Saturday 29 December 2018


We have come to the end of another year in which there have been mixed emotions and experiences. There have been feelings of despair and painful suffering as well as happiness as we lived day by day, like an undulating road which twists and turns, down in valleys and at other times riding high. There have been times when we feel frustrated or discouraged and wonder what the purpose of our life is or should be.

In a few days time we will enter a New Year with all its uncertainties, we will have our hopes and our fears. As Christians live in two worlds; we live in the earthly world with all its uncertainties, but we also live in the spiritual world where there are no uncertainties, and there is always the danger we can forget about God and become so involved in earthly activities.

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 in our heavenly Father’s house.

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

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

One vital practice seems to be missing from some Churches these days, and that is concern for the lost sheep. People are falling away from Church attending for a number of reasons. Whatever the cause, but especially when the reason emanates from within the Church, such as false teaching, poorly constructed services, unpleasant members, there is an urgent need to rectify. How often are they visited to find out? I suspect with good reason, not very often. This is often because Ministers have too many meetings. I am reminded of that slogan, the least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favour of holding meetings.'

The Bible urges the need for Christians to be with each other. 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.

We can go to any part of the world and be with people we could not otherwise meet, but as Christians we can feel at one with them. I once lived in Africa and attended a Bible study group, and as it was a port, ships would bring Christian missionaries, people from all different countries of different skin colours and we could all meet and feel at one with each other. Where else but amidst Christ’s people could you find such a grouping? What bound us together was the fact we had all committed our lives to Jesus Christ

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, not Buddha or Mohammed, or anyone else, we come to God through Jesus Christ alone. He is the One who opens up the way having given his life dying on Cross, that all who accept him as their Saviour will be granted eternal life.

Jesus said, ‘I am the way no one comes to the Father except through me’. What exactly does Jesus mean when he says, ‘we can only come to the Father through Him alone?

Some time ago I went to Birmingham and had to find an address in those ancient days when we did not have satellite navigation systems in our cars. I asked a man walking on a road if he could tell me the way, and he answered, ‘it is pretty difficult for you to get 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.

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 which they serve.

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 sidewalk 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.

Jesus said He was the truth. If a person is to teach moral truth that person must have an impeccable reputation and have no hidden misdoings. Only Jesus can claim moral perfection, which is why He can say ‘I am the truth’.

Thirdly Jesus says ‘I am the life’, meaning the opposite of death. He is the source of life and gives life to His own. 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 person’s 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.

We are living in an increasing anti-Christian environment in this country 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. Some gross injustices have been imposed when someone has expressed an opinion which an activist group has not liked, and weak-minded authority has given in to. Never be ashamed to confess your faith.

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 attend a Bible based Church.

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. Never deny your faith to avoid being mocked. Stand firm remembering Jesus stood firm for you on the Cross.

My friends, it is the duty of the Church to teach the gospel and not budge from doing so. We are not be blown away by every new spiritual wind so that we drift from our moorings, nor be just superficial believers.

Hold fast to the gospel given by the Apostles who were taught by our Lord Himself. Never let anyone tell you that you do not count, you count tremendously so glory n what God wants you to do and be faithful to our Lord’s commands.

This sermon is printed on and now on Facebook.

Monday 24 December 2018

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

The response from the United States has been an overwhelming factor and forms something like 90% of visits and is therefore a 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.
The contents of the blog are now being placed on my Facebook page and would welcome ‘friends’.
We are reading and hearing of much persecution and harassment of Christians in China and of pastors who have suffered the latest crackdown on their Churches, and there of course there has been criticism passed.

But in Britain we have to consider our own position, when jumped up public officials rejoice to be offended on behalf of other faiths and none, and object to Christian messages and expression, thinking their efforts will earn them some praise for political correctness and a few moments of fame; councillors who have never contributed much to public life other than to benefit themselves, objecting to prayers before Council meetings, replacing the word Christmas for winter festival or other ridiculous terms.

What is it about these people? Why does Christianity strike such fear in their tiny minds? Why do they not have the courage to attack other faiths? Does a guilty conscience come into play when they consider the sort of lives they live? Why is it that they have no reluctance to join in all the festivities which only take place because Christmas is an essentially Christian celebration?

The vociferous secularists and humanists, whose publicity is out of all proportion to their tiny numbers, see any religious ceremony as a threat to their unworthy cause. Is it not amazing that when an American evangelist came over here and offered to enter into debate with them, they all went into hibernation refusing to take part

The Christian Legal Centre has been sought by numerous Christians for help in cases where they have suffered for their beliefs, from wearing Crosses, to voicing their opposition to same sex marriage, or the latest craze of transgenderism.


Christians will be attending Christmas services. Some will be attending Midnight Mass, a glorious inspiring service of praise, as we herald in Christmas Day and celebrate the birth of our Lord. Others will prefer to go to Church on Christmas morning, but at whichever service we will be thinking of God’s love in sending Jesus here, born of a young Jewish girl by the power of the Holy Spirit, in which we all glory. I know that there will be difficulty for some in accepting the doctrine of the Virgin birth, which means of course they must explain how Jesus entered the world and then they could be on dangerous grounds.

We remember the lowly circumstances of His birth and the reason He came, namely to grow into manhood and be our Saviour.

It is a matter of great sadness that now in the 21dst century the mass of people have forsaken the Christian commitment of previous years and chosen to ignore the religious significance of Christmas. Some reject all religious belief with undisguised contempt, and just see it as an excuse for an orgy of drink and pleasure.

I look in amazement as I see trolleys in supermarkets overflowing with food and drink, especially drink, and then hear and read of how protests are made regarding cuts by the government and how people are finding it hard to exist, and certainly cannot afford to pay more for their gold plated pensions.

I accept everyone is entitled to have enjoyment, especially at this time of year, but let us keep it in proportion. There will be many who just now see Christmas as a secular time for enjoyment.

But let us remember with much compassion those for whom Christmas is a time of great sadness, namely those who have just lost a married partner, a child, parent or loved family member. This will be a very lonely time for them and we should remember them in prayers and intercessions.
I wish all who read this posting a very happy and blessed Christmas, irrespective of your own personal views, and hope to be back with you the week after Christmas. God Bless you.

Sunday 23 December 2018

Luke 1 verses 39-56

This Sunday the Church honours Mary, the mother of our Lord.

The gospel passage opens with Mary, a young virgin girl from a Jewish village being visited by an angel, who told her God had chosen her to be the mother of the Saviour of the world, and this would happen by the Holy Spirit coming upon her. When she found she was pregnant without having been with any man, she decided to go seventy miles to visit her elderly cousin Elizabeth.

If this gospel message was told as a story in one of our daily newspapers, and so posted on their website, it would receive numerous scornful mocking comments, questioning as to why anyone would believe it. In fairness, if a daughter or friend came and told you she was pregnant but had not been intimate with a man, you would reasonably think she was mad or trying to cover up a moral lapse.

Such was the situation experienced by a young Jewish girl in a remote Israeli village, risking disgrace and shame and also the loss of her fiancée. It has to be accepted that the birth of Jesus was unique. God took the initiative, and Jesus was born of a virgin, such is a basic doctrine of the Church,

But such was the faith and courage of that young woman that she trusted God, and so became the most famous woman in all history, the most blessed of women.

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

Is it not amazing how peoples’ minds reason? Thousands say they will not believe what they cannot understand. I can sit in any room of my house in a town in England, take out a little plastic box, and press a combination of
numbers, and within seconds I would be speaking to someone on the other side of the world, yet if I wished to speak face to face, it would take a journey of many hours to do so.

I can’t explain how this can happen, and I doubt there is anyone I know who could explain; we take mobile phones for granted. We watch events as they happen from across the world in a box in our homes and take it for granted. Who can explain how a brown cow, which eats green grass, produces white milk, and yellow butter, yet we eat and drink both. Why on earth if we can accept all the marvels of man,
we cannot accept the miracles of God?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 7 April 2018

JOHN 20 V 19/25

The Gospel passage for this Sunday comes from John’s gospel in Chapter 20, and is the story of Jesus appearance to His Apostles in the Upper Room on the evening of the first Easter Sunday.

The Apostles were in the Upper Room terrified, in fear for their lives. This was because rumours had been spread around Jerusalem that they must have stolen the body and they feared the authorities might take action against them.

The doors were firmly shut yet Jesus appeared in the room to their amazement, but also joy. This suggests that His body was a supernatural body, and so if we are to be like Him in heaven, our future bodies will also be supernatural. Jesus was giving a demonstration in confirmation He was alive. This was no animation of a corpse; it was Jesus in a new form of being which could pass through doors.

You can imagine the reaction of the Apostles who must have thought they were hallucinating, for most people do at some time have visions, especially if you are longing for someone whom you never expected to see. The Apostles were delighted to see the Lord however.

Jesus greeted them with the traditional Jewish greeting Shalom, words which mean not only ‘peace be with you’, but every kind of blessing. He then showed them His hands and side to prove that it was the same Jesus they had known when they were with Him, but by showing His wounds it verified that this was the Jesus who had been on the Cross and was now an alive person.

At this first meeting of Jesus with the Apostles, Thomas was not present but he was told by the other Apostles what had taken place, and Thomas being known for his scepticism refused to believe them. He stated he would never believe they had seen Jesus unless he placed his hand and finger in the wounds.

Thomas was just and ordinary bloke who didn’t know the full story and wanted proof. A week later however he is back with them in the Upper Room when Jesus again appears and Thomas realises his lack of faith and makes the confession with the deeply committed words, ‘my Lord and my God’. AND he never did put his hand or finger near Jesus’ wounds.

Jesus then said words which resonate powerfully today. ‘Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed.’

We must not criticise Thomas, it must have been hard to believe that someone so cruelly put to death should appear alive, it was a unique act in all history and people do have imaginary visions.

Jesus wanted to show the Apostles, and by extension to Christians through the ages, that His was a tangible bodily resurrection, and there was much evidence to prove so. The resurrection has been attested to by witnesses both inside and out of the Church. It has never been doubted there was an empty tomb, so where did the body go. Would men risk their lives without confidence and personal experience?

We are so lucky in having such wonderful technology which few of us can explain how it works, but we believe because we see it. Why challenge the God who made the earth as being incapable of anything just because you don’t understand how he did it. This is what separates true believers from fake; faith means believing what you can’t see or explain.

Our Lord then commissioned them to go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey everything he had commanded, and gave them the power to proclaim absolution to those worthy and to refuse those who were not. There is nowhere in the Bible however where priestly absolution is authorised.

This is what the church of Jesus Christ is fundamentally and essentially here for; preaching the gospel Jesus left us, abandoning all fancy ideas of pleasing society. We don’t go saying the Bible states, but I have a better idea, we say exactly what Jesus said, so that indirectly what we say is Jesus speaking.

In the absence of any charismatic person at the head of the Church nationally, each Church has to have its own agenda for carrying out our Lord’s command.

The first essential is to recognise we are in a war against the combined forces of secularism, humanism and the LGBT lobby, all of which seek to restrict, eradicate or amend the gospel we are charged with preaching. We have in fact to be on a war footing, and be equally aggressive in spreading our message.

God wants us to be the hands feet and voice of Jesus. I believe one essential practice for the Church is to emulate business. Firms spend millions of pounds advertising, so it must pay off or they wouldn’t do so. Much of what little advertising the Church does is banal and unappealing, except perhaps to its own people.

In today’s world there are wonderful opportunities through the internet. Many Churches have their own website but often don’t use to advantage, omitting any attempts at evangelising, but including only what has happened since the previous issue and mentioning different people who like to see their efforts recorded.

We have to realise we can’t make a Church grow by just being here, it is just not going to happen. Whereas people will not pick up a magazine and read it, they will look at the internet; so we need to tell them what WE believe, letting them know what they can expect if they attend.

For 16 years I published my Church’s magazine before we were all on computers I have confidence a
Church site to which people can relate to and understand what their message is, can and will do very well within its own area, and stimulate people to respond if it has the right content, and challenges them.

We are on the Lord’s business and have a unique product which no one else can offer, and we have to make sure people hear about it; there is an excellent opportunity to do this via the internet.

Churches can do this by telling in detail about their services,

what the theme is for each service and who will preach ;

have bible studies;

have transcripts of sermons included

tell how Christians are being harassed and suffering in this country because of their beliefs;
inform on general Christian news

remind them of the blessings they enjoy living in picturesque places with lovely homes, free from the anti social behaviour of the towns, and how a little appreciation to the Almighty would be appropriate.

There is a limerick, Next time you pass the parish church. Please pay a little visit, So when at last you’re carried in , The Lord won’t ask who is it?

Jesus told Peter, ‘feed my sheep’. He meant teach the Word of God. Open their minds to the thoughts of God. People are not thinking the thoughts of God, not looking at life the way God sees it, but following blindly after the fantasies and the illusions of the world. What is necessary is the unfolding of the mind of God in obedience to the word of Jesus: "Teach the word." The weakness of the church flows from a famine of the Word of God.

Most village residents cherish their parish church, seen as so quintessentially English (so long as they are not required to attend), and we indicate to them the danger if it is to close. Can point out churches have been closed only to re-open as a place of entertainment or a mosque.

You may well ask, ‘how can we a small suburban church with not a huge congregation, many of whom are perhaps older in years, do very much?’ Hudson Taylor who founded the China Inland Mission was once asked why God had chosen him. Taylor replied `because God wanted someone small.' When God acts it is not in big cathedrals.

An American Christian programme following the September 11th attack on its country asked all its listeners to pray for fifteen minutes a day for fifty days for a revival and to phone in and say where they were from. A coloured pin was then placed on a wall map of the United States at their location. Within days the map was covered as people responded. Most of them were small churches, perhaps even smaller than this, but they reported new life and new people.

God acted when a Minister came to the small island of Lewis in the Hebrides when people prayed that God would bless them. Evan Roberts a Minister in South Wales prayed and started the Welsh Revival. There are many examples of answered prayer for revival.

Neither is age relevant. When the Israelites were attacked by the Amalekites, Moses and Aaron were too old to fight, but as the younger men fought they prayed and every time they did so the Israelites advanced. Older people can play a vital role in revival as one elderly lady discovered. She prayed constantly for a revival to start in her area. Subsequently it was announced that Billy Graham was to hold a Crusade in a nearby town.

let us all do what we can to make it known we are still open for worship.

Wednesday 4 April 2018

The following story paints a sad picture of life in the United Kingdom at the present time. It tells of the Senior Chaplain at a Prison in London forcing another long standing Chaplain out of his ministry at the prison.

The Senior Chaplain is a Muslim Imam, which indicates the obsessed political correctness of some civil servant. It is both necessary and desirable to have a Muslim Chaplain, but not to give him the senior position in a Christian country. Can anyone seriously suggest the reverse situation would apply in a Muslim nation, (which in fairness could not be expected)

As you will read, the evidence against the Christian chaplain is very spurious, requests for clarification have been declined and the Governor has neither courtesy or objectiveness to speak to the complainant’s legal representative.


A highly-respected Christian volunteer Chaplain at HMP Brixton has been removed from chaplaincy work, and an internationally-respected Christian coursebanned by a Muslim Senior Chaplain, in an attempt to wipe out "Christian domination" at Brixton prison.

Pastor Paul Song moved to the UK from South Korea in 1992 and began working as a full-time minister at London Shepherd Church in 1996. In 1998, he started using his one day off each week to volunteer alongside 15 other Christians at HMP Brixton, and he was taken on as a Chaplain at the prison on 1st March 199

Paul and others started running the internationally-respected Alpha course at HMP Brixton in 1998, and have been doing so for nearly 20 years. In recent times they also ran the ‘Just10’ course created by Canon J. John - all with the blessing of the former Senior Chaplain, Reverend Phillip Chadder. The demand for the courses was considerable, with around 70 prisoners signing up for each course, and waiting lists having to be created.

Over the 19 years, the volunteer Chaplain developed strong relationships with the prisoners, the Senior Chaplain and other staff, and many prisoners became Christians and had their lives transformed. Paul had full security clearance for all his activities in HMP Brixton, and had even been given keys to the prison as a sign of the high esteem in which he was held.

Imam Mohamed Yusef Ahmed took over as Senior Chaplain in 2015, and with the Imam’s arrival, things changed drastically. Paul Song explains: “Imam Mohamed’s discriminatory agenda was clear from the outset. He began scrutinising the material for each of our courses, commenting that the material was ‘too radical’, and that the Christian views expressed were ‘extreme’. He paid scant regard to the fact that the courses are mainstream Christian courses, used by churches throughout the world. He also said he wanted to ‘change the Christian domination within HMP Brixton’.”

Imam Mohamed asked Paul to stop running the courses, which he reluctantly agreed to, though Paul carried on going into the prison to meet with prisoners. At no point were complaints made by prisoners either about the content of the courses or Paul’s attitude towards any of the prisoners.

n August 2017, Paul received an email from Imam Mohamed saying: “You do not have permission to enter the wings and nor do you have the permission to speak to any prisoners here at HMP Brixton. If you do turn up to here without my prior permission from me, your keys will be confiscated and you will be walked to the gate.” Pastor Song was not informed of any substantive grounds which may justify his removal.

Bemused by the email, and having no awareness that anything was wrong, Paul met with the Imam, during which he was again told that he was no longer welcome at the prison and he had ‘no right to appeal against’ the decision. Again, no reasons were given.

Paul received a letter from Graham Horlock (Head of Reducing Re-Offending at HMP Brixton) on 4th September 2017, informing him for the first time that an accusation had been made that Paul called a prisoner a "terrorist", and stating that the decision to remove him from his role applied "permanently with immediate effect”. This was the first occasion on which Paul heard about the allegation - which Paul denies. Paul was initially promised that the Equalities Department would investigate the accusations, though the decision to exclude him was made without the Equalities Department first delivering their findings.

Since the decision, the prison has ignored requests to provide information on the name of the alleged complainant and a copy of his statement. Paul has submitted written representations to HMP Brixton, and after being kept waiting for 5 months without explanation, he received an email from the Prison Group Director at the London and Thames Valley Prisoners on 11th January noting that “the exclusion [from HMP Brixton] is permanent”.

Commenting on the outcome, Paul says: “When speaking with prisoners, staff members or anyone else, I would never make offensive comments. The Bible exhorts believers to ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’, and to ‘let thy light shine before men’; and so being intentionally offensive would violate these commandments.”

"The whole reason I served at the prison was because of my desire to bring the good news of the gospel to people, regardless of their religion or background. I believe that it has the power to transform the lives of all who believe, and so I would never do anything which may cause an individual to not want to hear the Christian message.”

“The prisoners who attended the Christian courses were of different religions, sexual orientations and ethnic backgrounds. Some of them were violent and held views which strongly opposed mine, yet I never made any judgemental or stereotypical comments to any of them. For 19 years, I served with an exemplary record. I worked alongside the prisoners and other staff members in harmony, recognising our differences and praying that they would come to faith, but equally respecting their decisions and background. I would have had plenty of opportunities to make offensive comments should I have wanted to, and yet during this time, no complaints were ever made about me.”

The Christian Legal Centre is supporting Pastor Song. Andrea Williams, chief executive, comments: "To call this Christian who has served without a blemish for almost 20 years an extremist defies belief.

"Pastor Song's work with prisoners has been shut down for no good reason, denying prisoners of life-giving ministry.

"We are considering legal action against Brixton Prison which has acted unlawfully by removing Christian services from prisoners without fair process. We are seeking justice not just for Pastor Song but for the prisoners who want to see him.

“Christian ministry in prisons has a long history, and its presence is essential for the rehabilitation and transformation of lives. Paul’s work has led to many prisoners in Brixton turning their lives around, and so it is shocking that prisoners who are desperate for a new way of life should now be prevented from seeing Paul."

Former prisoner Jeremy Conlon has spoken out in support of Paul's work in the prison: "Prison is a tough place to be, though Paul was a light in the darkness for me and many others. Paul’s humility, wisdom and gentleness amazed all the prisoners, and he gave us a much-needed opportunity to receive prayer, to discuss issues we were struggling with and to ask questions. I cannot speak highly enough of him, and am deeply saddened by the way in which he has been treated".

Another former prisoner at Brixton, Peter Levy, says: "Paul’s continued support for me and other prisoners, even after the course had finished, brought us all hope of a new way of life. He even met me at the prison gates on the date of my release and took me for food, and helped me work through the family and work issues I was having at the time. Without him, I would have had nowhere to turn, and to think he was doing all this voluntarily is amazing".

Friday 30 March 2018

Today is Easter Sunday and we meet this morning to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ from the dead.

The gospel reading tells of Mary Magdelene being the first person to discover that Jesus had risen, and in a distressed condition found Peter and John who confirmed her story. Subsequently she met Jesus in the garden without initially realising to whom she was talking.

In the evening of that first Sunday, the Apostles were gathered together in a locked room when Jesus appeared. You can imagine the reaction of the Apostles who must have thought they were hallucinating, for most people do at some time have visions, especially if you are longing for someone whom you never expected to see. The Apostles were delighted to see the Lord however.

Jesus greeted them with the traditional Jewish greeting Shalom, words which mean not only ‘peace be with you’, but every kind of blessing. He then showed them His hands and side to prove that it was the same Jesus they had known when they were with Him, but by showing His wounds it verified that this was the Jesus who had been on the Cross and was now an alive person

Then Jesus gave them command saying, just as God had sent Him He was now sending them out to preach the gospel in His name. This is essentially and fundamentally what the Church should and must be doing, preaching the gospel that He left us and abandoning all the modern fancy ideas aimed at pleasing society. We don’t go out saying the Bible says…,but, I’ve got a better idea, we go in His name saying what He said.

Jesus then when parting He again said ‘peace be with you’ as a form of good-bye, and then breathed on them. At His baptism the Holy Spirit was poured out on Jesus, and He now tells the Apostles as God had given Him the Holy Spirit, He (Jesus) was giving them the power of the Holy Spirit to go out and tell the world about His offer of eternal salvation for all who accepted and believed in Him. If anyone did not, they were condemned eternally.

Jesus has passed on this mission to the Church all down the ages to go out and speak for His message, so that when people hear that message from us, they are indirectly hearing the words of our Lord.

In this morning’s Epistle, Paul wants to establish the historical reliability of the resurrection in order to give a firm foundation for his teaching. He is reminding the Church it was he who brought the good news and which was not invented but given to him by the Lord.

By believing and accepting this great event, you too may be released from the fear of death. But there’s a question you must answer. “Do you really believe this?” The devil believes in God, and many people who never go near a Church do so, they just don’t want him to interfere in their life, but hypocritically expect to be accepted by him when they die.

Paul stated they stood in the gospel; the function of the gospel is to give stability and power in a world so hostile to the faith. It was something in which they were being saved, and the glory of salvation is that gets better, and one of the wonders of Christianity is that it is limitless.

The essential basis of Christianity is that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for the forgiveness of sins of all people; that he was buried but God raised him from the Dead as had been prophesied in the Old Testament Scriptures.

Having come to faith it has to be guarded for there are so many temptations pushed by those opposed; life has its valleys from which at times it seems hard to climb out of. This means we cannot be casual; the faith that collapses has not been true faith.

We now have to look at how this applies to us in our present Christian journey.

How important is it to believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus? For quite a lot of people it is an immense barrier to overcome; Christianity is fine for being kind, meek and mild and providing nice backgrounds for wedding and baptism pictures, but why bring in religion. Why not just see it as a nice story instead of intimidating and upsetting people?

This chapter will not be fully explained in some Churches today as there will be a problem, namely that there are clergy who do not believe in the physical resurrection.

A man who had challenged the resurrection in unpleasant terms was some years ago, being consecrated into his Office as a Bishop in York Minster. Later the same night a bolt of lightning struck and blew out the rose window of the Cathedral. When this was suggested to be God venting His anger, that was mocked and ridiculed by the liberal establishment, yet there was no such experience in any other part of the city; why the Cathedral. People have yet to learn you do not mock God.

People will say about a passage you can’t expect me to believe that, it is now 2018. Yet they will believe many things even harder to understand. They will use a pocket phone to contact someone any place on earth just by pressing buttons on the phone, and the uninterrupted words will cross thousands of miles within seconds. They certainly wouldn’t be able to explain how that happens, but accept it. People don’t limit man’s powers, why limit the Almighty God? This where faith comes in; faith is believing what you can’t see or explain and where true believers are shown against the fake ones.

The New Testament was written by men of honesty and intelligence who had seen Christ crucified, dead and buried, finished, gone. There were thousands in Jerusalem who saw Jesus die, and hundreds who saw him after he had risen. There can be no equivocation, Jesus died and rose; it is the most attested to event in history.

To those Apostles the future was dark and uncertain without any indication he was coming back. If they preached they were risking their lives, placing themselves in jeopardy of being stoned or killed.

When told by the women that the tomb was empty they dismissed it only to find out for themselves it was true, they saw the linen cloths there folded where the body had laid. So the body had gone and they knew not where.

There have been several explanations suggested, none of which have any credibility. The Apostles knew they faced death if it was found they had intervened, but they did not have anywhere to take it.

The |Jewish authorities would not have been involved; they had a guard placed there and a heavy stone to keep the body in. They having denied the resurrection so would have been glad to have Jesus’ body to devalue him by exhibiting the body.

Another suggestion was that grave robbers took it, but they would not have left the cloths and valuable precious spices untouched for they would have been worth a lot of money.

An even more popular thought was that Jesus just play acted and swooned to be revived and do a Houdini act. Jesus would not have been in any physical condition to do anything; he wasn’t even able to finish his walk to the place of execution and had to have help from an onlooker having been lashed 39 times with a metal studded belt. Would such a sinless, honest, man do such a thing; of course not?

Most people believe in the eternal and desperately want to know what lies on the other side of death. The answer is quite simple. If you have accepted Jesus as your Saviour, what lies on the other side is resurrection and life. If you have not accepted him, you have no hope at all. The Church generally has not preached this with the vigour it deserved; we have service liturgy which assures everyone the deceased will go to heaven which is unequivocally dismissed in the Bible.

If people choose to live life without God and Jesus, that is their choice, but when they do so they have nothing left but vain speculations and idle dreams. How sad it must be to come to the end of life and to believe that after death this is nothing at all.

Paul’s argument is that it is foolish to follow Christianity if you reject the resurrection from the dead. If Jesus had not risen from the dead there would be no Church, all our preaching would be a waste of time and effort. If there is no hope for the future, what purpose is there in setting aside the worldly pleasures to endure the isolation and scorn of being a Christian? We may just as well sell of our buildings and do what the rest of the world does on a Sunday.

We believe the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so important to us as Christians because we believe he did not die as a private person, but as the Saviour for all put their trust in him. The Bible states that God promised he would always be with us and never leave us; he created the world and still maintains it.

Continue to pray that this nation may once again become a truly Christian nation, and may the Lord always bless

Saturday 24 March 2018

Mark 11 v 1/11

On Sunday we remember the first Palm Sunday, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to proclaim Himself as the Messiah and was greeted by cheering crowds waving palm branches, the same crowds who a few days later would be crying ‘crucify Him’. This is the beginning of Holy Week as we celebrate the events of 2,000 years ago and follow our Lord’s last days before His crucifixion, the heart of the Christian faith. All four gospel writers tell the story of that first momentous week, let us turn to Mark in Chapter 11.

The Chapter opens where Jesus is about to make the final stage of His life’s journey which will end at the Cross, and He plans it with great detail. Jesus had been in Jericho and was now ready to go to Jerusalem on the last stage of His life’s journey. He was going to walk the way many pilgrims had walked.

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

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

Jesus would normally have slipped quietly into the city as He usually like to avoid attention, but on this occasion although He knew a price was on His head, chose to ride in triumphantly. All this was to fulfil the prophecy of Zechariah in the Old Testament made nearly 600 years earlier. When the crowds hailed Him as the Son of David, the Messiah, He did not stop them.

Jesus as He knew a demonstration would happen and further enrage the Jewish leaders, and in fact the Pharisees were annoyed, so making them more eager to plot against Him. Jesus knew that God had a plan for Him, which made the Jews change their intentions. Jesus knew well what He was doing.

Jesus made it clear to the crowds that He was not the kind of Messiah of their dreams; He came in peace not as a conquering warrior. They did not understand His intention and were following for the wrong motives. These same adoring crowds would a few days later turn equally wildly against Him as He faced the Cross.
His works had become well known and the crowds greeted Him with shouts of Hosanna, which means ‘save us’, seeing Him as the one who would lead them to glory in world conquest. When they realised this was not His mission, the same crowds would later in the week shout’ ‘crucify Him’.

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

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

As with every Bible passage there is a meaning and a message for us to-day. We should consider how we react to this Palm Sunday story. We may reject God’s Son as many did in Jerusalem. We may treat with an amount of indifference seeing it as just another bible story. As we study this story of our Lord’s journey to the Cross we see our forgiveness cost Jesus public mockery and the most cruel of deaths. Jesus wanted the people to accept Him as God’s chosen Messiah but their cheering was false and ultimately it would all lead to destruction

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

Just as the Jews then rejected Jesus, so do so many people now. But God allows us free will to make a decision to be with Jesus or not. Even those who claim to be Christians can be lukewarm and allow their commitment to grow cold. It is not enough to pay the odd visit to nod to the Almighty at Christmas, Easter or to a baptism service. There is a little ditty, ‘each time I pass may parish Church I pay a little visit, so when at last I’m carried in, the Lord won’t say who is it’. Everyone has to take responsibility for the way they respond to the Lord. As Christians we should ask ourselves are we following Him for the right reasons; do we realise the sacrifice He made for us personally?
I read a story of a Minister counselling a couple with married difficulties. At one point the husband said in anger to his wife, ‘I have given you a new home, new car , …and so the list went on.’ The wife answered, ‘yes that is true, you have given me everything but yourself.’ The greatest gift you can give for another is yourself, and that is what Jesus did, gave Himself.
There is an American story about a young man who painted a portrait of his friend shortly before the friend died. The young man took the portrait to his friend’s father, a rich man, who offered him a huge sum of money, which the young man refused. Some time later the father died and all his priceless possessions were auctioned. The first item up for auction was the portrait, which no one showed any interest in except the father’s old black servant. He offered a few dollars, all he had, and got the painting. The auctioneer to everyone's surprise closed the auction. The father’s will said ‘he who accepts the son has everything’. We can reject the Son as they did at Jerusalem all those years ago

The action of our Lord demands a response, and we all need to ask ourselves if we stood before the Lord today and we were asked why we should be allowed into heaven, what would we say. It is easy to say I am a Christian, 95% of the population believe as long as you are honest, kind and helpful to others you have a passport to heaven. It can be very hard to be a Christian when so many organisations, government and public busybodies try to suppress your faith under pain of some sanction. How Jesus would weep over society today as He wept over Jerusalem. Jesus Christ lovingly and finally kept God’s law and voluntarily paid sin’s price at Calvary, and He did it for you and for me.

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

Saturday 17 March 2018

John’s gospel in Chapter 12,verses 20-33. Turn with me to this passage which John alone tells.

Jesus had entered Jerusalem for the Passover festival having just raised Lazarus from the dead, and was receiving an enthusiastic welcome from crowds of people gathered for the event. This was the major festival held annually to remember how God saved Israel. This was Jerusalem’s big annual religious festival: we might compare the Passover to our Christmas, when the Churches attract many people who attend not so much from a religious attitude, but see it as a social event.

At such a time as this, many non Jews would go to the city to join in the celebrations. Some Greeks were amongst the crowds who had heard of Jesus and were determined to meet Him. They were from a settlement in the North of Galilee and went to Philip who came from near their area and said to him, ‘Sir, we want to see Jesus’.

Having heard the stories of what Jesus had done, they realised something was missing from their lives and wanted to receive from Him that something. So when they said they wanted to see Jesus, they were in fact seeking a meeting with Him.

These were sincere people, not sightseers anxious to see a celebrity figure; they didn’t want to see the temple or any other prominent figure. So they approached Philip and said, "Sir, we want to see Jesus."

The word see here has the sense of ‘have a meeting with, being able to talk with Him’. Like so many people today, these Greeks were not content with what they had in their own lives; they must have felt there was something missing. They thought there must be more to life than they had experienced and were searching for the truth.

These words, ‘Sir, we want to see Jesus were the words the preacher used in his address when I was ordained. They are carved on the pulpits of numerous evangelical Churches in both England and the United States to remind the preacher that his duty is to teach about Jesus Christ; not to entertain, or engage in politics, nor speak about climate change, nor be intimidated by political correctness, remembering he is there to bring people closer to God, and there is no other way people can come to God, except through Jesus Christ. The Bible states, ‘how can they believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?’

Some weeks ago there was a Songs of Praise programme on television which told about a Curate at a Church in Weston super Mare who was being coached by a comedian, because she wanted to improve her ability to liven up her sermons by telling jokes. As a favourite journalist of mine would say, you really couldn’t make it up.

But she is not alone in confusing the pulpit with the theatre; in recent times I have witnessed slide shows, drama, and guessing games. I believe such action from the pulpit lowers people’s respect and reverence for the Church, even if they feel amused at the time.

When Jesus was told of the Greeks’ request He was pleased and responded immediately. He had not gone to Jerusalem to enter for the same purpose as the crowds had in mind; events were building up and were leading to the time of our Lord’s road to the Cross. So when He heard a group of people were genuinely seeking Him, He said, "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. Jesus said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

When He met those Greeks it was as the first sign that the gospel was to go to all the world, and part of God’s plan to bring salvation to the Gentiles, the symbol of the great harvest for which He came. If He had not died we probably would not know any more about Him for He would have just been another figure of history, of no greater significance than any other great religious leader. Because of the cross, He was able to do something He could never have done otherwise.

Jesus was glorified as his hands and feet were nailed to a wooden cross which was then lifted up causing him to bleed and suffocate to death. Crucifixion was the most prolonged, painful and horrific form of execution ever invented by man.

Jesus said this was His greatest hour. The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified, Jesus who died in the place of His people, taking the punishment, so they could be forgiven. This is what Christianity is all about. This is the centre of what it means to be a Christian.
He went on to say "Truly, truly, I say to you." Whenever Jesus used those words, it meant that He was going to say something important. Jesus said, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone." He was pointing out that when a seed died it brought forth fruit.

As Christians were martyred for the faith, so the Church grew, and He was here meaning that He was like the grain of wheat, and unless He went to the cross, His whole purpose in coming to earth will have been in vain. He knew what He had to face, and that He is going to be glorified through the sacrifice the cross, because by that cruel death, the way to forgiveness for all believers was made possible. If He had not made the sacrifice on the Cross, you and I and everybody else, could not have forgiveness. His death meant eternal life for all who believed in Him.

The Jews would not have understood what Jesus meant. For them the Son of Man conveyed an image of someone who would lead to world conquest and so attain glory, but Jesus meant it was time for Him to make the supreme sacrifice for the world by dying on the Cross so bringing glory to Him and to God.

Jesus said the one loves their life will lose it. He was referring to those who live solely for themselves and out to get as much as they can without thought for others. Christians generally are called to put service of the Lord first, and indeed there are many men and women who could have followed brilliant careers for rich rewards, but chose to go on mission fields far away from their homeland and work for very little.

In v 27, We see the humanity of Jesus displayed when He expressed his fear at the thought of the Cross, but was ready to give obedience to God and suffer much pain, which would ultimately lead to triumph. God spoke to Jesus in His hour of torment, just as He did at His baptism and when on the Mount of Transfiguration. God is always ready to give strength when we seek it for the tasks we face in His name and cause.

As Jesus sits in the condemned cell contemplating his death, it’s hard. Just because he knew it was God’s will, didn’t make it easy. His heart was troubled.

And if Jesus was that stressed out, why are we surprised when the Christian life seems tough and hard. Jesus never promised it would be anything else. We follow a crucified Lord who said: follow me.

Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again." The crowd that was there heard it and said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus told them, "This voice was for your benefit, not mine’. Jesus was meaning this showed the intimate and unbroken union He had with God the Father
Let us think for a few moments how this relates to us in our time. Maybe something has happened in your life to make you think things are not as you had hoped. Perhaps the thought of drawing close to God seems attractive, and you would like to meet with Jesus. Sometimes people can come to Church for years and then they hear a word which makes them think there may be something more for them.

If and when we want to see Jesus, He is ready waiting to meet us in our Bibles; obviously not in the physical sense, but an equally powerful way, and we can meet Him whenever we want to without restriction.

God still speaks directly to us to encourage us and will always respond to the seeker. If you have loved ones in your family or amongst your friends who are not saved, keep praying for them that they may come and see Jesus.
God is always ready to give strength when we seek it for the tasks we face in His name and cause

At the cross, Jesus underwent the judgement we deserve and paid our debt to God. His death gives us hope of everlasting life with Him one day. He wants to give us that hope in our life today. He alone can give you that new life that can never fade, and you can find that new life by meeting Jesus.

People in these high pressure days are so often weary and depressed and looking for that spiritual something. People are looking for something beyond themselves, looking for a way that gets the most out of life, yet carrying a load of guilt, fear and worry. So many men and women these days are doing things and behaving in a way that once would never have been thought of, so carrying all sorts of moral problems. Then they feel guilty and ashamed, become troubled in mind and turn to drink and/or drugs. Jesus said, ‘come unto me all you are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. .

Everyone today has to decide how to respond to Christ. People can be attracted to Christianity by its morals but won’t commit themselves to Christ Himself. For many the price is too high, for it would mean giving up some of the world’s standards and ways. Nor is an emotional attachment to the Church is what our Lord is seeking.

A day is coming when we will all see Jesus. The Bible says everyone will assemble before Him as He sits on the judgement throne. Some will go one way with the goats, some the other way with the sheep. We will have either joy in the after life with Jesus, or eternity with the lost. The criterion is how we respond whilst we are here on earth. The bible says ‘now is the time of God’s favour, now is the time of salvation’. It will be too late after we have died, and no amount of intercession will then save us.

May we ever be like the Greeks in our passage today and want to see Jesus and seek Him with all our hearts.


Friday 9 March 2018

Today is Mothering Sunday a significant occasion in the church calendar when we still remember with fondness our dear mothers no matter neither how old we now are nor how many years have passed since they were last with us. No words can adequately describe that unique emotion we feel for our mothers.

This morning you heard the banns read out for two couples who are planning to get married here, young people looking forward to beginning a new life together;we wish them every blessing and happiness. I can relate to them particularly today. Olive and I were married on this date. We met as teenagers at our local Church, where better to meet, as the Bible states two people of faith have a strong foundation for marriage. Despite some setbacks we have been richly blessed by God, proving that those who trust in the Lord will be blessed.

So let us think about marriage, which the Bible sees as a prelude to family life and motherhood.

Marriage was intended to be a sacred religious ceremony to be celebrated before God in Church, men and women giving a promise to live faithfully together until death parted them, although now for too many it is until we get fed up with each other. As one girl said, ‘I took him for better or worse, but I didn’t know how bad his worse was.

This is why couples when they meet should properly understand each other and proceed judiciously. They say love is blind, but marriage is an eye opener.

A young Minister asked his bishop for advice in finding the right kind of a wife and was told, ‘find a woman who is pretty, prudent and with private means, and preferably in reverse order.’

Marriage is a solid foundation for the bringing up of children, who are a key factor in God’s intention for marriage. God intended men and women should have children, which means having a father and mother. (male and female) 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.

People with limited intelligence call you homophobic if you disagree with same sex marriage; it is the word ‘marriage’ that offends, and we are all supposed to give our unqualified support. If you don’t you get abused, such is the new definition of free speech. I was prevented from taking a funeral because one family member knew my views on marriage; and spitefully objected.

The first marriage was performed by God; it was the first institution established. God never meant that we were to break up. Only death can part us. It is for life, it is for keeps. And God says only one thing can break the marriage vow and that is adultery. The Bible teaches absolute fidelity on the part of both husband and wife, but is recognised some marriages become unsustainable through abuse and I believe a compassionate God would be merciful.

It has been written ‘woman was made not out of man’s head to rule over him, not out of his foot to be trampled on, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, near to his heart to be loved’.

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.

In the days of Henry Ford, the car magnate, someone asked him to what formula he attributed his successful marriage. He said, "The same formula as the making of a successful car: stick to one model."

Motherhood is a special privilege and a sacred task. The great American President Lincoln once stated that no nation was greater than its mothers for they are the makers of men. Rabbis have a saying, ‘God can’t be everywhere so He made mothers’.

A mother’s love is special and unique and God gave woman a special and caring nature for His purpose.

God made man and gave woman as man’s helper, someone who can be at man’s side who will give life more meaning, pleasure and support; someone to love and cherish. God has now made two people, man and woman, Adam and Eve, equal in every respect but not the same, 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. God planned the human heart to love, marry and have children. This is why He made Adam and Eve, not Bill and Harry or Sharon and Tracy.

Most men if honest would concede how their wife has been of much help, mine certainly was. When I was a Vicar, Olive attended every service I took, for the first thirty years whilst she was fully well and not being one who liked the limelight, preferred to be amongst the congregation, getting her hands dirty when required and generally sharing in, and was very popular. People who wanted me to know something, but didn’t want to tell me directly, would use her as a means of communication, and she would tell me who needed attention and help, in addition of course to telling me in a prudent way what I shouldn’t have said and done and what I should have. I accept it doesn’t always turn out so well, but if I tell you Olive comes from the nation’s most exciting and vibrant city where girls are special, you will immediately know I am speaking of Livepool. She almost met the bishop’s criteria in being pretty, prudent, but alas not of private means.

The emancipation of women began when a young Jewish girl was told she would be the mother of the Saviour of the world. She would ever be the only woman to wear the red rose of maternity with the white rose of virginity. Her son, our Lord, would later bestow on women a respect and dignity no man could challenge. Ever since wherever Christianity has existed women have been respected and adored.

It was not until the 20th century in the perverted name of progress and so called equality, surrendered much respect by adopting the coarsest practice of men and even excelled in doing so.

Spiritual matters should be of concern to mothers. Promises are made at baptism services that children will be brought up in the fellowship of the Church, although few have ever any intention of honouring the promises made. A child taught biblical values has a sure foundation which can guide him/her throughout their life.

I think of the fact that my mother believed in God in her simple way, and took me to church. She never sent me to church, she took me to church, and that puts something in the character of children, I still went with my mother to the city’s Cathedral into my teenage years. Mothers continue to care and worry for their children even when they reach adulthood. We have numerous examples of godly mothers in the Bible as an example for us to follow such as the mother of James and John who sought favour for them from Jesus, Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth Salome, and of course above all Mary the mother of Jesus.

We need women who will lead their families back to more old style morality decency and purity. Children are being brought up without any religious knowledge, knowing nothing about Jesus and his dying on the Cross so our sins can be forgiven; taught that only by believing in Jesus can we get to heaven; told of Biblical characters even in the homes of whatever class of home. We must be one of the most pagan nations, where religion is a no go area for so many young people. In the United States, where they unashamedly do God, and most people have faith, young people are showing a real desire for Christianity. We import much from America; if only we could include Christianity.

If the mothers of this nation do not resist the onslaught of the perverse and aggressive secularist agenda, which is to destroy the family ideal, we face a bleak future.

The Bible calls on older women who have an honoured place in society, to play a major part in guiding younger women in the bringing up of children from their years of experience. We must have concern for women bringing up children in a world where all moral values are being eroded. Theirs is a big responsibility, especially when the nation’s broadcasting system gives out such foul talk and explicit scenes that cause weaker minds to think that is the natural way of life.

At this point we ought to remember all those women who do not have children and may be feeling distress today when present of chocolates and etc are being passed. Some have chosen not to be mothers rather preferring to follow a career and contribute much to society. Other women through physical or medical reasons cannot be mothers and our prayers must be for them. We also grieve for mothers who have lost a child. Whilst we may cherish memories of our mothers some will not have such pleasant thoughts.

May God richly bless all mothers, and give them the wisdom and the desire to teach their children of Jesus Christ.

Saturday 3 March 2018

1 Corinthians 1 v.18/25

This morning I want to turn with you to the Letter Paul wrote to the Church of God in Corinth. This Letter has been described as a Letter for the 21st century, because its contents are now so relevant.

The passage we are turning to is all about the heart of the Christian faith, the Cross. All religions have a symbol; the Jews have the Star of David, and Muslims the crescent, we have the Cross. We display it on our Churches, Bibles, ladies predominantly wear it around their necks, but even men in the entertainment industry wear it, despite their lives being unworthy of doing so. But everyone is relaxed about that, it is only when you wear it as a demonstration of your faith that you run into trouble.

Turning in detail to our passage,
Corinth was a sophisticated city and these Corinthians considered themselves wise and full of human wisdom, and such thinking had crept in to the church at Corinth, and the danger was that they would change the gospel, and so the importance of the message of the cross, to suit the world, and to make it more palatable to society.

The message of the cross of Christ is still foolishness today to many people. Even in the church there is much preaching of human wisdom in order to please society and to conform to what modern culture demands, so that the Church loses its moral and spiritual authority, and so makes it appear we have nothing special or different to offer. Rather than lead the way, the Church has itself be led. Like the Corinthians, we seek to operate by human intellect rather than the wisdom of God

Paul was telling the Corinthians, and by extension us, that the Church is to make known the will of God and take His authority to the world. Such is the purpose of the Church.

The Christian faith is the faith of Christ crucified. That Jesus, the Son of God, fully God and fully man, died in our place on the cross to pay the price for our sins, and rose again is central.

We must not alter the message of the cross, yes it is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.

Paul always held there are two distinct points of view, two black or white fundamental absolutes that can never be reconciled because they produce different responses to the gospel. Firstly, those who are blind to the truth of the gospel are perishing, and are eternally lost. To them however, it is absurd, and they refuse to believe the Biblical teaching that to achieve eternal salvation you have to believe that a man died on a Cross 2000 years ago, in a little country on the far side of the world, and did so that our sins may be forgiven.

I have taken hundreds of funerals over the past 40 years and there has never been any doubt in the minds of those attending that the deceased would be going to one of the many mansions in heaven. I have always been amazed how so many people who never attend Church or study their bibles know the verses from John’s gospel, and believe it automatically applies to them. Such is the effect of the Church’s false teaching. Most people sincerely believe as long as you are honest and leave a good life, such is your inheritance and to think otherwise is ridiculous. The Bible does not support them.

It is amazing how many people believe everybody, irrespective of lifestyle, will go to heaven; and there those within the Church, even clergy, who believe what is called the belief of universalism.

The other reaction is that those who believe Jesus did die on the Cross that we might be saved, will one day live with Him in heaven, having eternal life.

Paul then quotes from the Old Testament where God states, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate’. We have men who write books and speak in profound theological terms. They love to debate issues from the Bible and put forward alternative interpretations of Scripture. Whilst this may entertain themselves in University Common rooms, they can only cause confusion in other people’s minds when they are transmitted to the wider public. God promises to frustrate such actions.

Again Paul quotes the words of God when God said where is the wise man? Human wisdom is transitory. At one time a highly educated person could be valued for having a great deal of knowledge, but such is the amount of knowledge available that a person needs to specialise in a particular field. Just in my time a person could do well in their occupation and rise to a senior position without having any degree, now that is becoming very less likely. Some people have more than one degree, but little common sense. One cynic remarked the Church is falling apart by degrees.

Many of the so-called educated in our culture are increasingly antagonistic toward Biblical Christianity. Those who claim there is absolute truth and morality, are looked at as if we are the uneducated ones. The so-called sophisticated like to think that we are backward and ignorant because we believe in a creator God before whom every person will stand to give account. And true Christianity is especially singled out because of the implications of the message of the Cross.

The Jews and Greeks both asked for a sign. The Jews could not accept that the Messiah could be crucified on a tree. The Jews found difficulty with the cross, because most of them were looking for a political leader who would deliver them from the Roman Empire. Jesus didn’t want to start a political movement that would overthrow Rome, He came to establish the Kingdom of God.

It is difficult for us to understand what crucifixion meant to the Jews. It would have been unthinkable in the first century to wear a cross as an ornament of jewellery, just as no one today would wear a model of the gallows or electric chair around their neck, but that is what is equal to how the Jews saw the cross. They could not believe God would allow his Son to die that way. This should make anyone wearing a cross to think deeply as to what purpose they wear it.

The Greeks thought their learning and wisdom was sufficient. A man hanging on a cross to save the world was just utter nonsense to them. These two demands are still evident in our society today.

There are still those who demand that God perform for them. There are still those that demand that God conform to our logic and reason. But history has shown that they would not believe even then

Things haven’t changed in the intervening years, the cross is still offensive as I pointed out earlier, it strikes at the conscience and gives a sense of inner guilt.

The gospel message is the opposite of worldly wisdom. Paul is here saying I know how foolish it sounds to those who don’t believe when they hear that Jesus died to save them, but we do believe, we preach Christ crucified. He never diluted the message to make it appear something different so people could accept it, as is now happening. How we need to hear that message today, but how often do you hear a sermon on the Cross? Have you heard one in recent times?

In the Cross we see the love of Jesus Christ displayed in a way that defies explanation. God loved us so much that he stepped in and did what we cannot do. How deep the Father’s love for us that He gave his only Son to die for us. The truth is that we are sinners and cannot save ourselves. The good news is that God would not sit idly by and do nothing. He has provided a way. It is the way of the Cross. Not everyone will travel that way. Many have and will reject it. But for those who do receive it, they will experience its power.

Saturday 24 February 2018

Mark 8 v31/38

Jesus is with his Apostles making his way to Jerusalem and the Cross. He shocks them by saying he must suffer, be killed and rise again. He meant this was necessary to fulfil the purpose for which God sent him into the world; it was necessary for him to make atonement for man’s sin, for without his blood being shed there could not be any remission. Without the Cross God’s holy law could not be satisfied. Jesus must die that we might live

This is at the heart of Christian faith and we must always be aware of the truth. This was the message Jesus taught his Apostles and they took it to the world as the foundation of our faith.

Peter had shortly before made the famous confession of Jesus as Lord, for which Jesus blessed him, but now he faces the wrath of Jesus. Peter did not mean to offend Jesus, he was just shocked that Jesus had to suffer so much and die, but Jesus suggested Peter had been influenced by the devil in one of the greatest recorded rebukes.

Jesus then spelled out what being one of his followers would mean. He always made clear that there would be a cost involved, and never offered cheap grace. Salvation is all of grace, offered to sinners who repent freely; by grace we are saved through faith, but all who want salvation must demonstrate the sincerity of their faith by carrying a cross.

There will inevitably be suffering when you decide to follow Jesus. You will lose friends, be mocked, frozen from groups, treated as going through some strange illness. You could indulge the world’s pleasures and be thought a grand person, get involved in any form of morality, but if you are seen as religious or read the bible, you become a person no one wants to be with. Yet bizarrely such perverse attitude does not apply to followers of the ethnic faiths.

All Christians need to realise the challenge we face. We must see we are engaged on a battlefield not a playground as we meet an evil world which wants to force us into a private sect.

Jesus called the crowd to him and told them whoever loved his life would lose it, but whoever loses his life for Jesus’ and the gospel’s sake would save it. He meant that the one who lives a self centred life focused on this world will not find eternal life with God, but if you give up worldly pleasures and a life of self rebellion against God for the sake of Jesus and the gospel, will find everlasting communion with God.

Our bodies have a soul or spirit within, and the soul is the image of God, which in turn means eternal life, for when we e the body becomes detached from the soul, which lives on in either heaven or hell. So many people go to great length to protect their body, take all sorts of measures to make sure it is cared for, but ignore the soul. They never look at the bible for guidance, and ignore God, who has no place in their hearts or minds.

We all have souls for which we will have to give account to God; it is an awful thought when we consider how little attention is given to anything except this world.

We can all lose it in many ways, by loving sin and cleaving to the world; poison it be choosing a religion of lies; believing man made superstitions; neglecting all means of grace and refusing to believe the gospel. Whichever way is chosen, the responsibility falls to each person. Of all foolish and unprofitable bargains one can make, is to give up the soul for the present world.

People are claiming to be Christians, attending Church, even preaching within them, but living unworthy lives in complete defiance of what God has laid down in His Word.

Jesus taught there were two roads in life and each of us must travel on one; one is broad and most people are inclined to follow that road with all worldly goods and thrills, whilst the other road is narrow and fewer take that one, for it means living a godly way of life with restrictions on how you journey.

There is now much reluctance to accepting belief in a hell, although most everyone accepts there is a heaven, to which all believe they are heading irrespective of how they lived their lives. There is going to be such disappointment one day. Jesus in his parables made clear two roads, two destinies, sheep and goats, tares and wheat. All Christians should make sure those nearest and dearest to them are aware of this. Whenever Jesus spoke of heaven, he also referred to the alternative as hell.

I have stated so many times I think it shameful as well as cruel, for the Churches to let people live under such a delusion and create liturgy which virtually assures people that a person can separate themselves from God, have no association with him, and yet still receive salvation. To say such is to flagrantly teach false doctrine, for the bible is quite unequivocal and patently clear, it means accepting Jesus death on the Cross was the price he paid for their sins. The Bible states, salvation is found under no other name under heaven than Jesus.

Jesus pictured a field with the good seed representing his gospel, and the tares were the seeds of the devil, and a lot of people are prepared to sell their souls to follow a hedonistic lifestyle. But God is long suffering and wants all people to be saved, which is why He calls on all to repent and turn to Jesus. Everyone has to make a decisive decision, remembering hell is total separation from God. The alternative is to spend eternity with Jesus, who makes the final judgement on death when we will be called to account for our life before him.

Let these words of our Lord sink deep into our hearts, yet words are inadequate to express their importance; remember them when temptation present itself and the matter of the soul seems of no importance.

The final call of Paul in our passage is for people never to be ashamed of the gospel.

How many Church members are embarrassed when asked if they believe? Indeed how many are ready to acknowledge they attend Church? How reluctant to answer if asked to give our opinion on moral questions? If you are not ashamed, you are ready to speak out about your faith.
Remember the words of Jesus, ‘for whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this sinful and adulterous generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed when He comes in the glory of the Father’.

We may offer what is hard for sceptics to believe, but that should not stop us telling it. When we tell how God took a young Jewish girl and caused her to conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit; that when this child became man He performed miraculous deeds and eventually gave His life by a cruel death on a Cross, in order that God would forgive people of their sins: that three days late would rise from the dead as a sign that one day all who believe in Him and accept Him as Saviour, would live eventually with Him in heaven.

The gospel is the story of Jesus Christ, who gave Himself to be crucified for our sins in order to reconcile us to God. Why should anyone be ashamed to tell that story? We all no doubt are ashamed of things we have done in our lives, and the things we have said but wished we hadn’t, and that is understandable. But we allow ourselves to become ashamed of something for which there is no need to be ashamed of.

The reason he is not ashamed is,-- because the gospel is the power of God leading to salvation for all who believe.

Always bear in mind that only Christianity has a Cross at the centre of its faith. Only Jesus suffered an horrific death on the Cross as a Saviour.

Let us all pray for faith and courage to confess Christ before the world and never be ashamed of him who died for us on the Cross.

Saturday 17 February 2018

I want to turn to a verse in Acts of the Apostles, ‘almost you persuade me to be a Christian’.

The question I would like to look at this morning is, ‘what is a Christian? The word Christian was originally a term of derision against the first followers of Jesus, and it is fast becoming an abusive term in this country by public officials who want to eradicate Christianity, and all expression of the faith, and all it stands for, from public life.

In the simplest terms a Christian is a follower of Jesus. However, it is not that simple. Most people would say it is being a good and honest person, but many atheists are honest and good people, sometimes more so than many who are regular Church attendees.

During many years of ministry I have interviewed many people regarding baptisms, weddings or funerals, and the most common statement made is ‘we don’t go to church, but we are Christians’; or,’ ‘you don’t have to go to Church to be a Christian as long as you are a good person’. This is always volunteered, sometimes aggressively.

People like to divide the world into two groups the good and bad, with ourselves of course in the good category. God is believed to judge the bad but would not judge us. It is too easy to see people behaving worse than us, which convinces us we are fine.

A motorist may drive at 80 miles an hour along the motorway where the speed limit is 70, but when he finds others passing him he feels he is not that bad after all. The point is, some are offending worse than others, but we are all offending in some way. We may not plant bombs like some do, but the tongue can be equally explosive in its own way. So let us consider Christian living.

People have this mistaken idea that being born in a Christian country, to Christian parents, in a Christian home, means that one is therefore a Christian. You cannot inherit Christianity.

Jesus was on His way to the Cross when He spoke to His Apostles and told them He would be leaving them. They were devastated and Jesus told them to trust Him for He was going to prepare a place for them in heaven. He was talking to men who had been His devoted followers who obeyed His commands and accepted His teaching, not to all and sundry.

He said there were many rooms in His Father’s house, meaning heaven, and He was going to prepare a place for them. This meant there was the prospect of living for ever with Him there.

When Jesus said He was going to prepare a place for them this was referring to the fact He was going to the Cross to die for the forgiveness of sins for all people and by that death He was making it possible for them to go there.

If you desire to go to stay at a hotel in some foreign country you invariably go to a travel agent who arranges everything for you, and when you arrive at the hotel they have a reservation waiting. You cannot just turn up because you think you are entitled to stay there without some preparation.

Having taken hundreds of funerals there has never been any doubt in people’s minds that the deceased was going to be in heaven, pointing almost always to the verse where Jesus states He is going to prepare a place, which they confidently claim for themselves.

The Church has compounded such belief and in the funeral service liturgy, but of course it would be cruelly wrong to tell a grieving relative that they were misconstruing Scripture, but there is a duty and a responsibility for clergy to always interpret Scripture faithfully.

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. 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

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.

When Jesus said they knew the place where He was going, Thomas asked Him how they could know when they didn’t know the way. This brought forth from Jesus that profound immortal statement, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.’

Some time ago I went to Birmingham and had to find an address. I asked a man walking on a road if he could tell me the way, and he answered, ‘it is pretty difficult for you to get 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.

To say 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 which they serve.

Jesus said He was the truth. If a person is to teach moral truth that person must have an impeccable reputation and have no hidden misdoings. Only Jesus can claim moral perfection, which is why He can say ‘I am the truth’.

Thirdly Jesus says ‘I am the life’, meaning the opposite of death. He is the source of life and gives life to His own. Just as death mean separation from.

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.

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.

In every action of life we are confronted with a choice, where we must make a decision to do one thing or another.

It can be hard to be a Christian in this country at the present time and many find the going too hard and strenuous and the opposition oppressive. We have come to a state in this country now where a Christian person may not express a personal view based on sincere religious belief if it might offend someone. Any open expression of our faith is likely to lead to suspension or dismissal from work, and even the most innocuous adverse comment upon human behaviour will raise hysterical shouts of phobia or bigotry. There is so much harassment of Christians which is not reported here, and you have to listen to the American news channels to discover what is going on in this country. This does not apply apparently to other faith speakers.

I cannot understand how we can share in multi-faith worship and maintain Biblical integrity. Whilst I believe we should respect other faiths and try to live amicably with them, in view of the unique teaching of our Lord (here set out in verse 6 that He alone is the way to God) we cannot justify sharing in multi faith services when our beliefs are so different, and it is matter of recognising the unique authority of Jesus.

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’. Jesus is quite unequivocal.

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.

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. Whilst Church attendance is an essential, however much it is part of Christian life itself, this does not on its own make you one. There are many ‘almost Christians’ in our Churches.

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.

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.

We have reached a point where Christians are becoming frightened to speak out. We have the situation where the government, and a Conservative one at that, forbidding parents from withdrawing their children from explicit sex lessons where transgenderism and homosexuality are taught, or being abused if they voiced opposition.

Can you imagine the outcry if LGBT activists were told they must not speak of same sex marriage; yet we who support man and woman marriage are almost forbidden to speak in favour of traditional marriage. We are supposed to be good little people who keep to ourselves and not to bother anyone else

It's time for the Church to wake up and speak and making clear what we believe and why, how we think and act, not just in theory, but also in practice. Sadly there are not many in high office who have the courage and the will to speak out.