Saturday 30 January 2016

Since the meeting of all the Archbishops in the Anglican Communion recently, many comments have been made in the press and other publications. A lot have been emotional and critical, often hostile, indicating that some of the people making them were unaware of what the meeting was called for; others were just hostile to the Church, and the majority appeared to have come from people who are not regular Church members. In the latter case, this somewhat negates their credibility.

An impression has been created that the Church is carrying out some crusade against people in the LGBT community, which it is not. A person’s sexuality is a personal matter and the Church is accepting such. It is correct that the traditional teaching is and always has been that same sex relationships are against the teaching of Scripture, and the Church condemns any violence or persecution.

The most deplorable, incorrect, and outrageous statement came from the Bishop of Buckingham. He stated in a radio interview that, ‘if you went into a local Church in England you go into one which is probably be very much more like one in America than one in Uganda or Nigeria where you will find love, tolerance and acceptance and find you are received as an equal’. The clear implication is that the African Churches will not offer love tolerance and acceptance and equality. So it is all right to be racist, but not right to criticise apostasy.

He also stated the concerns of the LGBT people were ignored and not considered which was untrue. The statement issued after the meeting contained the following;’ The Primates condemned homophobic prejudice and violence and resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation. This conviction arises out of our discipleship of Jesus Christ. The Primates reaffirmed their rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.
Sexuality however was not the issue. Marriage is defined in the Bible, which is the authority by which the Church is (supposed) to follow, and it is clearly and always defined as being between a man and a woman; society has recognised this since creation.

A law was created to give those who wish to engage in same sex unions, (Civil Unions) which gave all the legal provisions enjoyed by married couples. This was a special provision motivated by a vociferous minority lobby, yet denied to heterosexual couples. So, when anyone alleges discrimination against homosexuals, here is a response.

In recent times only, marriage has been re-defined by the two leaders of the Western world, neither now commanding much credibility, in a personal crusade to be popular and attract votes.

The agenda for the Archbishops’ meeting was clearly set out—‘to discuss an important point of contention among Anglicans worldwide: the recent change to the doctrine of marriage by The Episcopal Church in the USA. The traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union. The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching.’
The Archbishops from the African and Eastern Churches were objecting to the Episcopal Church in the United States performing same sex (so called) marriage. Those (conservative) leaders are a global family of authentic Anglicans standing together to retain and restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion; to guard the unchanging, transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to proclaim Him to the world.
Moral compromise, doctrinal error and the collapse of biblical witness in parts of the Anglican communion had reached such a level that the leaders of the majority of the world’s Anglicans felt it was necessary to take a united stand for truth.

Whilst the Church in Western countries is more ready to adopt the ways of the world rather than the teaching of the Bible, we see the consequences where the Biblical Churches are blessed by God and are growing massively, the Western |Churches are falling apart.

The problem is that many in the Western Churches do not truly believe the Bible nor accept it as the Word of God. At Ordination we are called as Ministers of the Church to fully accept the teaching of the Scriptures. Now there is too great a desire to pick/n mix; to accept those passages which do not interfere too much on your private life, and cast out those which make you realise you are sinning.

A favourite line taken by many people is that the Bible was written by men; a rather vacuous remark, since the writers clearly identify themselves. But a true believer readily believes God inspired and guided the writer. The fact that the Bible is so interlinked despite being written by 40 writers over many years yet never contradicts itself in a way the most sophisticated computer could not do, is enough to satisfy most people. I realise it condemns the way a minority of the population wish to live, and others try to justify, but you cannot play around with the Bible.

It is ironical that many people who doubt the Bible’s authenticity, still talk and even write about God and Jesus, without acknowledging we would not know God or Jesus, if we didn’t have the Bible to tell us.

Many nations, especially in the West, built their legal systems and set their standards values and ways of life by the Bible, and a great Christian heritage was given. Let us give thanks that God still makes Himself known through His trusted servants.
The Bible is all about salvation, which has been offered to us by God through the atoning death of Jesus on the Cross for our forgiveness.

Every person has to decide personally whether they follow the Biblical standard or go their own way; God has given us all free will. Jesus told repeatedly there are two ways for us to spend eternity, either in heaven with Him, or alternatively in hell, by which is meant any place where Jesus is not present.

The choice is yours.

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

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Holocaust Memorial Day takes place on 27 January each year. It’s a time for everyone to pause to remember the millions of people who have been murdered or whose lives have been changed beyond recognition during the Nazi persecution.

As we do so, let us also recall that the world contributed indirectly in that in 1938 the American President Roosevelt called a Conference in Geneva to consider the plight of Jews in Germany and Austria who wee already suffering persecution, and nation after nation, including America itself, declined to admit any Jews to their countries. Soon after Kristal night took place in Germany when massive damage was caused to Jewish property and Jews were forced to identify themselves publicly. Hitler felt he had a free hand and told the South African government that the Jews would be wiped out. Subsequently 7 out of 10 Jews living in Europe were said to have been killed.

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

Despite this being so, the nation does not appear to have many friends beyond America, and even there the present President does not seem to have the same commitment to Israel as his predecessors, and his support seems rather tenuous.

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

Let is not forget, when the Jews returned to their biblical homeland, it was largely a swamp filled, untilled wasteland. Jewish settlers drained malaria infested swamps and made it a flourishing fruit and agricultural success, planting millions of trees. In the wider world Jews have excelled in science, medical research, finance, the arts, and have a record number of Nobel prizes. Many of the technological aids we have today are due to the brilliance of Jewish scientists, and we have smartphones and medical treatments discovered by them.

Much of such knowledge has been given to the wider world, yet there are countries in the Middle East who have openly stated their declared intention is to wipe Israel off the face of the map, in other words as worse a fate if not more so than the holocaust.

Whilst God has promised never to abandon His ancient people, the consequences if an Arab nation did attack Israel are too horrific to contemplate. Let us all pray fervently on Holocaust Day, as we remember the survivors still living, that such human aggression will not be repeated.

Saturday 23 January 2016

1 Corinthians 12
This is a very significant passage. Paul is writing to the Corinthian Church and has come to a point where he is dealing with spiritual gifts. He likens the Church to a human body and describes it as the body of Christ. The Church is the means by which Jesus reaches out to the world and it is very important that we keep this in mind.

We have to be conscious of the fact that as Jesus is no longer physically in the world, so members of the Church are required to do His work here on earth; we are to be His voice and hands. This is such an important task and we should not try to avoid it. Literally, we have to be His body, and the supreme glory for the Christian is that he/she is part of that body.

The Church is not just a group of religious people gathered together to enjoy mutually desired functions. We should be sharing the same kind of life, belonging to the one Lord, filled with His Spirit and be working together to change the world. Such is what makes a true and healthy Church. Just coming to Church in itself does not necessarily make you a Christian, you have to believe in and trust Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour.

Paul emphasises the analogy of the human body to that of the body of Christ by explaining how the body functions. He stresses the importance of each part of the body working together, and indicates that every member of the Church is of importance. An ear performs one vital function, but so does an eye; the body needs both; similarly with hands and feet. Never consider yourself as an unimportant part of the Church. You may not be called to preach or lead a Bible study group, but there are so many other equally important tasks in their own way by which you can take an active part. If everyone did the same thing the Church would be ineffective.

But a body only functions properly if it is healthy and every part is working properly. We must accept we need one another and there is no need for competition or jealousy. Occasions arise when someone feels they are not being given the recognition they feel their secular work demands, and others are doing what they should be doing. If any organ in our body fails, the whole body is affected and any disruption in the Church affects the whole situation.

So, in what way can you play your part? There are so many ways by which your gift can be exercised, possibly in a manner you have never considered. In a Church I was once at we gave everyone £5 and invited them to use their talent to increase it with the proceeds going to the Church. People found they had hidden gifts. So often gifts are seen as only relating to ministry which is so wrong and narrow an outlook. The Church is not like a bus with the Vicar being the driver and all others passengers.

Often we find professional men and women who have their professional talent to use in the service of the Church and they serve well and so usefully, especially gifts of accountancy and law. But also valuable is the man or woman who can do technical work effecting repairs; or the lady gifted with flower and decorative arrangements; ladies who spend hours baking for Church fairs. I had two sisters in their 80s who worked tirelessly and I cannot imagine how we could have done without them.

Sometime of course it may seem as your work is not appreciated when you do not get the thanks and recognition your work has merited. Do not be depressed or disheartened, if you have done it for God, He will be pleased and recognise you. When all our gifts are put together we can become a strong body able to serve the Lord as He would want.

God bless you. Be at Church on Sunday.

Saturday 16 January 2016

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
(Mark 3 v24)

A meeting has just been held in London of the Archbishops from the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion with the usual vacuous ending. The Archbishop of Canterbury has shrewdly acted with the political alacrity once displayed by the Labour government when in Office, that when you have a disaster you create a diversion by announcing another headline grabbing suggestion. He has proposed out of the blue, that Easter should be celebrated on a fixed date each year, and this has been taken to the television, radio and press with maximum publicity, thus thrusting the outcome of the meeting out of many peoples’ minds.

The Archbishops had been discussing how to avoid a schism in the Communion, raised when the leaders of the Churches in Africa, Asia and South America, who hold a conservative view of Scripture, objected to the inclusion of the United States Church which supports the ordination of homosexual clergy, same sex marriage, and an open acceptance of homosexuality in general.
The conservative leaders point out the unequivocal statement of Scripture, that any form of homosexuality is condemned, and is a violation of God’s creative order. The liberal leaders of the Western Churches, and especially the United States, take a libertarian and permissive approach allying themselves with modern society.

The outcome of the meeting was that the United States Episcopal Church has been suspended from taking part in any policy making decisions for three years, (which is of little consequence) but allowed to remain in the Communion. This is claimed to be Anglican compromise.

The liberal side, as one might have anticipated, are screaming homophobia, and such is the power they have over the media, that it is overlooked that if someone has a different opinion or viewpoint, that is not phobic; and there is a lack of intelligence and tolerance by anyone so claiming. There is no suggestion, nor should there be, that any man or woman would ever be barred from attending Church. Indeed, more so that they be welcomed to hear why others differ.

Liberals do have an innate intolerance of anyone who has an opinion which does not tally with theirs. We are always hearing calls for democratic attitudes, so why not allow the 38 leaders have a vote, the democratic way, and the majority view accepted. However, that is not just going to happen, so it would be wiser and less damaging to the Church to stop this endless wrangling and let each side separate.

In the book of Acts of the Apostles we read, ‘the early Church devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles, and the Lord added to their Church.’ The Western Churches are not devoting themselves to the teaching of the Apostles and their numbers are tumbling, whereas the Eastern Churches are and the Lord is adding to their numbers. Is there not some moral there?


It should be noted that there is the Anglican Church of North America, which teaches a conservative message, formed from members who left the Episcopal Church because of its apostasy.

Thew following is part of a quote from Archbishops who hold traditional biblical beliefs

We are pleased that Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America has
played a full part in the Canterbury meeting of Primates and that sanctions have been applied to
the Episcopal Church of the United States, (TEC) recognising the need for mutual
accountability on matters of doctrine within the family of the Communion.

However, this action must not be seen as an end, but as a beginning. There is much that causes
us concern, especially the failure to recognise the fact that the Anglican Church of Canada
(ACoC) has also rejected the collegial mind of the Communion by unilaterally permitting the
blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of those in active homosexual relationships. We
fear that other provinces will do the same.

Since the beginning of the crisis in the Communion brought about by the actions of both TEC
and the ACoC, the Anglican instruments of unity have been unable to guard biblical truth and
restore godly order. There must therefore be doubt about the effectiveness of the sanctions that
have been agreed.

In particular, it must be recognised that the continuing brokenness of the Communion is not the
result simply of failed relationships, but is caused by the persistent rejection of biblical and
apostolic faith as set out in Lambeth Resolution 1.10. We are therefore disappointed that the
Primates’ statement makes no reference to the need for repentance.

The need for the GAFCON movement is being recognised by an ever increasing number of
people and we are encouraged in our conviction that God has called us to work for an Anglican
Communion which is a truly global family of Churches. We long to see a united, confident and
courageous witness to God who by the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ has given
us an unshakeable hope and assures us of his unfailing love.

Thursday 7 January 2016

Earlier this year James McConnell, the pastor of the Whitewell Tabernacle Church in Belfast, was prosecuted for grossly offensive speech. He had preached a sermon in which he described Islam as Satanic, and the sermon was being relayed for listening beyond the Church.

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland tripped over itself in its haste to prosecute McConnell under a Communications Act. The action received much publicity in press radio and television.

This week he was found not guilty by a judge, who said whilst the words might be considered offensive, they were not grossly so. A Muslim Imman Mr Al Hussaini, gave evidence on McConnell’s behalf, saying whilst the words were hurtful he had right under free speech to make them. What a pity the zealots on the Equality bandwagon were not so sensible and tolerant, and lived in the real world.

Mr Al Hussaini condemned censorship of discussion on "the really dangerous phenomenon of rising, religiously motivated violence, persecution and extremism".He said: "When we see the heinous persecution of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East and other parts of the world, to constrain the theological discussion that we need to have as a country and as a world on these questions actually worsens community tensions.

"We need to create an environment where we can talk quite frankly about these questions and in so doing, we need to defend civil society's role in this and not allow a creeping judicial role in constraining debate and discussion."

What is so disappointing yet revealing, is the lack of publicity by press radio and television of the not guilty verdict. You can be sure there would not have been the same dearth of notice if the verdict had gone the other way. Remember the widespread publicity given to the bakers in the same country prosecuted by the same zealots when they were convicted.