Thursday 28 March 2019

Mothering Sunday
Today we are celebrating Mothering Sunday which falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent this having been decreed in the 17th century when most people went to Church. People would walk to Church, often to the one where they had been baptised, and some would carry flags and banners. Girls in domestic service would be given time off by their employers to visit their mothers, and some would bake simnel cakes as presents.

In the United States President Woodrow Wilson passed an Act of Congress in May 1914 that the 2nd Sunday in May would be known as Mothers Day for the public expression of love and reverence for mothers. This term has been claimed in the United Kingdom rather than our understanding, which emphasises the religious significance.

Let us turn to the Bible as we acknowledge the love for our mothers and as you sit here you will have fond memories of your own dear mother however many years may have passed. However many years have passed since we were in their arms, we will not forget as we acknowledge the love for our mothers, and all they meant to us.

To bear a child is a costly and sometimes very painful act, calling for endurance sometimes beyond the mother herself. Mothering Sunday calls on us to remember it is the giving of oneself.

God intended women to be mothers, and motherhood to be of the highest calling and endowed them with special gifts. Motherhood is a special privilege and a sacred duty. Abraham Lincoln once remarked that no nation is greater than its mothers, for they are the makers of men. The Rabbis have a saying, ‘God can’t be everywhere so He made mothers.’

The traditional family now is under sustained attack from politicians, socialites, and secularists. We face the ridiculous situation where it is decreed two men can raise children after some unknown woman provides the child by some sordid way. 

A mother's love is special and unique, and God gave woman a special and caring nature for His purpose. An American psychologist stated a child will never come to full development psychologically, without a mother in the home.

The Bible is full of stories of prominent mothers,
Eve who was the first mother

Sarah, Hannah, and Elizabeth, all who waited for a miracle.

Hagar driven away and disowned.

Rebecca had two sons in a broken family

Rachel wept for her children,

Naomi and Ruth who rose above all the trials of life and turned hard situations into good.

Lois and Eunice, ready to share the love of Christ with their children

Hannah who hurt deeply because she desperately wanted to be a mother, and in her agony she cried out to God. He answered Hannah’s prayer and she literally lent her son back to God, and she made a commitment. Hannah trusted God, and taught Samuel to worship God, rejoicing in the Lord and His salvation. We dearly need mothers to day to teach their children to worship God, preferably by bringing them to Church.

Our most famous mother is of course Mary, a young Jewish girl from whom the emancipation of women began when there appeared to Mary a vision from heaven and she heard the angel’s annunciation of the news that of all the women on earth she was to be the mother of our Lord, the one woman ever to wear entwined the red rose of maternity with the white rose of virginity.

Mary was ready and willing to be looked down upon by all who knew her, for it was shameful for an unmarried woman to have a child in those religious times. Jesus became a baby and grew up, and accorded women with a new dignity so that women like Mary have been loved and respected.

God intended them to be mothers and motherhood to be of the highest calling and endowed them with special gifts. It took the 2oth century in the so-called name of progress and equality, to pull women down to make them like men, and some to be of the coarsest of men.

A mother’s presence in the home is essential, and there has never been a more urgent time when good mothers are needed. I have worked in every social class of society, but have never known a Jewish child get involved in anti-social behaviour or criminal activities. I once asked a Rabbi why he thought this was so, and he told me it was due to the control the Jewish mama has over her family.

When my two sons were growing up my then occupation required me to be away from the home for many long hours, and so much care fell upon my wife. It is to her credit that they both entered the Christian ministry after being youth leaders at their local Church.  Today they are successful Vicars at Churches of their own, where they have been a powerful influence in the Churches they have served.

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.

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 or Biblical characters, even in the homes of whatever class of society.

Salome the mother of James and John sought favour for them from Jesus, to whom she prayed that Jesus would show favour on her sons.  How we need to have mothers praying for their children today.

Mothers continue to care and worry for their children even when they reach adulthood, and stand by them no matter what they do, and even when that is not deserved.

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.

Sometimes women are asked on television or radio what their occupation is, and often the reply comes, ‘only a housewife and mother’. There is nothing only, such is an honourable occupation.

At this point we ought to remember all those women who do not have children, and may be feeling distress today when presents 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 bless all mothers and those longing to be mothers.

I close my words to you by asking you join in mind with me in this prayer.

Loving God, we thank you for our mothers, for all they meant, for the love they showed and care given; for their patience understanding and kindness We thank you for the part they played in our lives and we ask that the Biblical mothers who we have thought of may be an encouragement for women everywhere.

We pray for those for whom this is a difficult time, one of heartache other than celebration; for those who long to be a mother, yet have no children of their own’; for those whose children have failed or abandoned them.

Saturday 23 March 2019

The Epistle for Sunday, the third Sunday of Lent, is from 1 Corinthians 10 v.1/13

Paul is writing to the Corinthian Church to give guidance and encouragement. In the previous chapter he defended his authority as an Apostle uniquely and especially chosen from God, against those who wished to discredit him. He claimed he kept himself strictly controlled lest he failed in his mission. If he fell into temptation, he would lose his Apostleship and the divine authority given him, and there would be nothing left for him, and people could be led astray.

Every Christian should remember when we identify and claim to be followers of Christ, we are his ambassadors in this world, and if we act in any way at all which is contrary to what is contained in the New Testament, we are creating opportunities for people to mock the Christian faith.

When we act in a way which is stated to be wrong in the Bible, we lose the support and strength of Christ, and like Samson who thought he could do what he liked, when in fact he lost the strength God had given him, he ended up a broken man.

Whatever attributes we have in charm, personality or academic ability, if we lose the presence of Jesus, we are indeed lost. As Christians we have great privileges and promises, but these demand great responsibility.

As we come to the 10th Chapter he is talking of giving up personal rights for the sake of the gospel and uses the example of Israel’s experience in the wilderness as a warning to the Corinthians. He is pointing what can happen when people hear God’s Word and do not let it relate to them.

Whilst most of the Corinthian people were Gentiles, he sees a continuity from the lessons in the Old Testament and Israel. Paul is outlining the love God had for his people Israel by providing protection, guidance and food and drink whilst they were in the wilderness

The reference to the cloud is what God provided that led a generation of Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and the sea is the Red Sea which God used for Moses to part so the people of Israel could escape and the Egyptians drowned in. These were symbols of the protection God gave to his people and the guidance by which he led them.

God also provided food and drink by sending manna from heaven and water from a rock and Christ is now the rock who answers all our needs. However, because of their disobedience and grumbling against God, the Israelites having experienced God’s goodness, were not permitted to see the Promised Land.

Emphasis is placed on the word ‘all’; all under the cloud, all passed through the sea and all were baptized unto Moses.All who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour have been saved, and all are under God’s protective hand. We have that ‘rock’ to cleft and rest on and the rock in the Bible is in fact Jesus Christ.

As Christians we should as the hymn says bind together, united in what we share, cleansed by the blood of Christ, sustained by the amazing grace of God. We can go to most places on this earth and meet with men and women of different race and colour, and as children of God see each other as brothers and sisters with the same (heavenly) Father.

We too have been warned just as strongly as the Israelites were. The whole history of Israel shows people who enjoyed the greatest gifts that God could give, were also subject to temptation.

The Bible states God will not lead us into temptation, but we all face temptation every day in various and multiple ways. We do not worship idols of wood or metal, but anything which we are prepared to give precedence over worship becomes an idol.

There is the temptation to follow the false teachers who encourage people to follow their own desires for God will forgive,thereby
abusing God’s mercy.

In today’s modern culture there is the constant pressure to engage in all manner of sexual activity based on the claim we are in 2019 and standards have changed and all is permissible in our age.

Paul refers to twenty-three thousand people dying after indulging themselves is sexual immorality This should be a warning to Christians who engage and behave in immoral ways, which the Church at the highest level is condoning and embracing

Paul ends this passage with the warning that temptation is part of life, but it is not meant to make us fall, but rather to test us so we come out stronger.

Temptation may come but there is always a way of escape, not by any ordinary way, but the mercy and grace of God.As we reflect on our lives, we may find ourselves recalling the way we slipped away from the course we should have followed, and how many times have we said the two saddest words, ‘if only’. I find myself saying it more and more as I look back. Sometimes we take the wrong decision, other times we act as we later realized was wrong, but once acted we may have lost so much.

God will not take temptation out of your life, but will not let you be tempted more than he knows you can bear, but he may let things happen to you to show how fragile you are without his help.

The Bible states, that when you come to Jesus to drink, you don’t just get a single drink, you get rivers of living water will flow into you, you will never have to search again for a source of satisfaction for your soul. Jesus never leaves.

May you grow in grace and may rivers of living water flood into your life.

Wednesday 20 March 2019


In recent years we have witnessed in this country a prolonged assault on Christian Street preachers, but an attitude of tolerance towards Islamic preachers.

In addition, even within the Church, preachers ordained and lay, have been subject to harassment or suspension for speaking out against the agenda of the LGBGT lobby activists, which our bishops have been so keen to accommodate, irrespective that such is against the teaching of the Bible, and the commission of Jesus to teach all that HE commanded.

We are further burdened by our disastrous Prime Minister who never lets us forget she attends Church by having her photograph taken each Sunday, yet is proposing legislation to allow children of tender years to discuss gender changing and be told in explicit terms all forms of sexuality.

Consider the following cases and you will appreciate the serious threat to our faith.

Two street preachers were deemed to have engaged in hate speech for quoting verses from the King James Version of the bible, and heavily fined until an appeal court reversed the decision.

In Northern Ireland zealots in the so called Equality Commission rushed to prosecute a bakery for refusing to endorse same sex marriage on a wedding cake, despite the fact that such unions are not lawful in that country.

But perhaps the worst of many other cases is that of an elderly preacher in London who had his bible snatched from him to his great distress, by two police constables and then was driven away under arrest For causing a breach of the peace.

A matter of what then occurred is of grave concern. The police initially stated the man was taken to a position three miles away and released, but subsequently changed their story. In fact, he was taken further away and left without money to make his own way home, which he was only able to do so by a kind person paying his bus fare.

If a person is arrested, the police have no power to just take and dump them where they think fit, they must be taken to a police station where they will be formally charged, or formally released, and it is time Christian Concern or some lawyer starts taking process for unlawful arrests.

There are too many instances, but what a lack of courage and integrity when other faiths do not get similarly treated. This is because their leaders have greater commitment to their faith and will not be pushed around.

There was a case in Perth where a preacher was arrested for breach of the peace, and whilst he had no amplification a street busker did yet was tolerated.

There are so many other instances which would take up too much reading space to mention.

Now this Mayor of London with his fondness for political correct gimmicks and balloon of a leading world statesman in a grotesque gesture of discourtesy, is having to answer for his failure to show some sense of responsibility and question the police Commissioner on her responsibility for her officers.

Questions to be answered regarding the police changing their account.

Pray with us that
• Tomorrow (Thursday 21 March) Oluwole's amazing journey since the video of his arrest went viral will continue at London City Hall. From 10am, London Assembly members will address three questions to London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

The police have changed their story on Olu's de-arrest
Christian street preacher Oluwole Ilesanmi outside Southgate
Underground Station on 23 February 2019. Having viewed the arrest on social media and the confiscation
of his Bible, It is understood he was then taken five miles away by police car and dumped in Wrotham Park. It is
disappointing that any members of the Metropolitan Police would think it appropriate to behave in this
manner. What is your view of the actions taken by the police on this particular occasion?

MP Theresa Villiers has challenged the Government over his arrest
• Baroness Cox has raised questions on his arrest in the House of Lords
• His story has been covered in The Spectator, Fox News, Premier, Faithwireand by Rod Liddle in The Sunday Times
Oluwole's lawyer has written a pre-action letter to the police commissioner.

This represents an important opportunity to ask the man responsible for the police in London about the treatment of Christian street preachers on our capital's streets. The whole session will be live-streamed and we plan to provide coverage throughout the day on Christian Concern’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

'We need your prayers'
In a country that used to lead the way in upholding Christian freedoms, freedom of speech is now under attack.

We’ve reached an important moment.

Will you join with Christians across the world to pray for street preacher Oluwole and Christian Concern

If you can, please pray:
• For street preacher Oluwole and that he will be protected and encouraged
• For Sadiq Khan that he will recognise the need to do more to protect Christian freedoms in London
• For the London Assembly members who have shown such an interest in this case
• That our police force will do more to protect Christian street preachers
• For our legal team as they support Oluwole through the next steps
• That our petition calling on the Home Secretary to do more to protect freedom of speech on our streets will be shared widely and signed by many.

Pray for and support Christian Concern for their continued devotion and assistance to those Christians who have been oppressed and suffered for standing firm on their beliefs.

Saturday 16 March 2019

This morning we are turning to the gospel of Luke in Chapter 13, verses 22/30

Jesus was travelling to Jerusalem and the Cross where he would die to obtain forgiveness for all the sins of his followers that they may be acceptable to his Father, God. On his way he was teaching and trying to bring his own people, the Jews, to find salvation.

For Jesus there was only one thing that mattered, changed lives; lives that listened to the Word of God, all else was hypocrisy and religious hypocrisy is the worst of all. So how do we make right judgements as to whether we enter Christ’s kingdom or be cast into a dark Christ less eternity.

The Rabbis taught the salvation was an assured thing for Jews as God’s chosen people, but Jesus was not following a nationalistic course and warned that non-Jews would be admitted into his kingdom. This caused one man to ask Jesus if only a few would be saved, but Jesus did not give a direct answer, he just said make sure you are.

We see someone, we do not know who, ask Jesus if there would be many saved. This was a question of great importance. Anyone wanting to know the answer need only to look to the Bible and will find the answer.

In his sermon on the mount, Jesus said, you can enter God’s kingdom only through the narrow gate. If you look at the world around you and compare the ways of the many with the Word of God, you will soon realise that the saved will be few. It is a sad conclusion, but Scripture whilst telling salvation is offered to all, few will receive it.

We see Jesus did not answer the man directly, just telling the person to make sure he went through the narrow gate, a command he offers to all his followers.

The Lord makes our duty clear, that is to make sure we will be saved, and to be successful we must follow the narrow way, whatever the cost and effort, and irrespective of whatever our friends are doing. The unbelief of others will not be any excuse for us at the last day.

We must not think we can follow the crowd in what they are doing, if we want to get to heaven, we must follow that which God has laid down in this book we call the Bible.Jesus made it clear what others think and do, we are responsible to him for the way we live our lives. We are not to go on sheltering ourselves under the plea that everybody else does it. We draw near to God and his means of grace.

Turning to verse,24, Jesus said, enter by the narrow door. He always taught there are two doors two roads. He said there are two destinies, heaven and hell and divided people into two classes. There are only two roads, no third, no alternative.

To state this, is not generally liked as it is seen as being too restrictive, too bigoted and intolerant, and we don’t like to be judged. Yet in spite of all this, Jesus says we must enter through the narrow door. So, let us look at the choice we face and consider honestly which road each of us is on and to where heading.

It is like coming to a crossroads each road going in the opposite direction. On the broad road you enter by a wide gate and the road is spacious, there is plenty of room on it and there are plenty of people on it. It is the road of self-gratification without any restrictions, there is room for diversity of opinion, lack of morality, permissiveness, no curbs or boundaries, you can twist and adapt the Bible to ease your conscience and try to justify your actions, so you can follow the desires and inclinations of your heart; which is what in fact many are now doing.

But also, there are even otherwise decent men and women on it, so many claiming to be Christians albeit without due cause. It is widely assumed, and strongly encouraged by the secular press, that if you are honest and sincere you will go to heaven.

There are the ones who will come in the last day and say, Lord, I did wonderful work in your name. Then He will say, "Depart from me, I never knew you" Because, you see, you served Him with your lips, but your heart was far from Him In outward profession you were a fine Christian, but inwardly your heart was never changed. You never really encountered Christ. You never really were born of the Spirit of God. Yes, the broad road is filled with those types of people.

The Bible says that it is crowded. The Bible says many there be which go therein. And many of us today are saying it will be all right, many others are doing it. Well, God doesn't judge you by others. You are judged according to God's law, and you are judged according to God's Son.

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.

We are told how Jesus will one time shut the door and many will knock and want to enter but will be too late. This is referring to the second coming of Christ and the day of judgement. The door of mercy will be closed and the day of reckoning will have come when believers will be rewarded, and we will be in heaven with all the saved in the company of the Lord Jesus Christ and his angels.

In these verses a heart-searching prophecy is given that many will plead earnestly, but their plea will not be answered; religious profession and formal knowledge will not be of help.

As we come to the narrow gate leading to the narrow road, which Jesus wants us to take but says only few take it, and those who do must do through Him. John 14 despite being non correct in many Churches now, still states ‘no one can come to the Father except through Jesus Christ.’ He is the only way.

Being narrow these days means you are classed as bigoted or phobic. You are expected to be broad minded, be modern, 2+2=5. The road is narrow because it is the way of truth and truth is always narrow. It is the way of holiness and righteousness.

Neither can the narrow road be pursued if we are motivated by a desire to please society. True disciples of Jesus Christ will not play to the galleries nor form values according to the passing approval of people in general. God’s approval is all that matters.

Jesus said there is a life to come and it is a long life, it is eternal, and there are only two destinies, and as you come to the crossroads, you alone choose, God will not push you. He gave you the ability to choose and lets you do so. Where you end up in eternity will be determined by which road you take, so what you do in the world is important.

What is striking about our Lord’s words is it reveals that people will see what is right and what they should have done, but all will be too late and will be in another world and find what they rejected and even perhaps mocked, was proper after all.

The Bible quotes Paul, saying, as ‘God’s partners, we beg you to accept God’s gift of kindness and not ignore it, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the time of salvation’. In other words, accept God’s offer of salvation when you can it may be too late if you leave doing so.

This passage indicates money, prestige, rank and greatness may influence much in this world, and praying and believing the bible may be thought foolish, but a change will come one day when the last shall be first, and the lowest will be the greatest.

One of these roads leads to destruction the other to life with Jesus. He took time to remind people of the seriousness of salvation. He wanted all to be sure of the future. People do prefer the easy road in life but Jesus made it plain He wants us to journey down the difficult road and enter the narrow gate.

At the present time Churches spend a lot of time and energy engaged in very public argument over moral matters whereas a search of Scripture could resolve this debate in a few minutes, but of course the answer may not be the one wanted. The time has surely come when the good interest of the Church should be considered rather than personal preferences.

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.

But 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. Any open expression of our faith is likely to lead to suspension or dismissal from work. 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.

As Christians we must always seek to glorify the Lord in our ways and speech. Jesus warns us that there must be a clear acceptance of His teaching and total obedience to it. Just to recite a creed and attend Church is not enough. We honour Jesus by calling Him Lord and sing hymns expressive of our devotion to Him.

Each of us has to decide which will be amongst, the few or the many. Will we be ready to receive Jesus and gain entry or have the door shut on us? Are we travelling on the right road?

Sunday 10 March 2019

This morning I want to turn to Paul’s Letter to the Romans, in Chapter 10.

Paul was specially and uniquely called by God to be an Apostle to the Gentiles, but he never forgot his own Jewish people. This Letter was directed to the Jews who were carrying a mistaken belief, but its teaching is equally applicable to us, as all Paul’s Letters are.

Paul’s greatest desire was to make people Christians, a noble cause and one we could wish all preachers to-day to adopt. He was concerned the Jews were being misled to follow the wrong way to salvation, which can only be achieved by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord.

The Jews believed that all that was necessary for salvation was to keep the Ten Commandments, but no one can keep the Commandments for it is like a chain, if you break one link it all falls apart, and the Bible states if you break one you break the lot, and we have all, without exception broken at least one. Therefore one cannot be saved by the Commandments.

The word ‘saved’ does cause an emotional response with a lot of people, as it conjures up an image of being approached by a Charismatic Christian asking are you saved brother (sister).

God sent Jesus to supplant the Law and make it possible for all people to be saved if they accepted Christ as having died on the Cross to obtain forgiveness for the sins they committed.

Coming to the heart of this passage, verse 9 states, ‘if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved’.

Confession that Jesus is Lord, and singing the hymn, is not an intellectual title or a casual statement, it means much more. You have to believe fully in your heart this is so, and have no doubt that God raised Him physically from the dead; that is the heart of the Christian message. So when you do believe and are prepared to confess with your mouth, God accepts you as righteous.

The Bible states, ‘by grace you have been saved through faith, it is not your own doing, it is the gift of God and not by your own works.’

Something in us always wants to add to God’s free grace. It’s humbling to admit that we can do nothing to earn our deliverance from sin. Imagine what heaven would be like if we had to earn our way there. People would be trying to outbid each other and probably boasting how important they had been in the world.

When I was being inducted to a parish the Rural Dean who was a real traditional English gentleman (and there’s not many of us about), introduced me to a man who wanted me to know how important he was. Heaven would be just like that if you had to earn your way there. But it won’t be like that, when Jesus died on the cross, he paid the full price for your salvation. God alone gets the glory in your salvation. Jesus did all the work when he died on the cross.

I have been told countless times all one has to do is to be good, be kind and honest, and you will go to heaven; no need to go to Church, sing hymns and read the Bible. They will learn to regret this belief.

There was a series on television in which a young police constable is partnered on duty by an attractive young police woman who is fond of him, but he does not respond. His Sergeant tells him he should make a decision and respond, as one day he will regret not doing so; and then says, ‘the two saddest words in the English language are, if only..’ There are so many people who will one day appear before the Lord and say, ‘if only’.

Jesus himself warned that on the Day of Judgement many will claim to have been His followers, but He will say to them, ‘depart from me. I never knew you.’ Millions have not the slightest idea of what it really meant to be a Christian.

People have been attending church for years, listening to the Bible being read, singing praise to the Lord, and have en very religious, yet have never come to the time when they have acknowledged Jesus as Lord, yet the Bible calls on us to do so.

We have admit the fundamental fact that we live in an evil world and we all become tainted and lost, but by the grace of God He gives us an opportunity to come to Christ and be saved. The majority of people do not consider they need saving as they think their lives are already safe. The thought they are sinners is mortally wounding, as one Vicar discovered when he put a notice outside his church saying this Church is here for sinners; half his congregation were absent the next week. Sin is not just murder, theft and immorality; it includes pride, jealousy, envy, anger and hatred

Verse 11 states that all who believe in Jesus will not be put to shame, but there are too many Christians who are ashamed to admit they follow Jesus.

Verse 12 reminds us that God has no favourites, and will accept all who call on Jesus.

A question often asked is what about those who have never heard of Jesus. If someone is in such a remote place where the Bible has not been taught, they will be judged by how they responded to their conscience, for everyone has a sense of what is right and what is wrong. However, if it is a case of just not bothering to listen or find out, then the responsibility will be on them.

Behind the message, of course, is the messenger. The message has to be communicated and the way that God chooses is through the preaching of the Word and the praying of Christians, the yearning of their hearts over those who are not yet saved.

People are touched by God by various means, perhaps through a poster, a friend, an occurrence in one’s life, but the principal way is through the preaching of the Bible.

This I believe is where we are failing badly, right across the Church. The Bible calls on us to preach the Word; in other words the Scriptures, with sound doctrine, not adding, subtracting or amending what God caused His writers to state in the Bible. Yet at this very pulpit I have twice heard it said by ordained Ministers that you shouldn’t take the bible literally. This in complete negation of ordination vows.

We in the Churches must make a greater effort to concentrate on the fundamentals of the faith. There is too much a willingness to amend Bible teaching to be popular, or ally with society’s standards and beliefs; avoid being called narrow minded or bigoted, and take every opportunity of doing so.

One Easter Sunday a service was held in one of our great Cathedrals, offering a wonderful opportunity of getting the message out, but instead there was a sermon which completely wasted the chance by an address on climate change which seems to obsess a lot of people.

Regularly Church leaders are eager to write to the press on a variety of matters social and political. A Bishop wrote asking for everybody to fast one day of the week in prayer for climate change; this at a time when the Church attendances are falling.

As people have a cause to believe in with an eternal future at issue, one might have thought that would have been a prime issue for him to concentrate his mind on.

The glory of Christianity is that it has a message that is grounded in history. It is objective truth, not just something that someone has made up. It is not some feeling that you are following that you hope will work out; it is the story of historic events. One of these events is the coming of Jesus as a baby in the manger of Bethlehem, the coming of the wise men from the east and the uproar and unrest that it caused in the kingdom of Judea, beginning with Herod the king himself. That is all part of history. Then there was the resurrection and the events that followed in the church. These are all historic events -- objective truth. That is our message.

There is an urgent need for such message to be preached without fear or favour, but I have been at Churches barely mentioning the basic facts of our faith. We have to be as forthright and determined to preach our faith as we see the preachers of Islam doing so in respect of their faith. You will never hear a Muslim cleric challenging anything in their Holy book.

In the absence of any person at national level with the charisma to inspire, each local Church has to be its own evangelist and I pray that the teaching you hear here will be that passed down from the Apostles.

Wednesday 6 March 2019

We are now in a period of 40 days when we are to reflect and consider our spiritual state. In the early days of the Church this was a time for converts to the faith to prepare for baptism at Easter.

In observing the 40 days, we are reminded of the period Jesus spent in the wilderness directly after His baptism, resisting the temptations set before Him by the devil, and we journey with Christ in readiness for His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to face the glory of the Cross and His resurrection three days later. We recognise we need a Saviour and accept Jesus was the One who came to seek and save us.

The story of Jesus’ trials is hard for modernists to accept and believe, and ask can you really believe this in 2019 but as Jesus was alone it must have been told by Him. Jesus and His Apostles clearly taught about the devil, and when see and read and hear of all the evil in our own world, it should not be hard to accept. Others ask why did Jesus had to be tempted, but He was both human and divine and it was His human nature which was being tempted. . This human side is revealed in the Bible when we read the descriptions of His compassion, tears, gratitude and hunger.

Jesus had not eaten for 40 days and when a person is physically tired and stressed, or under any vulnerable pressure, that is the time when they are most at risk of giving into temptation. We all have and all will be tempted.

Turn with me to this passage in Luke’s gospel, which is corroborated in Matthew’s gospel.

Jesus had just been baptised and was anointed by the Holy Spirit which leads Him into the desert. This was wasteland which lay between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, an area 35 x 15 miles of yellow sand and crumbling limestone which reacted like a giant furnace.

When we read Jesus was tempted by the devil it is often for people to conjure up an image of some wild eyed creature with horns and a flaming mouth. What we need to recognise is an evil spirit coming upon us to try and influence us to do or think something which we know is wrong. It is no sin to be tempted, it is the giving in which is.

We know Jesus was meant to go through this ordeal by God to test His obedience and prove He would be worthy to carry out the mission God had in mind for Him, and if He had failed He could not have been our Saviour.

Jesus was very hungry because of His fasting and has the temptation to turn the stones, which were shaped like small loaves, into bread, and He knew God had bestowed upon Him the power to do so. In a short time later he would be turning water into wine.

Imagine you have no money and your child is very hungry and is crying for something to eat. You think of the supermarket close by with all its plentiful food and your husband says nip in and sneak a loaf out. You know the commandment, ‘you shall not steal’. How would you react to that situation; would you obey the Commandment or steal a loaf? Jesus faced a like situation, but knew also God had power to provide what was needed, so He proved His obedience. He was here being tempted to doubt God’s reliability.

We all have been in situations when we have to make a decision in some controversial matter and in our mind we know what we should do to act morally and honestly, but the alternative often seem more appealing. It is to our innermost thoughts and desires that the tempter comes into our minds. In today’s evil world we are confronted by so many temptations.

The lesson for us here is to be obedient as Jesus was by following all the teaching God has given us in the Bible. The temptation is to fail to trust in God’s goodness and sovereign control in a stressful or worrying situation relating to the things of this life; and the alternative is to try any quick fix to put things right – with the fix being inherently wrong.
For Jesus at this stage, using his miraculous powers for his own personal purposes would have been wrong. His heavenly Father could have provided any miracle that was needed – as happened with manna in the wilderness.

So we are being encouraged to trust God, who in His way and in His time can solve all our problems in a way that is best for us. Jesus was going to wait for God’s timing for ending His fast.

In the second temptation Jesus is led up a mountain from which much of the regions could be seen, and is tempted by the devil to forsake God and turn to his way. Come to me and just turn a blind eye, don’t be too strict fall in with the times. Jesus again quoted Scripture and said, ‘we must worship God alone’.

For Christ the temptation was to have all the world under his control, by submitting to the devil’s offer instead of His Father’s will; it was to let the end justify the means.

The same thing is happening today in our world where it is what happens when you believe nothing in itself is wrong as long as you believe yourself it is right. It is a case of all that matters is you have a good intention.

Jesus was not into being bribed and should we be; neither should we try and bribe people into coming to Church, nor should we soft peddle when they do come.

Sadly, at all levels in the Church men and women are fulfilling their own desires rather than accept the spiritual guidance God has given. To do this and to try and justify their actions, and in some cases ease their conscience if they have one, they also try to re-interpret Scripture in accordance with their actions, to convince themselves and others that the Bible is on their side.

The ultimate sin is to ignore God and to live as if His Word is not binding. The Bible is not a pick/n mix option. Always be careful when the Bible is quoted to justify some action which is not what you would expect, even from a pulpit.

The final temptation came when Jesus was led on to a wooden plateau at the top of the Temple where the invitation was to throw Himself off and land safe and well 450 feet below which would be such a spectacle to those seeing. It is a temptation to use sensational antics. But Jesus ministry was not to be marked by sensationalism, nor should ours be. I have attended services where it was more like a party game with the Minister acting as Master of ceremonies.

I have been told by a Vicar that we should make people happy. One Vicar had a comedian visit her to instruct her how to tell jokes to make her sermons appealing. Actually, if she wanted to be a comedian, she should have chosen the stage and not the pulpit.

I thought how revealing it was when she had a small congregation, and then I watched videos of the greatest preacher in Christian history, Billy Graham, who held Crusades being based solely on Biblical teaching, and to audiences of 80,000, regularly telling them they were all sinners and were in danger of going to hell if they did not repent, yet they flocked in their tens of thousands to hear him.

In verse 12 Jesus replies to the devil, ‘you shall not put the Lord your God to the test’. All of Jesus’ answers come from God’s Word, specifically from the book of Deuteronomy which was highly respected by the Jews in Jesus’ time. By quoting Scripture Jesus demonstrates the centrality of God’s Word.

In all His action and words, Jesus sets an example for us.

Sunday 3 March 2019

Psalm 33

The Bible gives us God’s spiritual programme for all mankind and states,

‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord’ and, ‘if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?’

There is no doubt that our nation today, as a nation, is adrift. We have lost our moorings and are like a ship without a rudder, compass, or even a destination.

Having owed much to Christian influence, which brought and kept this nation as one, Christianity is being wrecked and the ensuing collapse of Christian values has led to an unstable society in which family life is being destroyed, and a moral and spiritual vacuum has been created.

There has been a systematic attack on the Christian faith by ideologues in political circles, and by civil servants, to eradicate Christianity from public life. People who betray and dislike the culture which nurtured them, seeking to make it disappear, with national and local governmental bodies bullying it out of existence. This sustained attack is not made on other faiths however.

We face a decision of momentous proportions for the nation’s future, and in trying to come to a consensus have made ourselves a laughing stock to the world as our politicians in all parties wrestle with each other and seek to fulfil personal ambitions. There is a national sense of selfish greed which motivates people to seek that which gives most for themselves, irrespective of the common good. The only consensus vote arrived at in Parliament was the motion to grant themselves a pay rise.

Morally we are bankrupt, everyone does what is right in their own eyes, any mention of sin is ridiculed. The cry goes forth that morality cannot be imposed on people, but the people who cry this the loudest are the same ones who want to impose their agenda on society.

We have no inspirational leadership, and nominally have a Conservative government, but it is impossible to be conservative unless one knows what it they are trying to conserve. In fact, we have a government which is legislating for immorality.
Having re-defined marriage for political purposes, it destroyed the true meaning of marriage and family life, as a bedrock of society, making it of no more worth than any other form of relationship and decreeing a father is not considered necessary in the family.

The Humanist and LGBT activists have fought their cause with military precision and have had much success in setting new ethics; and doing their best to subvert the Christian religion throughout this nation.

Pornography as entertainment for all, unrestricted sex of all kind without any age restriction, children of tender age to be questioned as to their feelings of gender. Divorce is now to be legally made possible for all without fault being necessary. Children from the age of four upwards to be taught explicit sex lessons, without parental approval or right to withdraw. Men allowed on a whim to declare they want to be a woman without challenge, so threatening real women by being enabled to share facilities.

Every civilised nation throughout history has been based on Christian standards and belief, and the place of the Church in every nation has been an important factor. You need only look in the Bible to see the prominence God expected from his Church, yet how little the Church counts in the nation now.

Let us be honest and soul searching, do we have any doubt as to why that is? The Church is led by religious pygmies, many of whom have little firm belief in the authority of the Bible; the Bible has been cast aside as outdated and outmoded from within the Church, as Church leaders sympathise and cohort with those who wish to cast out moral absolutes.

When the Church rejects the Bible, so does the nation and the Church becomes just a place for a nice photograph after baptisms and weddings (we have already given away our taking of funerals to civil celebrants).

Do we really want a paper Church, one that exists for people when it is convenient to visit; one in which doctrine is modified to meet the culture of the age, and to facilitate multi faith worship; one n which doctrine is minimised. The Protestant Church was once known as one where doctrine was faithfully preached, the sacraments properly administered and discipline exercised.

Some may ask what is true doctrine. The answer is to view the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God; to assert the unique deity of the Lord Jesus Christ; his Virgin birth; his miraculous works; his atoning sacrificial substitutionary death on the Cross; his physical resurrection and ascension. This is the message of the true Church, a gathering of people who believe in these things. When you have people in the Church who do not so believe and do not accept such teaching, especially when such people are in high Office, you have division and desertion. Division is destructive and can only lead to falling attendances.

When Churches lose the beliefs that have held them together, they begin to fall apart and disintegrate. It is fatuous and irrational to suppose biblical injunctions which do not conform to modern attitudes can be reinterpreted to suit requirements.

Sadly, the great evangelical preachers have passed on; John Stott, Martyn Lloyd Jones, Billy Graham, and within Churches Ministers have been prepared to make new arrangements and adopt a give and take policy. We are mocked for taking a fundamental approach to the Bible, leaving the unbeliever to not understand why there is so much difference between Churches. Men fought and died to establish the authority of Scripture, their action should be recognised and honoured as an example to us all. God calls us to maintain witness.

The need has never been greater as we see the foundations crumbling, and the nation is crumbling because it has turned away from God. There is urgent need for the Church to return to the old faith, recovering purity of worship and pursuit of holiness. We cannot and have not, the right to ask God’s blessing on a Church which disputes the essentials of biblical faith.

There are issues on which the Church has a voice which should be heard, such as abortion, adoption, and the right of Christians to act according to their faith and beliefs. We will not always win our case, but we can be an awful nuisance. And to be fair, there are a lot of people who will take note of the Church for which they have respect even though they want no part of it.

The problem we face is that the Church just does not have a coherent policy or belief and far too many within are totally partial to society’s ways which are in fact their ways.

An Archbishop stated he had disturbed sleep at the thought of conversion therapy. ( a person who changed gender or sexuality realising their mistake wanting to revert back). His sleep didn’t appear to be disturbed when people were converted the other way.

Another bishop said conversion therapy meant something was wrong in order to be converted, but she didn’t think it was wrong to change gender. Does she ever read her bible?

Much of our food today has a preservative in to avoid it going rotten and perishing. Britain needs the Christian Church to act as a preservative to prevent the moral and spiritual situation perishing, as the nation drifts further away from Biblical Christianity.

What we have in the Church is a cultural war between the conservative wing and the liberal faction so that people don’t know what the Church believes. A whole generation has grown up whose minds have been polluted by liberal educators to whom the Bible is hate literature. Once schools had assemblies and religious education of the country’s heritage Christian faith, whereas now Christianity has become a minor subject subservient to ethnic faiths in places.

Activists have crawled into all the vulnerable occupations, the media, law, education, and are busily engaged in trying to eradicate Christianity from the public arena and destroy all vestige of our historic heritage.

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

We have to have faith and optimism. In every walk of life hard times come and require new energy, new initiative. One danger is that prominence is often given to the utterances of Bishops, who in turn make the most unfortunate of statements. The more they get involved in talking of climate change the more ridiculous they become. I don’t think it necessary to have Archbishops tearing their collar in some dramatic gesture which has no effect at all, and no one cares.

Each individual, (that is local) Church has to try and be true to the gospel, as written in Scripture, and when it finds statements being made, which it finds unacceptable, to say so and dissociate itself from them.

We urgently need to promote ourselves vigorously, advertise our presence. Why would major companies spend millions on advertisements if they didn’t produce results?

The Church is beginning to look more influenced by the world rather than the other way around. Nothing is more irrelevant than a Church which tries to be relevant. It sails whichever way the wind of public opinion is blowing, and eagerly follows prevailing popularity so as to be blown in the same direction as everybody else. The Church’s vocation is to sail into the wind and to call on others to its message.

When a Church does this and adopts the world’s agenda it so often ends up going further from truth, so rendering it useless to God and itself and everybody else.

Let us all join in prayer for the Churches in all denominations to return to the Bible, for all clergy to be faithful to their vows at ordination to banish all false doctrine and teach only what laid down in Scripture.

God shed his grace on America, let us pray for God to shed his grace on the United Kingdom that we may be blessed with him being our God and Lord.