Chance Events: Luck, Molecules or God

My bunch of keys sometimes get quite tangled. Maybe you have a set that does the same. The other day they got into such a tangle that it seemed like the only way to sort them out was to take the whole bunch apart. I didn’t have time just then so I put them in my coat pocket to sort another time.

The next day I reached into my pocket, pulled out the bunch of keys and you guessed it, they were completely untangled. I was so stunned by it – they were really tangled – that it got me thinking how this could be. Did the molecules of that bunch of keys just happen to perfectly align as they were before – untangled? I have absolutely no idea.

Was it luck then? Some would call it that. It certainly saved me some time, frustration and maybe a broken nail or two. To some, that explanation makes perfect sense. Not luck you say, that’s just how it is. We simply live in an uncaring impersonal world and my bunch of keys just untangled themselves. Who cares about your keys! But think for a moment and apply the same principle to a cancer diagnosis. It’s still an impersonal uncaring world and the molecules just happened to align into a death sentence or months of treatment. Suddenly it matters. Or what if the molecules uncaringly aligned in the shape of a car and ran you over. Suddenly it’s personal and your impersonal uncaring world is important. The way you see the world changed. It’s personal and it matters.

It’s funny and ‘hip’ (perhaps as a student) to have a poster that says ‘Shit Happens’ Except no one lives like that. Not really. Posters like that are a distraction at best and at worst a terrible lie.  But your attitude to something simple like an untangled set of keys or similar ‘unimportant’ event will speak volumes. One of my sociology lecturers would say, and did say when I briefly discussed ‘meaning’ with him – ‘but what if it doesn’t matter and there is no meaning’. Which is what he seemed to think. Well, what if it doesn’t matter. It’s ok (it isn’t really) to think like that in an academic high tower: but if I had randomly decided to smash his kneecap with a hammer I’m guessing that would matter an awful lot! If nothing else, the pain would communicate meaning.

But instead of it being luck, or a random favourable – or unfavourable – alignment of molecules; what if it were an intervention of God. What we call a Providence of God – good and bad. If we put it down to God that introduces meaning and purpose into even the most unimportant things like my set of keys. It changes everything. No ‘random’ lining up of molecules here.

Just to be clear I am uninterested in suggesting some random deity to hang every occurrence on, good or bad, but rather the Christian God, the God of The Bible, The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Years ago a man I used to work with said ‘The trouble with you Christians is that if anything good happens you put it down to God but if anything bad happens you conveniently blame the devil’. As if God needs excusing. That may be a popular misconception and if it is it could be our fault as Christians for miscommunicating. But I had to explain that both good and bad come from God. In fact, if you’re familiar with the book of Job you might recall the following exchange;

Job 2:9  Then his (Job’s) wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”
Job 2:10  But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Job’s wife foolishly urges him to curse God because of the disaster that had happened. And let’s not call it something it isn’t. When things like this happen it is disastrous. Plastic Christian smiles will do no good in the face of tragedy. We need something substantial. I have observed, as you must have, that wishing someone ‘Good luck’ or ‘All the best’ or even ‘We’re thinking of you’ just doesn’t cut it. It’s good that people wish us well and it may lift our spirits momentarily. And, it might be you will breeze through life without a care in the world and tragedy and heartache will pass you by. It happens. But eventually, there is a God to face. You know this. Which is why I’m linking to a message that lays out the Gospel of Christ briefly but simply and truthfully. Follow this link to a message ‘Why I am a Christian’ by James White.


Since starting this article I bought a copy of Chance and the Sovereignty of God: A God-Centred Approach to Probability and Random Events by Vern Poythress. I’m not a mathematician, and there’s a lot of maths in the book! But there’s enough theology and plain sense for me to understand what I’ve read so far. The book is available free as an e-book here.

Here’s a brief excerpt from the book introduction:

THE ISSUE OF CHANCE
[He described an incident where his family escaped from a serious ‘accident’]

What do we say about this incident? Some people would say we were “lucky.” We escaped “by chance.” It just happened to be the case that the oncoming cars found room to our left and to our right. Or was it the hand of God’s providence? We felt afterwards as if an angel had pushed the cars to this side and to that. God had sent an angel to protect us. But we did not actually see an angel. Nor did we see a hand reaching down from heaven to move the cars. Was it just our imagination? Was our escape a “miracle,” or was it just an “accidental” result of driver reactions and physical processes?

We escaped. But not everyone does. For every story of a narrow escape, someone else can tell a distressing story of not escaping. Someone tells of being in a horrible auto accident, nearly dying from the injuries, losing an arm or a leg, and spending months recovering. And the accident could have been avoided, if only the oncoming car had swerved a little earlier or a little later. Was the accident “by chance”? Was God in control? If I am ready to acknowledge God’s control when my family escapes an accident, should I also acknowledge that God is in control when someone else suffers from an unpredictable tragedy? Or do tragic cases involve pure chance, beyond God’s control? And if God is in control, did he actually plan the events beforehand, or did he just react to the unfolding events at the last moment?

Big accidents and near accidents have drama to them. But what about the small things? Yesterday I could not find my checkbook. Today I found it in a pocket of my briefcase where it did not belong. Accidentally, it must have fallen into the wrong pocket when I dropped it into my partially opened briefcase. It got misplaced “by chance,” someone might say.

What about totally unpredictable events, like the flip of a coin or the roll of dice? Every time we flip a coin, the result is unpredictable. It comes up heads or tails “by chance.” What do we mean by the word chance? What is it?

 

The Prayer Meeting

It’s probably true – though I can’t prove it – that every Church Prayer Meeting will have people in attendance that do not pray. We all know what it’s like to be in a meeting with those ‘awkward silences’. Not only that, it’s probably every Minister’s goal to get everyone praying. It’s the Ministerial equivalent of bringing peace to the Middle East. Many have tried; all have failed.

Believe me, none of the following is meant to be in a critical spirit. I too, attend the prayer meeting. I too want to see God moving. I want to be blessed. I want the local Church to be blessed. I want God’s people to be blessed. I too would like the experience of the early church:

Act 4:31  And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

What a thing that would be! I’ve been a Christian for nearly 40 years and my experience tells me not everyone prays. I know this because I can easily be the one that doesn’t pray. I’ve sat under countless pleas from Ministers to get their people praying in public. It doesn’t seem to make a lasting difference no matter what’s done or said. Something isn’t working.

This is my rambling take on the problem, if it is a problem, and some comments that will hopefully help both the meeting and Minister.

Audible & Silent Prayer

We all need to realise that because a person does not pray audibly it does not necessarily mean they are not praying. They may not be. But isn’t it more charitable to assume they are? And when someone is praying audibly the others are following (one would hope) the prayer and saying a silent Amen (if not an audible one) to the prayer.

I recently read an article about ladies praying in the prayer meeting. More specifically, that they should be praying. I know ladies that would never ever ever pray audibly in a prayer meeting. This is because it is their honest Biblical conviction they should remain silent. I’m thinking especially of some elderly Godly ladies. Forcing them to go against their conscience I believe is unhelpful. There are then differing views on women praying in public. Personally, I have no objection to women praying in the prayer meeting if that is their conviction. Though to be honest after looking into this there’s a strong case against the practice. And it has nothing to do with male superiority but everything to do with how God has ordered differing roles for men and women.

Men not praying in the prayer meeting is another thing altogether. And I must address myself in this regard. Though even here there should be room for charity given differing abilities, self-consciousness, immaturity and so on. But as a general rule, the men ought to be praying.  If they are not praying, how should this be remedied? That is the question. Strong arm tactics I don’t believe are effective. Pummelling non-praying men with guilt is also not effective. But there may be a case for the Minister to lovingly draw alongside to counsel and encourage the brother.

The ‘Awkward Silence’

The ‘awkward silences’ are only a problem if we make them a problem. Let’s assume, for the sake of charity, the people are praying, just not audibly. Ok, it is a church prayer meeting where people, God’s people, gather to pray, aloud. But people will pray. People do pray. Just not everyone. Just not continuous non-stop prayer throughout the meeting. Perhaps accepting this as the norm is just giving in to the ‘problem’. But maybe it would take the pressure off and more would pray.

The Vicissitudes of Life & Warfare

The condition of the people is very varied. Some come almost straight from work, some with great burdens, some struggling with sin, lack of assurance, worries, illness, caring for loved ones, debt and many other conditions. Some are simply terrified at hearing the sound of their own voice or speaking in public. We definitely need encouraging. What I believe is needed most is preaching. Mini-sermons if you will. Not a Bible study. No hobby horses. Preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. Preach the Majesty of God and His Grace to us His people. Preach His Kindness to undeserving sinners. Preach the Word and let The Spirit of God do the work that only He can do.

‘Inspirer and Hearer of prayer
Thou Shepherd and Guardian of Thine’ (Augustus Toplady)

And,

‘Great Shepherd of Thy people hear;
Thy presence now display;
As Thou hast given a place for prayer,
So give us hearts to pray’ (John Newton)

There’s’ no doubt we are in a warfare as soon as we enter the prayer meeting. It will give the enemy of our souls great delight to see us not praying. On the other hand

‘…. Satan trembles, when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees.’

And it’s true! But then I’ve heard that verse quoted many times in a prayer meeting and it has to be said, to little effect. One of the problems is the belief that if there’s a free flow of prayer that’s a good meeting. But if it’s hard work and a struggle it’s a bad meeting. The one makes us feel good, the other not so much. It’s good to have a sense of The Lord with us – of course it is – but we can so easily come to wrong conclusions. The reality is not always what it appears to be. Unless there’s a supernatural empowerment to pray engagement in warfare is going to be tough going.

Priorities in the Prayer Meeting

In our prayer meetings we all too easily start praying for stuff. It’s so easy to make it all about ourselves. We need to make a conscious effort to not do that. Even when urged to give God praise and thanks we so quickly and easily fall into making it all about ourselves. We need to cultivate a different attitude – this takes time. We need to be patient with ourselves and with one another. But cultivate the attitude we must.

What is wanted is something to ‘fix’ the meeting. I don’t believe that is possible. We can’t ‘fix’ anything. We need the Spirit of God to lead and guide us in our prayers. What does God want us to pray for, to thank Him for or to confess? With the best will in the world there will always be needs in the local, national and worldwide church and there will always be needs that suddenly arise so these could be mentioned at the meeting. But what if we had a list in our Bibles (perhaps inside the Church Bible as well) or on our phones that we can always bring to the meeting.

Here are a few suggestions:

To thank God for His being. Who He is. He is entirely self-sufficient in need of nothing and creator of all that exists..

The person and work of The Lord Jesus Christ. His Cross, His Blood, His resurrection, His intercession.

The person of The Holy Spirit. Pray that He would reveal The Lord Jesus to us and guide and help us as we pray.

To thank Him for the Holy Scriptures and the preservation of them for us.

To know God’s will.

His providence’s and the grace to persevere.

That the Triune God would be glorified in our church

Thank God that He has purchased a Church and those in it. Thank Him for our Salvation and that He keeps us by His Grace.

Thank Him for forgiveness, sanctification, justification and Glory.

To pray for the Pastor, Elders, Deacons. Pray they would be kept faithful and kept from falling.

To pray for the Word as it is proclaimed. That it might have the unction of God upon it.

To pray for the advance of the Gospel in our lives, church, locality, nation and world. Pray the Lord Jesus would see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied.

Pray for our persecuted brethren around the world.

Many many more could be added to this list. It isn’t exhaustive but these are the sorts of things that should be on our minds (and in our Bibles I suggest) already. But then add to this more specific needs (in the local church) as they arise. But keep these to a minimum. Perhaps communicate the needs of the church through other means as well (email, text etc.) so we arrive at the meeting ready to bring our requests before the Throne of Grace. If there’s a need you know about. Pray about it.

Be Challenged & Encouraged

I hope this has been of some help. It has challenged me to think in the way I’ve suggested. It also challenges me to put what I can into practice.

I’m not naive enough to think any of this will ‘fix’ the prayer meeting, and certainly not a quick fix, but I do pray both people and our Ministers will be encouraged. God is with us! Christ is our Advocate! We are indwelt by His Spirit!

Come Down LORD!

Isa 64:1  Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence,

I’m reminded often of a passage in ‘The Experience Meeting’ by William Williams translated by Bethan Lloyd-Jones. I’m paraphrasing but – ‘One brother began to pray in his usual lifeless and boring manner and as he continued praying in this way his prayer began to have life. As he then continued others were moved and The Spirit of God fell upon them – and Revival broke out.’

If I find the book I’ll correct it, but that’s the gist anyway. Isn’t that what we all want? But it’s not usually like that and it wasn’t for them either. But may it be so for His Glory – AMEN!

 

Update / Site problems

I’ve had a problem with my site which meant I had to update and it hasn’t gone well. My header has disappeared for a start. The carrot is not my idea. It might mean buying a new theme. Not sure how long it will take to sort. Hopefully, not too long so I can get going again. In short, it depends how soon I can work out what I’m doing.

Don’t be a ‘lost’ celebrity

A recent news feed came through with a heading that said something like ‘Year in Review 2017: Remembering those we lost this year’. Roger Moore and Hugh Hefner were mentioned specifically. It’s always surprising how many celebrities have died each year and how many I’ve not heard of and also how many I didn’t realise had died. It struck me that they used the word lost. It made me think.

I’ve written previously that I’m unhappy about using the phrase ‘lost’ for those that have died in Christ. I’m not happy about those that have died outside of Christ either. But the terrible reality for those that have died without Christ is they are truly lost in every sense of that word. How many of those celebrities are truly lost I have no idea. I’m glad I don’t know but with some (as with non-celebrities) we fear the worst.

There’s a lovely verse in the Bible that says ‘For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost’ (Luke 19:10 ESV). We don’t need Christmas to remind us, that Jesus came, and that He came to seek and to save the lost. There is no specific season to remember the grace of God – we can remember that every day.

Death and sin are the great levelers. The great and the good as well as the poor and the not so good will know these realities. It doesn’t matter how large or small a person’s ‘send-off’ is. Or whether in poor simplicity or with great pomp; they are equally dead just the same. The real question isn’t whether they are lost or not as we simply do not know. The real question is whether you are lost or not. If everyone were to be saved there would be no need for the Son of God to do any seeking. But He came, not only to seek, but to save. The wonder is by the Holy Spirit He is still seeking and saving. That doesn’t sit very well with our modern ‘can do’ independent sensibilities. But it’s something we are familiar with. Recruitment agencies ‘Headhunt’ the best candidates, usually for high-end positions. The Son of God is seeking sinners. That’s the only qualification He’s looking for – a realisation of sinfulness and of lostness.

Thankfully our lostness can be turned into foundness by the saving power of The Lord Christ. Many will know the first verse of John Newton’s hymn ‘Amazing Grace’. But if not, here it is:

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

One of the most well known stories Jesus told is the Prodigal (wasteful) son and how this son went into the far country. But his father looked for his son and eventually embraced him exclaiming, ‘For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate’ (Luke 15:24).

The theme of being lost and being found is a wonderful redemptive theme. Its wonder is found in the reality of what The Lord Jesus Christ has done for sinners. The Prodigal son was aware of his great unworthiness as he fell at the feet of his Father. It’s a great picture of poor lost unworthy sinners coming to Christ for salvation. And it’s to Him, and only to Him, we must come. As the Bible says ‘… there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). No one else has done what Christ has done to redeem sinners, and no one else is mighty to save.

It’s unlikely a celebrity will be reading this, but if you are one, then you too along with the poorest most unlikely sinners may and must flee to Christ. Then trusting only in His great Redeeming work upon the Cross like John Newton, and every other Christian through the ages, you may also be found instead of being lost.

Is this Christmas? Extracting The Legal Pain!

Extracted is the legal pain. These five words in verse two form a single line in this remarkable hymn by Charles Wesley. This is Wesley at his best as someone said. These hymns are not inspired in the same authoritative sense that the Bible is but they can convey profound truth in a wonderful way. Inspired perhaps with a little i. These five words convey two very important Bible truths. Truths that need to be constantly stated because man in sin always assumes and seeks to state the opposite and to deny the truth. So what are these two truths?

1. ‘Extracted is the legal pain’ tells us of a problem. Any punishment is unpleasant and we all recognise that it’s the result of doing something wrong. Overstay in a car park and a demand for payment will arrive in the post. Get caught speeding and you’ll get a fine. These are trite examples but you get the idea. If you get caught breaking the law of God – and make no mistake we have all been caught – payment is required. The Bible calls it sin. And as we continue sinning, that is, as we continue breaking the law of God we are, as it were, earning a wage. The Bible says very plainly that the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). As if that wasn’t bad enough, the reason we continue to sin is because there’s a deeper problem. The problem is that there’s a something wrong with our nature. But we seek to deny it or play it down. What problem? There’s nothing wrong with me, you might say, even though you know full well there is a problem. There’s a deep-seated problem that’s impervious to mere outward reformation. What’s required is a reformation that goes far beyond any outward change. Changes of habit or lifestyle are definitely in vogue and even make good viewing. But these changes will do nothing for us legally before God. In the court of God who can make representation for us when on every hand we are found guilty in thought word and deed. Any earthly representative has the same problem. It’s no accident The Lord Jesus Christ is called our Advocate (1 John 2:1). The problem for us is that we need a nature that is beyond the law. There isn’t one! The law of God condemns all. It slays all! All are guilty and found wanting before a Holy and Righteous God.

2. Although the words speak of punishment in an excruciating manner the legal pain is being extracted from an innocent party. The fact is, the legal pain should really be extracted from me, the guilty sinner, but it’s been extracted from another! Secondly then, to ‘Extract the legal pain’ speaks of Substitutionary Atonement. And this is the heart of The Gospel and why The Lord Jesus Christ came into the world. And it’s why at Christmas we realise why The Christ came. It’s not really about stars, stables and shepherds but about a bloody cross, about agony of soul and of body, about punishment and death. It’s about the cost of Redemption! A cost we sinners cannot ever possibly pay. Not even an eternity will extract the legal pain from us! We need another to do it for us. One that is suitably qualified for the awful task. Although Wesley has captured the horror of breaking the law of God putting the frighteners on you is not necessarily a good evangelistic strategy. But on the other hand, you are a fool if you ignore it because you don’t like being threatened or dislike ‘hellfire preaching’. The truth is, there is a Hell. And there’s only one way to escape it (Heb 2:3). That way is The Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Being ‘right with God’ is a legal declaration that God makes. This is the Justification by faith that is celebrated this 500th Reformation year – and every year. Because of what Christ has accomplished on the Cross, God is able to be just and to justify those that have faith in The Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 3:23-26).

So it’s no wonder the Wise men and the Shepherds rejoiced when the Salvation of God appeared. We Christians ought to be amazed at what God did in sending His Son. And we are amazed at what Christ has done by coming to us when we could not and would not go to Him (Heb 10:5). Salvation truly is of The Lord. Will you trust Him? Is your faith in The Christ? Please have a happy Christmas. But don’t ignore or neglect what it’s really all about.

From Glory to earth He came!

While at a funeral recently we were told that now the deceased is experiencing the Glories of heaven they would not want to come back to this life. It makes perfect sense. Who in their right mind after living in this world of sorrow and death would want to come back after knowing the fullness of joy in heaven. I’ve heard this said many times at funerals. ‘They wouldn’t want to come back here!’ And yet, this is exactly what The Lord Jesus Christ did. Completely in His right mind He purposefully and deliberately left heaven to dwell among sinners. But much more than that. This was no sightseeing visit. The Bible says ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief’ (Paul). This is what the Incarnation is about. God came in the flesh (took a human body) not to visit but to die. We tend to sentimentalise it and lose the impact and the truth of what God was doing through The Lord Jesus. Although we remember and celebrate that He came down from earth to heaven, if we keep Him in the manger then the purpose of His coming will be lost on us. The Wise men and the shepherds worshipped the King of glory. They weren’t worshipping a baby. Not only did He come to die, but in dying – and rising – He secured eternal salvation (the forgiveness of sins and peace with God) for all those that believe on The Lord Jesus Christ. Unless your faith is in what Christ has done, it won’t matter how much you enjoy Christmas you’ll be lost. Perhaps Christmas is all humbug to you and is for you just a time when silly Christians try to sing carols. Just because you think it all stuff and nonsense has absolutely no bearing on its truthfulness or your need of a Saviour. Whether ‘religious’ or not, this Saviour who is born Christ the Lord must be your Saviour for there is no one else to whom we may go.

Thank You David: An Encouragement to Pray

Years ago I used to play snooker regularly at a local club and spent a lot of time in that smoke filled room. One of the men I played with a lot was a man named David. David was an epileptic and often could be seen drooling down his beard. Not a pretty sight. He was a regular at the club and from memory I had the impression he was tolerated more than befriended. I got on with him ok and would have a few frames with him. The detail is a little hazy as is the order of events. Nevertheless, at some point after becoming a Christian David told me he had been praying for me. Whether his comment about praying for me didn’t register I can’t remember but I do remember trying to find David to thank him. I asked in the Christian Bookshop. I enquired at the snooker club. David was not to be found. I never saw him again. But I have not forgotten him. I have never forgotten that when I was lost and without Christ David prayed. For me.

Now here’s the point, or points.

1. What’s remarkable is that I’m quite sure David never spoke to me about The Gospel or about The Lord Jesus or of my need of a Saviour. He never ‘witnessed’ to me. Others did, but he didn’t.

2. Despite the fact he never spoke the Gospel to me I had a great sense of thankfulness, even making several unsuccessful attempts to find him.

3. David as far as people went was a non-entity (1 Corinthians 1:26-29) He would have been overlooked and passed by. But God heard his prayer.

4. The Bible says ‘faith comes by hearing’ (Romans 10:17) and so it does, but it also says ‘the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much’ (James 5:15). I don’t know how fervent David’s prayers were for me. But I do know our feeble attempts at prayer go through our Great High Priest – The Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, for all our feebleness, our great God has decreed the use of means. In this case the prayers of an epileptic non-entity called David. Isn’t that wonderful?

What’s encouraging is the fact that after nearly 40 years as a Christian I’m still filled with a sense of thankfulness that David prayed for me. Not that he pummelled me with the Gospel, invited me to Church or any of the other ‘means’, but that he prayed. Some people are very gifted at speaking the Gospel. And we need them. But don’t ever be tempted to think that all you can do is ‘simply’ pray.

May we all, like David, pray, and God will work. Thank you David.

Grieving – Two-Year Milestone

Thirty-Two years we were married and two years ago today my dear Sue passed peacefully into Eternal Glory and into the presence of her Saviour, The Lord Jesus Christ.

I’m thankful over these two years for the support of family and friends, and for the Church where I’m now a member.

The Lord has been very wonderful to me and by His marvellous Grace I raise my Ebenezer and say ‘Hitherto has The Lord helped me’. Doctrine, and by that I mean theology, can often seem dry and aloof. As A. W. Tozer said ‘Doctrine is the highway that leads to God’. My experience, especially over these last two years, is that doctrine is not only alive and vibrant but does indeed lead to God. When I read a Confession of Faith it’s full of God and overflowing with His majesty and grace to sinners. I’ve also found that God brings us through trials in order for us to see that. I thought I knew stuff about God and The Lord Jesus but I realise now I was only scratching the surface.

Agnostics and atheists may well think we are delusional and might even feel a bit sorry for us Christians. The reality is they are the ones that are deluded. Often deluded into worshipping themselves and what could be more delusional than that! While all the time The Lord says ‘look unto me all the ends of the earth and be saved’. What an offer!! Only a fool would turn that down.

Holding someone’s hand while they slip away into eternity isn’t something to be taken lightly. But I knew exactly to where Sue gently slipped away. I don’t know the when or where or means by which I shall enter eternity. But enter it I will. And so will you. Sue entered eternity with a Saviour who is Mighty to Save, as will I, no matter the details. You will enter eternity, but will you die with a Saviour. Will Jesus, the only Saviour for sinners, be your Saviour. O I pray He will be.

Remembering the cost

This is a re-post from a few years ago but nothing has changed. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t find a picture of my Dad, just his cap and the one (center) from a group photo of Dispatch Riders from WW2.

Nothing much to say really other than I purposefully stood

Dispatch Riders

‘at ease’ for 2 minutes thinking about the peace we have. What my Dad lived through and survived for that peace, all the lives that were lost, the tragedy of war – though sometimes necessary – and the utter depravity of mankind.

The world seems pretty awful at times – and it is. There is no other explanation that makes sense except what the Bible teaches about the sinfulness of Man. Nevertheless, the Grace of God restrains evil so that it isn’t anywhere near as bad all over as it could be.

We thank God for His remedy – the sending of a Saviour. I don’t see any other solution. It’s all been tried and found wanting. And that’s the problem, sinners do not want God’s remedy. There is a day coming when sin will be dealt with once and for all. When Jesus comes to judge the world in righteousness those that have rejected The Lord Jesus Christ will go into everlasting punishment (Hell), and those that have bowed the knee to The Lord Christ will go into everlasting joy with God (Heaven).

So we can look beyond remembering the fallen in war – and we ought to remember them. But we look to the one whose sacrifice is sufficient to save to the utmost.

In the end, it’s a very simple choice, Repent or Perish. Trust in Christ or be lost. There’s no middle ground.

Abortion – 50 Years of Shame by Dr John Ling

The article below is reproduced (copied) here with the kind permission of Dr John Ling. It’s quite a disturbing piece that should be read. John writes ‘It is exactly 50 years ago today (Friday) that the 1967 Abortion Act was passed.  Attached is a piece I have written, Abortion – 50 Years of Shame, to commemorate that dreadful event.


Abortion – 50 Years of Shame.

 Anniversaries are how we mark out our history – some are welcome, others are not, some are humdrum, others are special. This year two are extra special – a 500th and a 50th. Both changed our world. The first is when Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church in 1517, which ushered in the wonderful Gospel freedoms of the Protestant Reformation. The second is the passing of the 1967 Abortion Act, which ushered in the hideous practice of legally killing unborn children in England, Scotland and Wales. The story of the Augustinian friar has been retold many times, the slaughter of the defenceless pre-born is a more veiled story.

How did we get the 1967 Act?

The history of UK abortion law is long but simple – for many centuries abortion had, by and large, been a criminal offence. And even today, abortion remains, perhaps surprisingly, illegal in the UK. This is primarily because sections 58 and 59 of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act still make it a crime for anyone, using any means whatsoever, ‘to procure the miscarriage of any woman’. The 1929 Infant Life (Preservation) Act further extended this prohibition to a child ‘capable of being born alive’. In other words, for a 100 years and more there was an explicit and widespread public condemnation of abortion, severe penalties for those illicitly involved, as well as genuine protection for the unborn and their mothers.

So what happened in 1967? How did we acquire just about the most liberal and ruthless abortion law in Europe, even the world? Pre-1967 statutes allowed abortion only for the preservation of the mother’s life and health. For some, this was never enough. If the door to abortion was slightly ajar, they wanted it ripped off its hinges. Yet no British government was willing to grasp the nettle. Several MPs had introduced abortion-liberalising bills, but they had all foundered.

Then in May 1966, David Steel MP drew third place in the ballot for private members’ bills and he introduced his Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill into the House of Commons. Its first reading was on 15 June and a protracted and arduous debate began. Days and nights were spent arguing, rewording, lobbying and generally manipulating events in both Houses. It was all quite legitimate – the Bill’s supporters simply seized their opportunity. Eventually, with parliamentary time being given by the Labour government of the day to ensure its success, the Bill passed its third reading on Friday 14 July 1967 after an all-night sitting in a half-empty House of Commons by a majority of 167 to 83. It received the Royal Assent on Friday 27 October. Six months later, on 27 April 1968, the Act came into operation – the legalised killing started.

One year later, its sponsor, David Steel, speaking at a meeting of supporters, said that the Bill was successful because ‘The right men were in the right place at the right time.’ By contrast is the dismal fact that the number of evangelical Christian leaders who ‘saw the issue’ and stood up and spoke out against the Bill can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Effective opposition was too little, too late.

What is the content of the 1967 Act?

The Act was not only a compromise, but also a poorly-drafted piece of legislation. This may have suited the purposes of the pro-abortionists, because over the years most of its intended legal boundaries have been ridden over roughshod. During the next two decades, no fewer than fifteen attempts were made in Parliament to revise the Act either by tightening the criteria for abortion or lowering the upper time limit. All failed.

In outline, the 1967 Abortion Act did not legalise any abortion. It gave no right to a woman to an abortion and it did not provide ‘abortion-on-demand’. Also, it imposed no duty on any doctor to carry out an abortion. Nevertheless, it did offer a legal defence against the charge of attempting ‘to procure the miscarriage of any woman’ under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act. Thus it did, according to section 1, protect from prosecution a ‘registered medical practitioner’ who performed an abortion, as long as two such doctors certified that, in their opinion, formed in good faith, the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, on one or more of six statutory grounds, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated. After 50 years, 97% of all UK abortions are now performed under ground C, the so-called ‘social clause’. It specifies the ‘risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman’. In effect, this criterion is as long as it is wide – almost any pretext will do.

What is the effect of the 1967 Act?

In simple terms, the answer is that an estimated 8.8 million unborn children have been aborted in the UK during the last 50 years. Such a colossal number is almost beyond comprehension. The annual figures remain enormous – during 2016 there were 190,604 abortions performed in England and Wales, plus another 12,063 in Scotland. This total of 202,469 is approximately the entire population of Bournemouth or Swansea or Aberdeen. It is equivalent to 770 unborn children every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Have you grasped the enormity of abortion, on your doorstep?

Legalised abortion was never envisioned to be like this. Back in 1967, abortion was intended for the poor, overworked, struggling woman with several children, living in squalor with a useless drunken husband. It was regarded as a last resort. Today, 50 years on, abortions are typically for young, single women, in good health, in decent housing, with a regular income, carrying healthy unborn children. What are we doing?

Over the years the 1967 Act has been tweaked so that the upper time limit for abortion is now typically 24 weeks. However, if disability, such as Down’s syndrome, is suspected then the upper limit is birth, yes, 40 weeks. However, what has not changed in the last 50 years is the physical and mental toll on mothers, fathers and, of course, the unborn. For many parents, the aftermath of abortion is often shadowed by guilt and regret. Such symptoms of post-abortion syndrome are denied by many medical authorities but are familiar to those involved in pro-life counselling.

What is the future of the 1967 Act?

For some, the reach of the Act is still not enough – they want more than 200,000 abortions each year. And there are now serious calls to decriminalise abortion. Indeed, in March of this year, a Ten-Minute Rule Bill was presented to Parliament. Its purpose was to remove all legal restrictions on abortion by tearing up sections 58 and 59 of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, the 1967 Abortion Act and probably the 1929 Infant Life (Preservation) Act too. Alarmingly, the Bill was passed by 172 votes to 142. The second reading was set for 12 May, but in the meantime, a General Election was called, Parliament was dissolved and the Bill fell. Nevertheless, this episode should jolt the consciences of MPs and us.

Furthermore in September, the 33 Council members of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) voted to change the College’s position from neutrality to supporting decriminalisation. The RCOG’s president, Lesley Regan, has said that abortions should be treated no differently from other medical procedures – including something as simple as removing a bunion. While most abortionists are members of the RCOG, its full membership of 6,000 was not consulted. A similar ethical stance has also recently been taken by the British Medical Council and the Royal College of Midwives. The latter’s chief executive, Cathy Warwick, who incidentally is also the chairwoman of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), the UK’s largest abortion provider, also did not bother to consult her members. There is clearly an alliance of radical pro-abortionists currently pushing their extreme agenda. Decriminalised abortion for any, or no, reason, at any stage of pregnancy, performed anywhere would be a truly disturbing prospect.

How are you affected by the 1967 Act?

Since an estimated one in three women in the UK has now had an abortion before the age of 45, you, your family and your friends, may well be directly affected. Indirectly, we are all affected. Because the lives of more than 8 million unborn children have been terminated in the UK in the last half-century, we should all be dismayed. It is our 50 years of shame. Evangelical Christians have, for too long, been equivocal about abortion – shame on us especially! If you have not shed tears about its practice and aftermath, you have not yet understood abortion.

We are the people who should, above all others, understand such life and death issues and respond with principled compassion. Have you responded at all? Do you still hold ‘a moderate view’ on abortion? What hinders you from upholding a wholeheartedly pro-life position? Is it the issues of disability or rape or underage girls? Perhaps you need to ponder anew what it means to be ‘created in the image of God’ (Genesis 1:27) and to be ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ (Psalm 139:13-15). Abortion is a direct rebellion against the God-given gift and dignity of the unborn.

What must we do about the 1967 Act?

Christians have an onerous task here. We have been entrusted with both the diagnosis and the cure. The Christian worldview possesses rugged answers to difficult questions and then it calls us to engage and care for all those entangled with abortion and its consequences.

So, have you prayed for, given of your energy, time and money to help those caught up and suffering? They are all around you. Perhaps now, on this heinous 50th anniversary, is a good time to pledge to respond more biblically. Abortion has been called the greatest genocide in history. As the great anti-slavery campaigner, William Wilberforce, once declared in another context, ‘Having heard all of this you may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know.’

Dr John Ling is a trustee of Life, the largest pro-life charity in the UK. His latest book, Bioethical Issues, is published by Day One. His personal website is www.johnling.co.uk