Saturday 29 December 2012

Luke 2 v 41/50

The Gospel for the current year is from Luke, a lovely gospel written by a doctor, and so contains that which we can rely on for accuracy and significance. This passage contains a most significant event in that it is the only time we hear of Jesus between the time of His birth and the start of His ministry at the age of 30 year. All we otherwise know is that it has been said He grew strong and was full of wisdom and grace. It also records the first words known to be publicly used by Jesus.

Every year Mary and Joseph in Jewish tradition went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival which meant a period of 10/14 days away from home. There were three major festivals in the Jewish calendar, of which the Passover was the main, and every Jew was expected to attend at least once a year. The Passover celebrated the release of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt by God’s miraculous provision. God had given Israel a command and Mary and Joseph faithfully obeyed it

The journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem was over eighty miles and would take about three days travelling on foot. Families would travel together in groups and it could be an exciting and enjoyable time. The festival itself lasted eight days so it meant two weeks away from home. Jesus was 12 years old and for Him it would signify, bar mitzvah, He was passing from boyhood into manhood.

There would be up to 100,000 people in the city at the festival and at the close there would be a mass leaving as the huge crowds competed to get away. It was common for people to travel in large groups and the practice was for the women to leave first in the caravan trail as they travelled slower than men, who would leave later and the two parties would meet at the first encampment. Mary and Joseph each thought Jesus was with the other and it was not until they met together that it was realised Jesus was missing. There was none of the modern means of communication, no mobile phones to keep in contact. You can imagine the panic of Mary and Joseph for He was lost from them for four days.

The two parents returned to Jerusalem and after three days searching they found Jesus in discussion with the teachers of the Temple. When they asked Him why He had caused them so much anxiety, Jesus answered, ‘why were you searching for me, didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house’. Naturally they did not understand Him, but Jesus was revealing that He knew He had a unique and special relationship with God, which made Him divine.

Luke in his gospel, and in his writing in the Book of Acts, is teaching that all that happens in life is under God’s control. This does not only relate to the big events in life, but also to our own personal lives. In all our doings God is with us, controlling the lives of those who will let Him. Remember that God cares for you, and if you are in the midst of some traumatic problem in life, remember that God cares for you and is in control; it is a case of seeking to find out the answer by speaking to Him. Prayer is not only asking for something, it is also trying to listen to God. Learn to trust Him and find how He can help you through your difficult time.

Mary and Joseph have much to teach us, providing us with an example of devoted Godly worship. Today worship is treated very lightly, often only engaged in when convenient as more and more so called Christians are not willing to make any commitment.

I have visited 21 Churches in and around Bedford where people live in lovely surroundings, beautiful homes, most in good regular employment, so much to be thankful for, yet they would never give a thought about coming to thank God for their blessings. I guarantee if anyone went around this village and told the residents this Church was going to close, there would be outrage and uproar so where are they on a Sunday.

Mary and Joseph attended as husband and wife, not a common sight these days, but in marriage characters are often moulded together and there is joy in doing many things with each other, but sadly attending Church is not for many couples.

Whilst men can be a great asset in Church, attending is seen more as a woman’s thing, and next time you watch Songs of Praise on television, notice the ration of men to women, unless the singing is from Wales. A lot of men appear disorientated when coming into Church, but contrast that with Muslim men who rejoice in attending the Mosque.

Some men even resent their wives attending. I had a lady come to my Church who had a magnetic personality and drew others to join. Her husband worked on an oil rig in the North Sea and when he discovered she was coming to Church gave an ultimatum, leave Church or me. For the sake of her children, Church lost.

We also read that Mary and Joseph took Jesus with them. Parents will now take their offspring to dancing class, horse riding, playing football, but Church is one place few would think of taking their children and yet are depriving them of a precious and lasting experience. I fondly remember going with my mother to Evensong at Liverpool Cathedral each Sunday afternoon.

I think the Church itself must take some responsibility in these matters. Apart from the fact we squabble unnecessarily in public over matters which could easily be resolved if we let Scripture guide us, there is often indifference within individual Churches. When a member drops away, rather than remember the parable of the lost sheep, there is the tendency to just accept the situation instead of finding out why this has happened.

The Bible calls on us ‘not to give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing’, and this is a timely message for the coming new year. The true Church is one where we meet as a family, sing together, praise God, listen to His Word, pray for each other, take bread and wine together as we remember the sacrifice our Lord made for us; and a place where we know we can receive support and help when we need it.

I wish you well here, and pray that for you 2013 will see a time of spiritual awakening in this locality. May God bless you and be with you in all your efforts for His Name.

Monday 24 December 2012

Christmas message

I thank all who have turned to this site over the last year and read the words in the 100 postings.

I wish you all a very happy, peaceful and blessed Christmas and hope you will join me again at the end of this week.

I would very much like to hear from any of you and so know the names at least to whom I writing.

The response from the United States has been an overwhelming factor and source of much encouragement, especially as often the content is primarily relating to the United Kingdom. Well might I say therefore, God bless America.!

I hope those of you who kindly read from the UK will tell your friends, especially members of your Churches

Saturday 22 December 2012

Luke 1 verses 39-56

This Sunday the Church honours Mary, the mother of our Lord. In the past the Roman Catholic Church has perhaps made too much of Mary’s position whilst the Protestant Church has made too little.

The gospel passage opens with Mary, a fifteen years old virginal girl from a Jewish village, having found she was pregnant, and been told by an angel of the Holy Spirit being upon her, decided to go seventy miles to visit her elderly cousin Elizabeth, whom she had been told was also pregnant in her old age.

On arrival the two women greeted each other, and Elizabeth in a loud voice proclaims how blessed Mary was. Until that time Elizabeth thought this was just a family visit, but now she realised how unique the situation is and feels she should have been the one visiting Mary. At the same time Elizabeth felt movement of her own baby.

Elizabeth’s joy inspires Mary to fully recognise she is to be the mother of the Saviour of the world and spontaneously sings a song, which has been sung at every Evensong in Churches all over the world for centuries since, the Magnificat. The Lord God is magnified in this song of praise which is filled with Scripture.

Mary expresses her glory and rejoices in being blessed, and how gracious God has been to her in her humility. There is a significant point made by her in that she recognises she needs a Saviour, which implies she recognises that only a sinner needs a Saviour, which tends rather to negate some Roman statements about her. God therefore in His amazing grace has allowed this girl to be the mother of His Son. This reflects the words of John Newton in that wonderful hymn which he wrote, that God saves us by grace.

Mary knows that all future generations will speak of her and indeed throughout the ages she has rightfully been praised, and she has brought honour to her sex. Mary has raised being a mother to the highest of professions, although now some feminine politicians are anxious to downgrade motherhood and their sex by trying to equate women on all levels with men. In the process some women have demeaned their sex by not only copying men’s excesses, but furthering them.

When God created the world men were intended to care and provide for the family, and women to be mothers, (primarily but not exclusively)and for that role were endowed with a more tender and caring nature. Now for their own selfish purposes, politicians and social workers want to change all that. We are all equal under God, but are meant to have different roles in life.

The Pope has wisely state that the future of mankind is at stake when the understanding of what a family means is challenged through proposals for same sex marriage. He said ‘In the fight for the family, the very notion of what being human really means – is being called into question. He spoke of the falseness of gender theories and of the current attack on the structure of the family made up of father, mother and child.
Mary told of how God is merciful to those who fear Him, and we should be mindful that whilst God is a God of love and mercy, He is also a God of wrath. In that respect we should take note of Mary’s words, ‘ He has brought down rulers from their thrones’. She has a profound view of God, who disputes the worldly values of status and misunderstanding of what it means to be equal.

God chooses people who are lowly. If the Church authorities had been given the responsibility for choosing the Apostles, Christianity would have died in very short time. They would have been looking for people with degrees, and with an equal balance of men and women Apostles. (A cynic once said the Church is falling apart by degrees). This is why God chose Mary and gave her everything that He may be glorified. Mary acknowledged her humility, her ordinariness, and the high honour God had given her.

She ends her song by singing praise of how God has remained faithful to His chosen people, the Jews, by keeping His promise to Abraham. Every Jewish boy and girl would know the history of Israel and how God has blessed them.

God chooses ordinary and lowly people to do His work, so that they will remain faithful and dependent on Him and not be full of themselves and feel self important. We should each seek to find out what God wants us to do in His service.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Minority opinion rules

The Government last week published its proposed legislation for same sex marriage and included in this Bill was an exemption for the Church of England. A friend of mine who is opposed to the proposal (as I am) said to me ‘we have won’, meaning our Church was legally excluded. I replied that we certainly had not.

Apart from the fact that I cannot accept any assurance from David Cameron, for others of his promises have gone astray, and I cannot believe he is unaware that the European Court could, and no doubt would, overrule such a provision. Already an attention seeking Vicar has called for others to join him in vowing to perform such marriages in Church.

We also have the ‘rent a quote’ Giles Fraser jumping in voicing his opposition to such an exclusion, and in consideration of the consequences which followed his interference with the police when they were trying to clear the steps of St.Paul’s, one might reasonably have expected him to keep quiet. And of course the ever troublesome Richard Harries, ex Bishop of Oxford is making things difficult for his fellow Bishops by making embarrassing statements. (Nothing new there then.)

Of course we have allegations of homophobia and bigotry made against opponents of same sex marriage, notably Nick Clegg and the rather silly Lynne Featherstone, who called the Church of England itself homophobic. But like all liberals their comments are very selective. Notice that no such allegations by these people are made against Islam, which is far more anti than the C of E. We have protests made outside Anglican places of worship, but I have never heard or seen any such protests outside Mosques.

I fully expect an organised set up, where two people will seek marriage in a Church contemplating a refusal, and then with widespread publicity claim discrimination. One thing I am sure of is, that no such stunt would be made to a Mosque.

The majority of priests and people in the Church of England will welcome the exclusion clause, accepting as they do that same sex marriage is contrary to all Christian teaching. In some quarters of course this would be an irrelevance.

Try as I may, I cannot understand how any man, (or woman) who is ordained, can speak and act as some do against their Church, when they take a vow on ordination to observe all the Articles and Formularies of the Church. To me, this is not only hypocrisy, it is total disloyalty. If they want to do their own thing, why not as a matter of honour resign from the Church.

One thing is for certain, and that is there are massive consequences with legal challenges promised. I can imagine the lawyers thinking Christmas for them is bright. Already opinions are being given as to whether adultery can be claimed for same sex couples, and other issues as to what can and cannot follow. The Conservative Party is split wide open as Cameron’s duplicity is exposed in pursuing such a controversial subject on the spur of the moment, without any manifesto commitment or prior consultation. UKIP are naturally delighted, they can be the unofficial true Conservative Party.

It is interesting how minority groups in this country seem to have an influence way beyond their representation. Centuries of tradition, in addition to Scriptural interpretation, are being amended to meet their desires in the case of marriage.

In another instance Christmas celebrations are being muted or totally altered and omitted to avoid offending other faiths and none. In fairness, other faiths do not seem to have any problem with Christmas being celebrated, and indeed many of their traders welcome it for their profit. It is just woolly minded liberals seeking to make themselves feel justified.

I am told the majority of people approve of women being appointed as Bishops, and indeed amongst the general population this may be so, or be indifference. There may well be approval from those who seek membership of Synods, but I have not heard any great clamour from ordinary congregations. However many people do approve, I know one place where it is not approved, and that is in Scripture. My explanation for stating that will have to come after Christmas.

Friday 14 December 2012

Luke 3 v 7-18

Sunday next is the 3rd Sunday of Advent, and the theme is on John the Baptist. We do in fact honour John on the 24thJune, and on that day in Spain, which is still largely a Catholic country, they do so in style with ceremonial processions through the streets. John was a very special character in the Bible, being described by Jesus as ‘a prophet greater than any born of woman.’

A period of 400 years elapsed between the Old and New Testaments and John acted as a bridge between the prophecies of the Old Testament and the coming of the Messiah. God chose John to prepare the people for the coming of Jesus.John attracted huge crowds to see and hear him; they came from all directions, North and South, East and West. They came from all levels of society

John was bold and fearless preacher giving a message of confession and repentance, and did so in the most direct way accusing them of being a brood of vipers, and told them there was a wrath to come. He was not one to seek popularity and attacked hypocrisy. Most preachers would rejoice in being able to emulate his appeal, although they would hesitate to use the language he used in today’s atmosphere, where the least criticism raises accusations of phobia or bigotry.

The Church now needs Ministers like that who will give sound doctrinal teaching, not flinching from doing so and will not fear of what people might say. Jesus said, ‘woe unto you when men speak well of you’.

John spoke of God’s judgement and hell, which is now considered to be offensive. I attended a meeting where there was stated to be a famous mural, which was supposed to show sinners being chased into hell. I commented to several other Ministers that I could not understand it as it was faded somewhat. One answered that it was outdated as ‘we don’t preach about hell now’. When I said well I do, I received looks of horror as if I had landed from a strange plant. But we should acknowledge that when Jesus spoke about heaven, He invariably spoke of the alternative, hell. People would rather have smooth comforting words I accept, but a Minister’s duty is to say what should be heard instead of what people want to hear. People will never take notice until they are afraid of the consequences, and if we are silent we are betraying our calling.

Because of his successful appeal to people a delegation of priests was sent out to find out if he was acting in an orthodox manner. The Jews believed, and were proud of the fact, that they were God’s chosen people and He would one day send a Messiah who would be a great national leader who would lead them to world conquest. It was also believed that prior to the Messiah coming Elijah the great Old Testament prophet would come back to herald the Messiah’s coming.

The priests wanted to see who John actually was. When John spoke of baptism it was not the meaningless kind that is sometimes practised in churches today. Baptism was a symbol of admittance into the Christian faith, taken by someone who had come to need a personal Saviour in the person of Jesus Christ, who they would take into their hearts and lives and live according to His teaching.

John wasn’t concerned with numbers or adding to some Church roll, he wanted genuine commitments. The Bible is clear in all four gospels that the Christian life involved repentance and the following of a new way of life. If we analyse our lives we will find there are things we have said and done and sincerely wish we hadn’t, but there is nothing we can now do except pray that God will forgive us, and that others will accept our flaws.

The place where John ministered was way out in the wilderness a bleak and desolate place, living off the land, getting his clothing from wild camel and food from whatever grew there. There is a wilderness in many people’s hearts.

John calls us to a new life in Jesus Christ and it was with such a desire that people sought out John. Jesus can come to us in very different ways. It may be through a poster we noticed, which is why we need well thought out poster displays which will catch people’s eyes and strike them, and they ought to be relevant. Thousands have been led to Christ through reading posters placed on the London tube system by the London Christian Mission. Other people have been influenced by the words of a preacher, but the most telling witness is that of other Christians drawing in others by their way of life.

It is possible to become so engaged in religious activity dressing ourselves with religion without changing our hearts. Church attendance is essential and proper, but words without practice are of no merit. We Christians need to be more aggressive about our faith and be prepared to act and rebel as other faiths do when bloated bureaucrats try to stifle expression. We have to display in our manner of living we are Christians, and that extends throughout the whole week and not just on Sunday. Confession has to mean repentance and an honest intention not to go on committing. It is sheer hypocrisy to say sorry and then continue doing what we know is improper.

We are now approaching Christmas and the secularisation of it is almost complete, which is why all who hold the Christian faith dear must be prepared to support Christian worship. Advent is a time when we come out of the wilderness and be inspired by the ministry of John the Baptist.

Monday 10 December 2012

God’s Chosen People.

God said,’ I have scattered you in the countries of the world, I will gather you back from the nations where you have been scattered and I will give you the land of Israel once again. They will truly be my people and I will be their God’

A few short weeks ago a serious conflict broke out after Israel responded to persistent rocket attacks on the Southern part of the country from Palestinian territory. Peace was eventually negotiated but already a leader of the Palestinian group Hamas has called for the removal of Israel and the establishment of the Palestinian capital in Jerusalem.

In 1993 Israel ceded the territory of Gaza to the Palestine National Assembly following an agreement in Oslo, which was seen as a gesture of the desire for peace in the region. Sadly that has failed in the intention for there has been constant strife.

On 14th May 1948 the United Nations granted independence to Israel and the nation was born with its own distinctive ‘Star of David’ flag. This fulfilled Biblical prophecy that God would bring His people home at last. Ever since that time Israel has been under attack from hostile nations which surround this little country the size of Wales. The nation has faced overwhelming forces and against such odds has fought off enemies in two wars, which has resulted in a general consensus of opinion that God was certainly with them. Anyone who challenges this should study the recapture of the Golan Heights, which was an achievement beyond human endeavour alone.

The significance of Israel in world affairs is immense in that the Bible story is based on Israel and Christianity begins and ends there. Jesus was born there, (a Jew), our faith is based on a book written by 39 out of 40 writers who were Jewish, and our God is the God of Israel.

Despite this being so, the nation does not appear to have many friends beyond America, and even there the present President does not seem to have the same commitment to Israel as his predecessors. In Britain, during the repeated clashes between Palestine and Israel, the BBC has been less than impartial as prominence has been given to showing the damage caused by Israeli forces without mentioning this was in response to attacks on its territory. Palestinian spokesmen have rightly been given air time to state their case, which has been subject to less severe interviewing than to the more measured tones of the Israeli spokesman, Mark Regev.

When territorial and other disputes surface, our government
rather tends to not support Israel. However, a fascinating fact of history is that numerous British Prime Ministers who took sides against Israel, all subsequently suffered political defeat. Is that purely coincidental?

In numerous Biblical verses it is revealed that Israel was chosen by God, and whilst Jesus was sent to be the world’s Saviour, God has never abandoned His ancient people.

Let is not forget, when the Jews returned to their biblical homeland, it was largely a swamp filled, untilled wasteland. Jewish settlers drained malaria infested swamps and made it a flourishing fruit and agricultural success, planting millions of trees. In the wider world Jews have excelled in science, medical research, finance, the arts, and have a record number of Nobel prizes.

We must pray that both nations will strive to maintain a peace accord, but this can never happen if one party seeks to eliminate the other. It is in the interests of each nation’s population to accept each other’s right to exist, even if they find it hard to be amicable about it. How can life be pleasant for either nation if the threat of more violence is let loose on innocent people?

Saturday 8 December 2012

A shameful action
Eighteen months ago, with a seeming rush of blood to his head, David Cameron announced at the Conservative Party Conference that he was going to legislate for gay marriage. This must have been a shock to the members gathered as it was contrary to all recognised Conservative policy. Thousands more around the country felt the same, and wondered what ploy he was up to.

Realising the opposition, he announced there would be a consultation about the proposal, and the subsequent result shocked him this time. Over 600,000 people signed a petition against it. True to Cameron’s style of democracy, he announced whilst the Consultation period was still in being, that legislation would be introduced, and stated falsely that most people were in favour. He even quoted opinion poll figures to support his assertion, which was strongly contradicted by the poll organiser.

When the Churches made their feelings known he promised Churches would be exempted, but again this impostor of being a Conservative has now stated the legislation would authorise Churches to perform same sex marriages, but stated he guaranteed 100% that they would not be forced to and legislation would enshrine this. Further, the legislation will be rushed through in the New Year, this is because he is frightened of the strength of the opposition and wants to get it done quickly.

If anyone feels reassured by his guarantee they are either naïve at best or at worst completely foolish. He is like the con man who issues a cheque knowing it will bounce. European law states that if any state has in existence an Equality and Diversity law, which Britain has, then there could be no exemptions.

What will assuredly happen is that some same sex couple will be refused a marriage in the Church, (even perhaps a set up) and will run to the Human Rights Court and win their case. Compensation will be applied, for as well as the right to have a ceremony, and Cameron will refuse to accept responsibility saying it was not his fault, the European Court overruled him. David Cameron whatever other faults he has, such as posing as a Conservative or making false promises, is not stupid and will know full well his guarantee is worthless.

This man for some cheap stunt to show he is ‘cool’ in the modern idiom will cost the Tories the next election. Comments in the hundreds have been made on the internet by those who believe in traditional marriage. I only wish our Anglican leaders were as forceful in condemnation as the Roam Catholic leaders have been.

No bible believing Christian could support same sex marriage, just search the Scriptures, but then few Members of Parliament could seriously claim to be Christian in the full sense of the term.

Whilst it was expected that the Liberal Democrats would be in total support of such legislation, and Labour members largely in favour, a vast number of Conservative members are opposed, and if Cameron had any respect for his party he would have consulted them. As one lady Conservative stated seemingly aptly, he and his friend are two posh boys completely out of touch with ordinary people. Other Conservative members have used the word ‘arrogant’, and who could quarrel with them.

Thursday 29 November 2012

I want to turn with you to the 21st verse of the 7th Chapter of Matthew’s gospel. Jesus said, ‘not everyone who calls me Lord shall enter the kingdom of heaven’.
In every action of life we are confronted with a choice, where we must make a decision to do one thing or another. In this passage, which comes at the end of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is confronting us with a hard or an easy way. Here we find Jesus talking to His disciples and to a great crowd of people gathered on a mountain. He is telling them what it means to be a follower of Him, the way they are to live, and what would be expected of a Christian.

He laid out clearly that we have to make a choice which will mean commitment on our part, which still applies to us in our time. Such commitment will make demands that many people will not be prepared to accept. He leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind what is required.

Jesus taught there are two gates, two roads,two masters, and two destinies, heaven and hell. The choice we make will form us into two classes. There are only two roads, and this is quite definitive, no third way. This is now very unpopular and generally not liked or approved as it is seen as being too restrictive, too bigoted and intolerant.

We have come to a state in this country now where a Christian person may not express a personal view based on sincere religious belief if it might offend someone or even seem to offend someone. This does not apply apparently to other faith speakers.

In the current debate regarding same sex marriage, any person expressing a view against that is deemed to be bigoted and homophobic, even though personal sexuality is not entering into the discussion. Similarly with the question of women bishops, to oppose is to be sexist and misogynist.

But Jesus says we must be prepared to enter through the narrow gate and on to the narrow road. It is like coming to a crossroads with each road going in the opposite direction. On the broad road you enter by a wide gate and there is plenty of room with plenty of people on it. On this road there are no restrictions and you can do your own thing. There will even be men and women on it who were ordinarily nice and decent people; some may have considered themselves to be Christians even if that might have overstated the fact.

Whenever a controversial subject arises regarding the Christian faith, such as in fact women bishops or infant baptism, the press commentators get very emotional and suggest as long as you are honest and sincere you are a full blown Christian with your place in heaven secure.

In all the thousands of funerals I have taken over the years, in every case there has never been any doubt that the deceased is in heaven irrespective of the manner of living. We see the paradox when a relative tells in admiring tones of all the dubious activities the deceased got up to.

Others say if you just follow your conscience you’ll be fine, but consciences become dulled and hardened. Taking the lead from politicians, people can look you in the eye and lie without any qualm of conscience.

We are reminded of the superficiality of commitment in our own time. Less than 10% of people think God worthy of one hour per week to visit a Church. Yet if you were to ask people their religion, the vast majority would reply C of E and seriously consider they were Christians. They would be mortally offended if you suggested otherwise. Yet very few people seem bothered to think of Jesus, even less to do anything about it.

It is easy to say ‘I am a Christian; the popular view is that if you are not an atheist or a member of another faith, you are a fully fledged Christian. So there will be room enough for all who do not wish to make a positive commitment to follow Christ.

Jesus said, ‘no one can come to the Father except through me. I am the only way’. All who enter through the narrow road, which Jesus wants us to take, must be prepared to accept what He says, however much it is deemed as being non correct in many Churches. The road is narrow because it is the way of truth, holiness and righteousness.

God has given us the ability and free will to choose and lets you do so. We have to think of our eternal destiny, remembering one of these roads leads to destruction the other to life with Jesus.

Jesus went to warn of false prophets which have always been a problem, no more so than today. We have sadly a great divide on issues, where people are placing their own ambitions and preferences before the wider interests of the Church, and the people outside the Church are naturally confused. If we in the Church cannot agree with what Scripture says, we cannot expect those outside to believe or be interested in us. The Bible loses all credibility and so do we.

Neither can the narrow road be pursued if we are motivated by a desire to please society. We are allowing some to try and create a secular agenda within thee Church. True disciples of Jesus Christ will not play to the galleries nor form values according to the passing approval of people in general. God’s approval is all that matters.

It can be hard to be a Christian in this country at the present time and many find the going too hard and strenuous and the opposition oppressive. Any open expression of our faith is likely to lead to suspension or dismissal from work. There is so much harassment of Christians which is not reported here and you have to listen to the American news channels to discover what is going on in this country.

Nearly 70 years ago brave young men took to the skies to fight the Battle of Britain against a ruthless foe. Today, as Christians, we need to fight the battle for Britain, against equally ruthless foes who want to drive Christianity out of public life and turn it into a private cult. We are like fighters in enemy occupied territory.

The government has sold out to the liberal lobby and has taken legal powers to prevent Christians from opting out of that which contravenes their beliefs. How Jesus would weep over Britain today as He did over Jerusalem, as He sees the obstacles put in our way.

As Christians we must always seek to glorify the Lord in our ways and speech. Church members can let the Lord down if things don’t please them. We find people walking out of Church if someone says something they disagree with, or proposes something different with which they disagree, or if they are not given the deference they feel due. There is no subject, which should be beyond Christians to resolve amicably.

You may have read of the Vicar and Curate who gave a very literal exposition of Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians on the duties of husbands and wives, a little adventurous and imprudent for Sevenoaks perhaps. Rather than enter into a discussion with the Vicar, a number of women walked out taking their direct debits with them. Such action falls from grace and only tends to drag Christianity through the mud.

Jesus warns us that there must be a clear acceptance of His teaching and total obedience to it. Just to recite a creed and attend Church is not enough. We honour Jesus by calling Him Lord and sing hymns expressive of our devotion to Him. The lips that sing His praise should never be the lips that start trouble.

Saturday 24 November 2012

Joshua 24 v 15
(As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord)
Joshua was quite clear, he and his family would serve the Lord. The choice we make will decide our eternal future, so we should think deeply. Joshua’s words have a resonance for us today

We constantly read and hear reports of young people between the ages of 7 and teenage years terrifying whole neighbourhoods. They abuse, assault, vandalise and rob at will, and if anyone should remonstrate with them that person runs the risk of stabbing or serious injury. On several occasions men with families have been killed whilst defending their property. Whole gangs roam the streets seeking confrontation with other gangs and their members, which have cost the lives of substantial number of young men, sometimes innocent victims.

On so many occasions, broken homes have been a cause of such behaviour, with a mother unable to control or showing an utterly irresponsible line. One 12 years old boy terrified an estate and his mother said he was ‘her little satan, but wasn’t really evil’. An unwitting contradiction in terms, but added he just needs understanding. He certainly needs something, but more severe than understanding. Yet again an absent father

‘A nation is only as strong as its homes’, said Abraham Lincoln, and today our homes are reflecting the state of the our nation, which is in the deteriorating state of moral and social decay, which should make us fear for the future of our children and grandchildren.

The home now doesn’t mean as much today as it used to do, and to so many people the idea of two people being married as the ideal is old fashioned and rather stupid. .
Marriage was built on the foundations of the Bible. It has been said that in 100 years from now, marriage will have ceased to exist, and if some members of the government had their way it would be in a lot less time.

There are indeed powerful forces within the government and liberal establishment who are determined to destroy the traditional and biblical image of the home, marriage, and family. One senior Minister is waging a one woman war against it, and is quoted as having said categorically that there is no such thing as the ideal family. She is of course supported by other members.

God has laid down clearly what He expects, and we ignore to our peril
The Bible says ‘when the foundations are destroyed what shall the righteous do’. Homes are the foundation and bedrock of society, and they are being destroyed. If evil forces win the battle for the home there is nothing left worth fighting for. We have to restore the home as the basic unit of society..

There are problems in our homes. What's wrong? So often today couples marry without truly knowing each other and have no reluctance as divorce carries no stigma and is easy to access.

An indication of how our judiciary thinks and views the Christian faith was displayed in the High Court when it was said, ‘marriage is not generally regarded as a sacrament and divorce is a statistical commonplace’.

God never meant that we were to break up. Only death can part us. It is for life, It is for keeps. And God says only one thing can break the marriage vow and that is adultery.

The Bible teaches absolute fidelity on the part of both husband and wife, and the Bible recognizes no lower standards.

The Bible teaches that marriage is holy and sacred in the sight of God. I'm afraid that some enter into it like it's all a big joke. Some go into marriage for spite. Others go into marriage for luck and they break up and there's trouble and there's disappointment.. Marriage should be preceded by the most careful thought.

The Bible says only adultery is a reason for divorce, which only justifies the innocent party. One of the nations’ favourite television programmes has been featuring two people, who are neighbours, conniving at having an affair as a major story line People are so captivated by television stories they think they have to emulate them in real life. I dread seeing weddings or funerals on television as I know some of the ridiculous actions will be asked for in the following weeks.

We have so much unhappiness and trouble in the home today because we've got away from God's laws, rules, and regulations governing marriage, When God performed the first marriage, He laid down the rules, and He said if you want to have a happy home, obey these rules. If you want to have trouble, disobey them.

Having children means more than conceiving and bearing them. Raising children is a vitally responsible and important task. It is more than being a novelty for some celebrity or as a passport to the top of the housing list for a young woman. A whole future life is in the hands of parents, yet we hear of multiple children of a woman from multiple fathers who have no interest in the poor children.

It is reckoned that in the majority of homes no biblical knowledge or teaching is being given to children, probably as much due to the fact the parents have none.

Each generation claims things are worse than in their time, but I can never recall a time when children were allowed to terrorise whole neighbourhoods and cause such fear vandalising, abusing and stealing knowing they are virtually immune from any punishment. They are fully aware of the law which protects them, and little help is offered in most cases by police. It is hard to comprehend how the police allow such behaviour to develop, they certainly wouldn’t when it was known as ‘the Police Force’ rather than what is now little more than a social service. Society must decide what sort of a future we want as far as children are concerned.

We can learn so much from Jewish parenthood. Father’s teaching to his children of the Ten Commandments, one for each of the ten fingers, and the history of the Jewish people from the Old Testament, and the mother controlling behaviour. I have never known nor heard of a Jewish child being involved in violent disorder or crime. When I have sought an answer, I have been told it is because of the Jewish Mama in the home.

Mothers can indeed have a great effect on children. I was often required to be away from the home for long hours, and it is a great tribute to my wife that two of my sons became ordained, and have proved to be very wonderful and successful Ministers.

Far too many children are left to their own devices. How can teenagers roam the streets drunk and threatening people, stabbing other teenagers, and forming life threatening other gangs, without the parents knowing of it. So why don’t they do something about it. Yet again, in the days of an interested and efficient Police Force, action would have been taken under the Children’s Act for failing to control their children.

Some feminist thinkers have said that motherhood will have to go in a new social order and find a new way of raising children. You may have seen women being asked on television what their occupation was, and sometimes you hear the reply, ‘just a housewife’ No apology is needed . A housewife and mother is as great a calling as any in the world. Like God they are a very present help in times of trouble. My sons have all held their mother in the highest esteem and my son who died called Mum as his last word.
Christian standards have gone from many homes, Everywhere, people search for happiness from the wrong things and wrong places. Many criminals have come from homes where there has been no peace, no discipline nor Christian values or teaching. The biggest cause of young criminals is due to marital breakdown and separation

It is a matter of great regret that government is forcing councils, some of which don’t need that much encouragement, to foster and send for adoption children to two people of the same sex. A child needs a father and a mother, both of whom are essential to a child’s moral and social development and welfare. It is therefore irresponsible to make such enactment and reveals contempt for God’s decree.

Is it not ironic that the equality Minister stated two men cannot be trusted to run anything and need a woman, yet she considers two men are capable of bringing up children.

The Bible says we have to have discipline in the home. It is a sign of the times that discipline has become non existent in many homes, schools, and society in general. Children have a natural bias to do wrong; you never have to teach a child to say no.

If Britain is to defend its values successfully, it must rediscover the Christian faith.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Women Bishops

The decision of women being appointed as bishops has been decided and there is much rancour. I hope all can look at the issue in a measured way, looking beyond the simple matter of equality according to the world’s understanding, taking into consideration more profound

The decision of the Church of England not to agree to the appointment of women bishops has naturally been given much space in newspapers and on television. I find it intriguing that so many people can find interest in what the Church does internally, yet fails to find the interest to attend any of its services.

A lot of criticism has been levelled that the Church is treating women as second class citizens and will not give equal status, some of this criticism has been frankly quite improper. I wonder why however there has been no such criticism of Islam, a religion in which women are not allowed any participation at all. Do you not think it odd, especially recognising the fact that Islam is the fastest growing faith, and attracting conversions by women who think it more moral?

I understand how some women priests must be feeling depressed when the media and senior clergy have been building up their hopes. There have been some women whose names have been widely tipped for elevation, and I can imagine some have been getting their measurements ready for the purple robes.

All the criticism of evangelicals who were prominent in opposing the measure cannot be justified, and some of the remarks have been totally unworthy of mature adults; such as the woman who emerging into the rain, said that God was shedding tears; or the man who posed for photographs wearing the words ‘God is an equal opportunity supporter,’ which made him look quite silly.

There has been talk (amazingly) of God being involved, which is quite a reasonable thing for Church people to do. He doesn’t seem to have had a lot of consideration. If we are going to do so, we can do no better than to turn to His Word, given to writers of the Bible. No matter how hard I try, in all sincerity, I cannot find any authority for appointing women bishops, but there are numerous verse to oppose.

But there are other issues involved in the decision making. Much of the debate has been based on sociological reasoning rather than theological. The supporters have been treating men and women totally on equality grounds, in other words in a worldly manner. When God made both men and women He made them perfectly equal, but physically different to fulfil different purposes in the world. Realists have understood each sex has superior abilities in different ways in order to make this world a more comfortable and exciting place.

The whole debate has centred on women having authority for its own sake, just as politicians have struggled (without success) to have women being given promotions in the workplace to fulfil quotas. When women were first ordained priests it was after many claimed God was calling them to ministry and they wanted to serve Him in such a way. Just as with some men, whilst many are happy serving God faithfully in the parishes, others just want to claim the greasy pole.

We should also consider that any such change would mean ignoring 5000 years of theology, 2000 years of church history and 500 years of Anglican tradition. It would also mean affecting unity with the worldwide Church where there is no suggestion of women bishops, such as with Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches of Greece and Russia

It is being widely claimed that this decision will mean the Church will not appeal to the public, which ignores the fact that the Churches in the developing world where is no thought of appointing women bishops,
are attracting thousands of people, and the growing Churches in this country are evangelical ones, or indeed hold traditional services.

Let us acknowledge, a way had been devised where those opposed to women bishops could be accommodated, but that was not enough for some, they wanted a complete surrender of any opposition.

The Archbishop of Canterbury this morning stated the world does not understand the theological objection and the Church was setting itself apart from the trends of society. This is a remarkable statement from the head of the Church; the Church should be setting the agenda not following it. The Lord we follow was not concerned what society thought, and above all showed a sense of humility many in today’s Church should emulate.

Saturday 17 November 2012

Mark 13
The Gospel lesson this Sunday comes from the 13th Chapter of Mark, in the first eight verses.
This Chapter has been described as the most Jewish in the whole Bible as it relates to Jewish history. The words and terms Jesus uses would be familiar to the Jews of His day. The Chapter refers to the Second Coming of the Lord, which many people decline to believe or just simply ignore.

The Jews always believed they were God’s chosen people and as such merited a special and predominant place in the world which they could only achieve by God’s help, and they were confident this would be given. This would be known as the ‘Day of the Lord’, which would be followed by a time of trouble after which God would create a new world and judgement would follow.

The Temple in Jerusalem was considered to be among the most spectacular wonders of the ancient Roman Empire. The original temple constructed by Solomon had been destroyed and when the Jews returned to the homeland 70 years later, they constructed the second temple. King Herod wanted to gain favour with the Jews so offered to rebuild their temple. The work began in 20BC and would eventually take 66 years to complete.

The building stood on top of Mount Moriah and literally dominated the skyline of the ancient city. Between the Temple and the city lay a valley and a bridge spanned that valley which led straight into the Royal porch. It could be seen from many miles away and from anywhere in the city, being 172 feet long and 20 stories high. The stones that made up Herod’s Temple were pure white limestone, and the doors, walls and floors of the Temple were overlaid with pure gold.

Jesus had left the Temple with His Apostles who commented on the beauty of the buildings. Jesus knew that the Temple would by 70AD be destroyed by the Roman Army, and told the Apostles it would one day come down. When He was asked when it would happen, went on to say men would come and lead the Church astray with heresies.

This is done on various ways; by teaching doctrine to meet their own ends, and the same thing is happening in the Church today as men and women are moulding Christian truth to suit themselves. If such truth conflicts with desires, amend the truth is the practice.

Then there is teaching that God is a God of love and forgiveness who is ready to forgive all when asked, without telling that God is a God of justice and can be angered by sin. It is a false teaching that Christianity can be so ordered to look popular and attractive, irrespective as to whether it contradicts Scripture, as we see by the advocates of same sex marriage and loose morality

There is always the attempt to stop people from attending Church. Incredible as it may appear,a Vicar recently told people not to bother worrying about going to Church on Sundays but stay in bed and enjoy yourselves. This adds credibility to people who firmly claim that you don’t have to go to Church to be a Christian. If a person separates from Church there is something wrong with their thinking.

This is the message of the Epistle for the day, which states, ‘let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage on another.’

A Church family is unique in that it consists of different ages, backgrounds, experiences and sexes. It is where God provides for us to be come equipped to carry out His message to the world. We sing praise together, pray for each other and for the world's needs, share bread and wine in Holy Communion, and remember what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.

We live in two worlds. We live in the earthly world, but we also live in the world of the Spirit, and there is always the danger we can forget about God and become so involved in earthly activities.

We need to meet with others to have fellowship, to gain and give encouragement. Each of us has to make an effort. Most people believe in God and many have a respect for the Church, but that is as far as it goes. They don’t want God or the Church to intrude into their lives, unless of course they want a baptism or wedding and then both can become useful.

There are many, far too many people in recent times, who have forsaken Church and it can be so very easy to give up, go with the flow and fall away. Once this is done it is often hard to get back into the practice of coming to Church. This is why the Bible urges the need for Christians to be with each other.

There are numerous reasons for people giving up worship. There are the cynical voices pouring scorn, making people feel doubtful. There are forces of secularisation, now given so much attention and credence. There are pressures from within families, where some members are anti-church, notably husbands regarding their wives. The worry about taking a public stand, and indeed, from within the Church itself. So we should not be tempted to separate ourselves from those who are joined to us by a common faith. Meeting and following Christ can be costly but mostly well rewarded.

We must always be aware of the fact that in many parts of the world Churches cannot exist, nor can Christians meet with other Christians for fear of imprisonment or even death. Increasing hostility is being displayed in countries like Egypt, Pakistan, and Nigeria, where Churches are burned down and bombed. Here we still have freedom to worship, but if not cherished and valued and fought for will be lost.

But there is one thing I feel needs to be stressed. We should ensure the Church we attend is one faithful to God’s Word and seeks to build each other up through the Scriptures, and where the true gospel is preached.

We have to acknowledge however sadly this is not always the case, so it serves no purpose going to a Church which fails to do these things. Too many preachers have their own agenda, which is created around a morality not supported by Scripture, and where the teaching is given to subscribe to the culture of the day.

You must find a Bible based Church. Research in America has shown that going to Church and meeting with fellow believers is good for your health. A survey in North America of 4,000 people, found that older people especially who attended Church, were less depressed and far healthier that their non religious counterparts.

Let us therefore draw near to God, holding firmly to your belief. Don’t let unpleasant people, secularists, or anyone else hold you back. Remember too, Jesus said if anyone rejected Him, He will one day reject them. Such a fate is too horrible to consider.

The combined message from these two readings is that Jesus will one day return when He will be the judge of all our lives and to Him we will answer. We are warned there will be signs such as wars, famines, earthquakes; things which have taken place through the ages, although the threat seems more potent now especially when Israel is surrounded by hostile nations who are threatening to unite against Israel with the intention of destroying that nation. Israel will not lie down, but fight fiercely and who can tell the consequences. This should make any intelligent person who does not attend Church and/or worship Christ think seriously.

If you do not believe in Christ, these two readings ought to make you reflect very deeply. The Bible states, ‘God is ready to welcome you, now is your time to receive salvation’. Don’t miss out.

And be at Church on Sunday. God bless you

Wednesday 14 November 2012

The Chancellor of the Exchequer is one you expect to be a man of probity and integrity, not giving to words of intemperance or exaggeration, certainly not to making misleading or false representations, especially if a Conservative Chancellor. Yet George Osborne risibly suggested that if the Tories were to have a hope of winning the next General Election, they would have to legislate for same sex marriage. This is so ridiculous it is hardly credible.

In order to justify such nonsense he quoted the fact that four States in America voted in favour of such action, and this was the cause of Obama’s victory, but failed most noticeably to state that thirty one States rejected such a proposal, and in one case in North Carolina, the opponents of same sex marriage were outspent on a ratio of 4-1.

He then went on to state that the majority of people wanted same sex marriage to be enacted, which again is not borne out by polls. ComRes reported that such legislation would cost the Tories 30 seats at an election losing 1.1 million votes. In addition, 70% of people voted in favour of traditional marriage in another poll, and a petition organised by The Coalition for Marriage attracted over 611,000 supporters, the most ever recorded for a petition.

The Conservative Party Conference held fringe meetings on a variety of topics, but an opportunity of discussing same sex marriage was not held or allowed to be held.

The Prime Minister promised to hold a Consultation period for people to state their views, but has acted in a way which would shame the most totalitarian regime by stating, with Ministerial colleagues, whilst the Consultation was in progress, and before any analysis or consideration has been given, that legislation WOULD be made and it is rather a question of when not if. Such is democracy Cameron style.

The Anglican Church has been described as homophobic for opposing by the Liberal Democrat Lynne Featherstone, and ‘Stonewall’, the Lesbian and Gay Organisation recently showed its idea of free speech. At a ceremony where awards were given for various activities, one award was named as ‘bigot of the year.

The nominees for this award were a man who likened gay people to Nazis, calling them gaystapo; another who called same sex marriage as deviant behaviour; a man who said a gay man died because he was gay; and a man who supported a call to kill gay people. Despite this list of people with attitudes of extreme views, the man they named as bigot of the year was the Cardinal Archbishop of Glasgow, Keith O’Brien who gave a reasoned theological answer against same sex marriage based of course on Scripture.

The liberal minded people like David Cameron, Nick Clegg, etc and Stonewall do not so much object to others having a different opinion, they just don’t think you should have an opinion, least of all to dare to express it.

Friday 9 November 2012

Sunday is Remembrance Day and services will be held to remember those men and women who gave their lives in the cause of freedom, and others who were badly wounded and disabled for life.

As the years roll by, the number of those who were alive during the last World war grows ever smaller reducing by the year. The memories however do not fade as we recall how this nation stood alone on the brink when all seemed lost and there was talk of surrender. But God raised up a man (Winston Churchill) who would rally the nation to perform such heroic deeds.

Sadly so many young people do not and will not learn of this glorious chapter of our history, never having to endure the horrors and hardship of war. Such has been the parlous direction of education for so many years in (state) schools under a government which seemed to have no pride in our past, that children have little if any knowledge of what was achieved in order that they have all the privileges they now enjoy.

We think of those shot down over German skies, who perished on the beaches on D-Day, drowned on Atlantic convoys, or were brutally tortured under Japanese prison guards.

Now we have to add those who perished or have been injured, on the streets of Iraq, blown up on dusty Afghan roads. This is the most wasteful loss of life, as young men are being sacrificed for a mission which never had any realistic hope of success. If a nation like Russia with all its might, and without being held to account for its actions, could not win in that country, we certainly cannot when our army is answerable to strict human rights law, with greedy lawyers lurking to launch compensation claims on any grounds.

This should make us reflect of the sacrifices made with the hope that what they died for would be practised and honoured.

We all long for peace, on our streets, in our homes, in the world, but peace is more than political catchphrase, it means peace most of all with God. Blessed are the peacemakers is a beatitude which is saying, ‘blessed are they who make the world a better place’.

The country has largely rejected Christianity, and become secularised, many judging by internet comments, see it as a subject for mockery. In all walks of public life, even to the highest level of government; we have flagrant lying, deceit, corruption and unrestricted immorality, conduct which can only destroy. Anyone who speaks out is branded as being narrow minded. There has to be concern when so many in high public office cannot be relied upon to speak truth, and not make false expenses claims.

This nation was built on a solid Christian foundation; the Commandments were the basis of our legal system. Now, in the midst of the most serious economic and financial crisis a country can face, we have a Prime Minister whose most urgent priority is to oppose God’s law with a ‘passion’ to legalise same sex marriage. This violates God’s law and destroys centuries of tradition. We must look forward to having men and women holding high office who have a set of principles for the good of all rather than their own private ambitions. We need leaders who will accept the standards laid down in God’s Holy Word.

That is what men fought and died for, and what men and women are doing now in our Army, Navy and Air Force. Our prayers must be for them and also reach out to their families in what must be anxious times. We should not subject them to scrutiny by those living in legal ivory towers in their every action, realising the tensions under which they live.

I spoke at a Veterans Day service, after the service I received a letter from a lady who wrote, "I grew up in the 20s and 30s in a free country with principles. We joined the forces because we thought we were fighting to preserve a way of life which other countries envied. We grew up in God fearing families. For a long time I have felt like a lonely voice crying in the wilderness. The only answer I have had is we have moved on. I feel as though I am losing my faith." I don’t believe she is a lone voice crying in the wilderness. I think there are many people in sympathy with her. I am sure there are many who would agree with her and such sentiments

Those who fought for their country, all those veterans knew what counted in life as they fought for a safer world. The men on the fighting lines knew things had to get better. What would they say if they knew what things were going on this country now? Would they wonder if their great sacrifices were worthwhile as they looked at us?

We seem to have forgotten, or even tried to remember, or for those too young, to find out what it must have been like for those who came home blinded; with broken limbs; mentally scarred after years as a prisoner of war. What must they have felt to see grown men and women taking legal action for hurt feelings caused by mere words, and those making compensation claims for minor injuries? How would they feel to hear some jumped up public official refusing to let the flag they fought under be displayed lest it upset people not even born here, people who in fairness would not think of complaining or objecting.

Those men and women had a faith and belief for which they fought, and now we as Christians have to take over that fight. Legislation is being made, and has been made, with laws so distinctly contradictory to Christian teaching, with public officials so ready to try and erase Christianity from public life, and even Church leaders are prepared to compromise Forty five case of discrimination against Christians are being pursued through the Courts. It is therefore intensely important, that we should positively let people know the true message, according to God’s Holy Word.

We have a society which is encouraged to forsake a Christian consensus and live, not by Christian principles, but by substituting other principles. We are submerged in a world that is committed to falsehood, which is why we are called to proclaim the truth.

If ever the Word of God was needed it is never more so than now. It calls for people to turn back to God who is ready and able to meet the needs of everyone who turns to Him. The message we have for the world is centred upon the person of Jesus Christ.

Today, there will be people in all our Churches who would not normally be there, thus revealing a spiritual content in their lives. Indeed, almost all people have some spiritual longing. There are so many of these people who would be of enormous value to the Church, and who in turn could add so much to their lives. Let us pray that those leading services will boldly proclaim the faithful gospel that may lead others to come to know the Lord Jesus.

Many people are like the two British soldiers who found themselves lost in the deserts of Iraq. They eventually came across a two star American General in his jeep. As they approached him they didn’t even bother to salute and simply blurted out ‘excuse me mate, can you tell us where we are?’ The General took umbrage at their casual attitude and sternly replied, ‘Don’t you know who I am?’ at which one of the soldiers turned to the other and said, ‘Now we are in real trouble, we don’t know where we are and he doesn’t know who he is!’

We need a daring programme of revival, which God is challenging us to make. We within the Church need to ensure our services are always meaningful and encouraging. However, there is reluctance within some Churches to preach a vibrant Biblical message for fear of being criticised as being offensive to other faiths. Such reluctance is not reciprocated. People, I believe, are longing for and wanting spiritual leadership. All who treasure the Christian faith, and the memory of those who gave their lives to preserve a Christian heritage, must work and pray for a spiritual revival of the Christian Church.

May we, on this special day, well remember the sacrifices others made that we might be here at this hour. We must never ever forget the lives of so many gallant young men and women given that we may have peace in our lives.

Wednesday 7 November 2012

We now know who the new American President is. The election has, to a lot of people’s annoyance here, had massive press coverage, in the United Kingdom, but it is right that we should have had such coverage as America is our closest ally and best friend, and of much more significance than Europe. We speak the same language and share a similar culture, and America influences much of our lives and business.

I personally am sorry the American people chose to support a man who favours same sex marriage, abortion, and use of cannabis, and whose party was reluctant to mention God at their convention. I agree Romney was not the ideal challenger, but at least he held traditional moral values. If Obama’s second term is as bad as his first, not only America will suffer, so will we all. It is said he looked Presidential over the hurricane troubles, but it might be more appropriate to say he acted so. If ever he gives up politics he is a natural for the stage.

Naturally most people in Britain are rejoicing, for the Republican Party is not liked here, it has too close a relationship with God, which is an anathema to journalists and our politicians especially, although in this secular country not surprising. One journalist on Sky the other night was mocking at the intervention of God’s name into an election.

In this morning’s Telegraph one commentator was full of joy at the secular turn of events in the States and could not contain his pleasure that the ‘religious right is dead’, that Obama is not really a Christian, encouraging people to absent themselves from Church on Sundays, and welcoming America to secular Europe. When you bear in mind the Telegraph is considered to be a conservative and Conservative paper, you realise the changing times.

It will be a very sad day if his wishes come true. For many people of Christian faith, the United States was a beacon of hope against a secular and anti Christian Europe.

I hope that in future the Republican Party bears in mind that it is not necessary to consider only men to run for President. There are some outstanding women available to the Party who have proved themselves in Office. I was disappointed that at one time the name of Condoleeza Rice came up as a possible running mate to Romney only to be lost somewhere, what a brilliant lady who would have appealed to women voters. Another name for the future might be Nikki Haley the South Carolina Governor who has made a very favourable impression. We can only hope

Sunday 4 November 2012

This Sunday’s gospel reading is taken from the 12th Chapter in Mark’s gospel.

Jesus was often asked questions and usually it was an attempt to try and trap Him, but this man who came to question Jesus appeared to really want a proper answer. He asked Jesus which of the Ten Commandments was the first of all.

We remember God gave the Commandments as a way to live, the first four in relation to God, and the others with a duty to our fellows’ beings. Some people view them as just to be taken literally, but Jesus extended them to give a wider meaning. For example, as regards murder, we can offend by not only killing the body of someone, but also killing their character by gossip and false words. Similarly we commit adultery by lustful thougths and words, and by stealing, not only from shops and burglaries, but by misappropriating articles from employers.

Jesus answered by telling the man he should love God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength and secondly loving his neighbour as himself. If we are to love our neighbour we must first love God, so we must consider what is implicated in loving God. Many Christian s become apathetic and lose the enthusiasm they once had causing them to become indifferent and not a good model for a Christian. There is a lack of that passion we see displayed for political causes, or amongst football supporters, or as we are seeing displayed by minority groups for their cause.

We are called to love God with all our heart and when you love someone so they fill your whole life dominating it, not just giving an occasional moment. Devotion comes to mind to describe the feeling. People often come to know the Lord at an evangelistic meeting and there is a feeling of excitement and joy. There is an experience of grace and forgiveness, a sense of freedom of the soul. We need to retain much of that experience.

We love God with our soul, which means all our emotions given to Him.

We love God with our mind, letting Him be at the forefront of all we do in life so that when we face difficult decision and problems we think what would He want us to do, and in return He will give us wisdom and knowledge.

We love God with all our strength, in that we live out that love by our daily lives doing all we think He would want us to do and restricting our actions so that by our behaviour we do all that pleases Him and nothing that would offend. There is a belief that you can think and act as you like privately which cannot be seen by others, but we should remember God sees right into our hearts and recognizes we are not living fully as we should. If our relationship with God is not right it materially affects any other relationship.

Jesus told the scribe he was not far from the Kingdom of God, but that suggested he was not in fact within, and Jesus was indicating it is not enough to say you believe, there must be proof by action. Such a position is reflected in Christian people’s lives today.

True love for God is not shown by just attending Church on Sundays and mouthing words, having your name on the Church roll, there must be consistency displayed living it out from Mondays and Saturdays. This may imply reviewing social habits, such a refraining from heavy drinking of alcohol which leads to ungodly conduct; things we watch on television and movies, books and magazines we read. We cannot be true to our faith if we indulge in drinking bouts or get involved with pornography

We need to be the kind of Christians that are truly dedicated ready to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls, strengths and minds so as to be more able and worthy to represent our Lord in the midst of so many non-believers

Wednesday 31 October 2012

The Letter of Jude
I invite you to look with me at the smallest book of the Bible, the Letter of Jude which is right at the end of the New Testament. It is only 25 verses long but its message is timelessly relevant.

This Letter is seldom if ever preached upon. This Sunday is when the Church recognises him and is the only occasion when he features in the Lectionary. The only time I have heard it preached was by an old Scottish Minister on Stornoway. It is probably the most unpopular Letter in the New Testament, , as it deals with absolutes and does not support the loose morality which exists and it seems so wrong that it should be so neglected, but it is an anathema to the politically correct elite who dominate our society and have infiltrated our Churches

The Letter begins by Jude identifying himself as the writer and a servant of Jesus Christ. He is humble in failing to disclose he is the (half) brother of Jesus, but obviously does not want to trade on that relationship.

He described those he is writing to. He means those who have responded to the call from God, and so are kept for Jesus as His followers.

In verse 3 Jude points out that he intended to write a letter about salvation, but noticed he faced Christianity being attacked from outside the Church and also from within. He found preachers were preaching false doctrine and advocating a gospel which fitted within their desires and approach and he saw a dishonouring of Christ which led to a deceiving of souls. They were teaching that God’s grace is so wide people can do what they wish and God will forgive any sin, but God set moral boundaries to define right from wrong. They were using the gospel to justify their immoral living and there are those in the Church today who are doing the same thing.

Consider the situation now existing within the Church. One half states it is acceptable to sleep around, have children freely outside of marriage,(even have them baptised at your wedding) have same sex marriage, practice homosexuality, believe there are many ways to God not accepting Jesus as the only way. Don’t have to take the Bible literally. The other half takes a completely opposite stance. In fact, you can find Churches in the same area in the same denomination teaching totally different messages, and we expect people to come to Church.

What does it say for a Church which has difficulty in selecting a leader, primarily because there are two factions who cannot agree a common Creed, and each wants a man who shares their belief.

So in verse 4 Jude stresses the need for the faithful to earnestly contend for the faith ‘once given’ to the followers of Jesus. The word faith means belief in the inspiration and authority of the Bible, the doctrine of salvation, the Trinity, the Deity of Jesus Christ, His Virgin Birth, His death and resurrection, His ascension in heaven, and His return one day to judge the world. This refutes the teaching of so many in the present that as the Bible was written so long ago we are not bound by its Word. When God gave his message to those He chose to reveal it, it was not just for the first century, but once given it was for all time, and never was it needed to be proclaimed so much than at the present time.
God has said it is our responsibility to take care of this faith and pass it to the next generation. Christianity is always just one generation from extinction. If we don’t contend for the faith, if we don’t fight for what is right, we will have nothing left to pass on to our children and our grandchildren. We are faced with a generation of people many of whom have never attended Church and consequently have no desire to encourage their children to do so.
There was a period in my lifetime when there were good congregations at both Morning and Evening services, and Sunday Schools were held; but now few Churches have an evening service and fifty people at Morning service is thought to be a good attendance, and of course children are nowhere to be seen. This situation is of course partially due to the way society lives, with broken homes, and children visiting the absent parent, and so many secular attractions held at the same time.

But, we have to also accept the Church itself has a case to answer. There has been a combination of factors which have contributed to such a falling off from Church. First, the failure to stand firm on moral issues and not show active opposition of the way society has embraced such a loose attitude. In other words, to show the Church has an alternative and offers something different, otherwise it has no purpose. The second point is that there are far too many Ministers prepared to go along with modern cultural trends and treat the Bible as nothing more than a loose guide. Until we get our act together things can only get worse. God will not bless a Church which indulges in false teaching.
False teachers are as prevalent in the Church of today as they were facing Jude, and are teaching the same falsities.

This Letter is in fact a call to arms for Christians and the Church, especially in Western countries. These are dark days for the Church. We live in a society that largely rejects religion and regards God as having no place in their lives. We live in times when truth is no longer taken as read, but rather accepted as being just what you want it to be. All the boundaries have been swept away, the spiritual moorings have been eroded, and morality is no longer based on Biblical teaching.

For many hundreds of years this country has been Christian. During this time Christians have played a major role in the abolition of slavery, the development of hospitals and education, and Methodist Christians were prominent in the formation of trades unions and workers rights, and generally the Church has been a force for good.

This is why I believe Jude’s letter is so important as an encouragement for all Christians of every denomination and of every age range to ‘contend for the faith’, that is, the body of truths that make up the Christian gospel. All Christians should be most concerned at the way things are going. The position is serious, and if Christianity is pushed out, the spiritual vacuum will be filled by something which might be quite unpleasant.

What Jude is saying is ‘wake up Church it is time to get back to the gospel that was once given’. The Bible states that Jesus died once and for all. It was finished complete by Him, and there is nothing that must be added or taken away.

Friday 26 October 2012

2 Timothy 3 verses 16/17

Sunday next is the day many Churches will recognise as Bible Sunday. For more than thirty years I always recognised Bible Sunday as an important day, and this year I will miss being able to do so.

At one time Bible Sunday was always the 2nd Sunday of Advent when the whole Church joined in celebration of the giving of God’s Word. In recent years Bible Sunday has been moved to the 4th Sunday in October when it is now only optional against the normal Lectionary readings. I see Racial Justice, One World, Peacekeeping and Education, have been marked out for special attention, but apparently Bible Sunday does not warrant special mention, which says a lot about priorities.

However, there is always the option of celebrating Bible Sunday and the giving of the Word on any Sunday.

If we are to face the challenges of our time, the Church and all Christians have to be people of the Bible. So let us look at verses 16/17.

All Scripture is inspired by God. The important word is all. The Bible has become less relevant even to people within the Church, including those whose duty is to teach the Scriptures. Thereby, where as once people might have thought twice about their actions in consideration of what the Bible taught, there is less restraint.

There is a total lack of restraint, rather like a car which has been parked on a hill and someone releases the handbrake causing it to go out of control. A recent poll suggested we were the most godless nation in the world after Japan.

There are so many people within the Church, clerical and lay, who are prepared to settle for less. Moral values clearly laid out in the Bible are set aside to cater for indulging in, or condoning in, behaviour and ways which are contradictory to Scriptural teaching. There is no pick and mix option. Biblical integrity demands you accept what is written, and not choose just those parts that fit in with your own desires.

When you buy something which is under guarantee or warranty, you are given a manual which instructs how you are to look after and care for that article. If you do not conform to the terms, the person who made the article is not obliged to do anything to help, and you have no rights about which to protest.

The maker of the world has laid down the terms in His manual, and if people do not conform to those terms they can have no reason to complain when turmoil occurs.

We are told God inspired and guided forty men, using their different characters and occupations, to write the Scriptures which would be His message to the world. We can reasonably presume that if God gave us these words He would not have done so just to fill pages, but meant us to take note of all that was given.

There are 66 books in the Bible, 39 of which are in the Old Testament and 27 in the New, written by 40 men all but one being Jewish. God used their individual personalities to communicate His words, and none of them would claim it was any thoughts of their own. God wants us to understand and know Him and the only way we can do that is by Him telling us, which He does in this book.

We should be ready to turn to it and study it more. For most Christians I fear Bible reading is confined to someone else reading it in the service. It is not a coincidence, it is fact that as the Bible has become so irrelevant to so many people, life has become so much more coarse and immoral and we have a breakdown in society. There seems to be no sense of shame on the part of many people, even those in the public eye.

We now see politicians rushing to condemn the moral condition of the nation, a condition which most of them legislated to create and encourage, and which they now realise is a moral monstrosity

Timothy is called upon to reprove, rebuke and exhort, which in fact is the task of all preachers. In other words, we have to be concerned with mind, will and emotions by correcting wrong thinking, pointing out what is wrong in behaviour and attitudes, and encouraging those depressed. This has to be done with caring, but positive words.

Many people say they cannot understand much of the Bible. We must first realise it does not solve every problem we have in life, nor answer all the questions we would like to ask. Some things remain a mystery which God has chosen not to reveal this side of heaven.

When Billy Graham, the most successful preacher of all time, was starting out in ministry, he was troubled as to whether the Bible really was God’s Word or man’s idea. There were passages he could not understand. He was so concerned he went up into the mountains near his North Carolina home and read and re-read his King James Version of the Bible, then turned to God and said, ‘I have seen enough of your transforming ability in this Word to know you are behind it. I know there are many questions I do not understand, but I take it by faith that it is your Word and will preach it as your Word and trust you.’ The rest is history. He always encouraged people to take their Bibles with them to his crusades and meetings.

In my visits to preach in Churches I have been amazed how few provide the Bibles. I went to one Church where there was not one Bible, not even for the reading of the Lessons.

The Bible is in fact a collection of books with different styles, all written under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. There is history, poetry, prophecy, as Paul here states, ‘to instruct unto salvation’.

The Bible is essentially a book of salvation and there has never been any doubt that the only way to be saved is through Jesus Christ. He is the focus and climax of the Bible from start to finish. The whole Bible focuses on the coming of Christ, after prophet after prophet in the Old Testament foretold His coming. In the Old Testament Jesus is predicted. In the Gospel Jesus is revealed. In Acts Jesus is preached. In the Epistles Jesus is explained. In Revelation Jesus is anticipated.

The Bible is given to teach us and guide us in the way God wants us to live. This is a very stressful world in which we live. This is a post Christian age when most people under the age of 40 have little if any knowledge of the Christian faith or Church.

The aim of many public officials is to erase Christianity from public life in which no mention or expression of the faith is allowed, and some Christians are swept away by the tide of opposition. In some intellectual and academic circles, the Bible is seen as some form of hate literature, and this is being taught in schools, colleges and universities, simply because it doesn’t fit in with some modern thought.

Paul feared that Timothy, young and timid man, was in danger of yielding to the anti-Christian pressure facing him. His message to Timothy, and which also applies to us, is to stand firm even if it means standing alone. Don’t weaken under pressure.

Timothy was brought up in a Jewish background and so was taught the Scriptures from an early age by his mother and grandmother. It was customary for Jewish boys to be taught the Scriptures from age five. Whilst these would be the Old Testament, he had also been taught by Paul and Peter, who between them had written most of the New Testament, so he would in fact have virtually the whole Bible as we know it in his knowledge.

There is a great tragedy in the fact that children are growing up here without ever hearing the stories of Jesus or the main biblical characters, as parents do not have the time, inclination or knowledge to help them. But it has not always been like that.

Many of us here to-day grew up in a totally different culture. We may not have had all the wonderful technological aids and comforts that now are available, but we benefited in other ways. Like Timothy we were taught about the Bible at home and went to Sunday school as youngsters, learning the stories about Jesus, which gave us standards and values and a good foundation for life. We had morning assemblies in all schools, now largely avoided in (state) schools. This may not have been widely followed up in life, but the basics had been laid and our lives were directed by Christian values. Children are now denied these foundations and are growing up without knowing the country’s religious faith and heritage.

Compare the situation in other faiths’ homes. Muslim children are faithfully taught the Koran and will never allow their holy book to be abused in the way our Bible is; similarly in Jewish homes, where children again are taught about Judaism and the Ten Commandments from an early age.

The argument that because the Bible was written so many years ago we can look at it with a different approach to the present day, doesn’t hold. God was not just the God of the first century, but for all time. So is His Word.

The Bible gives us access to the mind of God. The more we read the more we will know God’s intention for us. Just as you spend more time in a person’s company you get to know them better, so as you spend time with God through His Word, the better you will know Him. For in the Bible God speaks His mind.

The Bible also tells of the consequences for not following God’s will for us. What then can the Church do? Is there an answer?

The Church has a wonderful opportunity to recover lost ground at the present time. The nation has woken up to the moral collapse and the Church should take the opportunity to remind the nation how far it has strayed from Christian influence. Above all, we must defend the authority of Scripture.

Today the Church in the West is in decline, in stark contrast to Africa, Asia, South America, where the Churches have memberships of thousands. The reason these Churches are so strong is because of the strong biblical foundation, and they have not been tearing the Bible away as we have in the West. They still believe it and boldly proclaim it
Many Churches in the West have given up on Scriptural teaching and have engaged in dismantling the Bible and re-interpreting to fit in with the morality (or lack of it) they wish to portray and avoid any suggestion of future judgement. Can you imagine a Muslim cleric challenging the Koran?

All Christians need to stand firm and challenge the moral collapse. But we have to be strong for the forces against us are. Secularists and minority groups have already blocked any attempt to protect Christians from the oppressive Equality and Diversity Act. There are people wanting to stop any public expression of our faith

Be in Church on (Bible) Sunday. May God bless you.

Monday 22 October 2012

Holy Matrimony (Church of England style.)

I assure you the following is not a joke, but actual fact, however hard to believe. This shows how silly the Church has become as those having positions of influence show how irresponsible they are

The Church of England has set out what it calls radical plans to change the way in which it conducts weddings. It is claimed it will ‘modernise’ the service by replacing traditional aspects with what in reality are fancy gimmicks.

Some of the proposals suggested include having biker weddings, where motorcycle enthusiasts, often clad in leather, are transported to church on vintage bikes.

Vicars should even be encouraged to officiate over underwater weddings, where the bride and groom exchange vows in a pool,
couples wearing traditional formal dress over diving suits, they and Vicars having oxygen masks and using special microphones so the couple’s vows can be clearly heard.

Another idea is to have a trained owl to swoop down the aisle with the rings in its talons, which it delivers to the best man. (I kid you not)

A bride could ride to the church on her favourite horse, with the horse remaining inside for the ceremony.

hould not be ruled out. The Bishop of Jarrow stated, they'll be like Posh and Becks for just one day. And I think God can cope with that. And if God can cope with that, it's probably up to me to try to cope with it as well."

VicEmulating the wedding of David and Victoria Beckham’s 1999 marriage in Ireland, golden thrones, sars should also consider allowing a couple’s children to walk down the aisle with them, or include existing children by incorporating a baptism or thanksgiving for a birth.

Vicars should give couples greater freedom in their choice of music, allowing pop songs, such as Here Come the Girls, by the Sugababes, Cosmic Love, by Florence and the Machine, or the theme from BBC Radio 4’s Test Match Special.

The use of cameras with professional photographers being allowed to run freely around the Church, and videos during the ceremony it is urged should be relaxed, but the authors seem to have overlooked the fact that copyright can be involved here

Vicars should stop telling people not to do things. In other words, just allow a free for all where things can get out of control.

On the big day, vicars should refresh their selection of wedding jokes. Now we are to be stand up comedians. (that would be a turn-off)

Findings of the review have been set out in a new book written by Gillian Oliver, the Church’s former head of communications and development, and claims married couples are more likely to become churchgoers if they have been allowed to personalise their ceremony.
"If a couple feel that it's their wedding, they are more likely to feel it's their church," states The Church Weddings Handbook. "And if they feel it's their church, they are more likely to keep coming back." Anyone who seriously believes this has never conducted a wedding or baptism. Churches are chosen for their ‘nice settings’ by many couples.

The conclusions are said to be endorsed by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who, in a foreword, describes the changes as "dynamite". He says that vicars have become "over familiar" with weddings and have "lost touch" with how daunting a traditional ceremony can seem to couples. Perhaps this explains why there is reluctance to appoint him as the next Archbishop of Canterbury. I admit he was my hope.

I am amazed these ridiculous proposals, suggested by someone who has never been a Vicar, and supported by those who should show more common sense, have not been taken up by other papers with less respect than the Telegraph.

What seems to have been overlooked is that weddings are described in Church official language as the Solemnization of HOLY Matrimony.
Can you imagine ‘here come the girls’ by the Sugababes being classified as holy?

Whilst it is generally accepted by society that couples have children out of marriage, the Church should not be seen to be actively encouraging the practice. Hardly a moral stance.

The only thing missing from this parody is a bar selling drinks to keep the audience happy and provide refreshment when the registers are being signed, plus a set of clowns to complete the circus, but then again only clowns of a sort could make these proposals.

When you read such proposals put forward as a serious proposition, it is easy to understand why the Church of England is held with so little regard by the general population.

Friday 19 October 2012

2 Timothy 2 v 3-13.

Paul is aware that he is facing the end of his life and wants to ensure he future of the gospel without it becoming modified and is writing urging Timothy to stand firm, never mind what other people are saying or doing, just be your own man, a man of conviction.

Timothy is about to take over Paul’s place and needs to inspire confidence. If you look at the great political leaders who got things done, they were people who knew what had to be achieved, how to do so, and they had conviction. Whatever may be thought of Margaret Thatcher, she was such a person of conviction who was the one to restore the country back from a period of misrule and chaos, and such was her reign that leaders succeeding her have sought her advice.

Such strength of character is often dismissed within the Church. Some years ago, when the post of Archbishop of Canterbury became vacant, the outstanding candidate of the time was the then Bishop of London, Graham Leonard, who had a reputation as traditional and a man of conviction. The man chosen was one who had a reputation for sitting on fences. History looks like being repeated.

Paul is telling Timothy to follow the teaching of the Apostles and not be led astray, still a good message for to-day when the pressure is constantly to avoid being positive in keeping to Scripture.

A woman Bishop in America once publicly stated that she supported the appointment of homosexual priests, same sex marriage, and said it was not necessary to believe in Jesus Christ to be accepted by God, for you cannot keep God in a box. I have no doubt there are others who would agree with her remarks in both America and Britain.

This is why we must guard the gospel so that it does not become completely changed or re-interpreted, and at a time when there are plenty of people who are prepared to corrupt Scripture. The lesson from the first chapter is that the gospel offers the good news of salvation, and our duty is to communicate it with as much energy and passion as those of other faiths promote their faith.

Paul must have felt saddened to see a falling away from Church after it had made much progress. It is sad when people fall away and once they do so find it hard to return, bit is so easy to succumb, often to outside pressure.

Paul’s call to Timothy is to find his resources for ministry in the grace of Jesus Christ, and to ensure the truth is passed on to the next generation, just as he had received it from Paul. He uses a set of images or metaphors to remind Timothy that hard work and suffering are inevitable.

First, he speaks of a soldier who is required to fight for his king and country, which often means much suffering and discipline and hard work in the face of an enemy whose attacks can be fearsome. The Christian must be a soldier fighting for the Kingdom of God and the King of all Kings. We are engaged in a fierce battle against the forces of secularism and evil, which use every kind of weapon against us.

Many years ago in the last war, there was a comedian who used the catchphrase, ‘don’t you know there is a war going on?’ There is a constant war going on against Christianity and just as today terrorists infiltrate society and use undercover methods, so do the enemies of the gospel. We Christians are to be Christ’s soldiers and be aware of insurgents within the Church.

The second image is that of an athlete. We have recently seen how hard and dedicated an athlete needs to be to compete in sports, and give hours in training and keeping fit. The Christian needs to keep in training by dedicated attendance at Church and study of Scripture to be able to compete with those who try to denounce both Church and Scripture.

Thirdly, says the apostle, the Christian also needs to be like a farmer: "It is the hardworking farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops." The emphasis there is upon the word, hard-working.

Being a Christian is not just taking life easy; it is you working for God, enjoying the privilege of being his faithful servant through whom he does his work. There is no greater achievement than that. That is not accomplished easily. It requires getting to know the Bible until you understand life the way the Bible sets out. It means faithful attendance at Church, and this should be a Church where the Bible is faithfully taught, so that you will learn how to deal with the challenges you will surely come to face. If the Bible is not being taught you are in the wrong Church

People need material food to sustain them, to be strong and enabled to face life. They also need constant spiritual feeding to face the constant challenge from so many who would like to starve them to spiritual death. Even from within Church there can be a diet of junk food rather than strength filling. Jesus Christ has to be at the heart of all worship yet I have sat through services, including a sermon, when His Name was not mentioned once. This is not acceptable.

Be at Church on Sunday. Make sure it is where you will hear the pure Word of God. And may God bless you.