Thursday, April 18, 2024

What if the world stopped spinning?

 









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How would you feel if your bins were not emptied and rubbish was lying in the street? Not so long ago, in Warrington (near where I live), that’s the way it was. Some refuse workers and street cleaners were on strike, probably for good reasons. However, it did expose many people to potential health hazards. 

A couple of years ago, I was going to Ballymena in Northern Ireland for a week. My planned route of travel took me through Liverpool John Lennon Airport. I read on the web a few days before my departure date that some baggage handlers were on strike. On arrival at the airport, expecting long delays, I was delighted (very selfishly) to find out that the strike did not affect my flight. It did, however, inconvenience many people and cost the travelling public money in the long run, as employees had to be shipped in from Dublin and other places to do the striker's jobs. 

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Tuesday, April 09, 2024

What will you be remembered for?

 





All photos courtesy of Unspalsh

I have been reading Matthew 26, which records the events leading up to the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. In amongst the stench of betrayal and hatred, Matthew recalls a time in Bethany a few days earlier when he and the other disciples were in Simon's house with the Lord. His memory is full of the scent of Spikenard - a precious, costly anointment used to anoint bodies for burial. He remembered how, during their meal together, Mary had entered and broken open a new casket of this vastly expensive oil and poured the lot all over the head of the Lord Jesus. There was so much that as it trickled down upon His body and feet the air they breathed was instantly intoxicated by its heavenly scent.

 

Everyone was aghast. 'What a waste', they had said indignantly - 'that should have been sold and given to charity'. They thought investing in worship and demonstrating love for the Saviour was a waste of money. But they were missing the point. Lazarus, Mary's brother, was in the room that day. Yet only a few days before, absolutely distraught, Mary and her sister Martha had anointed Lazarus's dead body with oil, wrapped him in grave clothes and participated in the burial service. By the time the Lord Jesus finally arrived three days later, Lazarus's body had already declined into stinking decay, all hope gone. Yet, they had stood with the Lord at the mouth of Lazarus's burial chamber and heard Him call 'Lazarus come forth', and so he had wound up in burial clothes, yet not a whiff of death upon him. 'Loose him and let him go' the Lord had said, and so they had. Later, he sat with them for a meal, talking and eating like everyone else. Sorrow had turned to unimaginable joy. 





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Mary knew that if the Lord was to be crucified, it would be entirely by His choice. Death had no claim upon Him. She recognised Him as the Holy Son of God, sent into the world to voluntarily lay down His life as a perfect sacrifice to take away the stench of sin and death and hell for all those who wanted forgiveness from God. She showed her appreciation and ensured that the scent of spikenard would linger upon His body all through His sacrificial suffering until the time that He rose again, breaking the bond of death forever, past, present and future. The Lord made it clear that He understood, silencing her critics and declaring that wherever the gospel is preached, her act of faith and love should be told as a memorial of her.  

 

I wonder what you and I will be remembered for. I pray that the scent of Mary's worshipful act of appreciation will stir your heart today to understand that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. When you reach that point, you will realise He came into the world to provide salvation through His death on the cross. You need Him and the salvation He offers. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.


Used by kind permission

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Monday, April 01, 2024

Is truth flexible?

 




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I may be old-fashioned, but I was raised to trust police officers and believe that people who held high office were above reproach and took their oaths very seriously. However, in recent years that way of thinking has been challenged. The question that is often asked is - are the people who behave in this less than honourable way 'just one bad apple in the barrel', or is their behaviour indicative of systemic problems in our police forces and political hierarchy.


As any regular readers of this blog will know, my aim is not to address or discuss the political problems of the day. However, sometimes behaviour in society is a window to the general malaise that has crept into our culture. So my questions are: Does truth really matter? Is truth flexible? Do we have our own truth? Of course, the answers to these questions will depend on who you are asking and the circumstances we find ourselves in.


So where do we turn for answers to these questions? 






All photos courtesy of Unsplash


Let's think for a moment about standards and truth in other areas of life. If you want to know the rules for driving on roads in the UK, you will refer to the Highway Code - where the points in the code are supported by law; the wording is 'must' and 'must not' rather than 'should' and 'should not'. When a Doctor, a nurse or a Pharmacist is looking for crucial information on the selection, prescription, dispensing and administration of medicines, they refer to the BNF (the British National Formulary). And so on - the Magna Carta, the Constitution of the United States. There are standards, and we are expected to live by them.


So it is when it comes to matters of morality. The key document to define morality is the Bible. It has long been accepted as the foundation of civilised society - don't just take my word for it. Listen to and read what writers and thinkers such as Tom Holland, Professor John Lennox and Jordan Peterson have to say about the Bible and its influence on Western Civilisation.

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Thursday, March 28, 2024

Easter Reflections

 



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Bert Cargill of St Monans Gospel Hall writes that most people are looking forward to Easter weekend now. It might be just for the extra springtime holiday, but for many of us, it will be another opportunity to look back on something amazing that happened nearly 2000 years ago and hasn’t lost its value. Yes, that’s when the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross and then rose again on the first Easter Sunday.

His followers were not looking forward to that weekend. He had told them that He was going to be arrested, condemned, brutally treated and crucified, and they would scatter into hiding. They had not looked forward to all that; in fact, they could not believe it!






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Friday, March 22, 2024

There’s no such a thing as a Free lunch.







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The title of this article is a fairly common saying that suggests you can’t really have something for nothing. Even to obtain that which is allegedly free can incur hidden charges, perhaps small and inconsequential, but still, it proves the item is not completely free. Recently, I saw a health course that was advertised as free; the word ‘free’ appeared several times in the paragraphs, introducing the contents and benefits of signing up for this essential, must-have information. At the end of the advertisement, however, in very small print, it was revealed that it was free only for the first month and thereafter you were obliged to pay a monthly fee to receive the remainder of the course.

My friend, salvation is absolutely free; you do not have to pay a penny or give God anything in exchange for this priceless possession. Salvation is not for sale; it is a free gift obtained without money or price, to be received instantly by an empty hand of faith. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” Romans 6.23.

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Sunday, March 17, 2024

Are you satisfied?

 







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Within the heart of every human being is a strong desire for something that seems elusive—true and lasting satisfaction. Satisfaction is rarely found because anything we enjoy only lasts for a limited time. This applies to almost everything we enjoy, whether a delicious meal, a holiday away, or good times with friends and family. There is a degree of truth in the saying, “All good things must come to an end.” 

 

The Bible seems to back this up, it tells of a man called Moses, a godly man who initially lived in Ancient Egypt who ultimately led the Children of Israel out of slavery. The New Testament records in Hebrews 11:25 that he “choose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” The Bible says that the things that we enjoy on earth, whether they are good things or sinful things, they only last for a season. King Solomon, probably the richest man of his time, understood this too; he said in Ecclesiastes 1:8: “The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear has its fill of hearing”. That is to say, we never have enough stimulus to keep our natural senses interested. The Lord Jesus said that it was foolish to find satisfaction in the material things around us. Luke 12:15 says, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of things the things which he possesses.” 

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Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Are you afraid of growing old?

 







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We know that life is constantly changing and that nothing lasts forever. In many ways, this is a harsh and sad reality. Most of us find it hard to accept that we will grow old, that loved ones will pass on, and that children will grow up and leave home. You know the types of things that I am talking about. Sad but true!




Please read on, as I have good news for you. The Bible teaches that God made us with an eternal soul. The soul is the real person, the real you. Although the body stops living upon our physical death, the soul lives on. Many people don't believe this anymore. The late Stephen Hawking, a British Physicist and author, dismissed the notion of an afterlife. He once said 'I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers. That is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark'. 




This argument sounds very feasible, especially when proposed by such an intelligent man. However, it ignores that we are not just biological computers. It ignores man's consciousness, which the best of brains have grappled with but have to admit is beyond their explanation. Consciousness cannot be defined in purely physiological terms. Add to this the evidence for the supernatural and the spiritual, and you have many questions that we will struggle to answer unaided.

 

Let me remind you of the book, which has for generations provided answers that could not find their source solely in the mind of a human being - the Bible. It is easy to dismiss the Bible as purely the writings of men, but that would not be doing justice to its information, origins and the consistency of its message. The Bible has an inbuilt prediction and fulfilment testing system, which either stands or falls on the substantive evidence of archaeology, science, history, geography and social development. There have been no developments to date in any of these disciplines which have produced evidence that undermines the truthfulness and integrity of the Bible.


If all of this is true, may I suggest we pay more attention to what the Bible teaches about life, death, the afterlife, God, etc.? For example, one of the books of the Bible (John's gospel) explicitly states that it was written 'that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing you might have life through his name'. 


I pray that this will be the outcome if you read the Bible for yourself.


I invite you to read more articles about how to have peace with God.


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Sunday, March 10, 2024

Mother’s Day






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Today, we celebrate a day that the world calls Mother’s Day. It is a time when we remember to be particularly nice to our mothers. Mother’s Day is good for many but hard for others. Not only are many today isolated from their mothers, but not everyone has a mother they can celebrate. Mother's Day is tough if we have a mother unable to do the things mothers are meant to do. If we have lost our mother or never knew her, then today is painful, but Mother’s Day goes deeper. 



All photos courtesy of Unsplash

It takes us beyond individuals' celebrations or regrets and points to the joy and difficulty of human love and the call to love as God loves. It is an exploration of God's love in the face of the human condition. At a time when the human condition is being rather clearly brought home to us, Mother’s Day offers us insight.

The words of a 1987 hit by rock group Heart called “Who will you run to?” go like this: “I’m not going to sing it or play air guitar—I have no desire to become an internet sensation for all the wrong reasons. Who will you run to when it all falls down? Who’s gonna pick your world up off the ground? Who’s gonna take away the tears you cry? Who’s gonna love you, baby, as good as I?"

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Friday, March 08, 2024

Do you find the state of the world alarming?







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Are you frightened about the state of the world at the moment? Many people find it very scary, as every day brings another disaster. Murder seems to be so commonplace! Daily, we hear of someone else going on the rampage and killing people! Individual acts of terrorism are on the increase, resulting in the tragedy of people being deprived of their loved ones by an act of violence. Yesterday's events seem so long ago as we wake up to hear of another tragic evil act being perpetrated.


I find it all very distressing, and sadly, I can see the inevitability of how the world is going. The Bible teaches that conditions in society will get worse and worse as time progresses. Paul, an old man, wrote to Timothy, a young man – ‘but understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with deceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness but denying its power,’ 2 Timothy 3:1-5. I think what the Bible says in these verses is staring us in the face. Do you recognize a description of our society?


If we reject the moral compass of the Bible, there are ultimately consequences. In effect, morality becomes subjective and personal. There is no absolute standard of right and wrong. Everyone does what is right in his or her own eyes. This is not a new problem. It happened in Bible times and many times since, but every time it happens, the results are disastrous. The old book says ‘there is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way of death,’ Proverbs 14:12. 

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Thursday, March 07, 2024

An Artist’s Picture of Peace






There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who could paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The king looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them. One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror of peaceful towering mountains which were all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.


The other picture had mountains too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell, and in which lightning flashed. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all. But when the king looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. in the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest in perfect peace.

Which do you think won the prize? The king chose the second picture. Do you know why? “Because,” explained the king, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.” True peace is found not in the absence of crisis, but in the presence of Christ. Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

How do we receive this peace? When Christ calls obey. When storms distract you pray. When Christ comes let Him stay. Let Jesus change your life. It's simple, but be genuine and honest about what you are doing. You simply have to believe that Jesus lives,  admit that you have done wrong things and thought wrong thoughts in the sight of a holy God, ask Jesus for His forgiveness through His sacrifice for you on the cross, and then ask Him to come and change your life. 

And He will - "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rom 10.9)

What happens next? You will start a relationship with the one true God - you can claim that special peace in your life that only Jesus gives.

Now stand on the promises of the risen Christ:-
"I am with you always, even to the end of the age"
"My peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives ... Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid."

Written by a Guest blogger 
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Tuesday, March 05, 2024

Significant Milestones








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In the past month, I have witnessed some significant milestones in life. Firstly, my old aunt of 90 years of age passed away. It was a wonderful release for her as she was sure of arriving safely in heaven when she closed her eyes in death. You may think this to be presumptive or ill-founded. My aunt was an intelligent person who had a career as a school teacher. Many years ago, she had become convinced that her sins needed to be forgiven and that humans are accountable to their Creator. Her hope was based solidly on the following verses from the Bible:


‘The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost,’ 1 Timothy 1. 15


Jesus said, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life,’ John 5:24


‘The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance,’ 2 Peter 3:9.


The second milestone was a wedding. I love weddings, but this one was a bit more daunting as I was officiating at it. Everything had to be right as I stood before friends and family - no pressure. A wedding is a wonderful occasion marked by love, joy and beauty. The Creator attended the first wedding in the Bible as He united two lives in the great joy of an intimate relationship. The Lord Jesus also attended a wedding in Cana of Galilee and brought joy to the day when he replenished the supply of wine. Wine in the Bible is often a symbol of joy. He, Jesus, still brings joy to those who welcome His presence and company as they walk the path of life.

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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Home Sweet Home

 



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Do you enjoy the warm feeling of being in your home? That assumes, of course, that you have a home, you enjoy being at home, or your home is in a fit state to live in. However, home life can be a nightmare for many people. It is often a place of confrontation, where you are on edge, unsure what will happen next. For others, home just doesnt exist. Its a dream, something that, so far, just hasnt happened for them – couch surfing, shared accommodation or, at worst, they have ended up living on the street. 

 

Ive been privileged to travel extensively in the last 10 to 15 years. There seemed to be abundant wealth in North America, but despite Uganda being a beautiful country, there is significant poverty. Yet, at the same time, the people are really happy. In Pakistan, for the average person, life is just so hard, and it’s incredible to see what some people call home - tents, etc. Those living in comfortable, safe, dry homes should be grateful and appreciative.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Learning Lessons from the Four Seasons

 




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The church where I am a member hosts an event for people with memory problems once a month. The aim is to support the carers and individuals increasingly struggling with cognitive-related issues. It’s a great morning and seems to benefit all who come.


At the start, someone does a brief session to ensure everyone is orientated - time, day, month, year, place, season, etc. Most of us need help identifying the season at certain times of the year (usually at the beginning and the end of each season). 


In the United Kingdom, we have four clearly defined seasons, as do ‘most countries at a similar latitude (the same distance away from the equator) to the UK. Other parts of the world may only have two seasons - a winter and a summer, or a wet and a dry season 1. I find it fascinating that despite all the climate change that is suggested, discussed and debated, in the main, seasons are still the same as defined in one of the oldest records of human history, the Bible. Genesis chapter 8 verse 22 records the promise of God to Noah (after the worldwide flood - another event that reoccurs in the history of many ancient civilisations) - ‘While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease’.

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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Cadbury’s Chocolate







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The name Cadbury is associated, in many peoples minds, with their range of chocolate products but there is more to their story than the production of sweet confectionery.

In 1879 George and Richard Cadbury moved their factory out of the centre of Birmingham into the healthy clear air of the rural Bournbrook Estate. George Cadbury was appalled at the terrible living conditions of workers in the city and he wanted better lives for those he employed. So alongside the new factory a village was constructed. The brothers adopted a french sounding name Bournville, for the area, as France had a good reputation for food and they thought that this might help in boosting sales of their products.

An Architect was employed to design the village. Rules were strict, each house was not to occupy more than a quarter of the building plot. Gardens had to be not less than one sixth of an acre and have at least six fruit trees.
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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Morning has broken - a song of encouragement







Photos courtesy of Unsplash 

The popular and well-known Christian hymn ‘Morning has broken” was first published in 1931. It has words by English author Eleanor Farjeon, and is set to a traditional Scottish Gaelic tune known as "Bunessan" and is often sung in children's services. In 1971, a hit version of "Morning Has Broken" was recorded by British singer Cat Stevens, helping to popularise the hymn in the UK and North America. 

A morning prayer is a wonderful way to focus our time and attention on seeking God's plan for the day ahead. With the current problems in Ukraine and Gaza we certainly need encouragement, peace, strength, and rest. Thankfully God can meet us in a very real and present way when we come before Him with a humble heart. We need to seek  God's presence each morning before our energy and attention is pulled by all the tasks we have ahead. Here is a poem by an unknown author to encourage us to seek God today and every day:-

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