Saturday, December 30, 2017

Can you be born a Christian?






Can you be born a Christian?


Do you need to live to a certain standard and struggle to prove you qualify?

Can your parents make you a Christian?

Does the fact that you are born in a Christian country (so called) mean that you are a Christian?

Does going to Church or reading the bible make you a Christian?
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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Surviving a New Year



It can be tempting to just see life as purely a physical thing and to ignore the other dimensions that we know in our heart exist. There are some people who would say that unless they can see something they do not believe it exists. This is quite a short sighted argument even on a basic level. I have never been to Australia but I know it exists because people whose judgement I trust have been there and described it to me.
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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Mixed feelings about Christmas!









Joy and sorrow are opposite emotional experiences that probably all of us know throughout our lifetime. Life is like a tapestry of bright and dark colours and often the bright parts shine the brighter when set against a dark background. 


I am reminded of Benjamin Malachi Franklin’s poem ‘Just a Weaver’, 


(1) My life is but a weaving, between my God and me, 

I do not choose the colors, He worketh steadily. 


(2) Ofttimes he weaveth sorrow, and I in foolish pride 

Forget He sees the upper, and I the underside. 


(3) Not till the loom is silent, and the shuttles cease to fly, 

Will God unroll the canvas, and explain the reasons why 


(4) The dark threads are as needful in the skillful weaver's hand 

As threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.


The mining accidents in Chile and New Zealand a number of years ago illustrate both extremes. For the families of the thirty-three miners rescued from their mine in Chile, it was a time of great joy, but for the thirty-three families of the Pike River, New Zealand South Island miners, only two could rejoice and twenty nine were plunged into the sorrow of grief. Further explosions ripped through the mine causing the authorities to pronounce the twenty- nine miners dead and the Prime Minister to say “We are a nation in mourning.” 


A video of an interview with one of the survivors revealed that he had been thrown off his machine by the blast and knocked unconscious, the other survivor picked him up and they went 300 metres to the entrance of the mine and staggered out, battered but alive.


The circumstances at each mine were different, geologically, physically and possibly spiritually. The Chile men were gold mining, the New Zealanders were coal mining with the greater danger of methane exploding from leaks in the fault line hundreds of feet below the coal seem. It was not exploding gas that endangered the miners in Chile; it was a huge rock fall that trapped them for over two months. Jose Henriquez, trapped with his colleagues is an evangelical preacher and kept their spirits up by reading the Bible every morning to them. Every man had a small bible sent down the borehole for them to read and many of them committed their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. Above ground the Presidents Pastor held prayer times with the President and the nation prayed for the recovery of the men. What joy it was when all of them were brought up one by one in a 27-inch capsule inside a new borehole that went down to the chamber where they were trapped. Many of the men wore T-shirts expressing that Jesus Christ is Lord.


We rejoice with those that rejoice, we weep with those that weep, and therefore feel and pray for the Pike River miner’s families.

As one travels five miles south from Jerusalem on the Hebron Road, there is a left hand fork that takes you down to Bethlehem. At that fork in the road is Rachel’s tomb, the place where Jacob’s wife died in child bearing and was buried. “And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.” Benoni means ‘Son of my sorrow’ whereas Benjamin means, ‘Son of the right hand’. Both names are an apt description of the Son of God who became the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief at Calvary, but then became the Son of the right hand when exalted in Heaven. Looking from that tomb the short distance to Bethlehem one can see the beyond the city the Shepherds fields and beyond them the mountains of Moab.

Ruth traveled with Naomi from Moab and came to those fields that belonged to Boaz. He became Ruth’s redeemer and married her and they had a son named Obed, the grandfather of King David. Ruth is one of four women named is in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew ch.1. Mary is the fifth!

When Mary and Joseph were required by Caesar Augustus’s edict to go to Bethlehem, they could have gone to a Bethlehem which was only five miles west of Nazareth, but that was the wrong Bethlehem, it was the city of David in Judah that they had to go to. Micah 5:2 reads, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

They left Nazareth and made the arduous 70 to 80 mile journey to Bethlehem. Did they travel down the valley of Jezreel or the Jordan valley? We do not know but either way would have been exhausting, especially for Mary, heavy with child. Passing Jerusalem they would arrive at the fork where Rachel’s tomb is. What thoughts would pass through Mary’s mind when she recalled Rachel’s death delivering her baby? Mary had been told concerning the baby she would deliver, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

Regarding the joy of the birth of Christ the shepherds in the fields heard “The angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” When the wise men were seeking the place where Jesus was born, Matthew 2:10 says, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” When they saw the babe they worshipped Him.

It was joy for them but sorrow for the mothers that had their children murdered by Herod, “In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” Mary’s sorrow came later at Calvary when she saw Jesus crucified but “Joy cometh in the morning” and on the first day of the week Christ arose from the dead and is alive today, able to save to the uttermost all that come to Him. You too!

Praying that you have much joy this Christmas and the coming year and that sorrows stay away from your door. God bless.

Stan Burditt

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas Lights






It's Christmas. What an exciting time of the year. All the bright lights, the presents, houses decorated and lots of lovely food. Well that is the way it is in our country but I appreciate that for many people it is not that pleasant. 
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Monday, December 18, 2017

The season of goodwill - is it?






The Christmas season is looked upon as the time of goodwill but will it be for many people in different parts of the world, particularly the Middle East? Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, Israel to name but a few. Problems of political contrasts, social and religious divides cause an absence of goodwill. 

Back in July 2011 Dr. James Zogby, Founder and President of the Arab American Institute wrote an article entitled Diminishing goodwill for U.S. Middle East policy. He stated ‘A few months back I had a quick exchange with President Obama about the U.S. standing in the Arab World. When I mentioned that we would be conducting a poll to assess Arab attitudes two years after his Cairo speech, he responded that he expected that the ratings would be quite low and would remain low until the U.S. could help find a way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Well, the results are in, and the President was right. In our survey of over 4,000 Arabs from six countries (Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE), we found that favorable attitudes toward the U.S. had declined sharply since our last poll (which had been conducted in 2009 after Obama's first 100 days in office). ……If anything, the results of this latest poll of Arab opinion demonstrates how precarious the position of the United States is in the Middle East and how important it has become for American policy makers to pay attention to what Arabs are saying. Some may play politics with critical Middle East issues and gloat at their success at having stymied the President's efforts to make peace and restore America's image in the region. But as the results of this survey make clear, their success has come at a price; one that is being paid by the entire country.’ 
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Saturday, December 16, 2017

No accommodation at Christmas - would you exclude Jesus?




I wonder if you have ever thought about how popular Jesus was in his day. The impression we get at times is that he was loved by everyone right up until his rejection by the Jewish authorities, his prosecution by the Roman authorities and his ultimate death of crucifixion.

From the early days of his time on earth the Lord Jesus was excluded and rejected. There is quite a considerable period (from age 12-30) where we have very little information about the behaviour and activities of the Lord Jesus but we do have the commentary of God, the Father, when he publicly spoke from heaven (which was a very unusual thing to do) and said the he was delighted with His Son. This indicated that though there is scant information about these eighteen years there is nothing in that period (or any other period for that matter) that displeased His Father, God.
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Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Christmas Rush



It is all biz at the moment. I am either trying to get my work up to date so that I can enjoy the Christmas break, I am going to Carol Concerts (more than one I must say), being taken out shopping or one of a hundred things that I am expected to do at this time of the year. Why all the pressure, why spend the money, what is this all about?
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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Happiness at Christmas?




'Happy Christmas' A departed friend of mine used to say, ‘Happiness depends upon happenings but joy abides!’ I hear what he was saying because there is a difference isn’t there? Someone has possibly said to one of my readers today, “Happy Birthday!” and I join with them, have a good day, but what about tomorrow or next week?
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Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas in the slow lane?







“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46.10)

Horrendous traffic jams, train network maintenance and flight cancellations have caused headaches for most British travellers this Christmas. [bbc news] We are so used to living in the fast lane, zooming through experiences with little time for reflection and contemplation. The unwelcome delays have enforced a slower pace for many. Thinking time, perhaps? 

The first Christmas was an unhurried experience for most. Mary and Joseph travelled to Bethlehem with all the precaution required by a heavily pregnant mother-to-be. The wise men appear to have journeyed over many months after careful preparation. Only the shepherds ran to the manger that first Christmas night, with joyful enthusiasm and optimism. They encountered no delays – earnest seekers after God rarely get caught up in traffic jams along the way. But once they arrived at the place, hush replaced haste, awe replaced athletics, calm replaced curiosity. It should always be like this when we enter God’s presence.

So if you get held up this Christmas, make the most of it. Read the Christmas story slowly and thoughtfully. Take time out to consider the baby who had that unique name – Immanuel – God is with us. 

   

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Convinced about Christ




Why are Christians are so convinced that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Well you might ask, it's an excellent question.

Our belief is laid on a very solid foundation. First of all we believe in divine revelation not just human discovery. In fact to learn about something outside of our sphere of experience we all accept we need information from a trustworthy source. If you are serious about discovering the truth - check the Bible out. It is a trustworthy source. Read it, check it's sources, speak to those who believe it, look at it 's accuracy in every sphere it touches. There can only be one answer to the question of the origin of a book that was written over one thousand five hundred years by forty different authors, many of whom did not even know each other. The Bible is God's message to mankind.

Secondly check the facts concerning Jesus Christ. There are over three hundred signposts (biblical predictions/prophecies) which point to him. The chances of them all being fulfilled precisely in the life of one person, at the right time, in the right place are mindblowing odds apart from this fact - God planned it and implemented His plan in a person - His Son, Jesus Christ. The Bible predicts the mode of his conception, the place of his birth, his exile into Egypt, the slaughtering of the innocents, the gifts from the magi and lots more.

Finally look at the prediction about the way that Jesus would die. Psalm 22 and Isaiah 52 describe the horrific death of God's Son a cross. Death by crucifixion was unknown when Psalm 22 was written about 1000 years before the death of Jesus but God knew that was the way that His Son would die.

In closing please listen again to the words of the angels who announced the birth of the Lord Jesus 'For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord'. Is he your Saviour? He died 'for our sins'. He suffered 'the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God'. Will you rest by faith on what the Lord Jesus did to save your soul?
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Friday, December 08, 2017

Would you die for a stranger?





On Wednesday the 19th. November 1997, the M.V. Green Lily ran aground on Bressay, near Grut Wick. After loading a cargo of approximately 3000 tonnes of frozen fish, bound for Las Palmas in the Canary Isles, the Croatian-born captain decided to set sail in foul weather, in spite of warnings from the Harbour Master not to leave the port at Lerwick, Shetland. Shortly after leaving the harbour, the ship suffered engine failure in a force 9 gale forecast to reach force 11 imminently and was left drifting in 50ft. waves, eventually running aground off Bressay.

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Friday, December 01, 2017

Can you believe everything that you read?



I once read an article in the Independant Newspaper by a very intelligent man who had become very cynical and opposed to Christianity. The position he took was that there was no truth or logic in the Christian viewpoint. I have reprinted my reply in this blog post. Hopefully it will make you think and bring you to the point where you take the claims of the Bible seriously.

'My imagination was engaged as I started to read your piece on "The Bible Society’s debt to Arthur C Clarke?" You had obviously carried out some good research about the society and highlighted some key statistics which would be very interesting to a number of people. I was then quite amazed that you chose to so violently misrepresent the teaching of the very book that the society has spent so long translating and making available to the world. For example you chose to ignore that the Bible and Christianity has developed more education programs, opened more hospitals and changed more societies for the good than the current world atheistic belief system has ever done. People who have been successful, in theory, in establishing atheistic states have generally produced societies which have been just as corrupt as capitalist ones. Incidentally they have ultimately been unsuccessful because of the corrupt heart of humanity. All of this however only looks at the outcomes of the opposing world views without actually discussing the validity or plausibility of their views.

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