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.




Thursday, 18 September 2014

God - and the Archbishop!

The headline immediately attracted my attention.  

"Archbishop Welby: Sometimes I wonder if God really exists."

Thinking that it was one of those deliberately misleading headlines, designed to encourage me to read the full article, I did just that!  The headline, it would appear, is absolutely accurate!  In what was offered as a direct quotation, we are informed: "The other day I was praying over something as I was running and I ended up saying to God ‘Look this is all very well but isn’t it about time you did something, if you’re there’ – probably not what the Archbishop of Canterbury should say." (emphasis added). That final comment must surely be viewed as something of an understatement!  

So, if the spiritual leader of Anglican Church has occasion to doubt the very existence of the Creator God, is it any wonder that so much appears to be wrong within that particular communion - at least in the 'western' world?

Of course, the existence of God is on of those hoary old chestnuts that is pulled out, time and time again, by the sceptical, secular, humanists of the world.   And it must be admitted that, in the sense of laboratory experiments, that existence is something that we cannot prove!  Nor, indeed, should we expect to be able to do so!  If I was able to reduce God to the confines of a test-tube, then I would be greater than God.  In that case, the God Whose existence I had now 'proved' would not be God at all, as one definition of God is "the creator and ruler of the universe and the source of all moral authority: the supreme being." (Oxford Dictionary).  If I have reduced this being to something the existence of which I can 'prove', that I am certainly superior to that Being - and it, whatever else it may be, is not God! 

This is not to say that there is no evidence for the existence of God - but note my use of the word 'evidence'.  Evidence is not scientific proof.  In a criminal investigation, for example, the detectives who are involved in the case will gather evidence from the crime scene and elsewhere.  They will put together a case, and present it to the Office of the Procurator Fiscal (in Scotland), or to the Crown Prosecution Service (in the rest of the UK).  It will then be up to the legal experts to decide whether, or not, the case as presented is likely to persuade a jury that the accused is guilty of the crime as charged!  There is no 'proof''.  It has all to do with the burden of evidence - "beyond reasonable doubt"!

The topic is too large for me to deal with in just one post on this blog.  Anyway, I deal with it, to some extent, in the second volume of my book series (Foundations of the Faith) that I hope to have published by the end of the year, or early next year.  However, permit me to share a few thoughts.

1. Creation  I would contend that any unbiased, impartial, observer would accept that this amazing universe in which we live out our mortal lives is not the result of a long series of random accidents. To use an unoriginal example, if I see a Boeing 747 sitting on an airport runway, I do not conclude that it resulted from an explosion in a junk-yard!  (We won't go into the origin of the junk-yard, or the cause of the explosion!).  Design demands a Designer, and the creation demands a Creator to Whom, in the English language, we give the nomenclature "God".

2. DNA  Okay, I suppose that after Creation, everything else is merely a sub-section!  Having said that, DNA is amazing!  What is it?  Well, I am no micro-biologist, but I know that it is a code - a code made up of four chemicals identified by scientists as A, T,G, and C.  These are arranged in the well-known double helix.  Every human cell has no less than three billion of these 'letters' in its code. They are, effectively, the instruction manual for the cell.  An instruction manual, basic logic tells us, requires a writer who deliberately, and intentionally, prepares it.  We call that writer, God!

3. The human 'heart'  No, not the organ that is pumping blood around your body as you read this post - although it is a remarkable piece of engineering in its own right!  I'm referring more to the human psyche - the inner person that makes me different from you, and you different from everyone else. Suppress it as we may, there is something inside us that 'knows' that there is a superior Being.  I read an article just a few months ago that claimed that this "sense of God" is innate to humanity.  Our 'default' position is, apparently, that we accept the existence of God.  It is a secular society, that does not want to be answerable and accountable, that then 'teaches' us that the whole idea is nonsense. However, even then, there is truth in the words of Augustine that "Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee"; or, in a more contemporary form: "There's a God-shaped blank in every heart that only God can fill".

I doubt that the Archbishop of Canterbury reads this blog, but I trust that someone will advise him that he need not doubt.  Almighty God has not left Himself without witness. Our God is totally dependable; totally trustworthy; totally believable.  

Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (Jn.20:29). 




  


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Yes, or No?

With only one full day before the polls open for the Scotland referendum, this is my final post on the subject.  I have made on secret of my personal conviction that the best future for Scotland is within a continuing United Kingdom.  This is not, as Mr Salmond was suggesting in a clip on the BBC programme, Reporting Scotland, earlier this evening, that I do not believe that Scotland could 'go it alone' - I merely happen to be one of those who believes that there is strength in unity that is lost in isolation.

Mr Salmond's interview by Jackie Bird was, to say the least, interesting.  Time and time again, he 'ducked' the direct question that she had put to him.  This, I have noticed, has been a feature of the 'Yes' campaign which, however much he denies it, has been very much the campaign of Mr Salmond, supported by the SNP.  I have been told, ad nauseum, that the 'No' campaign has been negative and false.  However, I have also noticed that Mr Salmond has fought for his side with just one word - 'scaremongering'.  Everything that the 'Yes' campaign has put forward - from currency to cost of living - has been tarred with that single word.  No suggestion that it might actually be reality!  Even in this evening's interview, he was insisting that the rest of the current UK would go into a currency union, and that a separate Scotland would keep the pound sterling!  I believe that the correct psychiatric term is 'denial'!  Even if the leaders of the two main Westminster political parties (I totally discount the LibDums as a major force in British politics, and fully expect them to all but disappear at next year's General Election!) were to realise the error of their ways, and go along with Mr Salmond's conviction (which may well be correct!) that a formal union would be in the best interest of both a separate Scotland and the remainder of the UK as we still know it, the electorate outwith Scotland have made clear their disapproval of any such accommodation!  And Mr Salmond talked, this evening, about the 'mandate' of the Scottish people for such a union!  I honestly cannot see any of the Westminster politicians putting their own positions in jeopardy just to please "oor Alex"!

The ultimate choice, it seems to me, is the uncertainty that would continue within the UK - because the future is always uncertain; or the uncertainty of following the 'Braveheart' rhetoric of Mr Salmond.  I know which option I find less worrying!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am no fan of David Cameron.  I have seen more backbone in a jellyfish, and his kowtowing to minority groups - from homosexuals to Muslims - is, I believe, an affront to most of the British population. However, I did agree with one of his most recent statements.  I have constantly insisted that this referendum is not about 'independence', but separation.  However, I have come to realise that I have been wrong!  Separation allows for re-union. This vote, if it is a 'Yes', will be a divorce.  It will be a divorce that is full, final, and irrevocable.  If Scotland votes, on Thursday, to leave the United Kingdom, then it will never - and that means 'not ever' - be able to return to the fold.

It is my prayer that the period following the declaration of the result which, regardless of the outcome, is going to disappoint a great many people, will be a time of peace and reconciliation.  As a disciple of Jesus, I am convinced of the sovereignty of Father God and I believe that He is still in control.  I don't know what the future holds - but I know Who holds the future!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Of dogs and men.

Let me make it perfectly clear - I am a dog-lover.  Let me also make it perfectly clear that I abhor the, apparently deliberate, fire that caused the deaths of so many of our canine friends in the Manchester Dogs' Home.

However (you were expecting that, weren't you?!), along with many others, I am at  a loss to understand how it is that such an event should spawn so many fund-raising ventures - from a sponsored dog walk, to simple appeals for cash - and raise more than £1million in a matter of days. That, of course, excludes the value of the tons of dog food that have been donated.

So what is the problem?  Let me mention only two, of many, causes that are not as well supported. The first concerns soldiers.  "Help for Heroes" has done a tremendous job in providing assistance for members of the military who have received serious injuries (some, extremely serious!) in the line of duty.  I am, of course, open to correction, but I don't believe that donations have ever flooded in at the sort of rate we have seen in Manchester!  The other cause I will mention is the "Pro-life" one.  If you read the series that I posted, last month, on abortion, you must surely realise that that procedure is nothing other than murder.  What has been conceived, and is growing (the ultimate sign of life!), is a human being, albeit at an early stage in its development.  The deliberate extinguishing of that life, for whatever reason, and at whatever stage, is murder - plainly and simply.

It would appear that many people consider the life of a dog to be of more importance than the life and well-being of a human being!  Yet it was only man that the Creator made in His own image.  It was only into man that He breathed His own spirit.  It was for sinful men, and women, and children, that the Lord Jesus, the second Persona (see my book: details at top) of the Godhead hung on a Roman cross, and shed His precious blood.  It is only man who is aware of sin, and to whom salvation is offered - fully, and freely.

By all means, let us care for our animal friends.  But let us also remember that, in spite of the lies spun by secular humanists, we are not animals.  We are a distinct and special creation.  Let us show even more support for human life, than we do for dogs.  "A dog is not just for Christmas", the car sticker proclaims.  Human life, we might add, is not just for time.  We have an eternity awaiting us - and only those who have accepted the sacrifice that Jesus made, on their behalf, and who are trusting in Him for this life and all that it may hold, are assured that they will spend that eternal day in His presence.  Please be sure that you are among that number.

If I may be of any assistance, please use the e-mail address at the top to contact me - or go to the link "Do you need God" near to the bottom of the page.  The one above it may also be useful.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

One week today!

One week today, an unusually large number of the residents of Scotland will go to the polls to vote in what is popularly known as the "Independence" referendum but that is, in reality, the "Separation" referendum.  By Friday 19th September, the newspaper polls will all have become redundant, and irrelevant, because the people will have spoken, and their voice will have been heard!

The 'Yes' campaign have had a number of planks in their platform that have been, in my opinion, disingenuously deceptive.  Regretfully, a number of people have accepted the word of politicians (a dangerous thing to do, whichever side one supports!), and either plan to vote 'Yes', or have already done so by a postal vote.  What follows is of no interest, or value, to the latter group.  However, I trust that it will cause some of the former group to reconsider their position over the next seven days.

One of the major issues, it seems to me, has been that of the NHS.  The cry has gone up from Mr Salmond, and others, that if the result of the referendum is that we do not separate from our fellow-Britons, then the NHS in Scotland will be gradually privatised (and the 'Yes' campaign have consistently criticised what they have perceived as the 'fear' tactics of the 'No' campaign!).  The pros and cons of NHS privatisation is a totally different topic, but what surely ought to be made clear is that, under the terms of the Scotland Act (1998)  the NHS is a devolved matter.  This means that it is, and has been, the responsibility of the Scottish Executive/Government for many years.  It also means that it will continue to be so.  Sorry, Alex - that one doesn't work!

The currency that would be used in a separate Scotland has also been an issue that has dogged the 'Yes' campaign.  The current Chancellor of the Exchequer has, vehemently and consistently, ruled out any form of currency union with the remainder of the current UK.  The Shadow Chancellor has agreed wholeheartedly with that stance.  Even the wee LibDums (who are no longer the 'third major party', and who may disappear after the next UK General Election!) have said that they would not be a part of any such union.  The Governor of the Bank of England who, according to Mr Salmond, "is in charge", has clearly stated that "a currency union is incompatible with sovereignty."  This, of course, does not effect only the currency with which I pay for my messages in ASDA.  It also effects matters such as international trade; pensions (very important to some of us already, and to all of us eventually!); the banking sector.   We have already seen, on the back of a single poll that indicated that the 'Yes' campaign had overtaken their rivals, a fall in the value of sterling, and a fall in the stock market!  And that was just one poll!  The only person who regularly assures us that, when the 'Yes' vote succeeds, everyone else will fall in with his way of thinking is - Mr Salmond.  I am reminded of the old story (too old for some of my readers to have known!) that ends with the line "They're a' oot o' step, but oor Jock"!  Sorry, Alex - that one doesn't work either!

Just one other issue for now - the European Union.  The declared opinion of a number of high-ranking officials in the EU is that a separated Scotland would cease to be a part of that body, and would be required to apply for membership - a process that could take many years.  The opinion of Mr Salmond and the 'Yes' campaign is that the EU would be so desperate to have a separate Scotland as a member, that it would be little more than a 'rubber-stamping' job!  I seem to recall 'expert legal opinion' to support that notion - but opinion that remained, and remains, anonymous!  The SNP spokesman on BBC Radio 4, yesterday, claimed that no-one in Scotland was interested in leaving the EU.  I suppose that that is why we now have a Scottish MEP - from UKIP!  Of course, if the whole of the UK is allowed its referendum on membership of the EU and, as is expected, comes out of that discredited body, then there is unlikely to be an EU for a separate Scotland to join!  When one domino falls, others have a habit of following suit - and there is no shortage of countries who would gladly be the second to leave!  Is it indicative of the state of the SNP, in particular, that they would even wish - in an 'independent' Utopia - to be a continuing part of an organisation that hasn't even been able to satisfy its own auditors for many, many years?   Sorry, Alex - that's a third strike!

I don't like my posts to be overly long.  However, there is one issue that I have not heard raised at all, but that concerns me greatly.  No, it has nothing to do with the place of the Christian faith in this new. separate, Scotland - although that is something about which many are, indeed (and rightly), concerned.  This issue is much more politically practical.  As those who know me well are aware, I currently spend a lot of my time in France, and also travel, as occasion demands, to Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and other countries.  With me, I always carry a number of important documents.  One of these is my (UK) passport.  Having that passport means that if, for whatever reason, I am in trouble, I have access to the British Embassy, or a local Consulate, to receive assistance.  Will those officials be willing to help a foreigner - as I would officially be if I belonged to a separated Scotland?   I suspect not!  The alternative would be to go to the Scottish Embassy/Consulate.  However, I have heard no-one mention the cost of such the large number of properties that would have to be acquired for those purposes.  Other countries may be willing to act on Scotland's behalf, but the assistance would be minimal - and there would undoubtedly be a cost involved!  The other item is a little card named the EHIC - that assures me state healthcare at a reduced cost or sometimes for free, anywhere in the EU and Switzerland.  This is all, as far as I know, because of a mutual agreement with these countries.  How long would it take a separated Scottish government to put all of that in place - especially in countries like France, Spain, and Italy where a separatist movement is a thorn in the flesh of the respective governments?  

It is my hope - yes, and my prayer - that common sense, and pragmatism, will prevail over an emotional, albeit laudable, desire to "dae oor ain thing"!   The Bible, even if not accepted by all as being of divine origin, is usually recognised as having many wise words.  I close with one reference: "... 'though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken." (Eccl. 4:12).  Let us not break up a country that is, of course, far from perfect, but that is still looked up to by many.  Let us put our energies, not into separating, but into improving.

You know it makes sense!



Saturday, 6 September 2014

Wow!

I have never watched "American Idol", nor such shows as BGT - but if there was more of this, then I might be persuaded to change my mind. 

Backed by a full Gospel Choir, the finalists of 'American Idol' present a powerful rendering of the song "Shout to the Lord" (My Jesus, my Saviour) on national television - in front of millions!  The crowd was brought to their feet, and the Lord's Name was praised.  What a blessing it is to watch!

In the light of all of the contemporary social situation, I was particularly moved at the very end. Watch it through and see what I mean!