Saturday 27 April 2019

JOHN 20 V 19/31

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.

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 also said He was giving them the Holy Spirit in which they could forgive people’s sins, or if necessary to refuse to do so. It is from this passage that the Churches of Catholic persuasion, Roman or Anglican, claim authority to pronounce absolution. This is contrary to Scripture which teaches that only God can give forgiveness, and there is nothing in the Bible that I can find which supports priestly absolution.

Every Christian can seek forgiveness from God directly, but if we are considering wanting to make a confession of sins and seeking assurance, then for good order and discipline one could reasonably state a priest is the person to approach rather than just any member of the Church. I have known instances where people have met for study groups and during the meeting been invited and encouraged to speak out on personal troubles, which is quite seriously unwise as there is no moral demands on friends to keep confidentiality. There is no doubt that by talking out a worrying matter, it can ease one’s mind, but a priest (or ordained minister) is the one who should be approached, bound as he is not to reveal any confidence

What Jesus is meaning is that when the Apostles were convinced a person had truly repented of their sins and accepted Jesus as Saviour, they could be assured God had forgiven them; but if as on a later occasion when Peter was not assured of a person’s sincerity, they could not be given assurance of forgiveness

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 fellow 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. How many times have you heard people telling of having seen tears fall from a statue, or of people being touched on the forehead and then falling to the floor in convulsions at some charismatic meeting?

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?

Of course the liberal lobby in the Church today would prefer to go with the doubters and suggest it was a theoretical and spiritual resurrection rather than a physical one. The Bible, God’s divinely given Word, is sadly challenged too often. Is God not to be trusted?

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.

John ends his chapter telling there were so many other stories he could have told about Jesus and His life and works, but he has obviously selected those with the greatest spiritual significance and for the prime purpose that all who read his gospel may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.

Jesus has passed on the 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. 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.

.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.

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. In today’s world there are wonderful opportunities through the internet.

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.

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.

Far too many submit to the universal belief that all will go to heaven so we don’t need to believe Jesus died just to save those who accept Him as Saviour. God however allows us all free choice, but we will have to live with the choice we make, and one day those who doubt that a personal commitment to accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour is necessary, will have a consequence too awful to contemplate. .

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.

In the absence of any person with sufficient charisma (and courage) in the Church nationally to exert the nation to worship, each individual Church has to be evangelistic.

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.

When you receive Communion this Sunday you are part of a tradition which has been passed down from that Upper Room. Many people have tried, and are now trying harder than ever to take Christianity out of public life, but while empires have come and gone, the Christian Church has survived, and millions and millions of people have found their lives enriched by their faith, and the words of Jesus are still relevant, ‘the gates of hell will not prevail against it’. There may be resistance in this ands other Western nations, but in Africa, China and beyond there is massive turning to the Lord Jesus. Be encouraged by them and may God bless all your efforts.

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Fake Christianity

Any person reading article this will have heard about fake news, let me introduce fake Christianity, American style.

An article recently appeared in the New York Times which at first puzzled me. I have heard President Trump give his opinion, and other Americans of similar views of this newspaper, so I wondered if it was a spoof. In view of the fact that it was reporting the beliefs of a prominent Minister of the Christian Church, I accept it is true reporting.

This being so, I am amazed that anyone could hold a position in the Church in what is regarded as such a great Christian nation. The views are shameful for any person to hold and at the same time claim to be a Christian, and also bring shame, ridicule and contempt upon the Church. Added to this, the woman concerned is President and Professor at a Seminary and has held the office of Professor at Yale Divinity School. Therefore, some misplaced credibility may be given by gullible people it being placed in such an internationally read paper.

I have heard preachers at the large Evangelical Churches bemoaning the decline in Christianity in the United States, but when you read of a Professor and Minister of the Church deny the basic doctrines of the faith in cheap and mocking tones, one can understand why. Assuming then the article is a serious factual one, consider some of the points made.

Firstly, the orthodox, authoritative belief of the Church through the ages was based on the teaching of the Apostles who taught ‘all that Jesus commanded them’. This was that Jesus was born of a Virgin named Mary by the Holy Spirit; He was sent by God to perform tasks given by God and so performed miraculous deeds; was put to death on the Cross to enable forgiveness of sins of all people who accepted Him as their Saviour; that on the third day after was resurrected and spent fifty days with His Apostles training them to carry out His commands and make disciples, then ascended back to God. The Church He created was and born on the day of Pentecost.

All such beliefs by this Professor of Divinity, (some divinity) have been rejected. The Virgin Birth is described as a
bizarre claim, tending to imply sexuality is considered sinful, leading to centuries of oppression of women. ear in mind she was Chair of Gender, women and Sexuality studies at Yale University.

The veracity of the gospels is challenged and people who claim to know what happened are delusional. An empty tomb is just a symbol of love not being killed. The fact that not all gospels are exactly the same is more worthy of belief.
Any experienced lawyer will confirm that if all witnesses are speaking as one, there is probably a carve up.If a congregation was later asked to describe a service they attended together, no one would state the same, yet no one would doubt their presence.

She does not believe God is all powerful, omnipotent omniscient being. God is not a God of Easter, but one connected to the world by love justice and mercy.The idea of a father who ‘sends his kid to the Cross’ to be able to forgive sins is nuts. Easter is just a triumph of love in the midst of suffering. Belief in the physical resurrection is seen as a form obsession and a pretty wobbly faith. Faith is stronger if someone was yet to find the body of Jesus Christ and it wouldn’t mean Christianity is a lie.

She considers belief in life after death to be driven by selfish motive of believing a good God will reward with a stick of candy in heaven. There is not of course any such place as hell, we have to live a life driven by love and belief that love is true and hell is for those who reject love. You see how emotionalism has taken over reality.

Finally, the inevitable. The great Reformation initiated by Martin Luther who broke down religious structures and created different forms of communications and authorities suggests a reason for a new reformation, with Christianity becoming the turning point for wrestling with climate change, levels of violence and naturally gender oppression. She sees a spiritual crisis and something terribly wrong.

I fully agree with the last sentence; something is terribly wrong when a person with such views who is prepared to replace the Cross of Christ and His Resurrection with trendy vacuous social issues, can be let loose to instruct and guide others in false biblical teaching. All this makes the devil look tolerant.

You can imagine motivations in such a new reformation. All people the same, women and men being identified having no different characters, free sex conditions, same sex marriage, discard the Bible and ban all evangelical preachers.

May God bless America and protect from such clerics.

Saturday 20 April 2019

Easter Day

This Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus as countless millions have done so over the centuries, but we face a battle to proclaim our message as secular extremists try to create a spiritual vacuum. Our message is that Jesus Christ is the One who died on a Cross for the forgiveness of our sins and rose again on the third day. That is unique feat which no other religion can match.

The story begins with Mary Magdelene, the one who loved Jesus dearly because of the help He had given her, being last at the Cross and first at the tomb crying bitterly. She ran for Peter who with John ran to the tomb, and John being the younger got their first, but he let Peter enter the tomb being the stronger character. They realised Jesus must have risen as He had foretold, for there were no clothes present.

We notice here two believers, one gentle and reserved as John, whilst Peter was always more impulsive and decisive, each revealing their devotion in different ways. There is room for all characters in the Church.

The men left the scene, but Mary stayed, she loved Jesus when He was alive and then was too grieved to leave. Mary was the last person to stay with Jesus at the Cross and first to go to His tomb. This was a testimony to her loyalty for none of the men stayed. She remained sobbing, but she was rewarded when she became the first person to meet the risen Lord. We see that those who are loyal to Christ are honoured by Him, and those who are most true will have most communion with Him

As she wept, she saw two angels in white, and they asked why she was weeping. She said it was because they had taken away the Lord, and she did not know where they had laid him. She then turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.

Jesus asked her, why she was weeping and who was she looking for. Supposing him to be the gardener, she told him she was looking for the Lord and wanted to find his body so she could take it away. It was rather optimistic and unrealistic for to expect herself, a frail woman, to carry a dead man’s body any distance. Jesus the identified Himself and told her to go and tell His disciples, so making her to become the first Christian witness.

According to the other gospel accounts, other women besides Mary went to the tomb early that morning.It is sometimes claimed that the Bible accounts cannot be true because of variations in the gospels; that in fact only offers credibility. If everyone here this morning was given a piece of paper and told to go home and write an account of what happened from the beginning of the service until the time you left I guarantee when you later compared all the writings no two would be the same, yet no one could doubt you were here. Any lawyer will confirm that when two witnesses offer an identical statement there is an immediate suspicion they have colluded.

This is what Easter is all about, the real spiritual message that Jesus rose from the dead, not the money making enterprise it has become. Easter is celebrated to remind us that when our days on this earth are over, we have the assurance we shall live with our Lord if we have accepted Him as Saviour. The resurrection is the foundation of Christianity.

Whilst there is much about our faith that is respected by people who are not practising Christians, such as being forgiven of sin, hearing that God is love (very popular), but they think that is a free for all without any commitment. They will come to Church for a baptism and make all sorts of promises simply because it is a necessary requirement, but they don’t take things seriously or literally. Things are not made any easier by the irresponsible liberals within the Church who themselves question much of the faith.

If someone had said a hundred years ago that we could sit in our homes and by watching a box in the corner of the room show events then happening on the other side of the world; or that by taking a small handset pressing a few buttons you could speak to someone in any part of the world they would have been deemed to be insane. Yet it happens every day by man’s efforts, and we still question what the Almighty God can achieve.

If Easter had not happened; if Jesus had not been raised from the dead, then we have no faith. Christianity rises and falls on the resurrection of Jesus. This has been proclaimed down the ages and if not true, the Bible writers would have lied and millions of people would have made great sacrifices in the cause of the faith in vain. Why would educated men like Paul, and down to earth fishermen, lie when they had nothing to gain by doing so? Paul had a brilliant mind, one of the finest minds of his day and was a determined opponent of Christianity, yet God convinced him and in consequence Paul suffered very much for the sake of the gospel.

Through centuries that have followed, brilliant men and women have experienced the same fellowship and power in their lives, in addition to peace of mind. They were not simple minded people, but some of the greatest scholars of their day who have forsaken the chance of earning great wealth in other professions, in order to serve God and His Church.

If Jesus had not been raised there would be nor forgiveness, we would have no future, but the evidence is overwhelming in favour. First century witnesses and documents tell. We have testimony from men present at that time that the resurrection of Jesus was real, objective and physical, This is what the Church has always believed in over two thousand years of Christian witness that has sustained the hearts of millions.

The Apostles Creed does not say I believe in the forgiveness of sins and the spiritual resurrection of Jesus, it says I believed in the resurrection of the body; the physical, tangible bodily resurrection.

After the resurrection we find the Apostles preaching openly and fearlessly, and suffering violently for doing so. Men do not invent stories to be put in prison and get beaten up, or hung on a cross like Peter.

When the stone was rolled away, it let not only Jesus out, but let Him into our hearts. The resurrection happened 2,000 years ago, but the risen Lord Jesus has continued to meet with those who seek him ever since

Let us always remember that Jesus never changes, He is the same yesterday to today for ever, and will take care of all who believe and put their trust in Him.

You are welcome to make a personal comment

Thursday 18 April 2019

It is the night before the Crucifixion. Jesus is with His Apostles at the Last Supper and is spending His last hours before going to the Cross.

In a few hours He will be dead so He is telling them He is going to leave them and they will be left to face life without Him. He then concludes with a prayer, which makes this one of the outstanding passages in the New Testament, telling His followers then, and by extension to those who follow Him through the ages, what they will have to face as Christians.

For Jesus, life was life with a climax and that was the Cross. When He spoke of the Cross as His glorification it had a deep significance. It is one of the facts of history again and again, that it was in death that some people’s greatness was recognised and they would never ever know how they influenced others.

I once took a funeral of a young man who virtually gave up his life by the way he lived, suffering from acute depression and a feeling of achieving nothing. Tributes were paid in the most sincere and outstanding words by men of his profession who went to considerable effort to do so, and it was sad to realise the young man never knew how much he was valued. We see this in the life of religious figures and in the world of music and art.

The Cross was the glory of Jesus because it was the completion of the work God had sent Him to do. God had given Him authority over every man and woman on earth; He had come to show the love of God and what He was prepared to suffer for mankind. In His glory He brings glory to God, and if He had not gone to the Cross, it would have meant His work was not completed; to stop short would have suggested there was a limit to that love. Jesus showed there was nothing the love of God was not prepared to do and suffer for us.

The Bible makes it clear that Jesus could have escaped the Cross by never going near Jerusalem. The Cross was proof that men could do their worst yet He could rise above their worst, and the Cross would not be the end, for the resurrection was to follow.

In verse 6, Jesus says ‘I have revealed you to those whom you have given me’. Jesus is here thinking of particularly of the Apostles with Him in the Upper Room; those who turned and followed Him in His ministry; those ‘kept the Word’, meaning they were obedient to the faith. But this also equates to all who would one day follow Him.

Then Jesus goes on to say He was not praying for the world, but for those who God had given Him. Jesus is teaching us that we are rescued from the world. The world means all who are opposed to God’s standards and way of life; those who live without reference to God.

This means there are two types of people in the world, which the gospel makes clear over and over again, those who are loyal and obedient to God and those who are not Jesus was always quite unequivocal, that we are either for Him or against Him, there is no neutrality or sitting on the fence. Jesus is firmly black or white in how you respond to Him

It is like being on a mountain top; you can keep to the laid down path and be safe, or make your own way which will likely end in disaster. Jesus spoke of two roads, one leading to eternal life, the other to destruction, so we have to decide our course in life.

Sometimes we feel buffeted by the storms of life, the stresses and strains, the problems of work and family, and personal relationships. We ask will I be strong enough to do the work God wants me to do. Jesus is praying here for all who believe in Him, and particularly for the difficulties to be faced.

In the Bible names mean not only how we are addressed, but also refer to people’s character. When Jesus says that God will protect us by the power of His Name, He means the power associated with God’s character that He will keep us and watch over us and guard us spiritually from falling from Him. The Bible makes it clear we need to obey the Word of God

In verse 11 Jesus prays that God will leave His disciples in the world and will protect them from the evil one, because like Him, they do not act to the world’s standards. He wants His disciples to be active in the world. God will rescue us from people who in rebellion are opposed to Him, but that does not mean we should gather in holy huddles out of contact from others, who need to hear about Jesus from us.

There are of course, religious orders that lock themselves away from the outside world. They are truly dedicated men and women who sincerely believe they are serving God. The kind of Christianity however, which shuts itself off in a monastery or convent, would not have seemed to Jesus to be Christianity at all. The kind of Christianity which finds the essence of the Christian life in prayer and meditation in a life secluded from the world, would have seemed to Jesus to be a sad version of the faith He died to bring to people.

It was Jesus insistence to be in the hurly burly of life that we must live out our faith. Christianity was never meant to withdraw men and women from ordinary people. It does not release us from problems, but equips us to deal with them. It offers not always peace, but triumph.

Jesus is saying He wants His people to be in the midst of the world, mixing with non believers. Just as a lifeboat is of no use set permanently polished in a station, but is needed to go out and rescue people trapped in stormy seas, so we need to be rescuing those dear to us, trapped in the perils of life in this world. Jesus was saying His people are not meant to be little ships which stay in harbour, although it is much safer, that is not what ships are for, they are meant to be on the high seas.

Jesus prayed for the unity of His disciples, and that they would be one as He and His Father were one. There can be no divisions between Christians. If there are, the cause of Christianity is harmed and the prayer of Jesus is rejected. Jesus never considered different denominations which would be criticising one another, or considered one denomination could claim exclusive access. Jesus prayed we would be one, and there is no prayer of Jesus which has been so hindered from being answered by Christians

Jesus warned us of the hostility we face from a hostile world which hates Christians. If you find that hard to accept, just consider the violence, even murder, of Christians in Pakistan, Nigeria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia.

On a more subtle scale, in Western countries where orthodox preaching risks facing prosecution.You may say well this is England it can’t happen here. Consider so called intellectuals,to whom the Bible is a form of hate literature, arty types, who have shown their dislike and contempt for the Christian faith.In fact, a Court tried to punish a man for just preaching from the King James version of the Bible.

We have people showing quite manic attitude to Christianity. Now we have our faith under threat from politicians and public servants who want to ignore Christian festivals, ban Biblical teaching. ‘Christian Concern’, the organisation which legally represents Christians suffering from secular repression, has undertaken many cases.

The world hates biblical truth, and if you take a stand publicly for the truth of the gospel, you will not be popular and are likely to be called narrow minded at best, and a bigot at worst.

Finally Jesus prayed that His people would be made holy by the truth, set apart for a purpose, and have the character necessary for he task. If we are Christians set apart through the death of Christ we must go into the world with the Word of God.

Remember Jesus words and be encouraged, for He has told us that we are protected by the Word of God who gives us the strength to be the kind of people He longs for us to be.

Wednesday 17 April 2019

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil Isaiah,5v20

There is a bleak moral landscape engulfing this country where there is no ultimate right and wrong, where truth is what the activists state it is, where sincerity of belief in Christian living is seen as a way of life to be rejected, and where self-fulfilment and sexuality of all kind are to be fully accepted and approved of and promoted. Such views are not just simply wrong, they are dangerous; they create a society that becomes increasingly more immoral, faithless, unjust and meaningless.

If all Christians do not stand up against this uncompromising tide of bitterness against all tradition of religious belief, we shall soon be swept away and sunk into oblivion.
We who are Christians must declare our faith as boldly as other faiths (and none) so commendably declare their belief so that we too can influence society.

We must oppose wrong views. We must seek to promote a Christian way of life that offers life and hope in this world and the next and which does so in an understanding manner.

Above all, we must protect children from the vicious aggressive teaching being enforced in schools without parental knowledge and consent. It is outrageous that this government falsely calling itself Conservative, should be able to overrule parents to promote the agenda they are doing.

Rather than promoting herself leaving Church every Sunday, the Prime Minister should promote the Christian faith the Church is meant to portray. A study of what is happening in our schools has been highlighted this week, which this Christian(?) Prime Minister endorses.

A school has sacked a Christian member of staff after she posted online protests against transgender teaching at her son's primary.Kristie Higgs, 43, was a pastoral assistant at a Gloucestershire academy but a disciplinary panel there decided that she had used language which demeaned its gay, lesbian and transgender pupils.

Earlier last year, her child’s Church of England primary school sent out a letter informing parents it was adopting the ‘No Outsiders’ programme, which challenges the Christian understanding of family and openly promotes LGBT lifestyles to children as young as four.

After attending a meeting at the primary school to find out more about the programme, Kristie decided to express her concerns on Facebook. She shared two posts, the first beginning, “Please read this they are brainwashing our children! Please sign this petition, they have already started to brainwash our innocent wonderfully created children and it’s happening in our local primary school now.” Kristie urged her friends to sign a nationwide petition opposing the government’s proposals to make Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) compulsory for children as young as four. The issue was subsequently debated in parliament.

In her second post, Kristie re-shared an article on the rise of transgender ideology in children's books in American schools, adding that: “This is happening in our primary schools now.”

Both posts were visible only to her friends. Nevertheless, they were reported to the school where she worked - Farmor's School in Fairford, Gloucestershire, and following an investigation, Kristie was dismissed for gross misconduct

A question which first arises in mind is why is a Church of England school teaching PRIMARY children such ideology.

Secondly, why are all the bishops who are so fond of sending letters to the press about foodbanks and supporting the European Union, now so quiet when one of its schools is teaching anti Christian lessons? Why are the evangelicals not speaking out; is it in consideration of careers

Why was it necessary to let a group of Muslim mothers to be the only voice of similar protest at a school in Birmingham?

Are Christians to be the only people in society to be left victims of bigoted activists? Kirstie is being sacked not for any misdeed at her work, but for merely having a Christian belief. Can anyone imagine these head teachers sacking a Muslim assistant for expressing her Islamic faith? They wouldn’t have such courage.

But Kirstie is not alone, and neither is this incident an isolated one. Such explicit sexual teaching is being given to children from the age of four upwards at schools all over the nation, indoctrinating them in the belief that all relationships are normal and valid. All parents ought to fully enquire into what is happening in our schools. Some of our head teachers and school boards are acting in a way which make totalitarian regimes look tolerant.

We are witnessing the nation of France now uniting and joining together in looking to their Catholic faith, a once deeply committed Catholic country turned secular following a disastrous time of following deluded social ideas. It took a devastating fire at one of the world’s greatest Cathedrals to do this. Let us pray that we can in this country come to our senses without such a tragedy being necessary to wake us up.

This country was equally committed as a Christian nation, but whilst non Christian bodies are allowed to speak with total freedom, Christians are not permitted even within their private correspondence to utter a single word against the prevailing culture.

I read a bishop’s remarks made in the House of Lords that the Church was working with the LGBT lobby as to how the Church could more readily accommodate homosexuality in its teaching. Perhaps the same bishop should seek their guidance on how to organise an agenda which dominates our schools, media, and legal system, as well as the Church of course.

Friday 12 April 2019

Sunday is Palm Sunday the beginning of the most holy week in the Church’s calendar

Jesus is about to make the final stage of His life’s journey which will end at the Cross. He plans it with great detail, sending two of His Apostles to arrange for the donkey on which He will ride into Jerusalem.

In the course of the next few days He would celebrate the Last Supper with His Apostles, see one of them betray Him, face a mock trial and be sentenced to death, led to the Cross and crucified.

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, shouts of Hosanna, which means ‘save us’, 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, 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’.

He could have slipped quietly into the city as He would normally have done as He usually like to avoid attention, but on this occasion although He knew a price was on His head, chose to ride in like a King entering his capital city in triumph attracting maximum notice. Such was His open defiance. All this was in fulfilment of a 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.

This triumphal entrance was deliberately caused by 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 timetable for Him which made the Jews alter their planned timetable. Jesus was in full control of the situation.

This was the feast of the Passover, so revered as a memory of when God led the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt, and when most people would be in the city. Jesus will fulfil the purpose for which He came when He will surrender His life in order that we may have eternal life.

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 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.

As Christians we should ask ourselves are we following Him for the right reasons; do we realise the sacrifice He made for us personally?

If Jesus had been quietly killed in an obscure road He would never have achieved His purpose, which was to be seen as the Son of God. Instead many saw Him ride into Jerusalem; be falsely accused and tried and finally put to death on the Cross.

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. What is our response as we ponder the Road to Jerusalem?

We may reject God’s Son as many did in Jerusalem. 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. Everyone has to take responsibility for the way they respond to the Lord.

There are many people who say they ‘believe in Jesus’, but that is not enough; the devil believes in Jesus. Down the ages people have believed He lived, but that is not enough.

I read a story of a Minister counselling a couple with marriage 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.

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.

A famous actor attended a meeting and was asked to recite a piece of literary art. He offered to say the 23rd Psalm if an elderly preacher present would do so after he had finished. The actor recited the psalm with much dramatic emphasis, as you see those actors doing so on religious programmes on television. The preacher then recited in a rough broken voice and when he had finished received prolonged applause. When someone asked the actor why he thought that was so, the actor said, ‘I know the psalm, he knew the shepherd’. Do you know the shepherd ?

For so many people the Cross has little relevance beyond being a fashion accessory. They may make an odd mistake, but at heart are good and to suggest they are sinful and need forgiving is a step too far. The message of the cross is that we must humble ourselves and surrender to God which is an affront to many people.

We learn from this account of history that we have to do more than just pay a passing visit.

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 Him as our Lord and Saviour.

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. Sometime 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

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.

Why not on this Palm Sunday morning be at Church and hail him as your matchless King. And God bless you.

Saturday 6 April 2019

The gospel passage for this Sunday comes from the 12th Chapter of John,v.1/8
A dinner party was held to honour Jesus who had just raised Lazarus from being dead. So, there was a man just back from the dead, sharing a table with a man about to die.

The party was being held at the home of Lazarus and his two sisters Mary and Martha at a small village on the outskirts of Jerusalem, where Jesus would be going to within a few hours to give up his life on the Cross, six days hence.

Mary had acquired from somewhere a very expensive jar of perfume, it was an oil extracted from a plant grown in India called nard. In order to understand the value in our world today, it would cost thousands of pounds.

Mary was sitting by the feet of Jesus when she began to pour the oil on his feet, and the whole room became filled with an intoxicating fragrance. When Mary began to massage them, this was considered to be above all convention and normal standards of custom and decency, and she even went further and wiped with her hair.

Mary was not concerned about what people thought of her, she just wanted to show her devotion to Jesus.

John tells that Judas who was a form of treasurer for the Apostles became indignant at the wasteful extravagance of Mary, but the other gospel writers state it was not only Judas, but some of the other Apostles as well, for the perfume was worth a full year’s wages.

For Mary it was not wasteful, for she loved Jesus dearly and foresaw what was to happen to him. Any one who has ever sat by the side of someone they loved, and knew they were in the throes of death, would fully understand the feelings of Mary, that nothing would be too much to give that person.

She went to that party for the sole purpose of serving Jesus, the food and all else was incidental. What she did for Jesus was both personal and profound, with a deep feeling of love which only those who have been through can know.

Jesus revealed his feelings by acknowledging Mary’s act, and rebuking the claim that there was anything wrong in what she did.
There are plenty of people today who never go near a Church, but keep on telling how any Church money should go to the poor; if they are so concerned there is nothing to stop them giving themselves.

Mary was not ashamed nor afraid to display her feelings for Jesus; real love cannot be explained, only felt.We must remember at the time of this incident, women would not mix with men, each would have defined roles, the kitchen bedroom being the only rooms where both met.

What a lesson for all Christians to day when the world is so much against us, and particularly those weak-willed Church members who like to hide the fact they attend Church. How a person feels inside, is often revealed on the outside.

There things about worship for all of us to note and reflect on. In our services now we see widely different attitudes and responses. Some people are like a driver going on to a forecourt for petrol, filling up and driving away after paying by card at the machine, they just pop in and out of the service. Others like a lot of pomp and ceremony, but tend to be less concerned with having bible teaching.Yet others like singing, music and a bible lesson.

I find it amusing how people who sing and clap in church are mocked widely from both in and out of Church as ‘happy clappy’.
Some are the same people who go to a football match singing their heads off, waving their arms about whilst wearing coloured outfits, and go mad when a player does what he is paid massively for doing, scoring a goal sometimes with an outstretched foot and accidentally.

Mary realized the great privilege that was hers. No woman would normally be allowed near a Rabbi,s foot, but obviously Jesus wanted Mary to be with him, and she knew her deepest need for God was to be near Jesus. She wanted the teaching Jesus could offer, how sad so few want to hear such teaching, and how shameful that in many Churches and bible studies, it is denied and false teaching is given to meet the pleasure and satisfaction of society. There is always the temptation to separate the sacred from the secular, but for a true Christian they are inseparable. We cannot compartmentalize our lives into the sacred and ordinary, for God there is no division, he uses the ordinary to reveal the sacred.

When you approach the Lord’s table to take the bread and wine, recognize this meal is set apart as a reminder for us, all our life is a thanksgiving for what Jesus did for us on the Cross. We come to meet with Jesus, and if that is really what we mean, he will meet with us.

Concern was raised at the expense Mary gave away and we hear all the time the Church should sell its properties and give the money to the poor, said by people who would never give anything to anyone, however poor the person was. Just malevolence, not anything religious.

Finally, one great truth. There are somethings which we will never do unless we do them when we can. So often we put off doing some kind gesture, and it never gets done and we live to regret it.

How often when a person dies, we say if only I had said how much I loved them; or how much I wished I could have gone to see them but didn’t. Too often someone we really loved at heart but didn’t tell them dies, or when we were not as kind as we could have been, and a life is spent in remorse and it is said if I could only let him/her know how much I appreciated them.
There is a time for doing and saying and when lost, are lost for ever.

Wednesday 3 April 2019

'Do not be ashamed of the gospel; guard the good deposit entrusted to you'. (Paul writing to Timothy in 2 Timothy Chapter 1)

There is a compulsory demand on all engaged in ministry in the Church of England to attend Safeguarding Courses, and failure to do so means being barred from exercising their ministry.

Apart from it being a matter of real irritation to me personally, I consider it a gross waste of time, money (spent on literature and salaries for those managing) and energy which could be more usefully employed for the more important task of Safeguarding the Gospel, for which is our mission.

We must assume that any man or woman entering ministry must have at least half a brain, which would therefore mean they could understand what conduct is illegal or improper. If therefore they act in a way which offends in either way, it means some form of punishment. The proper course would then be a matter of reporting to the Police, who would investigate and institute proceedings if thought proper. They are the proper authority and most competent to act.

However, anyone who thinks holding mandatory courses is going to stop any incidents, are either extremely naïve or totally foolish.

Reverting back to safeguarding the gospel, our priority, it seems anomalous to hold courses stressing moral conduct when men, and now women, in the highest Offices of the Church are supporting, encouraging, endorsing that which is in complete contradiction of the gospel. Creating liturgy welcoming transgenderism, which contradicts God’s order of creation; calling on clergy to encourage to promote such. Campaigning for same sex marriage and calling for biblical teaching of marriage to be abandoned.

The Bible states, ‘do not be ashamed of the gospel, it is the power of God for salvation’. But the Church from the very highest level is ashamed; it leaves a group of Muslim mothers to protest at the indoctrination of young children, a process being ordered by the government without parents being allowed to object. It is the church which should be protesting loud and vigorously.
The Bible also states, ‘guard the gospel’. Jesus Christ created the Church and gave his Apostles to take into the world all he had taught and commanded them to do. We exist for that purpose, and anything else is superfluous.

Bible illiteracy is at an all time high, even within the Church, members knowledge and understanding is not all that it should be.
We who are ordained vowed at our ordination service to banish all false doctrine and preach only Scripture which leads to people’s salvation; let us be faithful and do so.

We should note the words of Paul when writing to the Galatian Church. “I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God who called you to himself through the living mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the gospel but is not the gospel at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or an angel from heaven who preaches a different gospel than the one we preached to you”.

God gave Himself in Christ for us. God took the initiative because we are all sinners who cannot save ourselves and Jesus died on the cross, so that we could be saved. He died and laid on himself God’s judgement for all the sins of those who would believe on Him.
He is the only way. There is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. When we accept that sacrifice, the Holy Spirit of God comes into our lives and changes us from within.

This the gospel we should be guarding and proclaiming.This the Gospel of Jesus Christ which must constantly be guarded. We have the responsibility to make sure that the message of the cross continues to go forth and obey the last words to his Apostles, which are the foundation on which the Church is built.

‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, and behold I am with you always to the end of the age’.