Saturday 30 March 2013

Easter Day

This Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus as countless millions have done so over the centuries, but we face a battle to proclaim our message as secular extremists try to create a spiritual vacuum. Our message is that Jesus Christ is the One who died on a Cross for the forgiveness of our sins and rose again on the third day. That is unique feat which no other religion can match.

The story begins with Mary Magdelene, the one who loved Jesus dearly because of the help He had given her, being last at the Cross and first at the tomb crying bitterly. She ran for Peter who with John ran to the tomb, and John being the younger got their first, but he let Peter enter the tomb being the stronger character. They realised Jesus must have risen as He had foretold, for there were no clothes present.

We notice here two believers, one gentle and reserved as John, whilst Peter was always more impulsive and decisive, each revealing their devotion in different ways. There is room for all characters in the Church. The men left the scene, but Mary stayed and was rewarded when she became the first person to meet the risen Lord. Jesus spoke one word to her and she flung herself at His feet. He told her to go and tell the disciples what she had found.

This is what Easter is all about, the real spiritual message that Jesus rose from the dead, not the money making enterprise it has become. Easter is celebrated to remind us that when our days on this earth are over we have the assurance we shall live with our Lord if we have accepted Him as Saviour. The resurrection is the foundation of Christianity.

Whilst there is much about our faith that is respected by people who are not practising Christians, such as being forgiven of sin, hearing that God is love (very popular), but they think that is a free for all without any commitment. They will come to Church for a baptism and make all sorts of promises simply because it is a necessary requirement, but they don’t take things seriously or literally. Things are not made any easier by the irresponsible liberals within the Church who themselves question much of the faith.

If someone had said a hundred years ago that we could sit in our homes and by watching a box in the corner of the room show events then happening on the other side of the world; or that by taking a small handset pressing a few buttons you could speak to someone in any part of the world they would have been deemed to be insane. Yet it happens every day man made, and we still question what the Almighty God can achieve.

If Easter had not happened; if Jesus had not been raised from the dead, then we have no faith. Christianity rises and falls on the resurrection of Jesus. This has been proclaimed down the ages and if not true, the Bible writers would have lied and millions of people would have made great sacrifices in the cause of the faith in vain. Why would educated men like Paul, and down to earth fishermen lie when they had nothing to gain by doing so? Paul had a brilliant mind, one of the finest minds of his day and was a determined opponent of Christianity, yet God convinced him and in consequence Paul suffered very much for the sake of the gospel.

If Jesus had not been raised there would be nor forgiveness, we would have no future, but the evidence is overwhelming in favour. First century witnesses and documents tell. We have testimony from men present at that time that the resurrection of Jesus was real, objective and physical, This is what the Church has always believed in over two thousand years of Christina witness that has sustained the hearts of millions.

The Apostles Creed does not say I believe in the forgiveness of sins and the spiritual resurrection of Jesus, it says I believed in the resurrection of the body. When liberals challenge this they do so in spite of all the evidence.

After the resurrection we find the Apostles preaching openly and fearlessly, and suffering violently for doing so. Men do not invent stories to be put in prison and get beaten up, or hung on a cross like Peter.

Through centuries that have followed, brilliant men and women have experienced the same fellowship and power in their lives, in addition to peace of mind. They were not simple minded people but some of the greatest scholars of their day.

Thank God there was an empty tomb for it proclaims that death is the door to eternal life. Let us always remember that Jesus never changes, He is the same yesterday to today for ever, and will take care of all who believe and put their trust in Him.

May you have a happy and blessed Easter

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Last week was a memorable on for the Christian Church(es). We had the inauguration of Pope Frances, followed in the same week by the enthronement of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Both in their own way were inspiring, but I think the Papal ceremony was the more majestic and serious.

The Canterbury service looked too stage managed, trying to appear popular. The opening scene does not seem, however to have created the impression I think it sought, being rather trite. We had a young woman, of Asian origin of course, asking the Archbishop as he enters the Cathedral, the rather ridiculous question who are you and why are you here. Everyone knew who Justin Welby was and why he was there, this was just play acting. The fact that the Archbishop was sworn in by a woman Archdeacon was bound to attract media attention too.

I am sure Justin wishes he had the loyalty given to him that the Pope enjoys. No sooner had Justin been inaugurated than up pops
the ever headline seeking Bishop of Buckingham to speak against him. The Archbishop had made plain the views of himself and the Church of England officially, that same sex marriage was opposed by the Church, yet here was this disloyal Bishop speaking against that stance. The Archbishop deserves, and should get support from his bishops, and has enough to contend with without opposition from within.

If the bishop pursues Christianity as vigorously as he writes and speaks for the gay community, Buckingham would be a Christian stronghold. How can a man hold such high office in the Church and publicly contradict his leader. What is more the Bishop accuses the Church of hypocrisy; I think he should look harder at his own statements.

We hear much of the fact that Justin Welby was an oil executive prior to entering the Church, in which case I am sure he had administrative ability. Perhaps he may care to look at the situation in which too many priests in the Church are occupying non jobs. When a man, or now a woman, becomes a priest the intention is that they will serve in a parish, but there seems to be an appetite to become agricultural chaplains, or industrial chaplains, far away from the rigours of parish life. If some priest wants to engage in farming or industrial life, they would be able to find time as ‘part’ of parish work.

I have been surprised how many hospital chaplains feel it necessary to have parish priests assist in taking services in hospitals on Sundays, or is such a five day week post?

Another outrage is that years ago priests were promised that by taking a lower stipend they would be rewarded by an acceptable pension. Many good men (men only in those days) accepted such assurance, and now find they must serve longer than expected for a much less pension. In no other occupation would this be tolerated. In addition, to add insult, some bishops demand that when retired priest assist by taking an occasional service, the diocese takes a substantial amount of the fees.

For an occupation that should put integrity, responsibility and loyalty, things are not what they ought to be.

Saturday 23 March 2013

Palm Sunday
We are this Sunday to remember the first Palm Sunday, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to proclaim Himself as the Messiah and was greeted by cheering crowds waving palm branches, the same crowds who a few days later would be crying ‘crucify Him’. This is the beginning of Holy Week as we celebrate the events of 2,000 years ago and follow our Lord’s last days before His crucifixion, the heart of the Christian faith

Jesus had been in Jericho and was now ready to go to Jerusalem on the last stage of His life’s journey, the end was in sight. The twenty miles journey had been the way many pilgrims had walked.

On reaching Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of His disciples ahead to the next village, telling them they would find a colt tied by the side of the road and they were to untie it and take it to Him. If anyone should challenge them they were to say the Lord needs it. We are not told how Jesus knew this, He may have had a prior arrangement with the owner or it could have been supernatural knowledge.

So began the fateful journey down the Mount of Olives where He was joined by waiting crowds who greeted Him wildly, laying their cloaks on the road in front of Him and waving palm branches, and singing from Psalm 118 which was a psalm pilgrims sang as a hymn of praise to God. Palm branches were used to signify joy and celebration.

He could have slipped quietly into the city as He would normally have done as He usually like to avoid attention, but on this occasion although He knew a price was on His head, chose to ride in like a King entering his capital city in triumph attracting maximum notice. Such was His open defiance. All this was in fulfilment of a prophecy of Zechariah in the Old Testament made nearly 600 years earlier. When the crowds hailed Him as the Son of David, the Messiah, He did not stop them.

This triumphal entrance was deliberately caused by Jesus as He knew a demonstration would happen and further enrage the Jewish leaders, and in fact the Pharisees were annoyed, so making them more eager to plot against Him. Jesus knew that God had a timetable for Him which made the Jews alter their planned timetable. Jesus was in full control of the situation.

Jesus made it clear to the crowds that He was not the kind of Messiah of their dreams; He came in peace not as a warrior. They did not understand His intention and were following for the wrong motives. These same adoring crowds would a few days later turn equally wildly against Him as He faced the Cross. As Christians we should ask ourselves are we following Him for the right reasons; do we realise the sacrifice He made for us personally?

If Jesus had been quietly killed in an obscure road He would never have achieved His purpose, which was to be seen as the Son of God. Instead many saw Him ride into Jerusalem; be falsely accused and tried and finally put to death on the Cross.

This was in fact more than a journey into Jerusalem, it was a journey to the Cross, a journey Jesus could have avoided and left the world to perish, but He readily went on to a very brutal and cruel death to take our place on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sins, a penalty we are unable to pay for ourselves.

As He entered the city Jesus paused on the hill overlooking it and we are told He wept because He knew that within a few years the city would be destroyed by the Romans.

What is our response as we ponder the Road to Jerusalem?
We may reject God’s Son as many did in Jerusalem. We may have allowed our love to have gone lukewarm, even cold. As we study this story of our Lord’s journey to the Cross we see our forgiveness cost Jesus public mockery, agony, sweating of blood, the most cruel of deaths, and spiritual torment.

Jesus wanted the people to accept Him as God’s chosen Messiah but their cheering was false and ultimately it would all lead to destruction The Jews then had an opportunity of accepting Jesus for whom He was and rejected Him as so many are now. There are many people who say they ‘believe in Jesus’, but that is not enough; the devil believes in Jesus. Down the ages people have believed He lived, but that is not enough.

It is important for us to understand the lesson we can learn from this event. It is not enough to think positively about Christ. When we get to the last days Jesus is not going to say ‘Did you have nice thoughts about me?’ The question is, have we accepted He is the Son of God and Saviour of sinners, and trusted in Him alone for our salvation.

There comes a time in life when you have to make a decision, one which can affect you for ever; such a time may be now for you. Many people like to put awkward questions away, but this one is one you cannot. Do you follow Christ, or reject Him like the Jews did all those years ago, with all the consequences for eternity, no one can wait forever. Why not on this Palm Sunday morning be at Church and hail him as your matchless King. And God bless you.

Thursday 21 March 2013

A look at two Church Leaders

Last week we witnessed a new Pope being elected with crowds of 100,000+ waiting in the rain for him to be chosen, and then appear. This was followed by a crowd of more than 200,000 at his enthronement, with many millions around the world watching on television. Sky News, much to their credit, broadcast the entire ceremony.

In the real world it was revealed that Christianity is still a force to be considered in people’s lives. To-day will see the enthronement of the Archbishop of Canterbury, which will be a much less grand affair. We must all wish him well.

I have to say I am not as hopeful about the Anglican Church future as I am for the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Francis comes across as a firm traditionalist, who whilst being able to relate generally to people, still maintains a full Christian and Scriptural commitment. The massive crowd response shows the appeal it has, especially to the uncommitted. There is also more discipline within the Church.

I am not as confident for the Anglican Church’s future. The Archbishop I believe showed immense, regrettable, and totally unacceptable action in failing to attend the Pope’s inauguration. As head of the second largest Church in the world it was his primary duty to be there, and it can only be seen as insulting for him not to have gone. We had the pathetic excuse that he was on a prayer walk. It would have been the simplest of things to have broken off and hopped on a plane for a quick flight to Rome.

I noticed in one discussion regarding what was the most important things for Church’s future, what seemed to be of most concern was the question of women bishops being approved. I would have thought the most vital thing would be to stop the decline in attendances.

The other question troubling the Church is of course homosexuality, on which we appear to have given up on. The Bishop of Liverpool, (said to be an evangelical—really?) never one to shy away from headlines, has suggested the Church should agree to bless civil unions in services. Can anyone see that being a popular suggestion in the quest for Church unity? Taken together with the proposal of women bishops, should set us back a few years with the Roman Catholics.

During his enthronement the Archbishop stated he has optimism for the future of the Church, and I indeed believe there is cause to hope in view of the public interest shown in both enthronements, provided we can make the usual liberal suspects keep quiet. The Pope has already indicated he does not have the deep aversion to Anglicans that his predecessors have shown, and most Anglicans are ready to show their willingness to engage with Roman Catholics. There will inevitably have to be Christian charity displayed by both Churches, and the Archbishop has shown he is sympathetic to sharing in worship by joining in a Catholic meeting in France.

Writing in the Telegraph newspaper, Charles Moore stated,

What this vast change shows is that the scandalous divisions of Christianity that have existed for 500 years are ending. You might say that Catholics have become more Protestant (in attitudes to the Bible, for instance), and that Protestants have become more Catholic (eg in attitudes to the eucharist). You could certainly say that both have become more Christian in their attitude to the other.

The benefits are only beginning to become apparent. It is hard to exaggerate how much the divisions of Christendom distracted and discredited Christians for so long. For centuries, we measured our virtue by how well we were able to smite the other lot, sometimes with words, sometimes with actual weapons. At last, there is a re-energising of Christian life.

Once one understands that this new unity is emerging, it makes the conventional split between liberals and conservatives in the Church seem very out of date. The liberals have lost, because their acceptance of so many non-religious ideas has debilitated their faith and therefore prevented their renewal. The people who are winning are those who share the desire to bring the story of Jesus to what Pope Francis, in his first speech from the balcony of St Peter’s, called “the end of the earth”. He knows a bit about that, because it is where he comes from."

I think he was spot on in stating the liberals have lost out, but unfortunately the delay in losing out has also turned many off.

I hope all Christians will pray for both leaders and for there being a closer unity.

Whilst it may make for good press headlines, and appeal to the emotions of some people, I think many others will feel a Pope’s reputation is not really enhanced by him travelling on a bus, going to pay his own hotel bill and saying ‘I’m with you guys’. I believe people generally more impressed by men of such authority behaving in a way which brings dignity to high Office.

Now it is reported that following another typical outburst from Peter Tatchell, the homosexual agitator, the Archbishop wishes to have a personal meeting to discuss things after Tatchell has accused him of being homophobic because he opposes (tenuously it seems) same sex marriage. To suggest someone is homophobic for such reason just discloses bigotry and stupidity for many homosexuals oppose same sex marriage. It has also been suggested that such a meeting will antagonise African Bishops. I cannot see anything to be gained by such a meeting, it will annoy many people and the Archbishop is highly unlikely to say anything that Peter Tatchell would find acceptable to him, that would also be acceptable to Christians.

Sunday 17 March 2013

Church Unity
Yesterday I wrote about the appointment of Pope Francis, and now further.

We have just witnessed a new Pope being elected and have reason to believe he is more inclined to accept there are other Churches in addition to the Roman Catholic Church. In fact it is reported he is willing to participate, and has done so, in ecumenical services. This is indeed hopeful and encouraging and can only be to the benefit of both Anglican and Roman Churches especially, and to other Churches willing to share. Christianity generally will be advanced by such co-operation.

In the 4th Chapter of Ephesians Paul writes forcibly on this theme. He saw the Church as the family of brothers and sisters in Christ, and like earthly families wanting to meet together in their Father’s house.

Anyone who has been in the Church for some time knows that no Church is perfect; there is usually one person who is a storm centre. The Church can be a place of joy, but also one of heartache and pain. Paul always wanted the Church to be one that brought credit on Christianity. Paul wanted us to act as he understood what Christ expected from the Church. He would never have understood different denominations, each with their own theology, and would have bitterly condemned any Church which excluded people from sharing in the Eucharist.

One of the greatest hindrances to the Christian gospel being accepted by people is the bitterness in which religion has been practised. In Northern Ireland there has been disgraceful hostility and much of it fostered by the Church. Catholic priests have been supporters of armed conflict and extreme Protestant Churches have called Catholics hateful names. There has been much discredit on both sides, and the troubles which have existed, leading to so many lives being lost could have all been avoided if the Church leaders had sat down together and agreed to condemn all violence. I say without intending to be biased, indeed with respect for the authority which Catholic priests command, that if they had told their members to stop hostilities, such is the authority in which they are held, their word would have been listened to.

Paul laid down some basics of the Christian faith. Humility; which means setting one’s life beside the example of Christ Himself. Gentleness; which means being angry for the right purposes, and not ever seeking to cause dissension. Peace;in that we seek to have good relationships with each other. Love; which is not the emotional kind, but that of a caring person, and withholding bitterness. We are to hold one another up, to sustain and support each other, and to live according to the way God has spelled out in His Holy Word, holding to those principles. All these virtues have been missing in religious disputes. We may expect different faiths to ignore each other, but not within Christianity.

Here Paul is stressing the Church in its entirety must be as one. We may conduct our services in different forms, but we should have the same doctrinal beliefs and not have the situation where one is teaching one thing and is at variance with another. I have often been struck by the hypocrisy of weeks of Christian unity and I stopped attending years ago. I am happy, eager, and always ready to join in worship with any fellow Christians in any Church, but I think it a mockery to talk about unity and then refuse to share services together

When I first became a Christian it was with a group of Christians in Kenya, where the members were from all different denominations and countries, yet all one in Christ Jesus. We had no difficulty in bible study or prayer meetings, but at gatherings in so called Christian unity weeks, each denomination tends to stay together and there is a refusal by some to have full Communion with other Christians. If we are really sincere about unity, we have to be prepared to let it happen without reservation or conditions, which is not always practised.

Even within my own denomination (the Church of England) there are bitter divisions over the question of women bishops and homosexual clergy. A quick reference to Scripture (and tradition) would resolve the questions in a matter of minutes, but that would not produce the answer that some seek. Yet by prolonging the public debate to the delight of the press and non Christians, enormous damage is being done to the wider Church. True faith would say if I am harming the Church I will not pursue my personal desires. Real Christianity is being ready to make personal sacrifices for the wider good.

Paul laid out the ground rules for unity. There is one body, Jesus being the head of the body. Individual presentations may vary, but all should lead to the one purpose of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. There is one Lord and one faith by which all Christians are bound to one another in complete surrender to Jesus Christ.

Paul wanted to see a world turning to Christ with one baptism as acceptance of repentance and the confession of Jesus as Lord in the one faith. . The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ on which the Church is built, consisting of those who confess Him. If there is to be complete unity there must also be an acceptance of the gospel truths laid down in the Bible. We now have a situation in which some teachers are giving false teaching and we should all be prepared to test what is taught by searching the Scriptures, for false teaching will destroy the Church.

There are now those ready to deny the very Word that God gave. Some preachers are now extending teaching so that it is in line with society’s belief that the 21st century justifies an amended gospel to embrace current thinking. God however was not just a God for the first century, and experience combined with general intelligence, teaches that a copy is never as good as the original. The importance of authoritative teaching is that that all may properly play their part in the work God meant us to do.

Paul finally warned that there will always be those who need to be entertained with novelty. This is so often extended to practices which frankly make the faith look and sound ridiculous. God wants you to come to a place where there is stability and reverence, combined with intelligent, sympathetic and pleasing presentation, without being presented with every trendy gimmick. Too many Christians are unstable because they have had no solid basis of doctrine and just don’t know what to believe or why.

Paul thanked God for the Church, and that is something we should all do. Our calling is to follow the example given by Paul so that we stand out in our communities. Let us all seek to have a Church, even if it just be our own local one, where the true gospel is taught as God intended when He inspired those 40 men to write the Bible; filled with men and women who care for each other, ready to support each other in times of trouble, ready to welcome strangers who come into our midst, and who are never reluctant to confess they are Christians.

Friday 15 March 2013

So we have a new Pope. The announcement of his name stunned the crowd waiting in St Peter’s Square in Rome as it must have done in many places. I am told that Catholic priests are required to retire at 75, yet here was a man of 76 years being made the head of their Church. I think the world would have been more impressed at the appointment of a younger man.

Having said that, there are reports that he is more willing to engage in dialogue with non Catholic Christians, particularly Anglicans, and has done so regularly. The Anglican Archbishop in Buenos Aires is stated to meet with him regularly, and he supports joint services, and is ready to be blessed by them.

The crowds waiting to hear the announcement were estimated by Sky news to be 70,000, many of whom waited most of the day and in pouring rain. The dominance given by television channels and press to the appointment indicates the authority of the Roman Church, and indeed, commentators have pointed out that influences greatly people’s perception of Christianity and sets the agenda.

Other denominations and independent Churches may not agree with some of the beliefs and practices, and in fact some of their core beliefs are purely theological and not practised by the members, but essentially those beliefs are such that committed Christians would accept. The Roman Church does not have any public disagreement over abortion, homosexuality, women priests, and is committed (officially) to the authority of Scripture, although not universally adhered to.

A further asset is that the Roman Catholic Church is not burdened financially or practically by a large Synod such as adopted by the Church of England. The Synod is largely a talking shop costing millions of pounds, producing little (if anything)of benefit, and whilst there are undoubtedly men and women truly wanting to serve the Church, there are too many who are committee minded orientated and are there as more of a hobby.

I certainly hope that we may see a more sincere and realistic approach to Church unity; at present we have a mockery in having weeks of Christian Unity when some of us are considered second class Christians. If there is to be sincerity in believing in unity, one Church cannot exclude other Christians from sharing in the principal sacrament of Holy Communion.

We should all wish the new Pope well and pray for him, and also pray that his papacy may lead to a more sincere unity of Churches.

To-morrow I hope to write a sermon on unity.

Friday 8 March 2013

Mothering Sunday

Sunday next, the fourth Sunday of Lent, is traditionally designated Mothering Sunday when we celebrate and honour mothers. You will have fond memories of your own dear mother even though many years may have passed. The bond between mother and child is the strongest one could have, and many mothers have made momentous sacrifices and gone through agonising times on behalf of their children. Nothing that we could say or write would be adequate to express the emotion we feel for our mothers.

When Mothering Sunday was decreed as a special event it was way back nearly 400 years, and at a time when most people went to Church, and on this day all people were encouraged to attend their Mother Church where they had been baptised. Processions would be held with flags and banners being carried, even girls in ‘service’ would be allowed time off to visit their mothers

In 1914, the then America President Woodrow Wilson, passed an Act of Congress instituting the second Sunday in May to remember mothers in the United States, and termed it in the more common term of Mothers Day, a title now avidly adopted in the commercial worlds which sees what was a reverent and devotional event into a money making one.

In to-day’s world motherhood is demeaned by some politicians who see it as a chore and a restriction on women. In the phobia to eradicate any difference in the sexes there is the crazy desire to make both sexes act, dress and behave in the same way, which has been the subject of aggressive campaigning to make all alike in the idolatry of equality. This ignores the creation plan of God to give women the special gift of care and gentleness to enable them to be mothers. This ignores the fact that if God had wanted all of us to be the same He was quite capable of doing so.

Whilst not always the case, especially in today’s society, women tend to be less violent and more caring, which is why God made them different to men so to be mothers. For centuries women in many ways acted in a superior way to men, but in the name of equality stepped down, failing to realise one can be perfectly equal yet different.

No other religion treats women with such respect as Christianity. They are not required to submit to regulations of men relating to dress or conduct. The emancipation of womanhood began and it ends with Christianity. It all started when a young Jewish girl received an angelic message of the incredible news that of all the women on earth, she was to become the mother of the world’s Saviour. She would be remembered at every evening service in the Anglican Church through all ages, and her name would be forever embedded in history.

Her son Jesus would one day teach a way of life when women would be given a new place in society and accorded a new dignity, so that mothers would always be respected and loved.
In the Christian world we remember Mary and how our Lord honoured motherhood, showing concern for His mother when in suffering such pain on the Cross.

The Bible is full of women who have set a glorious example of dedication and love. The mother of Moses was prepared to let an Egyptian princess bring up her son rather than having him killed. Hannah faced humiliation for a Jewish woman for not having a child; she prayed to God and was rewarded with a son, who would spend his life dedicated to God’s service.

Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘no nation is greater than its mothers for they are the makers of men.’ Jewish Rabbis would say God can’t be everywhere so He made mothers.’

There should be concern for young women bringing up children in a world where moral values have largely collapsed, often without any husband to assist. Theirs is a huge responsibility, having gone through a tortuous mental period to bear the child, they have the worry of seeing it through infancy, and later go out into a world where temptations abound.

The Bible tells of a mother pleading with Jesus at the foot of the Cross for special favours for her sons James and John. How many mothers would today make prayers for their sons just to know about Jesus? Many mothers want their children to win the X factor competition, be a pop star or be able to make money double quick. Mothers (and fathers) will take their children to all kinds of activities on a Sunday, but very few will take them to Church. We older people were either taken or sent to Sunday School, and our lives were enriched because of that.

At every baptism service it is asked of parents to pray for their child and by example draw them into the family of the Church. They all say they will without having the slightest intention of doing either. Imagine how full the Churches would be if all parents honoured their vows.

Spiritual matters should be of concern to mothers. When my two sons were growing up my then occupation meant I spent many hours away from home and much care fell upon my wife. It is to her credit that both entered the ordained ministry, after being youth leaders at our local parish Church, and have become very successful Vicars. I know it can be difficult with boys, but things could be to everyone’s benefit if children were led into a Church activity.

Most mothers want their child to succeed in life and will often go to great lengths to achieve this, but the modern child is brought up in a home without any religion, despite living around beautiful Churches. Most responsible parents want their child to be honest and live decent lives; they have some vague idealism as to what that means, but without Christian education given into young lives we can have no real assurance, for there is no foundation on which to build.

Schools make no effort in teaching religion, unless it is a private school, and parents often have neither the time nor will to do so. Children are a gift from God, which demands the need for them to know God’s Word, to know Jesus came into this world to lead and guide to a wonderful life, to the extent of giving His own life for the forgiveness of our wrongdoing, yet political correctness has taken Christianity out of both school and home.

The Bible story is of parents taking their children to have a living relationship with God. Today many parents consider it the duty of the state, or any established body, to look after their children, and the idea of reading Bible stories to them is so ridiculous as to merit no further consideration.

Bearing a child demands the mother giving much of her self and life. As we saw with the mother of James and John it often extends into manhood. If we accept Mothering Sunday properly it will mean being at Church to give thanks for life and the giving of life, and not just an occasion to post sentimental cards, giving fancy presents, and filling the pockets of already wealthy business men and women

Be at Church on Sunday and God bless you.

Friday 1 March 2013

The Ten Commandments
I am going to be old fashioned and write about the Ten Commandments. Field Marshal Montgomery once said, ‘God spoke these words, and I agree with Him’.

Shortly after God brought the people of Israel out of Egypt, God called Moses to the top of Mount Sinai and gave him the Ten Commandments, which God intended to be the spiritual and moral absolutes for His people. They offer basic rules for behaviour; for guidance into an ordered life; Western nations have built their legal systems on them; society needs them to determine right and wrong. People will mutter ‘this is 2013, we don’t need some ancient words from the Bible to rule our lives’.

That is the view of many people, even some Christians, who say we don’t need rules and regulations. They were written thousands of years ago in a foreign land and don’t relate to our society. We don’t need to be told how to behave; all you need is common sense. Unfortunately sense is not very common

There is also one essential requirement, they have to be enforced, which is why we are in such an awful state in this country. Police have given up enforcing many of our laws, and are under encouragement to do so, and indeed, on moral issues have been told specifically not to do so. Indeed, Police action has on several occasions been taken against those who are proclaiming the values of the Commandments by quoting Scripture, which offends a politically correct society and touches consciences.

Ours is a permissive society which doesn’t like authority and the Human Rights law takes precedence over God’s law. But just as loving parents want to protect their children from harm’s way, and human predators putting temptations in their path, so our heavenly Father wants to protect us from all evil and give us a balanced and happy life.

A big problem is that few people in today’s generation actually know the Commandments, even so called Christians. Young people have never been taught them and those that do know them see them as rather like an exam paper, try any four from ten. Test your knowledge and without cheating try and name them all.

How many times have I heard Billy Graham point out they are like a chain; when you break a link the chain is broken; when you break one Commandment, you break the lot. If you have a chain and a link breaks you don’t say ‘I have broken a link’, you say ‘I have broken the chain’, and the commandments are a chain. Break one and you have broken the lot

People do not like strict morality. Morality has been redefined to mean you can do anything provided you feel clear in your conscience. It is considered to be old fashioned to have religious instruction, but human nature doesn’t really change.
I am rather bemused when people start using the term old fashioned in a mocking manner. In our new fashioned society we have the highest number of abortions, the highest number of teenage pregnancies, the highest rate of alcoholism, the highest rate of unsociable behaviour in Europe. The only thing we are lowest in is Church attendance.

In Jewish homes children are taught the Commandments at an early age and learn them on their ten fingers. They are encouraged to observe them. Many parents these days have no time to spare for their children. Abraham Lincoln once stated, ‘the strength of the nation lies in the home’. If homes continue to break up, the threat to our nation will be as great as any other crisis; the nation needs a spiritual and moral reawakening.

Schools (in the state sector)no longer teach Christianity as the country’s religion, often preferring to teach other faiths. They are taught all about sex from an early age and with particular emphasis now on alternative lifestyles. Consequently our children are growing up without knowing any spiritual or moral truths, but are full of sexual knowledge, often practised to cause much distress and social problems. They live in a world unable to distinguish between right and wrong.

The world in its misguided wisdom has decided to reject God’s authority and decide for ourselves how to behave. God’s laws recognise our duty to God, parents, society, property, marriage. and if they were generally obeyed there would be far less criminal, domestic and unsociable behaviour.

People once put faith in politics, but the politicians have shown us how they only look after themselves. No longer can we expect moral standards from them. Especially when we are told by a government minister we are a secular country and not entitled to make the Christian faith our standard of reference; when we have a Prime Minister who takes it upon himself to re-define marriage to canvass what he thinks will bring him a few more votes and produces anti-Christian legislation. (Actually he has been given a lesson this morning for doing so when his party failed dismally in a by election)

For too long the liberal intellectual establishment have influenced and guided society into the moral abyss. It is now time for the Church, and all Christians, to demand the kind of society God has laid down.

God spoke these words, and I agree with Him too.