Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Bridging the Gap





One aspect of history that always captures my interest is the story of the Titanic. If there was ever an enduring picture of a disastrous end, it is the story of the Titanic. The Titanic had a great start. It was the greatest ship ever built and had all the latest security features. It was said of the Titanic that "God could not sink her!"  The whole world knew about this man-made wonder, and still do today, and yet she sailed for only 5 days. However, the Titanic was doomed as it left for New York. This is because normal shipping practices were disregarded and this eventually led to tragedy. All the warnings and words of wisdom were ignored.  Captain Edward John Smith, remembered for his stoicism and fortitude in the face of adversity, sadly is remembered more for his failure to reach the destination of New York"

One of the fads of 1970s America was the motorcycle jump. This trend reached its high (and low) point on September 8, 1974. Thousands of spectators gathered around the Snake River Canyon in Idaho to see if Evel Knievel could jump across the chasm in a specially designed “sky cycle.” In the end, however, it was unsuccessful. Knievel made it only part of the way across the gulf before his parachute deployed and he dropped to the canyon floor below. Some spectators asked, “How far across the canyon did he get?” But that wasn’t the point. He didn’t make it all the way across, so he fell short of his goal.
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Saturday, August 01, 2020

Did you enjoy Latin at school?












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


It might have felt tough going at school, but it is actually very useful to know some Latin as a lot of Latin motto’s can be 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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Friday, July 31, 2020

Are you being shielded?





Several weeks ago a few of my neighbours received a letter that they had been dreading. It said you "need to be shielded from Covid-19 for a minimum of 12 weeks." Most of them had already been isolating, and in many ways life would continue much the same but, as is often the case, fear, anxiety and worry took over. 

Looking to the news for reassurance did little to help so I turned to Scripture, which overflows with words of comfort. After all said and done the expression "shielding" is no new concept to God because He's being doing it since time began. The Psalmist encourages us when he says: ‘The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.’ God will shield us in every situation. What a promise!

Our protection is linked with what our heart has faith in. If our heart trusts in God and not the world, then we will be protected by His shield. That doesn’t mean we don’t have to follow government measures, but we can be assured that when our heart is faithful to Him we will have divine protection. What’s more, in a world full of fear, a heart full of trust that can leap for joy is something the world will crave.

Our very own planet Earth depends on a shield to survive.  Our own lives depend on this great unseen shield.  The Earth is protected by an ozone layer, also called the Ozone Shield, which absorbs most of the Ultra Violet rays from the sun and shields us from harmful UV. Without this shield, life on earth as we know it would cease to exist.  So in a very real sense we already live with a shield that God has put in place to protect us from things that could destroy us.  

Just as we need and could not live without this ozone shield, so we cannot live without the shield that God offers us. The Bible tells us that the enemy, Satan,  goes around like a roaring lion, looking to destroy each one of us, but God offers to be our shield. As He said to Abram, He says to us: 'I AM YOUR SHIELD' if only you place your faith and trust in ME.

God's shield is on-going and never ending. It is not a shield that turns off and on at will. It is not here today and gone tomorrow. It is available at all times and in all circumstances. It is a perpetual shield. It is available throughout life, in the midst of challenges and hurdles. It remains constant regardless whether we are facing 'deep waters', 'rivers of difficulty' or 'the fire of oppression'. Throughout life it remains and even when we pass through the valley of the shadow of death it is as real as at any other time.

He is the rock of refuge that never fails. He is a shield to each one who will trust in Him. This shield does not just cover one area of our lives. The problems with shields are that they only protect us on one front. Our Heavenly Shield will never fail us no matter what side the problems may come from. HE is a shield that goes right around us - even on our blind side.  Just like with the ozone shield around the earth - where there is no alternative - so it is with God, He is our only shield our only alternative. Every other thing that we think is a shield will fail us, but He will remain faithful.

"Great is Thy faithfulness!" O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

"Great is Thy faithfulness!" "Great is Thy faithfulness!"
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
"Great is Thy faithfulness, " Lord, unto me!

Written by a Guest Blogger
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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Thank you for the music






The summer has nearly gone, and we are just getting out and about. One of the strange things about the COVID-19 rules is the recommendation not to sing in public gatherings. Singing is good for the soul. It lifts your spirits and creates a sense of community and kinship. I, for one, have missed community singing. Music and songs create passion in our hearts and evoke vivid memories. 


A very effective method of learning is linked to the rhythm of repeating words that somehow glue the words or the facts to our minds. Most of us didn’t necessarily enjoy it but we often learned facts or figures by musical rhythm. If you went to Sunday School you may remember the learning Bible verses by rote, for example, “For God so loved the world …” or “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ …” or maybe “Honour your Father and your Mother”. All of this was to get some important facts from the Bible into your young mind for the purpose of living life and one-day meeting God.   

If I was asked to quote some piece of a great piece of literature, I might struggle but if you whistled a tune of a popular song, I might amaze myself by my ability to recall the words. Maybe you can do this as well. Music has a powerful effect on our memories!  

Try stopping someone in the street and ask what song from church they remember. It could be ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘All things bright and beautiful’ or ‘The old rugged cross’.  Others might say Psalm 23 as this is one hymn that is repeatedly sung at weddings and funerals. You might be thinking ‘I’ve never heard of it’. That’s a shame as it has very inspiring words. 






Verse four of the psalm says, 'though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me'. It reminds me that we will all face the 'valley of the shadow of death' one day. Our path through life is tough at times and it is certain that we will all face death at the end of life. The reason we all die is explained in the Bible by the statement 'the wages of sin is death'. The Bible makes it clear that death is the means of moving from this life to the next. 

At the end of the psalm the writer states 'I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever'. The writer is sure that there is life after death. Other writers in the Bible make it clear that God has revealed that there are two destinations in the afterlife.  One called Heaven and the other called Hell. You may wonder why the writer of Psalm 23 is so sure that he will be in heaven. I think the answer lies in the fact that he can say 'the Lord is my shepherd'.


The Bible records that the Lord Jesus Christ 'came into the world to save sinners'. He said one day 'I am the good shepherd the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep'. The Bible describes human beings as wandering sheep when it states that 'all we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way'. But it also explains that 'the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all’. This means that Jesus took the punishment for our guilt so that we can be forgiven. He rose from the dead on the third day and returned to heaven forty days later; where he is now.

If you don’t know the words of Psalm 23, get someone who does to hum the tune to you. Maybe it will come back to you. If you can't find a willing soul to sing for you grab a Bible, look in the index for the Psalms and read it for yourself. You could be amazed to discover how the words come alive as they describe the safety of being loved and cared for by the Shepherd. Maybe you would like to know how this could become real for you. If so, get in touch with me I would love to help you.

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Thursday, July 16, 2020

Five Key Principles for Successful Living





How we live our lives is vitally important. There are principles that guide each one of us. These could be positive or negative guidelines by which we live our lives. If we will live by God’s principles, we can expect to see His favour and blessing.  If we live by what ‘seems good to us’ it can often take us down a path we would later regret. Have you ever considered what are the principles by which you live your life?   The earlier we discover and apply these, the better, but it is never too late to begin!

 

Principle No 1 – You can be forgiven

 

We can and need to receive forgiveness from God. ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’ Because Jesus paid for our sins in full; we can know what it means to be forgiven. ‘He cancelled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.’ God is willing to remove our sin from us. ‘As far as the east is from the west’, so far is He willing to remove them from us.

 

Why does the Bible say, ‘as far as the East is from the West?’ Why did does it not say as far as the North is from the South? This is one great picture of God’s love. The North and South pole are definite points. You can go to those spots. But there is no East or West pole. When you get there, you can still go further to the East. So, in a very real sense, when God says, ‘as far as the East is from the West’ He means that He has totally and forever removed our sins, they are not coming back to haunt us.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Two key factors post Covid - Health and Wealth





At this present time there are two important matters that are occupying the attention of the world's population due to the COVID 19 virus.  


The first is how it is affecting the health of people no matter where they live or their social status. The virus is showing no respect of persons. It is affecting royalty, heads of government and celebrities plus the man in the street. Thousands of families have felt the devastating effect of the virus, which has brought death to their loved ones. People who have observed a healthy diet and regularly exercised have not been immune from infection and some have died. 


The second matter is wealth.  

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Thursday, July 02, 2020

The Panacea for a Pandemic





In recent months scientists, medical experts and researchers have been working around the clock in search of a cure or vaccination for Covid-19. Huge amounts of money have been injected into the project and every attempt is being made to provide a solution to this global pandemic. Meanwhile many are dying and statistics are alarming. The virus has spread with amazing rapidity right across the world, just weeks after initial reports of its outbreak in Wuhan in China. No one has been spared: the rich, the poor, the famous and the unknown, religious and pagan; all classes have succumbed to its devastating effects. It has crossed all boundaries and no state, county, city, country or continent could halt its rapid advance.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

A lot can change in a minute!





A lot can change in a minute. We all know the cliches about a week being a long time (in politics) and a lot can happen in a day but the truth is that life can change completely in less than a minute. 

For instance if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time something can happen that you never envisaged and suddenly everything changes. I’ll never forget when eleven year old Rhys Jones from my home city of Liverpool was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He lived in a respectable home in a decent area of the city. His mum worked in our local Tesco Store. He was just an ordinary boy enjoying life, loving his football and playing out, as boys do. But on that sad day he died in the crossfire between two rival gangs. For the Jones family the 22nd of August 2007 everything changed in a moment. His life was ended, his parents and family were devastated and his blood was on the hands of the young man who pulled the trigger and those who were involved in providing the weapon. 

I apologise if the recall of this tragic incident drags up painful memories for any who read this. I cannot express my sympathy enough for your loss and the lifelong grief that results from it. I’m not writing to try to explain why such horrible things happen - apart from the obvious fact that people are capable of doing evil things, as well as good, and that they will be held responsible for what they have done on the future day of judgment. I am writing to remind you of how life can change irrevocably in a moment. 

So, what are the lessons we need to learn and what difference can it make in our lives? There are many!

Enjoy the moment!
Value and cherish your relationships!
Don’t take people for granted!
Make the most of the time you have!
Things are not that important, people are!
Tell people you care and appreciate them while you can!
Try to live without regrets!
As much as depends on you live at peace with others!
Forgive and forget!
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Sunday, June 21, 2020

Father’s Day



Father's Day first began because of a woman named Grace Golden Clayton from Fairmount, West Virginia in the United States of America.  The story goes that she was inspired to do this after a mining disaster killed 362 local men. Their deaths orphaned more than 1,000 children and Grace wanted to pay tribute to the children’s dead fathers - as well as her own.

Each year in the UK Father’s Day takes place on the third Sunday of June. It is one of those dates we really don't want to forget, but it is often shrugged off by us dads as a lot of fuss about nothing - an attitude which can, possibly, betray something of what we feel about the role itself. On Mother's day we tell mothers how great they are and on Father's day we tell fathers what they need to do to be great fathers - it's almost as if a mother "automatically" becomes great while a father must continually work at it! 

There are a number of "description" given of a father:-
a person who growls when he feels good and laughs very loud when he's scared.
a person who gets very angry when the school reports aren't as good as he thinks they should be.
a person who hurries away from the breakfast table, off to the arena which is sometimes called an office to tackle the dragon with three heads: weariness, work, and monotony.
a person who gives his daughter to a man who isn't nearly good enough so he can have grandchildren that are better than anyone else's.

Someone has said (and I believe it is true) that "A Boy loves his mother, but he follows his father." That places a tremendous responsibility on fathers.  God truly is the most wonderful Father of all!  The fact that He would love the unworthy, save them by His grace and adopt them into His family proves this.  Add to this the fact that He looks out for His children and takes care of them in spectacular fashion.  I am glad that He is my Father today!

Can we honestly say that we are saved by the grace of God?  Do we know that He is our Father and we are His children.  If we can’t say that, then we need to come to Him right now and call on Him. If we will, He will save us!  He can help us get all our priorities in their proper order.

If we have needs in our lives and need help; there is no better place to bring those needs than to God the Father Himself.  He invites us to come before Him and get the help we need right now.  If we want to know God as our Father and know how wonderful He is, we need to bow at His feet and tell Him just how we feel about Him.  I have a sneaking suspicion that He might like that!

Used with permission Messages with Meaning (21/06/20)
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Thursday, June 18, 2020

Who would you ‘take the knee’ for’







The Foreign Secretary has said he would not "take a knee" in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, arguing that the protest is "a matter of personal choice".

Asked on Thursday whether he would take part in the symbolic show of support, Dominic Raab said on Thursday: "I take the knee for two people; the Queen and the Mrs when I asked her to marry me." The Independant Thursday 18th June 10:30

So here is my question. Who would you take the knee to? I understand the symbolism of ‘taking the knee’ to demonstrate disgust at how black people have been treated. I agree they we must all stand up for the dignity of every human being. Whether they are born and unborn, young and old, whatever their mental state, social status, colour or race we must do this. 
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Saturday, June 06, 2020

Saving Lives - Describing a Hero





A plaque was unveiled in the waiting room near platform 6 at Carlisle Railway Station on 17th December 2009, in memory of a former signalman, Bill Taylor. While on duty on 1 May 1984 Bill realised that something had happened to prevent the brakes automatically stopping the rear section of a freight train from running away. Recognising that in the darkness the driver was probably unaware that the rear section of the train had become uncoupled, Bill knew he had only moments to act. The locomotive and the front part of the heavy freight train that was still coupled to it were allowed to run forward into Carlisle Citadel station. Still under the control of the driver, this part of the train was brought safely to a standstill.

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Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Anchor of the Soul - what is the foundation for your life?




Life can be uncertain! Things can change in an instant! So, what keeps your feet on the ground? What gives you certainty? What is the foundation that your life is built on? Maybe you have never looked at life from this perspective. Well, there's no better time to do it than now. This message may get you thinking. I hope so


The first-century symbol of Christianity was an anchor, not a Cross. Christians adopted the anchor as a symbol of hope in the future because the anchor was regarded in ancient times as a symbol of safety. The message of the biblical message of the gospel teaches us how we can be ‘safe’ or ‘saved’.


You may ask why we need that safety or what we need to be saved from? 


The answer is that, in reality, life without God life is hopeless, There is an absence of hope. Life does not make sense without God who is the creator, the source of all things. This may not be your world view but it makes sense of the world and everything fits when God is in the picture.

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Sunday, May 10, 2020

Have you got the Symptoms?




The outbreak and spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought about a large measure of panic throughout the world. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the first case was recorded in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, and since then it has rapidly extended to multiple other countries worldwide, and been declared a global pandemic. It is predicted to have implications upon medical, economical, societal, political and educational spheres on an unprecedented and unparalleled scale.

According to the U.K. National Health Service, symptoms of the virus are similar to those of the common flu, including fever, breathing difficulties, and, in severe cases, pneumonia, and organ failure. The NHS explains that because the Coronavirus is a new illness, there is still much to be learned regarding how it is transmitted, and how it may be treated. As the situation develops, the authorities are continually issuing updates on how best to avoid contamination and respond to signs of infection.

However, there is a disease that is far more concerning and urgent than COVID-19 could ever be; its contamination is more extensive and its consequences are infinitely more extreme. The Bible tells us of a sickness that afflicts every person on earth: "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" Romans 3.23. It is in every single person, for we are all "in sin" from birth, Psalm 51.5. Its symptoms are evident in every aspect of our lives: it infects our thoughts, our words, our actions, our steps, and even the motives of our hearts (see Romans 3.9-19). It is an infection that spreads from head to toe, and it is one that we simply cannot escape from or cure by ourselves, no matter how hard we try. Many people in the world show carelessness and indifference to the seriousness of sin, but this sickness has a one hundred percent mortality rate: the solemn outcome is the same for everyone: "the wages of sin is death" Romans 6.23.

While various treatments and a cure for the Coronavirus are still uncertain and under pressing active research, the Bible thankfully makes it clear that a complete and perfect remedy for the sickness of our sin has been provided. In His death upon the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ "bare our sins in His own body" 1Peter 2.24, and "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" Hebrews 9.26. Even though our sin is the most deadly and dangerous disease of all, the blood of Christ can cleanse us from it all: "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin" 1John 1.7. His love was so great that He was willing to give Himself for us, and take the punishment in our stead. The work is entirely finished, and all we must do is trust Him, Who died for us and rose again, as the Saviour of our souls.

However, time is limited. You need to avail of the cure while there is still opportunity. Would you love to know your sins are completely and eternally forgiven? Because "Christ died for us" Romans 5.8, God can forever forgive and save your soul.

Written by a Guest Blogger for FTMP (Assembly Testimony May/June 2020)
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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Important Meetings



It could be said, without fear of contradiction, that a substantial part of life is taken up with meetings. In the last while meetings have morphed into 'virtual meetings' via Skype, Microsoft Teams, FaceTime, Zoom. GoToMeeting and the like.


These may be unimportant or they could be life changing. We hear folks say, “We’ll meet to discuss it over a cup of coffee.” I heard one mother say to another, “It’s our son’s birthday on Saturday week and we’ll need to meet to arrange the catering.”
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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Handling Grief






Tragedies happen? "Why?”  Why does God allow bad things to happen? 

Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something to which a bond was formed.  Grief is a natural response to loss. It is the emotional suffering one feels when something or someone the individual loves is taken away. Grief is also a reaction to any loss. The grief associated with death is familiar to most people, but we grieve in connection with a variety of losses throughout our lives, such as unemployment, ill health or the end of a relationship. 

Every step of the grieving process is natural and healthy. It is only when a person gets stuck in one step for a long period of time that the grieving can become unhealthy, destructive and even dangerous. Going through the grieving process is not the same for everyone, but everyone does have a common goal; acceptance of the loss and to keep moving forward. The process is different for every person and can involve a wide range of feelings, thoughts, and behaviours. The goal of grieving is not the elimination of all the pain or the memories of the loss. The goal is to reorganise one’s life, so the loss is an important part of life rather than its centre. There is not a right or a wrong way to grieve.  Everyone grieves differently.  

As a Christian, while I grieve I turn to God’s Word to find strength and comfort. The book of Proverbs says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding" The more you know God, the more you will trust God. What is there not to trust? He is completely loving, wise, powerful, and good, but it is one thing to express a belief in God, and another to actually trust in him with all your heart. Trusting the Lord with all your heart means walking out, by faith, on his Word, no matter what consequences or opposition you may face.

Trusting God wholeheartedly also means resolutely refusing to lean on your own understanding. This, of course, does not mean that we are to give up the sound mind and reasoning spirit that God has given us. But it does mean that we are not to rely on our limited knowledge, experience, and emotions to guide us safely through life.

The question to ask yourself is this: do you trust God in precisely those places where your natural inclination is strongest against his leadership or direction or commandments? When the Bible clearly spells out his counsel, will you take it regardless of your personal preferences or preconceptions?

It is precisely at those places where we are least inclined to listen to or follow God that we are most able to show our devotion to him and our trust of him. Is there an area of your life today in which you have the opportunity to trust in the Lord, rather than in your own understanding? If so, cast all your cares upon Him because He's the only One who really does care for you.


Written by a Guest Blogger
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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Someone's looking for you




In this busy world, where so many prying eyes are frequently upon us, it is difficult to escape the surveillance that we are so often under. Transactions carried out, using our credit cards, mean that we can be easily tracked and our movements monitored. CCTV cameras are everywhere and with sites like Google Earth, very little remains secret; complete strangers can visit our homes and move down our streets, undetected. "Big Brother Is Watching!"
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