Saturday, August 13, 2011

Rioting - should we be surprised

I watched an interview on Sky news yesterday where four young men described what they had done, when out rioting and looting. Their body language seemed to show some sense of guilt but their attitude and conversation indicated no remorse or regret.   I was wondering if the current lack of teaching of morals in society has played a big part in this way of thinking. Should we be surprised that that the rioters do not think that they did anything wrong? I believe that everyone is responsible for their own actions but there is a sense in which we have set people up for this crazy way of thinking. We spend years teaching amoral principles in our schools, colleges and universities. Things such as - there is no absolute moral code, we are free agents to believe what we want and right and wrong depends on circumstances! Most people would defend our right to believe whatever we want i.e. we create our own framework which is flexible depending on our persuasions in life. But this approach does not work in business, on the street or in money matters to name just a few examples. We all know in our hearts that we need structures, rules and parameters to maintain a civilised society.  The outcome of the current philosophy is that everyone does what is right in their own eyes. This ends in anarchy, social disorder and chaos!  I know that a high percentage of society are decent people trying their best and they are disgusted at what they have seen recently. The truth is that most of the rioters are either young people or from a sector of society where behavioural boundaries are non existent or very weak.    We need to get back to recognising that at the very least the principles of the biblical moral code are good for our society. No other structure has been discovered that works. 
 I believe that at an individual level the only hope we can give society is the change that comes through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The change to better our lives and improve society starts within individuals. Look at the effect of christianity on societies over the centuries; the results are seen in hospitals, healthcare provision, schools, social care and many more benefits to any given society. As stated already nothing else effectively and permanently changes people for their good and the good of society. Biblical christianity recognises the flawed nature of humanity and offers the death of Jesus Christ as the power of God for salvation (the Bible - Romans 1.16). The change is firstly internal but if it is real (and there have been many false claims in the name of Christianity) it must manifest itself in behaviours and activity in society.   I appeal with our civic leaders and the general public to consider this message as it is the only hope that we have to offer. External reforming of society, improved conditions and better economic conditions all have a part to play but these will never reform the moral state of society. If individuals do not come to know the reforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ then there is no hope. In periods of economic depression and social upheaval (which we all know are unavoidable due to the cyclical nature of world affairs and the greed of the human heart) we will always end up with social disorder but things can be different. The choice lies in the hands of the individual. We have been warned once again by these recent events!

Friday, August 05, 2011

The Sky's the limit

Wikipedia’s opening paragraph on ‘Sky’ says, ‘The sky is the part of the atmosphere or outer space visible from the surface of any astronomical object. It is difficult to define precisely for several reasons. During daylight, the sky of Earth has the appearance of a pale blue surface because the air scatters the sunlight.[1][2][3][4] The sky is sometimes defined as the denser gaseous zone of a planet's atmosphere. At night the sky has the appearance of a black surface or region scattered with stars.’

Putting the word ‘Sky’ into Google’s search engine shows the first dozen or so sites belonging to the Sky media group that has been into the news recently. Rupert Murdoch’s News International wanted to take over BskyB corporation but with the alledged phone hacking by the News of the World and subsequent arrests brought about a Parliamentary inquiry. Murdoch with others were summoned to appear before a committee of M.P.’s and questioned about their involvement with that unlawful practice.

Channel 4 Television had a program called ‘Murdoch’ on the 27th. July. It was a documentary investigating the involvement of News International and police officers in the London Metropolitan Police. One N.I. ex-journalist said he had handed £30,000 in two Sainsbury’s Supermarket bags, to a policeman for leads to a story. He inferred that although this was the largest sum that he had given, it was the practice to pay bribes to police officers for information.

The questions that the appointed judge Lord Justice Brian Leveson will present to all that appear before him over the next 12 months will reveal how and who are implicated in these accusations of unlawful conduct. C.E.O.’s from media companies, Police chiefs, and Government Officers will take the stand, we are told that no one will be excluded, and no one will be able to withhold evidence. As the old adage says, ‘The skies the limit’!

I am always interested when a word or a phrase appears seven times in the Bible, Yes, you have guessed, the word ‘Sky’ is one of those words, and there are many such sevens in scripture.

Sky is first mentioned in Deut.33:26, “There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky.” Jeshurun is an alternative name for Israel but the attention in the verse is on God, it is He that rides upon the Heavens and his excellency is seen in the sky. The majesty and glory of God is there for all to see. Psalm 19:1 concurs, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” The second mention is Job 37:18 and reads, “Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten looking glass?” The other five are in the New Testament, Matthew 16:2 He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.

Matthew 16:3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?

Luke 12:56 Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that you do not discern this time?

Hebrews 11:12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. This final one describes the seed of Abraham as prolific, like the stars of the sky for number.

The other four recorded by Matthew and Luke gives us the teaching of Christ in relation to discerning the weather by the redness of the sky.

In 1965 Geoffrey Bull wrote a book called, ‘The Sky is Red’. Earlier he was a Missionary to China and Tibet and was imprisoned for three years in Tibet. At that time the Western World were cautiously watching the Russian brand of Communism whereas brother Bull was experiencing the Chinese brand first-hand. Was he before his time in reading the sign of the times?

The first mention of ‘sky’ in Matt.16:3 Jesus caused people of that day and us today to recognize a red sunset or a red sunrise. From our front room we often have seen some beautiful sunsets. A couple of evenings ago as the sun was setting it shone up to the clouds causing the sky to have a fluffy candy-floss pink appearance, we commented that the next day would be fine and sunny, and so it was. People all over the world can identify with those situations. The second mention is a challenge by the Son of God to his hearers that they had witnessed on two occasions His feeding five thousand and four thousand with a few loaves and fishes, yet they failed to recognize Him as their Saviour. Albeit on the first occasion they came to Him and wanted to take Him by force and make Him their king. Could they not read the sign of the times? The King and the kingdom was among them but they would receive neither but later hounded Him to the cross.

The scripture says in John 1:11, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

They did not read the signs of the times then and generally speaking people are not reading the signs of the times today. The Lord is coming soon to set up His Millennial Kingdom on earth. ‘Our Lord is now rejected, and by the world disowned; By the many still neglected, And by the few enthroned. But soon He'll come in glory; The hour is drawing nigh For the crowning-day that's coming by-and-by……The heavens shall glow with splendor; But brighter far than they The saints shall shine in glory, As Christ shall them array: The beauty of the Saviour Shall dazzle every eye, In the crowning-day that's coming by-and-by!!’

BskyB will not have the monopoly on that event, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him,” God bless.

Written by Stan Burditt of Northampton

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