Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Are you ready for Christmas?




Sitting in the dentist chair at our local hospital the dentist, while waiting for the anaesthetic to take effect, asked the question “are you ready for Christmas?”  my reply to him was “No!”.  I explained to him that we have a large family and that our movements around the various houses over the Christmas period is determined by our family.  The giving of gifts at Christmas can be very time consuming in obtaining the perfect gift for those we love.  Shopping malls are crowded with potential customers seeking out the bargains and the most useful and attractive items available.  Little children can be more interested in the wrapping and box of a gift than the actual gift inside, but it is not long before they realise that there is a gift and the wrapping is dispensed with in haste.  Some gifts, if they are toys, perhaps do not last very long when bits of plastic break off and render the toy useless.  Often the best gifts that children receive last for years and some, like the cuddly teddy bear can continue through to adulthood.  A practice that has developed in our homes is to place Christmas gifts under the Christmas tree to be opened on Christmas morning.  Children are warned not to open the packages but cannot resist feeling the gifts and trying to determine what the package holds for them. 
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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas 2019 - The Word







The Gospel of John presents the Lord Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of God and as “the Word”.  In John ch 1 v1& 2 he said, “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God”.  He uses this title on four occasions each one directing us to a specific location.  In the verse above he directs us to heaven and the pre-incarnate existence of the Son, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. John ch 1 verse 18 says “no man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared Him.”  And John 4 v 24 “God is a Spirit”
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Friday, December 20, 2019

What present will you be content with this Christmas?





I think I am quite a contented person. My Christmas present list is usually non - existent, and when asked, I struggle to think of things I really need. Maybe this is because I am so well looked after that I have very little need for anything.

If you were given the choice of any gift I wonder what it would be? The ancient king of Israel, Solomon, when given the choice asked for wisdom. Most of us would like to be wiser, to live well and to make less mistakes.
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Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Did Jesus really claim to be God?

If, in fact, Jesus did claim to be God, what are the implications for us? Stephen Baker is confident in stating that Jesus did indeed claim to be God, and that this requires us to worship Him.

Jesus Did Claim to Be God
One of recurring themes of Jesus’ teaching was the explanation of who He was and why He was here. He didn’t leave that issue open to conjecture. To people around Him, his most controversial and confrontational statements concerned His claim to be God.
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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Hark the Herald Angels Sing




One of the things that I really love about this time of year is the music. I mean all of it, I love all the songs but particularly the Christmas Carols.

We sing the same songs, year after year, and the words get stuck in our heads; we can often recite the words without even thinking about it. 

Many people attend Carol Services and Concerts and while a wide range of songs are sung the majority are still Carols. The words of the Carols can teach us a lot about the message of Christmas. 
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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Without Christ, Christmas is nothing!





If there is no Christ - there is no Christmas! Which is why are Christians are so convinced that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Why 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.
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Sunday, December 08, 2019

Joy & Sadness - the offering of Christmas




Joy and sorrow are opposite emotional experiences that 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’, 
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O holy night - Carol Lyrics






O holy night! 
The stars are brightly shining 
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth! 
Long lay the world in sin and error pining 
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth. 
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices 
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn! 

Refrain:
Fall on your knees 
O hear the angel voices 
O night divine 
O night when Christ was born 
O night divine 
O night, O night divine

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming 
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand 
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming 
Here come the wise men from Orient land 
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger 
In all our trials born to be our friend. 

Refrain

Truly He taught us to love one another 
His law is love and His gospel is peace 
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother 
And in His name all oppression shall cease 
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, 
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Refrain

I was walking through Belfast International Airport, entering   W H Smith’s when I caught the words of this Carol being played over the airwaves. For a Christian, it is great to hear the message of Christ being played in public places. At this time of the year, amidst the mixed messages of the fairytale Christmas, the message of the birth of Christ and its true meaning still gets a fair hearing. 

As I read the lyrics of this Carol and pondered them I was struck again by the clarity of the message the writer injected into the words.

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Friday, December 06, 2019

No room for Jesus





I wonder if you have ever thought about how unpopular 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. 
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Monday, November 25, 2019

Coping through Tough Times





We are living in interesting times. The world continues in a state of recession. The season of abundance seems to have come and gone and now the season of recession seems to be entrenching itself. People are finding that times are difficult and the effects of this difficulty seem to be affecting the whole world. Economies are shrinking and jobs are being lost. As I was contemplating these issues, I began to realize that there is a story in the Bible about a similar situation that took place.
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Friday, November 15, 2019

Europe - a place where God is blessing people

    




When God made the heavens and the earth everything was perfect.  The stars and the planets were in their correct order and location and everything was ‘on the move’.  Planet earth, the sun and the moon each were set revolving in an orderly manner.  
The earth revolves around the sun at 67,000 miles per hour.  
The sun orbits at 492,000 miles per hour.  
The moon orbits Earth at a speed of 2,288 miles per hour and completes its circuit in just less than 28 days.  
But note the following:
  1. We have no sensation of movement of any kind, other than we can see the moon in different positions in the sky.  
  2. We can trust and depend upon the stability of this order and mariners can plot their course by fixing their location in relation to the North Star. 
  3. We don’t have to worry when we go to bed at night that the sun will rise in the East and bring all the benefits to planet Earth that it requires to sustain life.  
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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Latin Phrases - Pro Bono Publico





Latin was obligatory when I was at school. It was one of the standard subjects on the curriculum. I actually quite enjoyed Latin despite the old adage we used to repeat under our breath:

Latins a dead language
As dead as dead can be 
First, it killed the Romans
And now, it’s killing me

Learning Latin might have felt tough going in school. Still, it is actually handy to know some Latin as a lot of Latin motto's are found over the entrance of many listed buildings. For instance, the motto of the University of Oxford is ‘Dominus illuminatio mea'. These are the opening words of Psalm 27 (the Bible), meaning The Lord is my Light. One of the long-established independent schools on the Wirral has the motto ‘Beati Mundo Corde’. This means Blessed are the Pure in Heart, again a quotation taken out of the Bible (the Beatitudes). It is quite significant that public institutions saw the value of quoting the Bible. This book was once the backbone of our nation’s progress and development.
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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The enthronement of Emperor Naruhito & Empress Masako


Today in Japan, The Prince of Wales attended the Ceremony of Enthronement of His Majesty Emperor Naruhito on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen. This is quite an occasion in light of the changes that have taken place in Japanese society since the last set of ceremonies in 1990. Emperor Naruhito, 59, acceded to the Chrysanthemum Throne in May after his father, Emperor Akihito, became the first Japanese monarch in more than two centuries to abdicate. But, after a series of traditional rituals inside the imperial palace in Tokyo, his ascension has now been formalised. The ceremony comes as Japan reels from the effects of Typhoon Hagibis, which left almost 80 people dead.
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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Happy Children



Children should be happy. One of the Bible predictions about the future is that, when Jesus reigns, “the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets” (Zech 8.5). 

One test of a nation’s moral character is its treatment of the innocent, the weak, and the vulnerable. If such members of society live in fear of abuse, mistreatment, or death, it seems obvious to all right-thinking people that there is a moral deficiency in the nation. 

Children should live free from such fears. They will one day. They certainly do not now. 

Children are not safe in the streets. They are not safe in the schools. They are not safe (often) in their own homes. Sadly they are not even safe in the womb of their mother. How cold, callous, and celebrative of wickedness must a nation be to rejoice in the slaughter of infants? Is this how society improves? Should we slaughter the innocent for the sins of the guilty? 
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Friday, October 18, 2019

No one expected it to happen to him!





No one expected it to happen to him. He had been doing it for decades. He was considered a professional in the field of tornadoes research. We have all heard of adrenalin-crazed storm-chasers who, with reckless abandon, drive dangerously into storms with their cameras to prove they did it and survived. But Tim Samaras was not one of them. Samaras was respected around the world for his research into violent weather and tornadoes. He traced his fascination with tornadoes back to his childhood, when he first watched the violent storm sequence in ‘The Wizard of Oz’. That’s when he said he was ‘hooked for life.’

Samaras and his team starred on "Storm Chasers" for five years on the Discovery Channel, with the last show in the autumn of 2011. Speaking with a reporter from the National Geographic, in what would perhaps be his last interview, Samaras gave some advice about being safe in tornado country. 
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Friday, October 04, 2019

Would you forgive your brother’s murderer?




On September 6, 2018, Amber Guyer—an off-duty patrol officer in Dallas—entered the apartment of 26-year-old accountant Botham Jean. She later said she thought it was her own apartment and mistook Jean for a burglar, shooting and killing him.

One year later, on October 1, 2019, she was found guilty of murder. On October 2, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

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Friday, September 27, 2019

Coping with Change!




Life’s usually is a constant cycle of change as we all know only too well. We just seem to get comfortable; find our slot and then things change. As a Christian, I have the assurance that despite the changes in life I have an anchor. My anchor is none other than Jesus Christ – He provides the hope, ‘both sure and steadfast’, ‘which hope we have as an anchor of the soul [1]’. An anchor is a heavy object attached to a cable or chain and used to moor a ship to the sea bottom. When life is changing, we need a fixed point of reference, an anchor to keep us steady. I believe that the Bible is the only document known to humanity that can give us stability and the fixed point of reference that we need as we make our journey through life. Within its pages, we will discover the reason we exist, the cause of all the evil and sin in our world and the way that we can know what is eternal i.e. things that are of lasting value. To be confident in this life we need peace, contentment and confidence that our life has real significance. I believe the only way this is possible is to get to know God, the maker of us all. He made us and he knows how we tick.
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Friday, September 20, 2019

A case of good manners!



‘Put your mobile phone away during meals, never eat on the train, and remember that reclining your aeroplane seat is selfish’. So says the DeBrett’s Handbook of Modern Manners. They’ve been dispensing advice on etiquette for 250 years, and the latest edition includes protocols for smartphones and e-cigarettes. Memorising their rules should enable anyone of us to avoid causing offence in any setting.
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Friday, September 13, 2019

Politics & Trust




President Trump said he asked National Security Advisor John Bolton to resign his position. On the other hand, Mr Bolton said that he had offered to resign and had not been asked to leave directly or indirectly. There appears to have been a break down in trust between these two men. 
In the UK Amber Rudd resigned from her cabinet position after twenty-one conservative MP’s had been expelled from the party for voting against the government. She was not happy with that and decided to leave her post. The BBC interviewer summarised her comments as a lack of trust in the Prime Minister to get a deal on Brexit. 
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