Important Information.

STOP PRESS: My first book (the first in a planned series!) is now available in paperback format. :-)
It is being published by AfJ Publications, Glasgow, and sells for £8.99 (for 230 pages). Initially, copies may only be ordered from me (p&p not included - but they may be collected in person!). Please contact me at
author@minister.com
The book is, of course, still available in its Kindle edition.


You'll find it at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B009EG6TJW where you may read some sample chapters!

If you haven't got a Kindle (I haven't!), there is a FREE app at
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_pc_mkt_lnd?docId=1000423913

I am also considering producing an audio edition. Any feedback as to how welcome this might be would be appreciated, as it would involve a great deal of time and effort!

30% of the profits go to support the persecuted church.




Friday, 31 October 2014

"Hallowe'en" - is it an acceptable Christian celebration?

"Ghoulies and Ghosties, And Long Leggedy Beasties, And things that go Bump in the night"

I don't know the origin of that well-known phrase - but it does seem appropriate for a post for October 31st!   But the question in the heading is a serious one.   It has concerned me, for many years, that not only do many parents, who would claim to be followers of the Lord Jesus, the Christ, dress up their children, on this evening in the year, in weird and wonderful costumes and, in some cases, permit them to go out knocking on other people's doors, hoping for a reward of sweets or cash; but that even some congregations and fellowships that bear the name of the Christ, put on a special "Hallowe'en" party for their children at this time of the year!

Are they all wrong to act in this way?  Or is it perfectly acceptable - and I am just an old fuddy-duddy?

Well, let's look at the topic.  First of all, note the way in which I spell the word.  That apostrophe stands for the letter 'v', so the word is really "Halloweven" or, more fully, "Hallowed (Holy) Evening".  Now, that certainly makes it sound as if it could be a Christian festival.  Au contraire, mes amis (I am in France at the moment!).  Halloween and its practices are Romanist and Pagan in origin.  “In its strictly religious aspect, this occasion is known as the vigil of Hallowmas of All Saint’s Day, Nov. 1, observed by the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. Pope Gregory III (731 to 741 AD) assigned this date for celebrating of the feast when he consecrated a chapel in Saint Peter’s basilica to all the saints. Gregory IV extended the feast to the entire Roman Catholic church in 834 AD” “There is little doubt that the Roman Catholic church sought to eliminate or supplant the Druid festival of the dead by introducing the alternative observance of All Saint’s Day on Nov. 1.” (Encyclopedia Britannica).

However, the popular secular observance of Halloween, falling on the night of Oct. 31, is derived from the rights of the Druids celebrating the day of Samhain, the so called “lord of death”, when the “lord of death” called together the souls of the wicked who had died during the past year. The theme of harvest, which runs through modern Halloween celebrations, comes from both the old Druidic celebrations and the old Roman festivals in honor of Pomona, goddess of fruit, brought to Britain during the Roman occupation.  This is the reason why an apple is a traditional 'gift' to those who go around knocking on doors and demanding "trick or treat"! 

Of course, the “trick or treat” concept implies the threat of force and violence. Surely, to teach children such attitudes and concepts is completely contrary to the teachings of the Lord Jesus, the Christ.   The very word "trick" implies "deceit".   Do we really wish to encourage our children to be deceitful?   Is there not enough of that particular commodity going around already?

Paul advised some of the early followers of Jesus to "... have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them." (Eph.5:11).  He told another group to "Abstain from all appearance of evil." (I Thess.5:22; emphasis added).  He advised young Timothy that "... the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons."  (I Tim.4:1).

Perhaps it is time for all who truly love the Lord Jesus, and who have received his salvation from sin through the shedding of His precious blood at Calvary, to take a stand on this issue.  Perhaps, next year, more congregations and fellowships will do what I know some already practice - a "Festival of Light" as an alternative to the secular Halloween activities.  Perhaps Christian parents will seek to instil the love of God into their children's hearts and minds, rather than the symbols of death that are so common at this time of year.

By the way, today is also celebrated in the Reformed (Protestant) Church - particularly the German Lutheran Church - as Reformation Day. This commemorates Martin Luther’s nailing of his ninety-five theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg, on October 31, 1517, thus provoking a debate that culminated finally in what we now call the Protestant Reformation.

Now there might be a better cause to celebrate!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Euthanasia - gone berserk!

I have never tried to hide my total opposition to both abortion and euthanasia (aka assisted suicide/dying).  I have signed petitions; written to MPs and MSPs; published posts on this very blog; and written letters to various newspapers.   I thought that I was fully aware of most of the issues involved.  However, I have just read an extremely disturbing report on LifeNews.com   I have been unable to confirm the report but, if this is true, then the UK Justice system has, in my opinion, reached a new low.  I have edited the following for the sake of comparative brevity.

"Nancy Fitzmaurice, born blind with hydrocephalus, meningitis and septicaemia, could not walk, talk, eat or drink, the Mirror reported.  Her health was so poor she required 24-hour care and was fed, watered and medicated by tube at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital. Her health deteriorated and, as she grew, she would scream in agony for hours despite being given morphine and ketamine.

Her mother, Charlotte Fitzmaurice Wise, knew the pain her daughter was suffering was too much for the 12-year-old to bear. She deserved to be at peace and had the right to die, knew her heartbroken mother, who had given up work as a nurse to be with her. (emphases added).   …“The light from her eyes is now gone and is replaced with fear and a longing to be at peace. “Today I am appealing to you for Nancy as I truly believe she has endured enough. For me to say that breaks my heart.  …Her application was granted immediately, setting a precedent. It is the first time a child breathing on her own, not on life support and not suffering a terminal illness has been allowed to die in the UK. (emphasis in the original).

The judge praised Wise for her “love and devotion” towards her daughter… which was shown by her fight to kill Nancy. The judge ruled that she had no quality of life anymore, and therefore, she should be killed by refusing to give her any food or water until she died. It took her 14 days to die. Wise claimed that she wanted to end her daughter’s suffering and give her death with dignity, but she chose to do that by making her daughter suffer a slow, agonizing, painful death. How does that make any sense? (emphasis added).

Dehydration and starvation is horrible for a person to endure. The body is about 60 percent water, and under normal conditions, an average person will lose about a quart of water each day by sweating and breathing and another one to three quarts by urinating. In the heat, and under more difficult physical conditions, that amount increases.  If it’s not replaced over time and dehydration becomes severe, cells throughout the body will begin to shrink as water moves out of them and into the blood stream, part of the body’s efforts to keep the organs perfused in fluid. “All the cells will shrink,” said Jeffrey Berns, president-elect of the USoA National Kidney Foundation and a nephrologist at the University of Pennsylvania, “but the ones that count are the brain cells. They don’t operate normally when they’re shrinking.” Changes in mental status will follow, including confusion and ultimately coma, he said. As the brain becomes smaller, it takes up less room in the skull and blood vessels connecting it to the inside of the cranium can pull away and rupture. … Victims’ kidneys may shut down first, as they continue to lack access to both water and salt. The kidneys cleanse the blood of waste products which, under normal conditions, are excreted in urine. Without water, blood volume will decline and all the organs will start to fail. Kidney failure will soon lead to disastrous consequences and ultimately death as blood volume continues to fall and waste products that should be eliminated from the body remain.  In addition to all of those, of course, there are the natural pangs of hunger, and the total lack of nutrition.

So to end a person’s supposed suffering — a person who is not terminally ill, is not on any life support, and can breathe on their own — we must make them suffer a slow, painful, horrific death. But only if they’re disabled, apparently.  ... because this girl, a child, is severely disabled, it’s considered acceptable. Putting a bullet in her head would have been kinder, because it at least would have been immediate. But then we can’t tap dance around the fact that what this mother did is murder.

Wise assumes, as many people do, that a person wouldn’t want to live in such a way. But no one knows how her daughter felt about her quality of life and whether or not she wanted to live. No one knows how her daughter felt in those 14 days that she was being starved and dehydrated. And no one cares. Nancy Fitzmaurice was disabled and could not speak, so she was brutally, cruelly murdered, with the permission of her government. And notice that the suffering Wise spoke of repeatedly was her own, not her daughter’s. She couldn’t bear seeing her daughter like that. She was going through “torture” watching her daughter in pain. So she petitioned the court to get permission to force her daughter to die a slow, painful death instead of seeking palliative care.

It’s become appropriate in the United Kingdom to kill a person now because it’s too much of a hassle to keep them alive. It’s legal for parents to murder their children because they’re disabled, because they can’t speak for themselves, because the parent has decided that their lives are not worth living anymore. And we call it death with dignity."

Is it too much to suggest that this tragic situation is the result of abortion being so accepted as a mother's choice.  Now, we have slipped into the idea that a mother can have her child killed - her choice, not that of the child. Last century, there was an organization that not only advocated the "mercy killing" of the disabled, but also carried it out. They were known as Nazis. 

If anyone can provide confirmation of this report or, indeed, evidence to refute it, please let me know by e-mailing me at the address at the top of the page.  Thank you.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Shalom.

This evening, at Café Church (now known as Café Christian Fellowship), Bergerac, I had the privilege of bringing the message.  It was based on John 20:19-31, and was titled Being a Peacemaker.  We looked at the wonderful Hebrew word, 'shalom', which is translated 'peace' in English-language translations.  The Greek word in the passage that we read is 'eirene' - but that word is translated by 'shalom' in the Greek-language version of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament).

Okay, so that's the linguistic introduction!  'Shalom' is, however, much more than 'peace' in the sense of 'absence of hostility.  It is, in fact, the peace of Almighty God - an absolute, and total, contentment - and it's available to you, and to me!  It's a personal peace.

However, it is also a relational peace.  I quoted Charlie Brown (from the Snoopy cartoon strips) this evening.  In one particular strip, he said: "I love this beautiful world that God has made.  It's just the people I can't stand!"  I also quoted the older 'jingle': "To be above with saints we love, will be the purest glory.  To be below with saints we know - well, that's a different story"!   Most of us live in some sort of community or other, and it's important that we develop a strategy to cope with this togetherness.  At least part of that strategy is given by the Lord Jesus in the passage.  It's to do with forgiveness!  Is it easy?  Absolutely not!  But if we are partakers of the 'shalom' of God, that will make it easier!   If we are at peace with ourselves, we can be at peace with others, and we can gladly forgive.

The third aspect of 'shalom' is the eternal one, as we find ourselves at peace with God.  That, after all, is the most crucial objective of the coming of the Lord Jesus into the time-space continuum in which we live out our mortal lives.  Paul wrote: "... if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  All this is from God, Who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them..  And He has committed to us, the message of reconciliation." (II Cor.5:17-19).  Indeed, it is out of His forgiveness of us, that we are called to forgive those around us!

Jesus said: "Blessed (and the word means 'Happy'!) are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the sons of God."(Matt.5:9).  But I can't be a peacemaker if I don't know peace with God myself!

Shalom!  It's a great word: speaking of peace within, as I experience forgiveness of my personal sins; peace with others, as I am enabled, by the grace of God, to forgive them in turn; peace with God, as I am reconciled to my Father in heaven, through the precious blood of Jesus, shed for me at Calvary.

Do you know that 'shalom' in your own life?  If not, do you long to experience it?  I would be delighted to be of some assistance to you.  Please feel free to contact me using the e-mail address at the top of the page.  Alternatively, if you go to 'My favourite links', you will find a coupls of links that may be of help.

Blessings, and shalom.

Friday, 24 October 2014

I don't believe it!

Apologies to TV character, Victor Meldrew, for the heading!  However, I have just received a comment on a friend's Facebook page, that was directed at me, and which I can't recall having had said to me ever before.  It was just two words long: "Damn you!"

Now, if I have your attention, I must add that it was not said in any nasty way.  The reason behind it was that our mutual friend had put up one of these "Check your IQ" posts and I had come up with a nice 132 (placing me, I was assured, in the top 2% of the population.  And many of you think that I am just a pretty face!).  The other person had only managed 118.  My friend, by the way, managed 122, but these 'tests' are not always 100% accurate themselves, and even IQ isn't all that it is sometimes cracked up to be!

Of course, the Bible has a particular slant on knowledge.  In the ancient book of Proverbs, we read that: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;" (Prov 1:7).  It must be noted that the Hebrew word translated 'fear', has nothing to do with being afraid, but refers to having a healthy reverence for Almighty God.  So, true knowledge, according to the written Word of God, begins with our relationship with Him!  That relationship can only be based on our relationship with the Lord Jesus, the Christ, God the Son [for an explanation of the Trinity, see my book: details at the top of the page!].

But there is also wisdom - and the two words are not synonymous!  The same book of Proverbs has much to say about wisdom, also: "Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gets understanding, for the gain from it is better than gain from silver and its profit better than gold." (Prov 3:13-14).

I have known many who have a great deal of knowledge; I have known fewer who have real understanding; I know only a few who have wisdom.  It is something that comes, usually, with age and experience.  That is perhaps one reason why the agèd apostle, Paul, writing to his son in the faith, Timothy, and advising him with regard to the running of a fellowship of disciples of Jesus, told him: "Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, ..." (I Tim 5:22).  In other words, he was not to 'promote' those who had only recently become followers of Jesus to positions of responsibility within the Church - an injunction, I would add, that ought to be taken to heart in our contemporary society!

So, I have (allegedly) an IQ of 132.  Very nice.  But do I have Godly wisdom?  That is of much greater importance.  And what about you?!

It should, perhaps, be noted that the book of Proverbs (and, indeed, the whole of the Bible) has many more references to both 'knowledge' and 'wisdom'.  It would be a worthwhile study to look at all of them - over a period of time.  Doing so might even help to make one wise!




Saturday, 18 October 2014

Rites of Passage.

In my teaching career, one of the units taught to S1 pupils concerned Rites of Passage.  This refers to the four major events in a person's life that are celebrated, in some way, by every culture known to mankind.  These are Birth, Coming of Age, Marriage, and Death.

These are also areas that, in recent decades, in some of the more 'civilised' nations in the world, have become increasingly under attack from a secular, atheistic, humanism that would have us all made in its own image - rather than in the image of the Creator God Who is responsible for our very existence.

Birth.  It was in 1967 that abortion became legal within the UK.  Since then, around 10 million babies have been callously murdered in the very place in which they ought to have been best protected - their mothers' wombs.  And that is in England, Scotland, and Wales alone!  By the way, if you missed my brief series on abortion - "Womb - or tomb?" - you can scroll down to the Blog Archive; click on "August", and then scroll down to Tuesday, 19th for the first article.  Birth, in far too many cases, is not being celebrated - it is being prevented!

Coming of age.  It is the case, as I type, that it is when one reaches the age of 18 years that, in the UK, one is considered to have 'come of age'.  Of course, as my pupils were quick to point out, the age varies for different activities - from joining the Armed Forces, to purchasing alcohol, to acquiring a mortgage.  However, for at least two - maybe three - generations, we seem to have been encouraging our children to 'grow up' far too quickly.  Beauty Pageants, at least in the USoA, for toddlers - dressed up by their mothers in 'sexy' outfits (must be some sort of paedophile 'heaven'!), to Clubs and bars being frequented by children who have barely left puberty, to 'under-age' sexual activity.  And much of this with the knowledge, and tacit approval, of parents/guardians!

Marriage.  In the UK, with the honourable exception of N.Ireland, marriage has been redefined as being the union of any two persons, regardless of gender.  This has been, effectively, a response by politicians to a sustained lobbying exercise by those representing (according to recent National Office of Statistics report) a mere 1.6% of the population.  A massive petition opposing the move, in both Westminster and Holyrood, was ignored.  Of course, it is arguable, given revelations since, that the reason for that is that the percentage of those who practise deviant sexual relations, is much higher in government circles than in the population at large!  Now, I read that an OFSTED inspection in a Jewish school resulted in pupils feeling bullied, and traumatised, by the questions asked - questions such as "Do you know that it is acceptable for two men to be married to one another?"  Marriage, instead of being a relationship in which a man and a woman fulfil God's plan for them, and produce a family (something that no two people of the same gender can ever do, on their own!), has become a declaration of deviance that is sanctioned by the state.

Death.  There was a time when death came to most people before they reached 80 years of age.  Today, in the western world, more and more people are living to be centenarians.  At least, that is what we would like to think.  However, the constant push by some for the legalisation of euthanasia, and assisted dying/suicide, shows that death is becoming a marketable commodity - think Dignitas in Switzerland, or the whole situation in the Netherlands!   The tragedy of such a situation was shown by a newspaper report just a few days ago: 

"An elderly husband and wife have announced their plans to die in the world's first 'couple' euthanasia - despite neither of them being terminally ill.
Instead the pair fear loneliness if the other one dies first from natural causes.
Identified only by their first names, Francis, 89, and Anne, 86, they have the support of their three adult children who say they would be unable to care for either parent if they became widowed.
The children have even gone so far as to find a practitioner willing to carry out the double killings on the grounds that the couple's mental anguish constituted the unbearable suffering needed to legally justify euthanasia.
… The couple's daughter has remarked that her parents are talking about their deaths as eagerly as if they were planning a holiday.
John Paul [their son] said the double euthanasia of his parents was the 'best solution'.  'If one of them should die, who would remain would be so sad and totally dependent on us,' he said. 'It would be impossible for us to come here every day, to take care of our father or our mother.'"

One commentator has responded like this:  "I wonder why no one considers the fact that the reason some elderly parents may experience “mental anguish” is that they have come to the sickening realisation that their grown children would rather find an executioner to dispatch them, than take on the responsibility of caring for their parents. Imagine the thoughts of a mother realising that the child she fed and rocked to sleep, played with and sang to, would rather have her killed than care for her; that their relationship really does have a price."
When I consider all of that, I confess to being glad that I am now out of the RME classroom.  My fear is that those who are in may be pushing the kind of agenda that is mirrored above!