Sunday 26 July 2015

The Bible tells us that God ordains the kind of government we have, in which case God must be punishing Britain and America by letting us be governed by David Cameron and Barack Obama.

We in Britain have a Prime Minister who has proved to be a cheat and a liar. Before the 2010 election he promised he would not introduce same sex marriage, he did. Before the 2015 election he promised to introduce legislation which would give greater protection to a persons savings who needed care home attention. He has cancelled that. There was a promise to electrify Northern rail links; that has been passed over.

What sort of a politician can so blatantly go back on things said just prior to an election?

America has a President who visits another country giving notice he is going to lecture them on ‘gay rights’ and same sex marriage, even though that country warned him that would be offensive to them. What arrogance and impertinence to even imagine the leader of one country could admonish another country?
Obama may have an obsession with same sex marriage, but unlike Britain and America, African countries generally still follow the Bible.

How the Christians in America must hope for a Republican victory in next year’s elections. Just think of who is for the Democrats. We would all be singing God HELP America.

Monday 20 July 2015


A man and wife (man/woman) in Oregon carried on a bakery business and when a young woman and her mother wanted to order a wedding cake for the daughter’s wedding to another woman, they decided to go to a bakery well known for its strong Christian beliefs. The bakery owners declined the order on the grounds that same sex marriage was contrary to Christian teaching.

A complaint was made by the women and a judge subsequently ordered costs of $135,000 dollars against the bakery owners for emotional suffering caused to the lesbian couple. Surely by any standards this was ridiculous and well over the top, and one wonders what opinions the judge holds. I can’t imagine any suffering being worth that amount. In all such cases in both our countries, it is quite amazing how easily people become so emotional.

Whilst the women have every legal right now to go through with this ceremony of so-called same sex marriage, it is surely equally right for people with equally strong views to have their feelings considered; especially when there must have been numerous other bakeries willing to serve them.

An added insult is that a gagging order was placed on the bakers. However, such was the feeling of people for the bakery owners that the well recognised generosity of the American people has resulted in a wonderful response to meet the costs.

A pity their generosity was not matched by political wisdom, which would have resulted in a different President, and such controversies could have been largely avoided.

Saturday 18 July 2015

This morning I want to turn with you to Psalm 23.

Written over 3,000 years ago it is still the most known passage in the Bible by believers, non believers and part believers. I have taken hundreds of funerals over the last forty years and I could count on my fingers the number of times this psalm has not been either said or sung. Whilst it is so popular at funerals, it is not meant for death, but rather life, and sometime is more appropriately used at weddings.

The psalm was written by David, the greatest name in Jewish history and their greatest king. When he wrote it he had been overthrown from his throne temporarily by his own son, and had to flee to the wilderness. He never lost trust and faith in God, and was confident of the Lord’s care.

Drawing on his boyhood experience of tending sheep, he pictured himself as a sheep and God as the shepherd, and applied the imagery of both to his human situation.

Although widely used now, most people do not think about, or understand, what it is saying. It is especially helpful to anyone passing through an emotional experience, or personal crisis.

Of course many people don’t feel they need any help, certainly not spiritually, and think they can solver their own problems, not David, nor anyone who has come to know the Lord.

A shepherd in Eastern terms was rather different to what we know as a shepherd; it was a 24 hours job, and as there were not the fields for the sheep to graze in, it meant the shepherd had to walk the sheep many miles to find pasture, and so a close relationship existed between sheep and shepherd, with the sheep being known by name.

It was a dangerous occupation, for the shepherd had to protect the sheep from wild animals roaming, and those trying to steal sheep.

David begins with the word, ‘The LORD is my shepherd’. The original word used was Jehovah, the one true God, the God of the Bible, the God of Israel. Other faiths have their own gods, but in the Judeo/Christian belief there is only one God.

He is the shepherd. I shall not want. If God is our shepherd we shall not want. This does not mean we shall be provided with riches or luxuries, but He will provide what we need. He is claiming a close relationship, and Christianity is a personal relationship which we now have between us and Jesus Christ, for all who accept His death on the Cross was their forgiveness. If we trust God we will lack for nothing; God wants us to depend on Him and feel we need Him.

David then sets out the way our needs are met. He makes me lie down in green pastures beside still waters. The shepherd will know where there are such pastures and will guide the sheep to them where they can eat and drink. Sheep cannot drink from running water so need somewhere where there is still water.

The sheep are pictured being led to an idyllic spot where they will be fed, for the shepherd will have gone ahead to make sure that is the right place. This reminds me of being in the Scottish Highlands with sheep resting on the side of a Loch.

As we feed upon the word of God we see the Lord Jesus there. We draw upon him and our inner man is satisfied. Jesus told His disciples, ‘this is the work of God, that you believe in him whom He has sent.’

The second thing the Good Shepherd does is to give direction in life: He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake. The path the sheep would take would in fact be a narrow, well-worn trail. The shepherd knows the trails. He has been there before, and the sheep trust him.

The sheep would be led along a narrow track and be guided by the shepherd so they did not stray. God wants us to guide us, and directs us the road to take. Jesus said the road was narrow and only few would take it. This is because sacrifices must be made; a certain way of life led according to biblical teaching, and restraint of undesirable passions. It is so easy in this secular world to be led astray.

Yea thought I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear not evil for thy rod and staff they comfort me. The third thing David says that a good shepherd does is to provide protection:

The shepherd would lead his sheep back home at evening. As they go down through a narrow gorge it would be dark and dangerous. The sheep, because they are so timid and defenceless, would be frightened by their experience. But they trust the shepherd, and therefore they are at ease.

Sometimes we may be frightened by the evil we see in the world, horrified by the moral depths we see people partaking in, and wonder if the Lord has left the world to its own devices. But God says he never leaves us and is always there. Therefore we have no reason to fear.

‘Your rod and staff they comfort me’. The rod was a heavy wooden club with a knob on the end, which was used to drive off wild animals. It was never used on the sheep, but was a heavy instrument used to protect the sheep from other wild animals. The staff was a slender pole with a little crook on the end. It was used to aid the sheep. The crook could be hooked around the leg of a sheep to pull him from harm. Or it could be used as an instrument to direct, and occasionally to discipline the sheep, with taps on the side of the body.

When we go wandering away he doesn't come with a big club, like a caring father He corrects and shows us how to act righteously. Like sheep we can go astray if left to our own devices, so the heavenly shepherd keeps us on the right path.

In Verses 5 and 6 David changes the tone moving God from the good shepherd to the generous welcoming host.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

The Lord spreads a sumptuous meal before him, a great banquet, in the presence of his enemies. This embraces all the benefits David has used before. That God feeds and provides, leads and protects.

In the East it was customary to anoint a guest to make them look and smell nice, so they would place perfumed oil over the head and smooth it down. A drink would be poured out in such a way that the wine would overflow the cup so the host would be seen to be giving all he could.

The psalm ends with David his life continuing with God. David says that God's goodness and mercy shall follow him, for the rest of his life and then after death will live in God’s house in the next life. He looks forward to spending all his days in the house of the Lord where he will always have a home.

Saturday 11 July 2015

This morning I want to turn with you to Paul’s 2nd Letter to Timothy in Chapter 4.

What should be most concerning to all who are true Christians is for the future of the Church. Reports tell that the Methodist Church has lost over 100,000 members in the last ten years, whilst the Church of England has lost 250,000 over the last three years. This is disastrous bearing in mind many of the members now are in the older age range, and predominantly female; men, especially the young ones, feel Church affronts their masculinity to attend, yet Muslim men are proud to acknowledge their commitment to Islam. These are indeed dark days for life in a post Christian society.

Whilst we should not become obsessed with numbers, we must concede that without people attending, the Church could not exist.
God means the Church to grow. We saw how the early church grew when more full time workers were appointed and when the church was persecuted. God means the church to grow - in love, in the knowledge of Christ, but also in terms of numbers as more men and women being added to the church day by day. So each church needs to pray for growth. We need to pray for more people to be added to the
church, for people who are in the spiritual wilderness with no fellowship or no clear teaching

An important issue is that a lot of people don’t know what the Church stands for. There are times when I wonder what the Church stands for. We publicly have debate as to what the Bible means, and whether it is still relevant in today’s society. This reasonably gives the impression if the Church itself does not know what it should believe, how can it tell anyone else. It is most frustrating and annoying to those of us who revere what is in effect God speaking.

No other passage in Scripture describes more accurately the day in which we live than this Letter to Timothy, though it was written almost 2,000 years ago, it is highly relevant to our own day.

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 has warned Timothy of the Godless times facing him. Timothy faced a tide of increasing sinfulness, and false preachers were giving out a distorted gospel. Immorality was widespread; all manner of sexual activity was taken as acceptable, all these facts which are facing us

Like Timothy, we see ourselves as a tiny minority amidst an overwhelming majority committed to unbelief. Most of us think of ourselves, as being of little importance and feel there is nothing we can do to stop society falling into the abyss, so great are the forces ranged against us from the secularists, who seem to be assisted by the judiciary and government. We see a situation rather like that of a car parked on a hill where someone has left the handbrake off. We face the same challenges as did Timothy.

Paul’s answer is fundamentally to 'preach the Word'. And in the context of this epistle that is God's 'word' that he has spoken.
The primary reason we gather at church on Sunday is to learn about God and to grow closer to Him. Everything else is secondary. Knowing Christ, becoming like Christ, is what we are here for. This is achieved through the Word Of God.

Paul begins with a "solemn charge " to Timothy.. The instruction Paul gives Timothy here is, by no means, optional. Paul is issuing a forceful directive to Timothy, and also to us, Paul concludes his exhortation with the simple command: "preach the Word ". This is to say that sermons must be expositions of the Bible, not expressions of the preacher's opinions.

Whilst people come to know the Lord by various means, the primary way is through the preaching of the gospel. The Bible states, ‘how can they believe on him of whom they have never heard, and how are they hear without someone preaching to them’. God ordained that people would come to belief through the preaching of the gospel.

A preacher stands in the presence of God, and must aim to please the Lord and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, for the preacher will one day have to stand in front of the Lord and give account.

We are to spread God’s word, not theories, or one’s own opinion, not a political analysis. Thus saith the Lord.

Paul tells Timothy, to ‘preach in season and out of season’, in other words at all times, and to be urgent doing so, and in getting the message out. The world’s greatest need is to hear about Jesus Christ. All Christians, not simply all ministers, are commanded in Scripture to share their faith

We put a lot of energy into fairs, fetes and garden parties, but treat them as just that without trying to reach out to the people at the same time.

We have parish magazines and newsletters which mostly tell what HAS happened, and contains articles about gardening or other hobbies, pieces about where people have been, or of memories. There needs to be stimulating, provocative writing on a biblical theme.

Most of all we need to look at our services. I have been to services and rather than come out inspired I am demoralised, and say to myself what was all that about. Too often services are done as if it is because something has to be done, rather

Paul tells Timothy he must convince people of the truth of the gospel by patient reasoning; rebuking when someone is acting in an unchristian way, perhaps by appealing to their conscience; but when there is anyone with doubt of in danger of falling away, to give them encouragement.

In verses 3 and 4, we are reminded why persistence in proclaiming the Word of God is so important. Surely, Paul is accurately describing our present context. ‘For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers who will say what their itching ears want to hear.’

Sound doctrine aims to correct our faulty beliefs about God, and it aims to shape our character to be like Christ. If such is so vital to the life of a church, what is it that produces sound doctrine?

Faithfulness to God's Word produces sound doctrine and produces mature Christians. Mature Christians fulfill the ministry God has called us to.

Sound doctrine calls us out of our comfort zone. challenges our sinful desires and behaviours.
calls us to shift our focus away from ourselves,
and calls us to focus on God.

I am afraid that "the time " Paul predicted has arrived. And, because we are living in the dangerous times Paul predicted, we, more than ever, need to heed his counsel to Timothy.

This refers to a time when people will reject Christian standards, morality and values and will substitute others. Such is the time in which we live.

Paul says, men and women will turn away because truth requires the admission of human weakness, which people do not like to admit; the restraint of passions, which they do not like to do; and submission to the authority of God and other authorities under him, which they dislike and reject.

They turn away from the truth, and will not even give it a hearing. It is not that they will listen to the truth and then decide whether it is right or wrong; they do not even want to hear it. They do not want to hear anything which will restrict their indulgences, and they resist, sometimes fiercely.

Then they will look for those who will teach them what they want to hear; those who share their preferences, and are prepared to re-interpret Scripture to meet the desires.

There is a disease, widespread in our day, called "itching ear disease," which Paul mentions here. This is an ear that wants to hear a particular line of things, an ear that wants to be entertained, that is always looking for something new, an ear that wants constant affirmation and does not want to hear anything negative or contradictory. People who have this disease look for teachers who will scratch that itch; and the result, the apostle says, is that they "wander into myths."

What do these teachers, which such people accumulate in great numbers, teach? They cannot teach the truth because the truth is unacceptable, so they teach attractive lies, fantasies for the most part, speculative philosophies that emerge from the minds of men which have no basis in fact or history. There are many of these myths abroad today.

We have been saturated by a world that is committed to falsehood. That is why, as Paul sets forth here, we must increasingly proclaim the truth as it is in Jesus. You and I are called to advance that work. Do not let anybody tell you that your life as a Christian does not count. It counts tremendously.

There is spiritual drift in the Western Churches. You will find at the highest level of Church office, biblical morality being denied and opposed. There are those who would rather pay attention to the Equality and Diversity Act than Holy Scripture, despite the fact that some biblical Christians fought hard to have the Church excluded from some of the provisions of that oppressive Act.

There is too ready a desire to preach political correctness rather than biblical correctness.

We are facing sustained attack from secularists who are trying desperately to remove any semblance of religion from the public life of the country. Humanism is now the belief of millions.

As society degenerates it is so easy for Christians to go with flow. It is not uncommon for preachers to state that God would never condemn people for their sins. God is portrayed as a sort of spiritual father Christmas. The Church, in places, is prepared to not only accept moral conduct which directly contravenes Scripture, but to even encourage and applaud it; but the Bible teaches that God created a moral world and demands retribution for sin.

Society has forced a morality upon us which the Church nationally was never prepared to combat, but instead let it grow, a sort of attitude, ‘if you can’t beat them join them’.

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

Come to church then, prepared to feast on sound doctrine. Do not let anybody tell you that your life as a Christian does not count. It counts tremendously. Glory in what God has called you to do, and be faithful to his command:

Sunday 5 July 2015

Weekly Christian News 5th July

It has been reported that in a radio interview, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan suggested that comments critical of homosexuality could be a sign of "extremism". This is a dangerous attitude, for it casts a very wide net concerning traditional beliefs about marriage and family.

Whilst this could rarely if ever be made against Christian preachers, for few if any, would want to offend individual people, only to point out what the Bible states. It is notable that Muslim preachers, who have the same reservations as Christians, have been immune to criticism for statements made.

A statement was made by a preacher at a Birmingham Mosque which was much more direct than any ever made by a Christian preacher, yet it seems to have passed without comment. Compare that to the vilification received by a Vicar in Yorkshire who criticised the action at York Minster in support of a Gay Pride march.

I have written to Nicky Morgan asking her to positively state if the verses I have quoted from the Bible to her, are to be forbidden. I anxiously await her reply.

I have been disappointed in this lady who voted against same sex marriage as a practising Christian, but who seems to have a sudden conversion which caused her to express regret at having done so when she reached Cabinet Office. Writing in ‘Pink News’ she stated how delighted she was to have the rainbow flag fly over her Department Offices in honour of Gay Pride in London, whose Gala dinner she was delighted to have attended.

There was another lady in the Cabinet who had a change of heart in similar situation; perhaps it is a requirement, for the Prime Minister is always boasting of his pride in redefining marriage.

The same Prime Minister (David Cameron) spoke of the country needing to be more intolerant of intolerance. This is sheer arrogant hypocrisy which we have come to expect from this man. What could be more intolerant than warning Christians of being extremists just for quoting the Bible? And what more intolerant can one be than the Prime Minister refusing to allow a conscience clause which permits people to express their belief against what is contrary to Bible teaching? He is always talking about free speech, but apparently not if it is too Christian.


How pleasing to see a Judge in Northern Ireland with a lot more common sense than one of his minor judges.

A lady was convicted of harassing a woman who ran an abortion facility. The lady was ordered to pay the woman £2,000 in compensation, undertake 100 hours community service and not to approach the facility for five years. This was overturned and case dismissed for lack of insufficient evidence. What does that say about the Deputy District Judge who made the conviction and sentence?