Thursday 31 December 2015

The Archbishop of Canterbury has stated that Christianity is in danger of being driven out of the lands in which it was born; this is very true, but what is being treated in too casual way is the way Christianity is being driven out of the public life in the two principal countries in which it has thrived, namely Britain and the United States. We can only watch in thrilling admiration as it now thrives in Africa, Far Eastern lands, and South America.

All devout and committed Christians must surely feel deeply concerned over the way the Church and Christian faith in this country is being ignored and sidelined. The majority of people see the Church as irrelevant and having no place in their lives. The Church should be responding far more positively than it is, indeed it often seems as few in the Church really care. If a secular business found it was losing customers in the same proportion that the Church is losing members, drastic steps would be taken.
Christianity has been the faith of this country for over 1500 years and its influence has kept the country as a stable nation, offering moral and social guidelines. The Church has been at the forefront of most major social, educational and medical achievements.

We now face a systematic attack on this faith by ideologues in political circles to remove Christianity from public life; people who betray and dislike the culture which nurtured them and are placing restriction on Christian expression. Secularist politicians are trying to take Christianity out of public life.

There is a verse in Psalm 11. It was written when David was experiencing trouble and living at a time when society was in moral abandon. When the foundations are being destroyed, what shall the righteous do?

The foundations that are spoken of in this verse are the foundations of justice and order that support society; the social, moral, ethical and religious foundations that keep a culture from crumbling.

We are facing exactly the same situation that David is facing in this Psalm. We live in a nation where the foundations are being destroyed. We are like a car parked on a hill without the handbrake being put on, so heading for disaster.

Another foundation of this country, indeed the very bedrock of society, was the family, built on the Biblical concepts of father, mother, husband, wife; these terms have become abused, and with government encouragement and urging, have different interpretations to that given by God at creation. We no longer build our families on the solid rock of God’s word, but on the ever-shifting, ever-changing sands of political dogma.

The Judiciary have categorically stated that religious beliefs should not be an influence when making political or judicial decisions.

We live in a country in which we are supposed to be tolerant to other people. We are to resist all bigotry and prejudice and must not make adverse comment on race, religion or sexuality. Recent events have shown however, that is unless intolerance and bigotry is against Christians or Christianity; then it is open season. The only group which you can hold up to public mockery and criticism are Christians. We have been held up as intolerant bigots.

The devil has sure got a foothold into this country as people have given up on God and rebelled against Him. Minority groups have been allowed to acquire a power and influence way beyond their proportion in the country.

A Muslim man and his family living in one of our big cities decided to become Christians and attend the Church of England. As a result, his car was trashed, his house constantly attacked, and his children bullied at school. The police are stated to be reluctant to classify this as ‘hate crime’, yet this was hardly mentioned in the secular press. It seems to be only Christians who can offend.

Street preachers are being arrested on spurious grounds. A Christian Minister is being prosecuted for criticising Islam in a Church service sermon, yet the converse does not apply.

Christ is used as an expletive and is the subject of mockery and on television in a manner which the cowards who do this would never hold up any other religious leader to such banter.

As a nation we have let one traditional practice after another be eroded, taking the view each time it is only one thing which won’t make much difference. It is like taking one stone from a building at a time until eventually the whole structure collapses, and that is what is happening to our society. Our moral base is crumbling and the Christian Church has largely stood by, with even some clergy helping to demolish the moral foundation.

As we look and consider life in this country at the present time it must surely give to all intelligent people grave cause for concern for we see a nation in moral and spiritual decline where the barriers of decency have been swept away so that we are left without restraint where there is no definition between right or wrong.

In State schools more time is given to sex education than religion, which is probably excluded all together in some schools. A time may well come when young people will have no knowledge of the Christian faith at all, and from interviews seen on television, they have virtually none now.

When the foundations are destroyed, what shall the righteous do? How should the Church respond?

A great difficulty arises within the Church. We have no spiritual person of stature nationally to present our faith adequately. The man who should be that person is the Archbishop of Canterbury, but of course any man who was prepared to be positive in his views on morality and faith would never have been appointed to that position. Hope was raised on Justin Welby, but who failed miserably when marriage was being redefined, and seemed to be facing in both directions at the same time.

Another difficulty is that we have those who are theologically conservative, trying to be faithful to Scripture, whilst those of liberal persuasion want to rewrite those parts of Scripture which do not conform to modern morality and social custom. It is fatuous and irrational to suppose biblical injunctions, which do not conform to modern attitudes, can be reinterpreted to suit to-day’s requirements. . Christians should not allow themselves to link their lives with modern society.

Such action can only cause confusion in people’s minds. They can be excused for saying if the Church can’t make its own mind up, how can they expect us to believe and trust them. No Muslin would ever think of challenging their holy book, the Koran, and look in amazement that even within the Church, there are those who dispute much of our Holy Book.

We have allowed the absolute authority of the Bible to be challenged, so that people venture more and more away from its teaching. If Christians lose the shared beliefs that have held us together, we will begin to fall apart and disintegrate.

The Church is beginning to look more influenced by the world rather than the other way round. The more we try to be relevant, the more irrelevant to our purpose we become. We should not be blown away by every whim of public opinion, but let our anchor hold in the storms of life.

But do not make the mistake of thinking you can violate God. He has laid down rules, but too often they merely are treated as a basis for negotiation. Seventy years ago men fought the battle of Britain against foreign aggression, now it is a fight for Britain against the forces of evil. We need a spiritual revival such as that which once swept through Wales in 1904.

Bishop Nazir-Ali, who left the Church of England, has been the one Christian leader prepared to speak out on these issues, stated, ‘if Britain is to defend its values successfully, it must rediscover the Christian faith in which those values are ultimately rooted.’

What can the righteous do? When the foundations are destroyed, many people feel unable to cope. The righteous can do their duty. Because the foundations are crumbling and the social order is deteriorating, we need not stand aside and express regret.

We must then do all we can to rebuild the foundations. We can do what that little band of men did who met in the Upper Room 2000 years ago and turned the world upside down

We should be most concerned about the way our faith is being undermined. It is not just any faith which someone has made up, but one which lies at the heart of our heritage. It is the only faith which can be proven; with the only leader who died and rose again. If you reject Christianity you reject all our values and history. We must live up to our heritage for intolerance of Christianity reduces goodness.

We must be ready to challenge the zealots who want to stop Christians from expressing their faith. We should not be bullied nor should we buckle down. Much has been written and said about the Equality and Diversity Act, a rather oppressive piece of legislation which makes some more equal and diverse than others, and offends Christian beliefs. Christians too have human rights.

Pulpits are being silenced; the teaching of Christianity and the knowledge of what God has said are being taken out of the school curriculum, with the requirement that other faiths have to be taught, so we have a culture which is biblically illiterate.

Let us stand for the old standards the way Christians once did, no matter how difficult that might become and not go with the trend of the times.

We need to be more positive, even aggressive, in giving people a clear vision of what it means to be a Christian and to have a Christian based society. We now have to proclaim it boldly and challenge those who try to put us down. There is a spiritual and moral vacuum, and if we do not fill it some other philosophy will which will be much inferior.

So, what for the future of the Church? There is hope and confidence if all members realize there is no hope if they are content to sit back and say ethereally, ‘God will provide’. Christ did say ‘I will build my Church’, but He expects a little help from His friends.

We must live in such a way as to show others how right it is to live according to God’s word and be open about our faith. The Bible states, let your light shine before men’ Even if the judicial system becomes corrupt, as more judges are deciding against us. In such an hour we are tempted to give up the fight, to yield to the immorality of the world, to give up on spreading the kingdom of God.

We can support those Christian charities like ‘Christian Concern’ which does such a devoted and valiant work in representing and defending Christians who face opposition because of their faith and suffer discrimination, sanction and suspension in this country.

In the absence of any great inspiration from the leaders of our national denominations, some of whom are more concerned with promoting their own c.vs than promoting the gospel, each local Church should devise its own programme of evangelism.

The only hope for our nation is a recovery of the gospel and God’s total Word for our Church and society. Without a return to Christian foundations of social order, our liberty, freedoms, justice and truth will disappear. A spiritual vacuum will be created which will be filled with something less acceptable.

May God give all Churches and Christians the courage to stand and fight whilst we have a place to stand. May we yield ourselves to Jesus Christ who always has our good at heart; One we can trust, who loved us so much that He gave His life at the Cross that we may have everlasting life. We must learn to live by His plans and never be led by society.

Let me close with the words of Pastor Niemoller which come to mind as an appropriate reminder to Christians of the danger that exists to our faith.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Sunday 27 December 2015

The Archbishop of Canterbury in his Christmas address spoke of the danger of Christianity being wiped out in the Middle East, a very real threat indeed. But whilst not on the same violent stage, Christianity is being severely threatened in Britain, and from the comments I have heard on American television and in sermon, to a lesser state in the United States.

In this country we have a Prime Minister who once again at Christmas was peddling his (supposed) Christian beliefs whilst in practice assiduously working against Christian values and belief. For instance, his re-definition of marriage where we have the risible situation of the calling of a man as a ‘wife’ and a woman as a ‘husband’; and the sending of government lawyers to the European Court to argue that wearing of a Cross was not a Christian requirement. There is intolerance of anyone with views other than his own.

All manner of restrictions are placed on Christians as street preachers are arrested; people are suspended from work for expressing their faith by word or symbol, whilst Muslim women are permitted to dress in a way which is contrary to that of women in this country in order to demonstrate their faith.

Public officials remove crosses from display lest it offends other faiths, although other faiths do not appear to worry and even support the display. Now some brain affected railway officials have removed a stain glass window from a railway station which portrayed a picture of a saint whose name glorified the city’s magnificent and famous Cathedral.

We have a judiciary who state that religious beliefs should not enter into consideration in political or judicial matters. Consequently there is a hue waiting list of children for fostering and adoption because parents wish to take them to Church or refuse to teach homosexual behaviour.

Our schools, which by law should hold assemblies of Christian ethos, are allowed to ignore the same; and when religious teaching is given it must contain all faiths, and now a judge has ruled atheism must be included in the school curriculum.

In the face of this the Church in this country has at national level remained largely silent, except for at least two bishops who have actively campaigned for same sex marriage, and encouraged clergy to participate, which one Vicar has done without any sanction or action having been taken against him.

We need indeed to pray for a revival, but as there is no leader nationally with enough charisma to show the way, each local Church must devise programmes of worship which will inspire a return of a strong Christian presence in this land once more.

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Christmas message

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

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


A bus on a road in Kenya was carrying people to a shopping centre when it was ambushed by a group of Islamist militants who stormed the bus and wanted to carry out their usual insidious practice of separating Muslims from Christians. They ordered all Muslims to one side, where they would test them to see if they could recite verses from the Qaur’an, and if they failed they would be taken away and shot, as we have seen in previous attacks.

On this occasion the plan failed as the Muslims were friends with the Christians and stated that the attackers must either shoot them all or none. The militants killed two and injured four, but the rest were released. The news media has not identified the faith of those killed.

If all Muslims were to act as nobly as those gallant ones did, what a much more peaceful world we would have, as well as greater inter-relationships between our two faiths.

Saturday 5 December 2015

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 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.

Friday 4 December 2015

For the past 45 years a school in Indiana has performed a Nativity play. This year a father with the aid of two left wing anti-Christian organisations filed a lawsuit objecting to the performance on the grounds of a violation of state and church separation.

A judge has upheld the complaint resulting no doubt in the sadness of other children, especially those who have rehearsed for parts in the play.

What a miserable, arrogant contemptible and self concerned man it must be that prevents little children from enjoying the season they look forward to so much. No doubt he will be celebrating himself with the secular indulgences, taking personal advantage of this Christian festival.

Personally I think the judge should have been a little more human and treated the complaint with the contempt it deserved.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

The British Broadcasting Corporation is the State’s broadcasting network in this country and has a well established reputation for being biased in a left wing political sense, against Israel and Christianity. This was so blatantly displayed in a recent broadcast radio interview with a man named Barry Trayhorn and Libby from the Christian defence legal team of ‘Christian Concern.’

Barry was employed as a gardener for the Prison Service in Cambridge, and as he is a Pentecostal Church Minister, was allowed to take services in the Prison Chapel.

At one of the services he chose to speak on a verse in 1 Corinthians Chapter 9, which states among other words that a man should not sleep with another man. He must have been either naïve or seeking to be dismissed by speaking on this in a state institution, which of course he was. There was no way that quoting the Bible would be reckoned to be acceptable by a State institution in this country. (perhaps the Koran but not the Bible)

He agreed to be interviewed by a man named Iain Lee of Three Counties Radio, and similarly was Libby. I had never heard anyone being so rude, and aggressively rude. He would not allow either to answer properly; calling them bigoted, repulsive, obnoxious, and mocked the Bible as man written. Barry was totally out of his depth with such a man, and should never have gone near.

In the rarest action, the BBC responded to complaints, stating that the interview was totally unreasonable in manner and tone and apologised. For the BBC to utter an apology of this nature, shows how bad it was, and Lee had to do the same. I read he has since been removed from his breakfast show.

David Cameron is ever anxious to speak of his Christian belief, which causes it to be asked why he allows massive foreign aid to be given to countries which discriminate against people because of their religious (Christian) beliefs contrary to the Universal Human Rights Charter. He is being asked by Lord Alton and Fiona Bruce MP to take action to stop giving aid to those countries.

News reports regularly are telling that militant Islamic fighters are infiltrating the refugee influx into Europe, indeed ISIS have openly claimed their agents are being smuggled in.

News reports also tell that Christians are being slaughtered in such numbers in the Middle Eastern countries, apart from Israel that is, that soon Christianity will have been removed from the area.

We are used to hearing President Obama discrediting his Office and the great nation he represents, but one of his latest pronouncements reveals how much out of touch with feeling in his country. Referring to the admission of migrants from Syria into the United States,after other politicians had claimed priority for Christians,he is quoted in Britain’s leading liberal newspaper as saying, ‘when you see individuals in positions of responsibility suggesting Christians are more worthy of protection than Muslims are, it has to stop'.

He seems blind to the obvious in that if his country can only take so many people, Christians should have priority. Whilst no one should suffer for their faith, the situation in the Middle East is that Islamic terrorists are not killing Muslim people, but are killing Christians, in which case this alone determines priority. I seriously doubt that Obama is a Christian.

Despite Obama’s passion for same sex marriage and abortion, the United States is still a Christian country.

Nissar Hussein, a father of six children,was set upon by hooded men armed with pickaxes when he went to move his car which he is forced to leave outside a police station in Bradford. He does that because his car was damaged severely more than six times, all because he converted to Christianity from Islam. He is now detained in hospital.

The Christian Legal Centre is representing a street preacher who was convicted for a public order offence because he was preaching the gospel. At a previous Court hearing the judge convicted him because he referred to a verse in the Bible which the judge said he should not have done but use another verse instead. Effectively, the judge is trying to decide which verses can be quoted from the Bible. The appeal is tobe heard in December.

The European Union is displaying its bias against Israel in a recent edict which requires good made in Israeli factories to bear the words, ‘made in the disputed territories’ rather than just ‘made in Israel’. What these blinkered bureaucrats do not either know or alternatively choose to ignore, is that such factories employ Palestinian workers who earn more than they would otherwise do so.

Sunday 15 November 2015


As members of a human family we like to meet with brothers and sisters in our parents’ home and as members of a Church family we should welcome the chance to meet with our Christian brothers and sisters.

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 worlds 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.

The Bible says, ‘let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another’. 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.

But just believing in God’s existence is not enough we have to draw near to Him and the only way is through Jesus Christ. There is one way, one Saviour, one way to eternal life.

Jesus is described in the Bible as the great High priest of God. The function of a priest is to be a bridge between God and man so that we can come into God’s presence and Jesus makes that possible. Jesus can take us into the very presence of His Father.

Some people treat Church like a petrol station. They go to refill their spiritual tanks, and although there are lots of people on the forecourt, don’t wan t to get involved with them, but just drive in fill up and shoot off.

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.

I know a lady who was a wonderful practising Christian, as practical as one might be. Always the first to offer help when any member was unwell, or in difficulty. Very active in the Church, taking a leading role in all activities, social and religious. PCC Secretary, trained to be a Lay Reader, and then a new Vicar came to the Church with a wife who was one of the most unpleasant women I have ever met. She was intensely jealous of anyone likely to overshadow herself or husband, and made the other lady’s life so difficult she gave up attending a Church she had attended for many years. Perhaps the lady was wrong in not moving to another Church, but when you have been attending a Church for which you have become so attached, it can on a human scale be quite demoralising.

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.

We are living in an increasing anti-Christian environment with so called Equality and Diversity laws making it hard for Christians to express themselves, as public servants strive to find ways of excluding Christian expression.

Coming to Church should be like sons and daughters coming to meet with their (heavenly) Father in complete harmony. My sons regularly visit my wife and self, and I would be very concerned if they did not. Our heavenly Father is also upset when His children neglect Him.

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.

There are few people who can say with hand on heart I have no worries, problems, everything in my life is sunshine and roses. We all need spiritual fulfilment.. To all who are worried Jesus says, ‘come to me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls’ He is saying He is waiting for you and has got the help if you only will go to Him.

Jesus added, ‘take my yoke upon you’. A yoke was a wooden frame placed on a persons shoulder in order to make a load easier to carry. So Jesus is saying let me help you carry your burden. In John’s gospel we have the promise of Jesus that He will never turn anyone away.

Let us therefore draw near to God. holding firmly to your belief, and never give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us always give each other encouragement. 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.

Sunday 8 November 2015

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, blown up on dusty Afghan roads; or Iraqi ones. This has been the most wasteful loss of life, as young men were sacrificed for a mission which never had any realistic hope of success. Iraq was once a secular nation in which Christians could worship freely, now this ancient Christian territory is being rid of Christians mercilessly. Like virtually everything Tony Blair touched, it has ended up disastrously. Too late, most people now realise the extent of the damage he has caused to this nation, as well as the Middle East.

In fact the only place where Christians can be safe in that area now is Israel, yet there are those who would have us isolate Israel and boycott all their goods. We share a common Judea=Christian heritage with Israel, a true democracy.

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 could not when our army is answerable to strict human rights law, with greedy lawyers searching for cases to launch compensation claims on any grounds. Successive Prime Ministers have acted as if they had to have a war to fight, and if David Cameron had not been restrained by Parliament, we would have been engaged in Syria.

The present government got over excited about the so called ‘Arab Spring, lauding their progress and Cameron even went to celebrate in Libya with the rebels. We may have got rid of some tyrannical dictators along the way, but we have only succeeded in replacing them with even more tyrannical regimes who are hostile to the Western nations.
This should make us reflect of the sacrifices made with the hope that what they died for would be practised and honoured.

The world has largely rejected Christianity, without having anything to put in its place to combat the evils of the world. Yet 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, and are now revealed to have destroyed all evidence against them

This nation was built on the solid foundation of God’s law, and its moral standard and values were based on Christian principles this was 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 was 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 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. Many suffered great hardship in enemy prison camps; others were maimed for life; 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?

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.

We read of Soldiers refused service because they were in uniform; of Air Force men asked to leave a hospital waiting area as the sight of their uniform may ‘upset’ immigrants. Compare this with the United States where their military are honoured and feted wherever they go.

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. It is therefore intensely important, that we should positively let people know the true message, according to God’s Holy Word.

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, casting aside all acknowledgement of political correctness, so that others may 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 always remember the sacrifices others made that we might be here. We must never ever forget the lives of so many gallant young men and women given that we may have peace in our lives.

Sunday 1 November 2015

I want to speak to you this morning on the subject of ‘the Church’, and by that I mean the Church at large in this country irrespective of denomination.
]It is generally accepted that we have become a godless nation, where most people see no relevance to God or Church to be necessary in their lives. Both are treated like a convenience store which they can turn to when they want something they can’t get anywhere else.

Whilst it is not all about numbers, we must concede that without people attending, the Church could not exist. God wants the church to grow.

The church was established by God to teach biblical doctrine so we can be grounded in our faith. The bible states, ‘Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.’

The church is to be a place of fellowship, where Christians can be devoted to one another and honour one another, instruct one another; be compassionate to one another, encourage one another, and love one another.

The heart of the Christian faith is to know God. Jesus said, ‘this is eternal life that they may know you the only true God and Jesus Christ who you sent’. Jesus meant that you know God as your personal God, not just know about Him, and to achieve that you need teaching and doctrine.

The Church exists to spread the gospel which tells of Jesus; that He died on the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins, so that we might be acceptable to God and have eternal life with Him.

Whilst we live in a different age and conditions, there is much we can learn from how the first Church began and became so successful.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter gave his sermon and spoke of a corrupt generation who had rejected God and so they were under God’s judgement and needed to be saved. Such a situation could be said to exist today and is a reality for us, and this is the reason Church congregations are so small.

Peter’s words had such an immediate effect that 3,000 responded as they were ‘cut to the heart’; in other words they were deeply convicted. They began to realize that life was not what it appeared to be, and that behind all the normal events of everyday life was the power of God. This is always what happens when the Spirit of God is at work. He makes us aware of the Lordship of Jesus, the fact that Jesus is Lord.

As we compare ourselves today to that early church, we need to ask ourselves if we are an accurate representation of the kind of church that God would have us be.

We read that the church was devoted to the apostles teaching; they were doing so eagerly, they were not coerced, they did it out of desire to learn. Secondly, it was not something that was a passing mood, there was perseverance.

The Bible states, ‘they were filled with awe; it was attractive worship as people went with wonder and excitement anticipating what God would do; unbelievers were amazed at what they saw and heard and made them want to know more.

Does the worship you attend always fill you with awe and excitement? Do you hear inspiring sermons which want you to hear more? Really?

From the very beginning God is seen as a speaking God. He spoke to men right through the Bible, so all teaching should be firmly based on the Bible. God appointed prophets to record His thoughts and how He expected His people to live. In the New Testament He chose the Apostles to record His Word.

God in His grace has enabled us to have that same teaching of the Apostles; it is called the New Testament. If a Church is to have any credibility it must have the Bible at the heart of its ministry, the supreme authority of the Church. We have turned away from the Apostles teaching which is why we are losing so many people, for without such teaching we have nothing special to offer and have become little more than a social institution with a religious flavour.

When people come to Church they have a right to expect to hear a sermon based on Scripture; not someone’s ideas or opinion; nor on a political issue.

Christians have had many disagreements and arguments, Methodism itself was the result of one such argument, but at the heart of all Christian worship has always been the Bible. This is because the Bible uniquely tells the story of God’s dealings with human beings culminating in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Bible is the Word of God. There was a time when the meaning of that statement would have been absolutely clear and incapable of being misunderstood, but in these days words are being twisted and interpreted to mean almost anything.

Christians are meant to enjoy the Bible. It is meant to be a constant means of enlightenment, enrichment and encouragement, its dynamic influence bringing a deepening joy into our daily lives. Sadly, many Christians seem to fall short of that experience.

We now have preaching of the Bible by people who are living contrary to biblical teaching, and which is total hypocrisy and indefensible.

The problem is too many in the Church do not truly believe in the Bible, and don’t want to. Charles Wesley who did so much for Methodism taught that salvation was through Christ alone; the value of a person’s life was measured by their faith; and the doctrine of heaven and hell. How often have you heard a sermon on these subjects, which enable us to properly determine the various moral issues which are so prevalent in today’s society?

There is a very significant sentence at the end of the passage; and the Lord added to their number day by day. Every day, there would be new converts to the faith. That should not really be surprising. The apostles were getting the gospel of Jesus Christ out to the people around them by their teaching. They told of Christ coming to this earth in a unique way; of the miracles Jesus performed; how He gave up His life for us by dying on the Cross so that our sins could be forgiven by God, so assuring us of eternal with Him.

The Apostles taught that Jesus had said, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ If words mean anything, this is an utterly exclusive claim by our Lord. Without him, and apart from him, there is no way to the Father in heaven. If you decide Jesus is not for you, God doesn’t have a Plan B.
‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.’
‘For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.’ These are the actual words of the Apostles.

In addition, unbelievers were seeing the grace of God being displayed in the lives of the believers and were impressed with what was happening and were attracted. God was using these things to draw people to himself and the church grew. This tells us that it is God who builds up a Church, for He alone can move a person’s heart to repentance and faith. Jesus said on one occasion, ‘No man can come unto me except my Father draw him’. God is drawing people to himself all over the world.

It is in God’s plan that His Church will grow. In that first Church it was growing all the time; from that little band of men, the Christian gospel spread across the world. It may reasonably be asked when all the empty Churches are seen, why isn’t God adding to His Church now? He is in Africa, South Korea, China and South America. I suggest it is because in Britain and other Western nations we are not teaching, and certainly not practising, the teaching of the Apostles.

These men were speaking in the name of and on behalf of the Lord Himself, who told them what to say. If we choose to teach and preach in a manner to align ourselves with society’s culture and ways rather than with what God has lain down, we cannot expect God to bless our ministry.

Paul commanded Timothy to preach the word, and by the word he meant the Scriptures, which is still the primary task for all preachers. He gave a clear instruction for all Christian pastors and teachers that they were commissioned to teach the truth and to refute error.

Jesus emphasised His mission was to preach the gospel and wanted His Church to do the same. Paul also gave the command to ‘preach the Word’ and warned that a time would come when people would not want to hear sound doctrine preached, but rather hear what the false preachers were telling them, and we have plenty of them in to-day’s Church. We have embraced, encouraged and even applauded ways of life that are in direct conflict with the Bible.

There is a reluctance by some clergy to speak out for fear of being labelled as a bigot or being discriminatory. This always likely to occur when someone wants to join the politically correct crowd and tell you sanctimoniously you shouldn’t say that, so there is the tendency to re-interpret the Bible to make it acceptable.

Obviously if we are faithful to Scripture we are going to upset many people, not out of a desire to do so, but simply because we will strike at their conscience. The Bible clearly states all people, even those who have never heard the gospel, have a sense of right and wrong. We have to tell of the consequences for them when this life is over.

If you were walking down a road and you saw a house on fire and also saw someone in side trapped, you wouldn’t just wave to them, you would seek to save them; so we have a Christian duty to try and save them spiritually.

A great fault in the Church today is we don’t let people know exactly what the Church truly stands for. There is an image of ancient language and solemn music. It need not be any of that. We have wonderful music to choose from, and the most vibrant message that can be offered. We just need to proclaim it.

The Bible states ‘I urge you to strongly contend for the truth once given to the saints.’ That truth was that which is now written down in Scripture, which so many people want to amend.

The messengers of Islam and other faiths are not ashamed or reluctant to boldly proclaim their message, nor will they allow their faiths to be abused, neither should we.

So what kind of Church would you really like to belong to? There is so much scope for innovation, but what I submit is essential is, music hymns (or songs) which are tuneful and so easy to sing; and a Bible based sermon, using a simple message devoid of all theological terms. Without those two key elements we will not reach out to the unsaved.

If you are old enough like me to have attended the great Billy Graham Crusades, or perhaps watch them on the religious television channels, you will appreciate these points. We cannot of course emulate what they produced in terms of either music or preaching, but we can see the effect and response such a format produced from those present.

People love to sing, and Methodists have a long tradition of being worthy singers, we must pray for worthy preachers.

It is a fact of life we live in a free and easy country where virtually no behaviour is considered to be morally wrong, and the moment anyone dares to criticise or suggest something is wrong, they are labelled as phobic or bigots. Unfortunately many people within the Church have adopted the way of the world, it has somewhat been accepted, and even applauded. This is so wrong; the Church should be setting an example and making its voice heard instead of secularists setting out their agenda.

A Danish philosopher once stated, whereas Jesus came and turned water into wine, the modern Church has managed to do something altogether more difficult, to change wine into water. Many will agree with him as we have watered down the gospel of our Lord so that people are confused as to what they exactly should believe.

There is a false Christianity around today. There are people who put on a Christian front. They act like Christians, they read the Book, and sing the hymns, but they have no reality of Christ in their lives. That kind of Christianity is worthless. If we want to be men and women of God, we are to follow the teaching God has provided for us. This clearly set out in the Bible and readily available for all to follow.

I want to close with words of John Wesley who once stated “I want to know one thing, the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. Give me that book! At any price give me the Book of God!

May God bless your Church, and by His grace add to your numbers.

Saturday 17 October 2015

Next Sunday is Bible Sunday. For many years it was the 2nd Sunday in Advent, but was in recent years altered to the last Sunday in October, and Churches have the option of celebrating it then, or just the normal Lectionary reading. As so many clergy now have so little regard for the Bible’s authority, less now recognise Bible Sunday as being special.

This has the unfortunate consequence of turning good and devout people away from the Church. I was speaking to a young man who came to this country from an African nation who told me he ‘was’ a Methodist. I asked him what he now ‘was’ and he said he attended an Independent Evangelical Church because they took the Bible seriously, which he found the mainline Churches did not seem to him to do.

So turn with me to Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy, which is the Bible reading; it is so relevant to us today, and could have been written especially for us. It was written to Timothy by Paul when Paul was nearing the end of his life and was passing his ministry over to Timothy, a young and rather timid man. Paul wanted to warn him of the problems that may arise and also to encourage him. So let us study this passage this morning.

Paul begins by telling Timothy it is going to be difficult to be a Christian, for people will love only themselves and their money; they will be proud and boastful, sneering at God, disobedient to parents and thoroughly bad, and will think nothing of immorality.

We live like Timothy did in difficult times for the Church.
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 reading of the morning newspapers reveals how much evil is in the world, people defrauding on massive scale, and using violence so freely.

In verse 10 Paul reminds Timothy that he has seen all the troubles Paul has suffered for preaching the gospel, how strong his faith is, how he was stoned in Timothy’s own town. We have seen how Christians are being harassed in the work place, who have lost their employment for acting according to their Christian conscience, or merely even for expressing a Christian thought. Whilst there has been no overt violence, Christians have been arrested for quoting verses which have upset some people, and indeed in non Christian countries Churches have been, and are being, burned down and Christians murdered and wounded.

In verses 14/15
We read 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, Timothy 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. I have fond memories of attending Liverpool Cathedral for Choral Evensong with my mother into my teenage years, and the Church has been with me right through life, and I was not alone in that.

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.

Verse 16 states. All Scripture is inspired by God. The important word is all. In other words, what we read is divinely spoken by God. He chose 40 men over many years, using four languages, and so guided and inspired them so that in effect it was God telling us what He wants us to know. We are to accept it as written; there is no option to just to pick out those passages of which you approve and discard those that do not suit you.

Each of us has a choice to make. Do we accept the Bible as it is written, or do we reject its authority? If we pass judgement on Scripture, we pass judgement on God, for it is either the Word of God or complete fabrication. The Bible shows us what is true and lets us know when we are going in the wrong direction and points us in the right way. The Holy Spirit uses the Bible to change lives in a wonderful way.

If we are to face the challenges of our time, the Church and all Christians have to be people of the Bible. If the Church really wants to stop the slide to a secular society, it has to adopt a more positive stand on Scripture. Christians have always believed and taught that the Bible is God’s Word, and it has been one of the foundational truths of the Christian faith.

Today the Church in the West is in decline, in stark contrast to Africa, Asia, and 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, and God is blessing them.

Perhaps the most relevant advice to the Church could be that which Paul wrote to Timothy when he said ‘preach the Word’. By the Word, he meant the Word of God, the Bible; that is the principal reason the Church exists. Every Sunday it is read in every Church in every nation across the world. The Bible is a living book, and as we read or hear it being read, it is like God speaking directly to us. The Bible should have pre-eminence in all services.

But Paul warns Timothy that people will not want to listen to gospel truth and turn to myths; they will seek preachers who will say what they want to hear; how true this is to day. There seem to be plenty of preachers ready to oblige them and who in fact share the rejection of biblical teaching in order to justify their way of living. I cannot understand how a man or woman can stand in a pulpit to preach Scripture when their lives are not consistent with that teaching. Paul tells us that such people will have to answer before God and Jesus, and will be judged more severely.

I think it fair to say that there is often reluctance on preachers to be too faithful to Scripture to avoid upsetting people; there is a desire rather to make congregations feel comfortable. Consequently, the Bible is being modified and re-interpreted in order to align the Church with the culture of society when in fact it should be the guide to all our actions.

But the Church is not meant to be a sort of spiritual dispensary offering soothing word potions, and I believe the majority of people, especially those seeking spiritual help, would prefer true Bible exposition and moral guidance. How God must weep when He sees the Church singing His praise, pretending to be holy, whilst countenancing and failing to speak out on moral issues and totally ignoring His written Word.

The greatest preacher of all times was Billy Graham who preached to 222 million people in over 185 countries before audiences of up to 80,000. He told them they were all sinners and unless they turned to Christ they had no future in heaven, and yet people flocked to hear him in their tens of thousands.

The greatest revival of Christianity in this country came during the ministry of John/Charles Wesley which had such a dramatic revival in the spiritual health of the nation. If they were alive today they would have much to say at the way the Church has failed to proclaim the message they left, that salvation was through Christ alone, the value of a person’s life was measured by their faith and the manner in which it was lived out, and the doctrine of heaven and hell.

The Bible states, ‘For we have not followed cleverly invented myths when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’.
This tells us that our faith is not like other faiths which someone has made up but rather comes from God. Our faith is not just a legend; it was witnessed and attested to by the Apostles. We are saying that there is only Jesus who can fulfil the place of being the cornerstone of authority in the world. There is no other name under heaven by which a person can be saved. Only Jesus died on a Cross to enable us to have forgiveness before God. You can take all the religious names in history, Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, whoever and whatever. The most that can be said of these men is that they were moral teachers and much of what they taught was right.

As Christians we recognise that there is some truth in other religions, and they have uttered fine moral teachings and precepts which have helped people. But there is something they could not do. They could tell us what is right, but not how to do so. That is the difference between Jesus and any other name, which is why we can never consent to considering any other name to be equal; no other has solved the problem of death. There has never been a force more powerful to assure the liberation of men and women from oppression and immorality than the power of the resurrection. This is the message we have to get across. The Church has to urgently recognise what its mission and indeed its purpose is.

These are dark days for the Church in this country which is seen by many people as totally irrelevant to their lives. There was a time when the church stood as a beacon of light in a dark world; a place where hope, inspiration and encouragement were given; that is no longer the case. What people fail to realise is that if Christianity is erased from public life it will create a vacuum which will be filled by something else less pleasant.
If we are to face the challenges of our time, living in an aggressive secular society, we have to be people of the Bible. It teaches us how God wants us to live a good and moral life worthy of our Lord; it teaches us how God wants us to live and be in a relationship with Him; it corrects us when we are going wrong; and when feeling depressed and sad, encourages us to trust in Jesus to share our burdens.

I am amazed and saddened by how few Christians can say they regularly read the Bible for themselves. We even seem to have given up having Bibles in our Churches where members can follow the readings and the sermons.

The Bible is all about Jesus. The Bible is essentially a book of salvation, with Jesus the focus from start to finish. John Wesley once wrote, ‘I want to know one thing, the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. Give me that book! At any price give me the Book of God

Whilst the preaching of Scripture may be one for the pulpit, every Christian has a duty to carry the blessings of the Bible to those not yet acquainted with it.

Paul stressed the urgency of this task. The Churches often involve themselves in promoting issues which are sidelines to their principal task. It is of course right and proper we should interest ourselves in social and political issues, but not to the exclusion of spiritual matters. Whilst the Bible recognises our social responsibility, it emphasises the primary function of preaching the gospel, otherwise we just become another social institution with a spiritual touch, without any practical purpose.

Our purpose in coming to Church should be to worship God with reverence and awe; to learn about God and how He would want us to live. In order to do this we need to know our Bibles and be prepared to accept what is taught there. When people do come to Church they have a right to expect they will hear a sermon expounding the Word of God; perhaps not what they want to hear, but what they need to hear. Especially is this true when people come seeking spiritual nourishment and expect to find that satisfied with something profound. A conservative and serious approach is often more welcomed than a liberal one.

But a sincere follower of Christ, a true Christian, cannot live ignoring moral and ethical standards from Monday to Saturday and think a token repentance on Sunday will make matters right with God. A true Christian is one who lives their faith every day.

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 for a stable and well balanced society. This is why we must contend for the faith.

I believe every local Church has to set its own course of evangelism, for there is no effective lead from the higher counsels of the Churches, where there are men and now women more interested in their own careers than the purpose for which they were ordained.

I wish every blessing for your Church, and pray that God may bring people to join in worship there.

Saturday 10 October 2015

We live in a country in which we are supposed to be tolerant to other people. We are to resist all bigotry and prejudice. Recent events have shown however that is unless intolerance and bigotry is against Christians or Christianity; then it is open season Jesus warned that people hated Him and we could expect similar treatment; we are seeing that to be true.

A Muslim man and his family living in one of our big cities decided to become Christians and attend the Church of England. As a result, his car was trashed, his house constantly attacked, and his children bullied at school. The police are stated to be reluctant to classify this as ‘hate crime’.

So let us look at what has been classified by the police and Government Ministers as hate crime, and realise it only seems to be Christians who can offend.

Government Ministers have stated that anyone stating that same sex marriage is wrong are guilty of hate crime.

A street preacher was aggressively challenged by a homosexual man to debate verses from the Bible, when the preacher did so, he was complained against and was prosecuted and heavily fined.

A Christina Minister is being prosecuted for criticising Islam in a Church service sermon.

A baker has been heavily fined for refusing to bake a cake with the words ‘support same sex marriage’

Victoria, who is Head of Forensic Occupational Therapy at a London hospital, was suspended for nine months and then received a written warning following allegations of 'harassment and bullying' by a Muslim staff-member .

The young Muslim woman who complained was a newly qualified occupational therapist under the management of Victoria, who operated a policy whereby any of her team could seek her advice.

In a discussion between the two women the Muslim woman stated she felt God had a plan for her. Over a period of time Victoria invited the woman to go to her Church, and some time after that, when the woman was in hospital, she gave her a book to read about a Muslim woman and her encounter with Christianity.

On a further occasion the woman was distressed about her health and domestic problems and she accepted Victoria’s offer to pray with her.

Subsequently the woman made eight complaints of harassment and bullying, resulting in Victoria being penalised.

An employment tribunal ruled against Victoria, but on appeal a Judge has wisely ruled that it should be recognised in the significance of Victoria’s case there were points of law of public importance. She ruled that the Employment Tribunal should consider whether the original ruling had properly applied the European Convention on Human Rights' strong protection of freedom of religion and expression.

There is enough legislation to cover any improper speech of any kind without more so called crimes being created. It would appear some members of the Government, and especially the Prime Minister, wish to control our thinking and beliefs.

Friday 2 October 2015

Mark 10, v 2/12
This passage looks at the question of divorce, and considers marriage, and by marriage we mean according to the Bible
Jesus is making His way through Judea and is on His final journey to Jerusalem. The Pharisees are set to test Jesus and suggest He is an opponent of the Law given by Moses. They went in order to catch him saying something which would allow them to put him to death. Divorce was a crucial question and a hot topic for Jews.

There were two views held by the Jewish leaders, one claimed that only in the case of adultery could a divorce be authorised, and this was what Jesus stated in Matthew’s gospel. An alternative view based on a passage in Deuteronomy claimed a man, (but not a woman) could divorce his wife if she displeased him; which could in effect be for the most trivial of reasons.
The Pharisees wanted Jesus to make a decision between the two. He replied, ‘It was because men's hearts were hardened that Moses allowed divorce.’ Jesus is explaining the reason why Moses granted divorce possible, but without justifying the decision. He was in fact publicly exposing the situation prevailing in which women were being harshly treated in a manner which rated them more as an article than a person.

Divorce is of course high in this country at the present time, due often due to couples not thinking things through, and too often not knowing properly the person they are (supposed) to be committing their life to. Now rather than being till death do us part, it is till we get fed up with each other. People are rushing into marriage on a wave of emotion, especially when they can get married in public places in bizarre ceremonies.

Divorce is a sad and unpleasant thing when two people who once loved and had affection for each other can turn into bitter opponents with feelings bordering on hatred. This pervades whole families as they have to look on, usually helpless to assist. We even see children being taken by a parent and killed to avoid the other partner having custody, and cause lifelong hurt.

Jesus went on to state that God made two people, man and woman, Adam and Eve. From the beginning of creation, God made them to be distinct and different; two recognizable sexes. He made them male and female, biologically and psychologically different one from the other. This takes us right back to the dawn of creation, the very beginning of the human race.

So we have two people, equal yet different, no question of superiority or inferiority. They were not meant to be identical, men are generally stronger physically, more aggressive, with a greater propensity for leadership, women softer and sensitive and caring, specially equipped to be mothers, and usually live longer.

Men think and feel differently than women. In the film ‘my fair lady’ Rex Harrison playing a professor of phonetics asks ‘why can’t a woman be like a man’, the answer is because she wasn’t created to be. We are a mixture that complements one another.
We must accept that God knows best and when he wanted man to have a companion He made a woman as the perfect answer, someone who could complement man in every way, physically and mentally in a way other men could not, and men throughout the ages have appreciated and recognised this. God wanted to supply what was lacking in man’s life and together they could have children and create the ideal family. He made men and women to have a natural attraction, opposites attracting. God planned the human heart to love, marry and have children. Most men if honest would concede how their wife has been of much help.

The Bible states a man should leave his parents and cleave to his wife. Cleave means glued together, so the two should grow in love through the years in an exclusive commitment. As they do so they share likes and dislikes, and whilst they will have different strengths and weaknesses, each will help the other. They will find they can know the other’s feelings and often anticipate what the other is thinking. They need to trust each other and have no secrets. The wife is now the one in the man’s life who takes precedence over all others.

When two people appear together at Church for the wedding service, they pledge their faithfulness to each other and there is the giving of a ring(s). The ring has no break, no ending, signifying unending love. The ring is made of gold, precious and for longevity. This is what God intended.

Having become one they were not to look for sexual pleasure elsewhere. Marriage was meant to be for life, but now is under attack as never before and not seen as a lifelong commitment, divorce is easy and generally taken as acceptable. Jesus laid strictness on marriage but ruled divorce out. In Britain we have one of the lowest marriage rates in Europe but the highest number of divorces.

Marriage is the bedrock of society yet now long held beliefs are being challenged. Marriage lends stability to society and builds a framework which is held in high esteem. It is one of the most important aspects of our culture. Jesus highly valued marriage and performed His first miracle at a wedding.

We have now reached the stage where the whole of God’s original plan for men and women has been widely abandoned. Just as in the days of Malachi described in the Old Testament, there is a spiritual decline with people forsaking God, and an alarming breakdown in family life.

God intended men and women should have children, which means having a father and mother. Children need both for a balanced upbringing and to receive the benefit of both characters in their lives. Family meant husband, wife and children. This is the ideal which cannot be attained by two people of the same sex.

This takes away such things as same sex marriages, which prevail in society today. Politicians have now tried to replace God with their own discredited plans and decided to redefine marriage on the spurious grounds of supposed equality. People can be perfectly equal without being the same; God did this at the time of creation when he made both man and woman equal in His sight, but for different purposes. Politicians are for ever trying to force an agenda whereby men and women are not to be recognised as being different

God created us different so children could be brought into the world, something same sex couples cannot do. Civil partnerships provided all the legal provision for people who wish to live together, and that is a matter for choice, which we all accept is a personal decision.

It is quite impossible for Christians to support same sex marriage when it is recognised that this was not God intended, as numerous Biblical passages spell out. Yet apostate Bishops tell we should support such unions and state we must view with a mix of bible, tradition and reasoned experience. They are obviously rather theologically confused.

The Bible is unequivocal that marriage is heterosexual; tradition is that marriage is solely man and woman; and reasoned experience has proved that marriage creates a stable structure and is the bedrock of society.

Politicians have caused untold hardship to many abandoned children by their stubborn insistence not only on giving two same sex people the right to adopt children, but making it illegal for Adoption bodies to refuse adoption by same sex couples. Such action resulted in Catholic Adoption agencies, which did such fine work, being forced to close down because they found it unable to reconcile such servile policy contrary to their Christian belief. Such is the government’s idea of democracy and freedom of conscience.

Divorce is a violation of God's intention for marriage. But God is a God mercy and grace. There is forgiveness when one partner in the marriage is subject to unbearable violence, either physically or verbally. Lessons can be learned which enable a man or woman to find the love God intended with someone who is able to provide such love.

I close with the words used by the more distinguished Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster in a pastoral letter, ‘‘we have a duty to married people today, and to those who come after us, to do all we can to ensure that the true meaning of marriage is not lost for ever.


Saturday 26 September 2015

Mark’s gospel, Chapter 8 verses 31-38,

Jesus has asked the Apostles who people say He is and they tell Him various answers. Peter then made his famous confession that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. (Matthew describes it a little more fully by telling how Jesus was pleased with this answer and said He would build His Church on that reply)

At the start of our passage Jesus tells them that He is going to suffer at the hands of His enemies and then be killed. Peter challenges Him, causing Jesus to tell Peter he doesn’t understand the plan of God. Jesus was pointing out that it was necessary for Him to die as a sacrifice on the Cross, which is why He came to earth so that He could pay the penalty for our sins.

We cannot preach the gospel unless we refer to the Cross. The death of Jesus cannot be kept out of any gospel message. Billy Graham, who was more successful than any other preacher in Christian history, made clear every message he preached would contain the message of the Cross.

This passage could be titled ‘what it means to be a disciple’, for Jesus went on to tell what He expects from those who want to follow Him and be His disciple.

Firstly, to deny oneself. One of the most favourite pieces of music requested at funeral services, as well as being a universal favourite, is Frank Sinatra’s record, ‘my way’. You cannot be a disciple of Jesus in the Frank Sinatra style. Jesus requires us to live the way He taught, and to put Him first rather than oneself. We are to deny doing the things that contradict a way of living to that laid down in Scripture. This does not mean we have to give up enjoying the luxuries and joys of life; it is our self we are to deny, if it causes us to act against His way.
Jesus wants us to submit ourselves to His leadership and Lordship. There can be no discipleship apart from this; it is an essential part of that discipleship.
Society is generally motivated in trying to acquire wealth and material possessions, sometimes by any means, and a priority in putting oneself first and enjoying oneself with little or no time for God or Christ. Worship is very low on the list of priorities, if at all. People who live only for this life will find that in the end they will lose it without having attained anything lasting. They will have wasted so many years on transient matters.
Secondly, we are to take up the cross. For Jesus the cross represents intense suffering, a rejection of Him by the world, but a sign of His complete obedience to God. To us the Cross is not just a story from the Bible; it is accepting God’s will for our life. As Jesus went freely to the Cross on our behalf and gave up His life for us, we must be prepared to put aside all that hinders our following Him, and give our life in service to Him. This will no doubt entail some suffering on our part, and even rejection by people we thought to be friends, but it is not likely to be physical suffering. The cross stands forever as a symbol of those circumstances which humble us, and offends our pride.

Thirdly, our lives can only be truly fulfilled and be worthwhile by following Jesus. He said if we hold on to our lives in this world we will lose the chance of living with Him in eternity. We can attain all this world offers, but if we do so and forsake Him we lose our soul. Jesus is calling for complete obedience, ready to do or say whatever He commands

Finally, Jesus stated if anyone is ashamed of Him now they will pay the price when the day comes when we will all face Him and give an account of our lives here. If we reject Him now, He will reject us on the day when we answer to Him.

Christianity is regularly attacked on radio and television, mostly by rather coarse and vulgar people, who think it a subject for amusing rebuke. Ministers of religion are portrayed as odd characters totally removed from normal people. One advertisement shows a Vicar acting in a befuddled way, to be associated with food which is boring, in contrast to jolly people enjoying the advertiser’s food.

We can be deemed to be ashamed of Jesus if we allow such attacks to go unchallenged, and we should remember the words of the hymn ‘stand up for Jesus’ and be prepared to let other know we resent such abuse.

Jesus is calling for commitment, which means picking up the Cross for Him. There are many people who claim to be followers, without having any justification. They have no intention of denying themselves and giving up things for Him.

Think, if you asked your friends or members of your family what they thought of Jesus, what would they be likely to say? But more importantly, if someone asked you ‘who do you say Jesus is’, what would be your answer?

Let each person ask oneself that question, and let us hope and pray the answer will be, ‘He was the Son of God who came to earth to give His life as a ransom for me by dying on a Cross so that the sins of all mankind could be forgiven, and was raised on the third day by God to prove He conquered death, and now reigns in glory where one day all who have denied themselves, taken up the Cross and followed Him will live with Him in heaven.

And which way will you choose, the way of the cross or the way of the world?

Thursday 17 September 2015

Turn with me to John’s Gospel, Chapter 13, verse 31 to 14.v6. This is all about the uniqueness of Jesus.

The passage I have chosen to speak to you about this morning is one of the best known passages in the New Testament, even to non Church people.

There are many people who will not live in a house which is numbered 13 and some roads omit the number, going from 11 to 11a or 15a. The superstition originated from the story in this Chapter, not because of the number of the Chapter, but from the story contained in it. I lived with my parents in a No.13 for years without any harm.

The scene of this story takes place in what is known as the Upper Room. Jesus is with His 12 Apostles for the Last Supper, so making a total of 13.

Jesus has just told the Apostles one of them would betray Him, knowing it would be Judas and within hours of doing, so both He and Judas would be dead. Judas would commit the greatest betrayal in history as he left the room to ‘go out into the night’ (darkness) to sell out Jesus. He told the remaining Apostles that the time had come for Him to be glorified.

What Jesus meant by this was, this was the last time He would speak to them before He was to die. His glory is that He is on His way to the Cross, His work on this earth is over and the crucifixion will also bring glory to the Father.

Jesus then for the only time called His Apostles, ‘little children’; this was obviously an endearing term of affection, like a father who is about to go away from his family. Jesus noticeably waited until Judas had left before saying it. It is the end of a close relationship of three years and time to say goodbye.

Jesus was speaking to His disciples shortly before going to the Cross, teaching and giving guidance, and that same teaching is passed down for the benefit of all Christians throughout the ages.

He calls on them to love one another, a fundamental principle of our faith, yet we find some awful failings to obey that command. He was calling on them to stay together and be faithful to each other, something all Christians should show as an example to the world. So often Christians are seen to be fighting with each other, due to some following a false line of teaching and not obeying Scripture, when they should be seen as a happy family. This is a complete turn off to non believers

When Jesus said ‘love one another’, He meant we should get along with each other. We are not talking of physical love or even sentimental feelings, but rather fellowship, compassion, tolerance and loyalty. We are not called upon to ‘like’ everybody, indeed, there are people in the Church you just couldn’t possibly like, they are so unlikeable.

If we are true to our faith we can’t be at odds with each other, yet we find people walking out of Church if they can’t get their own way, or are not given the deference they feel due to them. We should be able to resolve any issue calmly and amicably.

When non-Church people see Christians as a mixed gathering of different ages, different sexes, different backgrounds, getting on and being happy together, they will be inspired by us and respond, but if they see us as an arguing fractious lot, falling out all the time, they will justly say ‘look at those hypocritical Christians.’ .

Jesus tells them He is leaving them but they cannot go with Him, and that leaves them devastated. They had only managed to stay together through His unifying spirit, otherwise they would have parted. Peter spoke up first to plead to go with Him, but Jesus refused and even foretold what would happen to Peter.

I can relate to the feeling of the Apostles when they heard Jesus was leaving them. They had been in a three year intimate closeness to Jesus, and it is like the occasion when a Vicar or Minister gives notice he is leaving a parish, and both he and the members are sad.

Prior to coming to Bedford, I spent the happiest and most rewarding three years of my life in a Church on the Wirral, where I had such a marvellous time with the loveliest congregation possible. When I gave notice I had to leave for family reasons there were tears and much sadness, but I still have such wonderful memories of three golden years. I am sure the Apostles had even more to grieve over.

Seeing their grief, Jesus told them to not let their hearts be troubled. The heart is the seat of all our emotions and feelings and if that is disturbed our whole body and mind is. He calls for trust in Himself as well as in God, meaning have a personal relationship. Although troubled Himself, Jesus shows concern for the Apostles and tries to comfort them.

He refers to heaven as His Father’s house and tells them He is going to prepare a place for them; which He will accomplish by dying on the Cross and rising, to ascend back to heaven with God. He promises to come back and take them with Him so they may be together again.

This passage is widely quoted in funeral services when people assume that everyone is automatically going to heaven. I have taken thousands of funerals over the years and there has never been doubt in anyone’s mind that the deceased is going to heaven irrespective of the life led. Nowhere in the Bible is this view upheld. Jesus was very clear in His teaching that it certainly was not so. In parable after parable He spoke of two roads, of sheep and goats, of tares and wheat, of heaven and hell.

Whilst it may be comforting to believe that we can all get to heaven regardless of one’s beliefs, and we like to please our fellow men and women, it is quite cruel to mislead if it is not true. It is like telling a blind person standing on the footwalk of a major road it is safe for him to cross when ready. If we say to someone who has no Church commitment, has only a tenuous belief in Jesus Christ, never reads a Bible or prays, that they are going to heaven, we are leading them astray.

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.

In this passage before us He is talking to His followers, people who have made a personal commitment to accept Him as Saviour. This is why it is so important for each person to make his/her own decision whether to follow Jesus in His teaching, commands and demands He makes on us.

You see the Bible is all about commitment. 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. 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, easy to say I read the Bible. 95% of the population today believe as long as you are honest, kind and helpful to others and do no harm, you are a fully fledged Christian

Jesus speaks firmly and rather profoundly when He says not all who think they are to enter the Kingdom of heaven will in fact do so

In every action of life we are confronted with a choice, where we must make a decision to do one thing or another. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus confronted us with a hard or an easy way. He makes uncompromising and tough demands of commitment, which many people cannot take, and are not prepared to commit. Then as now, some are ready to listen and walk with Him, learning to depend on Him, whilst others are just occasional supporters.

I believe the Church has encouraged people to so think and believe rather than make our Lord’s meaning clear. The Church in general in its desire to be nice and friendly to all, with a craving to please society in general, has not always given sound teaching on this and some misguidedly preach that Jesus was giving a blank promise for everyone when He is clearly addressing His followers, and if we do not follow Him our end will not be in the rooms of His Father’s house.

In verses 4/5 we read Jesus suggests they know the way to the place where He is going, Thomas answered that they did not know the way, how could they.

Then in verse 6 Jesus makes a profound statement which goes to the heart of Christian faith and belief. He states He is the only way to God. This is not generally liked as it is seen as being too restrictive, too bigoted and intolerant, and to be judgmental is not liked. Consequently some clergy will not quote it, whilst others just will not accept it. Frankly, I think if any man/woman does not accept this verse then they should not be allowed to preach for they are betraying the Lord who said it, and the Church whish they serve.

The temptation for us, as Christians, is to say what makes us popular. Too many preachers have forgotten about being authentic; about being true to the Gospel we have been entrusted with by our Lord; to be true to our values, and to proclaim them without embarrassment and fear.

I stated in a sermon last week that clergy hold a respected position in many people’s minds, especially more so in the Church of England perhaps than the Free Churches, so that what they say is often accepted.

Whilst I personally like the freedom of the Methodist Church service where the Minister can set his own order of service, I think a weakness exists in these modern days of having a different preacher each week when there is so much difference in the interpretation of Scripture. One week a preacher may take a biblical line, but the following week someone wishing to make the Bible say what fits in with modern cultural belief and morality will follow; this just causes confusion.

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 challenge Holy Scripture.

It is widely claimed, erroneously, that we all worship the same God and all religions have the same way to heaven. Islam worship ‘Allah’ and see Jesus as a good man in the social sense, or a prophet at best. Indeed, the Islamic faith states, ‘God has no son’, which is in direct contravention of Jesus’ nature.

We Christians worship the God of Israel; we worship a Saviour who was a Jew; we have Apostolic teaching from Apostles who were Jews; our Bible was written by Jews: no Muslim could accept that. We should each respect the right of the other in their belief, and try to live peacefully together.

I do admire the devotion and loyalty of Islam. Muslims in Islamic countries are Muslims in the full sense of the word, and they find difficulty in understanding how people who live in Christian lands reject their faith so completely. Why, on the Lord’s birthday so many get drunk and engage in orgies. They will fight and defend their faith, and the men will not feel embarrassed or ashamed to be seen going to worship. Put many Englishmen in a Church and they feel lost and disorientated

Only Christianity maintains that Jesus Christ as divine and salvation was earned by Jesus on the Cross. But we have the words of our Lord Himself, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’.

He is the way from God to man, bringing the blessings of God, and He is the (only) way for us to reach God. He is the embodiment of all truth, and came to give us life everlasting.

We are called arrogant and discriminating when we make this claim; and this government is trying to restrict us making any exclusive claim about our faith, or quoting verses from the Bible about morality, by making legislation which deems it hate crime.

Jesus is quite unequivocal. To state otherwise is to challenge the word of the Lord, never do that for one day we will appear before Jesus and He will want an answer.

Some time ago I went to Birmingham and had to find an address. I asked a man passing if he could tell me the way and he answered, ‘I can’t see you getting there on your own, but I am going that way and could take you’. He got into my car and we went directly there. That is what Jesus does for us. He says you can’t get there on your own but I will direct you, guide you, and take you myself. He is saying there is no other way. This is an exclusive offer.
It is an offer you cannot afford to refuse.