasping hand. Even on this day it is probable that the majority of shops will open, and that many churchgoers will patronise them, confirming that their staying open must therefore be the right thing to do. Yet also on this day there will be countless thousands who quietly remember and acknowledge that the love of God reached out to them from the Cross all those years ago, and that the action of an obedient Christ changed the world for ever. Thankfully, history can never be rewritten, and so the facts of Christ's crucifixion, of his act of selfless sacrifice for the love of mankind, can never be erased.

Today, despite its significance in some respects, is a day not only for reflection and meditation, but also a day for celebration and thanks-giving.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

WHAT AMAZING LOVE : Joanne Lowe's Meditation



WHAT AMAZING LOVE

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5: 8 - King James Version


It was amazing love, mercy and compassion for us that flowed from the heart of our Heavenly Father when He sent His beloved Son to earth to die on the cross and pay the price for our sins. What amazing and unconditional love flowed from the heart of Jesus on that dark and terrible day when He walked that long lonely and frightening road to Calvary to die for us.

Jesus was cursed, spat upon, and ridiculed. He was beaten beyond recognition and crucified on a cross of horror and shame for you and for me. There is no one like Jesus! Worthy is the Lamb of God! All hail, King Jesus! How it thrills my heart to know that one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

No one loves us like our dear Heavenly Father and our precious Saviour love us. What a privilege; what a comfort and what a joy it is to be loved by them. Thank You, Heavenly Father, thank You, Jesus, for loving us unconditionally and for caring about us. We know that they love us because they have proved that they love us.

The question each one of us needs to ask ourselves is “Do I love them and if I do love them, what am I doing to prove to them that I love them?” Remember the level of our service to Jesus depends on the level of our love for Him. How much do you love Him and what are you doing to prove to Him that you love Him? Are you willing to get out of your comfort zone and tell people about the good news of our risen Saviour and His unconditional love for them?



Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ian Tomlinson's death --- Was it manslaughter?

I'm sure that you will have been as outraged as I was at the newsreel footage which showed 47-year old newspaper seller, Ian Tomlinson, being charged, batoned and thrust hard into his back with sufficient force to fell him like a sapling before a whirlwind. Ian was on his way home from work, and as the footage shows, he was walking casually along with his hands thrust deep into his pockets, when the violent action of a so-far un-named police officer brought him to the ground.

The press are careful in using words such as 'apparent assault' in this instance, but the newsreel clearly proves that the innocent Ian Tomlinson was the victim of a violent and unprovoked assault, and as such I believe that the officer concerned should be charged with Ian Tomlinson's death which occurred only three minutes later as the result of a heart attack. I cannot believe that the heart attack was coincidental, coming as it did so rapidly after the assault.

Let's hope that this does not become yet another blame-shifting white-wash case!

The Demise of Common Sense

An Obituary printed in the London Times.........
Interesting, yet sadly rather true.

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
Why the early bird gets the worm;
Life isn't always fair;
and
Maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an Aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; by his wife, Discretion; by his daughter, Responsibility; and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;
I Know My Rights
I Want It Now
Someone Else Is To Blame
I'm A Victim


Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.