Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mobiles in your Coffin

According to a recent BBC report more and more people are requesting that when they die their mobile phones are placed in their coffins. The first noted cases of this were from South Africa. Some in the Cape Town area spoke of their fear of a voodoo spell which they believed would make them appear to be dead. Their concern was that they would then be buried alive by well meaning relatives. The idea of the mobile was that when they came to in their coffins they could phone a friend. I suspect however that the reception isn't that good from under 6 feet of soil! As the trend circumnavigates the world the placing of such goods in a coffin appears to be because people want buried with totems that represented their lives. For some there may also be the Tutankhamen effect, i.e. that these goods will be of help in the life to come. One undertaker wil even slip in a spare set of batteries - just in case!
This recent trend speaks to us clearly about important spiritual issues. Again we are reminded that knowledge of a life to come is wired into the very fabric of our being - we know deep down that there is life beyond the grave. But the new craze also highlights the spiritual ignorance of our generation. How sad that people consider these pieces of electronic gadgetry so vital that they just can't bear to be parted from them even in death. The Lord Jesus has a clear warning concerning such idolatry, For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34
How tragic too that men and women so misunderstand what lies beyond the grave. How heart breaking that men and women would make such a foolish preparation for the grave as a list of favourite goodies to accompany them and not make that most vital preparation of becoming right with God. The Bible makes it very clear about how we leave this world, Naked a man comes from his mother's womb,and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand. Ecclesiastes 5:5. Equally the Bible makes it clear that when we leave this world heaven or hell is our instant destiny and that the only way of being bound for heaven is to have the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour and Lord. Are you ready?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Death of Henry Morris

On Monday 27th March The Times carried an extremely informative obituary of Henry Morris who died February 25th aged 87. Here was an extremely intellectual man who had no trouble believing what the Bible said about Creation. He was a graduate in civil engineering with a particular interest in hydraulics. As a child Henry Morris had no interest in the things of God. When the Spirit of God opened his eyes to the truth of the gospel he accepted the Bible as the infallible and literal word of God. With his interest in hydraulics and belief in the Bible he had a particular interest in the details of The Flood. He was author of over 60 books dealing with the Bible and science. His book The Genesis Flood was once described as the founding document of the creationist movement. One note in the Times obituary surely shows the measure of the man. On one occasion he was engaged in a debate with a professor of biology who later desribed him as, "unfailingly polite, a real gentleman and a person who was a sincere and committed Christian." It is that spirit of grace and humility that we need today as we respond to the agenda of the world that would seek to knock Christ the Creator from His throne.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Rowan Williams and Teaching Creation

In a recent interview Rowan Williams was asked if he thought creation should be taught in schools. He answered, "I don't think it should actually." In the same interview he referred to creationism as a "category mistake." For an ordinary bloke like me it is often difficult to discern what Mr. Williams is actually talking about, what he actually means by the words that he connects. It seems that his worry is "that creationism can end up reducing the doctrine of creation rather than enhancing it."
You may pity my simplicity but the Word of God is not really that difficult - In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Mr. Williams said that such a statememt "is quite compatible with a degree of uncertainty or latitude about how precisely that unfolds in creative time." But hasn't God said in Genesis 1 how it unfolded in creative time, ie that the Lord created it all in six literal days. Since the God of the Bible was the only one that was there I'm opting for believing God.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Silvio Berlusconi Comments

What I know about Italian politics would fit quite easily on the back of the proverbial postage stamp. However, I do know that Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi appears greatly confused in his understanding of the One who rules the nations, the Lord Jesus Christ. The multi millionaire media mogul turned politician has on several occasions compared himself to the Lord Jesus Christ, even calling himself "the Jesus Christ of politics." The BBC news reported him as saying that he has "suffered like Jesus Christ for Italy." On another occasion he allegedly compared himself to Christ with the comment that he too was a "patient victim sacrificing himself for everyone." Obviously Silvio Berlusconi seems unaware of what the Scripture says regarding the suffering of the Lord. What physical agony Christ endured on that cruel Roman cross. That agony however paled into insignificance compared to the agony of soul when He cried, My God, My God why have you forsaken Me? At that moment the Lord's suffering was at its peak as He bore in His body the sins of many and suffered the punishment of separation from God that was due to others. Never was the Lord a "tireless victim." All that happened to Him on that cross He willingly allowed to happen. Every moment He was in control of. No victim cries out loudly as He did - It is finished. It is not a victim but a victor who says, Into your hands I commit My spirit. As to whether Christ's sacrfice was for everyone - the Scripture is clear on this too. Not long before He died He made it clear that He was the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for HIS SHEEP. Yes His sacrifice on Calvary was so enormous that it would have been sufficient to cover over all. But in the sovereign plans of God it was decreed to be efficient only for the sheep that the Father had given to the Son from before time began.
As men and women turn from their sin and trust in Christ alone to rescue them from the holy wrath of God they will find that they are amongst the sheep in God's flock. This good news is not just for Italians - because Christ suffered, died and rose not just for Italy but for the world.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Book Review Philip and the Revival in Samaria

This book by Geoff Thomas, pastor of Alfred Place Baptist Church Aberystwyth was published in 2005 by the Banner of Truth Trust. It is a study of Acts 8. ALthough a short book of just 120 pages it is filled with many vital truths for the church today. Those who have had the prvilege of listening to Pastor Thomas preach will be able to hear in the text that delightful Welsh cadence and passion. This is an immensely practical book dealing with what it means to be filled with the Spirit, what sort of person the Lord delights to use and some helpful comments on revival. Like all Mr. Thomas's work it is thoroughly reformed and touches down in every day life. It is heart warming and thought provoking. Carefully placed illustrations thoughout make this an easy book to read. It would be a useful tool for your quiet time or the basis of a midweek meeting study. Preachers will find help here too.

Bill Gates - Really Rich?

Surprise, surprise according to the annual rich list in Forbes magazine Mr. William Gates is still number one with an estimated wealth of 50 billion dollars. The magazine also reported that there are now 793 billionaires scattered across the world with the UK having 31 billionaires of its own. No doubt many people around the world envy the wealth that these men have gathered and continue in their lifelong quest to get what they can.
What a contrast to a little old lady, called Ruby, lying almost motionless in her nursing home bed. She is barely 5 stone in weight, is paralysed and needs constant nursing. Her small purse on her bedside locker all that is left of anything by way of financial wealth. She has no bank account, no house to call home, no health, few living relatives. Yet her face shines brightly though her body is twisted and knarled with the effects of disease. She is rich beyond Bill Gates' wildest dreams. She has wealth that will never perish, be corrupted or destroyed. Her billionaire status is in a currency from another world - it is measured in grace. Super abundant grace has been given to her by God. She knows and loves the Lord Jesus Christ. For Ruby her Saviour is her all together lovely one, the fairest of ten thousand. She knows forgiveness, acceptance with God, is a child in God's family - she is a Christian, converted to Christ as a little girl. And all her riches she took with her to her eternal rest when she passed from this world. For all eternity she will be overwhelmed by the riches of God's great grace towards her.
You don't have to win the lottery to get into this list of the really wealthy or do any stock market magic. The message of the Bible is really quite simple. The apostle Paul summarises it when He writes in II Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. God makes it clear in his Word that as sinful human beings, separated from God we are so very poor in the things that matter. In His great love however God's unique Son left the riches of heaven and came to earth and went to the cross so that the penalty for sin could be dealt with and the spiritually poor become rich. When a person turns from their sin and trusts in Christ alone to make them right with God a wonderful transaction occurs. All our bad debt towards God for sin is paid for by Christ and all the riches of His righteousness put to our account. What an offer - and it is all free. There is no small print. Simply Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Then you will be added to the real list rich with Ruby.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Dan Brown's Shock

Apparantly Dan Brown is shocked at the reaction of Baigent and Leigh co authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. Their book is the book that Brown alledgedly plagiarised for his best-selling novel "The Da Vinci Code." If truth be told it is not the reaction of these two authors that Mr. Brown need be concerned about but the living God who is holy and treats with great seriousness any derision or scorn poured on His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. But before too much finger pointing at Mr. Brown and his blasphemous writing I am quickly reminded of my own sin. It is sadly all to easy for many of us to remember with shame days when we treated the things of the Son of God with scorn and our derision rose to God as a great stench.
The gospel writers record for us the most wicked activity ever carried out against the Son of God, namely that they crucified Him on a cruel Roman cross. Those same gospel records also reveal that while the soldiers were piercing His hands and feet that the Lord Jesus was praying - Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing. That prayer was not just for the soldiers but for Mr. Brown and every one of us. It was a prayer that the Lord would not bring His judgement instantly on the world. It was a prayer for a stay of execution so that sinners would have opportunity to hear the gospel, turn from their sin and trust in Christ. How wonderful it would be to hear of Dan Brown's conversion. Christians ought not to put Mr. Brown on their hit list but on their prayer list.
How wonderful it would be to hear of Dan Brown's shock - not at the reaction of men -but shocked to know that the one that he has so greviously sinned against is ready and willing to forgive.

Dunblane - Ten Years On

Who will ever forget the tragedy of Dunblane ten years ago today. In a chilling, planned rampage Thomas Hamilton shot dead 16 children and one teacher while wounding 12 others. Since that autrocity there have been 40 more incidents where children have been shot dead in schools. Thankfully after Dunblane the British government had the wit to ban hand gun ownership by the general public but the debate still goes on about the national firearms registry. No doubt everything should be done that might possibly reduce the chance of such crimes happening again. But what about dealing with the wicked men who do such crimes. Thomas Hamilton took his own life further adding to his crime against God. Others who have carried out such autrocities find themselves with a jail sentence that soon passes. The murder of a human being is not only a great crime against another human being but also against God for man is made in the image of God. The Bible makes clear that such a crime must carry with it the maximum penalty - death.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Journey of Redemption

Just yesterday disgraced former Tory cabinet minister John Profumo died at the grand old age of 91. Some will remember that back in 1963 he was forced to resign over an extra marital affair with a 19 year old prostitute called Christine Keller. Following his disappearance from politics he gave the rest of his life to raising moneys for charities and even offering to be a toilet cleaner. Prime minister Tony Blair's comments about him on the BBC news are most enlightening. Rightly he spoke of his serious mistake and then commented that Mr. Profumo gave himself to a "journey of redemption." I presume that Mr. Blair was referring to redeeming himself in the eyes of the public. However I couldn't help think how Mr. Blair's comments summarise the thoughts of many people in a spiritual dimension. Many imagine that their life is to be a journey of redemption - trying to make up for the all the wrong that they have done and somehow get into God's good books.
The message of Biblical Christianity is the complete opposite to this man made religion. Our lives are a journey of damnation, all that we do corrupted by our sin, even our best efforts as "filthy rags." But thanks be to God that there was one who did indeed have a journey of redemption - the Lord Jesus Christ. His journey, the Bible says, began way back before time when God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, the great three in one God, planned how in love, mercy and justice a great many sinners could be saved from the guilt and punishment of their sin. In the fullness of time the eternal Son came to earth in the form of a man, yet still God and took the sinner's place - keeping the law perfectly and receiving in his body the punishment that was due to others for a broken law. When He hung on Calvary's cross and cried out, "It is finished," that journey of redemption was complete.
Now there is nothing left for us to do, but by grace, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.
What good news the true gospel brings - no journey of redemption to engage in for it has been done. What good news that idolaters, liars, adulterers, blasphemers, thieves, coveters - can as they see their sin and flee to Christ alone in saving faith be in an instant declared right with God and have the sure and certain hope of heaven.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

So When Did I First Exist?

In early March a mother lost her bid in the courts to have children from embryos that she and her former fiance had frozen some time previously. The European Court of Human Rights rejected the mother's case that her human rights had been infringed by a British court which said her former fiancée was entitled to stop her using the embryos. The father's argument was that he did not want the financial or emotional burden of being a father to a child he would not bring up. Some issues on this case touch at the very heart of life. The fact is - this couple do have children - six in all. Yes they are in the very early stages of development and will not develop any more until removed from suspended annimation and implanted in their mother's womb. But already she is a mother and he the father of 6. More than the rights of a man or woman - what about the rights of the the tiny bundles of life which have all the information and potential of useful active human beings? What about their rights to reach full devlopment and be part of a warm and loving family unit as God designed human beings to be? Life according to the Bible does not begin on entrance into this world or some magical date along the pre birth calandar but at conception. David writes in Psalm 139 "For you created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother's womb...My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place...Your eyes saw my unformed body."
How sad our society that the voice of the unborn is so rarely championed. The minds of men and women so shaped by the opinions of the masses. Time again for another look at who I am and when I first came into being. Time again to think - so why do I exist at all. The message of the God of all the earth is quite simple - we exist to praise and glorify Him and we will only be truly happy when our lives are anchored firmly in Him through the finished work of Christ on the cross.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Dispatches - The New Fundamentalists

Tonight Channel 4 continued its attack on evangelical Christianity in Rod Liddle's "The New Fundamentailsts." The journalist was all guns blasting on the Christian faith. It would be easy to become angry at the smug and offensive efforts of Mr. Liddle, especially when he lambasted six day creationist as some sort of backward Hill Billies. His arguments throughout his diatribe were weak and flawed. But his programme was such an encouragment. We were reminded of the truth of the Word of God - that men hate the truth. How encouraging to hear of an increasing number of Christians committed to six day creation. How encouraging to hear Christians say that homosexuality and sex before marriage are sins to be repented of. How encouraging to hear that evanglical Christianity is on the rise and that Christian based schools are amongst the best in the UK. In the end I felt nothing but sorrow for Mr. Liddle - his whole manner in complete contrast to the gracious and clear comments of those who uphold truth and righteousness.
Once again even God's enemies serve His purposes.

Prayer and Preaching

How foolish we can be searching hither and thither for some ways to build the church. God has prescribed a very simple way - prayer and preaching. Saturday's Times newspaper carried the heart warming obituary of Selwyn Hughes who founded Crusade for World Revival. What was it that changed his life? Two simple things owned by God - prayer and preaching. The obituary tells of his conversion to Christ. On his way out for a night's "fun" he overheard his father pray for his conversion at a local mission hall. Those heart felt prayers seemed to lance his soul. He writes in his biography how when he arrived at the dance hall, "the lights seemed less bright that usual, there was something missing in the music...God was calling me." It was not long after this that at a Bible meeting that Hughes committed himself to follow Christ. He spoke of the preaching, "reaching deep into my soul."
Here in the conversion of one man we see what God delights to use - the pleadings of God's people and Spirit owned preaching - Lord imprint this simplicity on the lives of your church - the praying of the saints and the preaching of the Word.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Nearly Right but So Wrong

David Beckam, football superstar turned Mystic Meg has this to say, "Something supernatural guides me, judges me. I feel there is a power watching over us, seeing what we do and taking care of us." Here is the mind of fallen man - so nearly right but so very far wrong. It is not a something that guides and judges - but the eternal God, that wonderful three in one God of the Scripture, the only true and living God. He is not a something - but "personal that is self conscious and self determining, living and active." He is the one in whom we live and move and have our being. He is the one who sees all things, nothing and no one hidden from His gaze. He is the one who delights to be the guide of sinners. He is the one who watches and keeps all who are in union with His Son. This great God sent His eternal Son to earth in the form of a man yet without sin. That wonderful God man, the Lord Jesus Christ willing laid down His life as a substitute for many. He died that sinners like you and me would have life, reconciled to the God we rebel from by nature.
David Beckham also says, "the life path of a soccer player is the best and most wonderful thing that could happen to you." Not so David. The best and most wonderful thing that can happen to you is to be so laid hold of by God that you see your sin, see the wonder of the Lord Jesus Christ, turn from your sin and trust in Him. It is the most wonderful thing to be saved, declared right with God, be forgiven, brought into the family of the living God, have a Father in heaven who guides and cares. It is the most wonderul thing to have a Saviour, who has been judged in our place that when we have that certain appointment with God that we will hear those words - you can go free - another has taken your judgement.
Who knows maybe in God's great grace many soccer players will come to know the wonderful life.