Monday, April 29, 2024

A perfect accounting system

All photos courtesy of Unsplash. 


Sometimes, we wonder about the things that go wrong in some of the institutions that we have trusted for a long time, writes Bert Cargill of St Monans Gospel Hall. A recent one, still in the news, is the so-called Horizon scandal in the Post Office accounting system.

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

This scandal has become horrifying as more and more comes to light. We learned that the computerised accounting system had real and potential faults, which were recognised early on. But they were ignored and covered up, so innocent sub-postmasters were accused of theft and embezzlement when their books didn’t balance. It is a disgrace how they were treated as criminals to their great harm and loss, physical, mental and financial. And now the compensation they are due is still delayed while an official Inquiry drags on. For some, that compensation comes too late.

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

It is almost beyond belief that such practices existed for years in what was traditionally a trustworthy establishment.

But I am reminded of a perfect accounting system that has no flaws, injustices, or cover-ups. It belongs to God, who is called the Judge of all the earth. And we are all to face this accounting, for the Bible tells us that “every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14.12).

None of us has a perfect account to present to God, far from it. But that old account can be cancelled, and a new and perfect one can be put in its place, given by Jesus Christ, who died for us to make this possible. If we trust Him, our guilt is removed, our sins are forgiven, and He gives us a perfect salvation. Is that not worth having?



Thursday, April 18, 2024

What if the world stopped spinning?


All photos courtesy of Unsplash

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. A few days before my departure date, I read on the web 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. 


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. 

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

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


Monday, April 01, 2024

Is truth flexible?


All photos courtesy of Unsplash

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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