Giving out Gospel Tracts is hard work.

One Saturday morning members from the church went out into the town to give out evangelistic leaflets and if possible get into a conversation. Our church does this once a month or so. I do not find this ‘cold calling’ style of evangelism easy. In fact, that’s an understatement, I find it incredibly difficult. It’s not talking to people I find difficult, there’s something about giving away literature in that cold manner. I don’t know why this is. Honestly, I question whether this is my calling even though I’ve done it for years – door to door and open-air preaching. Maybe I’m just doing it all wrong.

The last time I experienced something new. Call it what you will but I just completely lost it. It was as if I was paralyzed. I just couldn’t do it. I said to myself ‘the fear of man brings a snare’ but eventually, I went home defeated and very downcast. My stomach was all churned up. I felt dreadful. It was physical. It just never occurred to me that it could be some sort of attack by The Devil. Maybe it was. I don’t know. Probably pride related.
I’m kicking myself really because if that was a moment of intense weakness, that was the time to rely on God’s power in weakness. Maybe it was some sort of ‘fainting fit’ as they were called. Maybe God was letting me know my complete and utter inability and that this was a time to trust and not a time to rely on my own feeble inner resources. My own feeble resources dried up – completely dried up! This is a good thing to know. We aren’t about God’s work in our own strength. We might get the blessing by doing the work of evangelism, but we don’t get to have the glory. We daren’t have the glory: that belongs to God alone!
 
Can any good come out of this? The first thing to know is that we need to be praying. We need to be praying in the prayer meeting. We need to pray as a team (however many that might be) before going out. And then to cultivate an attitude of dependence even if that means a feeling of complete despair in our own capability.
 
The second thing is to aware of your fellow workers. You might not be the only one conscious of complete inability. Therefore support one another. It’s very easy to get discouraged in the work. Support your struggling brethren in Gospel work. For some of us at times, it is best not to be left alone. Most of the time I’m probably fine on my own but it was a good reminder that we aren’t Mavericks – even when going out from the same church. And we aren’t sufficient in ourselves either. Our sufficiency is of God. So if someone came to me now, armed with my recent experience, I would say something like: ‘Be courageous Brother, stand with me and we’ll enter the fray in the fellowship of the Gospel – let’s give out tracts together’.
It probably all sounds quite pathetic. If you aren’t a Christian you might think we are a bunch of nitwits. But the reason we do this ‘work’ is because we want people like you to trust in Christ and be saved. There’s no other reason for doing it.

I discovered nearly everyone that Saturday found it incredibly tough. Perhaps you find it hard work as well. So what about next time? Will there be a next time? By God’s grace, there will be. But next time should the same thing happen – and it might – I need to look up, not in. Easy to say. We’ll see. Some Christians are very able at giving out tracts, I’m not. I thank God for those that are and it’s a joy to see.

Since starting to write this post a few weeks ago, in our prayer meeting, we have been going through 2 Corinthians and considering being weak. It’s not a pleasant feeling and is completely ‘counter-cultural’. We have another Evangelistic opportunity later this month. In some ways, I’m looking forward to the sense of dread, that feeling of despair so I can be weak for God. In other ways, I’m dreading it. But it’s not about us, it’s about Christ.

The English Reformation and the Puritans

The English Reformation and the Puritans

This is a series of twelve (12) short lectures (about 24 minutes each) given by Dr. Michael Reeves. I’ve only just finished watching then even though they’ve been available for some time. Do watch them. The series will give you a real flavour for their time and how they continue to help us. There are some really stand out ones. Particularly the ones on Richard Sibbes and John Owen.

One would ask the question, where is the preaching on the person and beauty of The Lord Jesus Christ? Of course, we do not live in the 17th Century (but there are remarkable parallels). But is Christ any less Glorious? Is the Father any less loving? Is the Holy Spirit not able to reveal Christ to us? The Lord Jesus said “… And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”(John 12:32). The Puritans excelled at magnifying and lifting up Christ. So must we.

Follow This Link To View the series. Not sure US friends will be able to view them. Worth a try though.

From the series webpage:

Their Unlikely Story is Ours

Few stories contain heroism, betrayal, ricocheting monarchs, bold stands against repressive authorities, and redemption like this one. And fewer generations have modelled commitment to the gospel and the application of God’s Word like the Puritans of England.

In this 12-part series, Dr. Michael Reeves surveys Puritan theology and the work of the Holy Spirit when the Reformation flourished in England. Major milestones of this movement underscore the Puritans’ special place in history, as they displayed spiritual wisdom and discernment still benefiting pulpits and believers today.

Welcome to Dystopia

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse. Move away from an objective morality and here’s where it leads. Some selected quotes from Al Mohler’s The Briefing Transcript:

‘They are now killing children in Belgium. We’re talking about euthanasia, and we’re talking about children seventeen and under.’

‘We are often told that arguments that say “this will follow that” are slippery slope arguments that are intellectually indefensible. Here, it’s not just the warning of a slippery slope, it’s a slope that has proved itself to be slippery in a most deadly way. By the way, slippery slope arguments are only invalid if they come without the kind of explanation of causality. In this case, the causality is abundantly apparent.’
(Or, as James White would say, That’s not a slippery slope, that’s a cliff!)

Here’s the terrible logic!
‘Back in 2014, one of the Belgian medical authorities who promoted the change said this, and I quote, “Why wouldn’t you give children who are incurably sick and who are unbearably suffering the same possibilities adults have?”…’ ‘…As you look back at that statement made by Dr. Jan Bernheim–that’s the medical authority who argued that children should have the same rights as adults when it comes to euthaooking at the doctor’s language, he said that children should have “The same possibilities adults have.” Well, what is this possibility? It is the possibility to request to death and to have others administer that death.

Dystopia is soon coming to a Healthcare facility near you!

Listen to Wednesday’s edition (8th August 2018) of The Briefing:

8th Amendment – Report from the Republic of Ireland

The following is a report from Len, a church worker closely involved with the 8th Amendment issues and who regularly speaks with people. So this isn’t a second-hand report but from someone directly involved in the 8th Amendment ‘NO’ campaign and with life issues. There’s also a video at the bottom of the page he sent me. This is of interviews with local Pastors and local church members – one in particular that speaks specifically of her experience of a ‘Hard Case’.

Currently, the Irish Constitution contains an article numbered 40 in the third subsection of section 3. It states:

‘’The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

The Irish people voted in a majority to amend our constitution for the eighth time in 1983 to include that article. And because of its presence, elective termination of the unborn has been illegal on our shores for 35 years.

But on Friday, May 25th of 2018, the Irish people are going to the poles once more, but this time we are being asked whether the 8th Amendment should be removed. Yes, or No. If yes, Article 40.3.3 of the constitution will read,

“Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy”.

If you are following, the removal of the 8th amendment will mean Abortion will no longer be illegal, but allowed in the state. The Government has draft legislation ready to go, which includes:

-The provision of Terminations up to 12 weeks “without specific indication” ie. without any reason given.
-Provision of Termination up until “viability” (currently around 24 weeks) based on health grounds
Gestational limits will not apply in cases of a foetal condition or on grounds of risk to health.

Anyone with any knowledge of recent Irish history will understand this proposed new direction as being a serious liberalisation of Ireland’s Abortion laws. And it seems, from my perspective, exactly one week away from polling day, that the Yes side is winning. When you listen to anyone who is pro-repeal of the 8th, they will be keen to highlight the rights of the woman.
-How she is being forced to carry her pregnancy.
-How we already have abortion in Ireland in that 12 women and girls every day will either travel to the UK for a termination, or obtain illegal abortion pills online – therefore we must show compassion to our own.

That is the arguments they have when they spin the truth. And they come from the top down. From our Prime Minister/ Taoiseach (Tee-shock), our very own minister for Health, and our minister for Children. Yes, our minister for Children.

But they are also armed with false truths.

The public are being deluded in thinking that the 8th Amendment is responsible for taking the lives of some women in the past 35 years. That the doctors hands are tied when it comes to treating the most ill women who are also pregnant, because it might harm the baby.

I recently met a woman on the doors whose “friend” was denied cancer treatment because she was pregnant.
This type of scenario is just not created by the 8th amendment, Irish doctors are free to do all they can to save the mother, and if the foetus passes away as a result, that is not illegal, as they weren’t electing to target the life of the baby.
But this is what people are believing, and the Yes side are happy in peddling that lie.
Unfortunately too, radio presenters, therefore the populous, are fixated on the “hard cases”.
“What about the 11 year old girl who was violated by a family relation, should she be forced to carry the DNA of her rapist?” Pat Kenny, a Veteran Irish broadcaster of 41 years asked Dr. Jean Engela of the ICBR (Irish Centre of Bioethical Reform) this week.
All Dr. Jean had to do was highlight the humanity of the unborn child, that no matter who anyone’s father or mother was, they had a right to exist in and of themselves. That life doesn’t have a right to exist merely because of the 8th amendment, all the 8th amendment does is recognise the pre-existing right to life anyone has – because they are human! There are difficult and tragic cases that we must be ready to show much support and compassion to, but Ireland is not being asked to legislate for the tough cases.

Ireland is being asked whether we want to introduce Abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks, and for the vague and unspecified “health grounds” up to 6 months.

This is what I try to leave people thinking when I encounter them on the doors.

There are encouragements that I draw from:

  • The Yes side has lost support in the most recent polls (though still hold a majority). We hope that will continue up until polling.
  • If “Brexit” and “Trump” have taught us all anything, it ain’t over until it’s over!
  • Right now, People’s opinion of the health service has dropped due to a Cervical Smear Test scandal, in which a number of women were given misdiagnoses, leading to a number of preventable deaths. Do the Irish people trust the same politicians to bring in and oversee Abortion “Health Care”? Hopefully not.
  • Urban/Rural Divide. I live in the City, which is traditionally more liberal than the more rural places in the country, so perhaps my perception is skewed.
  • Jesus is still on the throne!

So please pray that the people will vote “No” on May 25th.

-Pray that the truth of what takes place in Abortion not be avoided in the debates on the radio and TV over the next few weeks. The statistics for Ireland’s radio listening habit’s floor me every time I read them, it has been shown that “82% of ALL adults in the Republic (that’s more than 3.1 million ) listen to on average 4 hours of radio, every day”. This is how people’s minds are being made up, so pray that the bias the media have will be evident, and that strong pro-life arguments will prevail.
-Pray that the Christians will be bold to speak up for the unborn to their friends, family and colleagues.
-Pray that regardless of the outcome, Christians will be reminded that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the LORD Jesus Christ”.

In Christ,
Len


12 Rules for Life – An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson (Review Article by Dr John Ling)

Dr John Ling has written a ‘review’ article of ’12 Rules for life’ by Jordan Peterson (Follow this link and go to Articles). So this a few comments on John’s ‘review’. However, a review is understating it! John writes:

This article was not what I originally had in mind – I thought it would be a simple, snappy review.  Instead, it rather ran away with me to the tune of 19,000 words!  Also it has turned out to be a rather unconventional review-cum-synopsis-cum-précis with a multitude of quotations.

Whatever we call it, his review is worth reading. Why? Jordan Peterson is everywhere, mostly on YouTube ‘destroying’ someone. So we (Christians) ought to know something about his book. John’s review is so comprehensive I’m not sure I need to read the real thing now. Especially as it’s gone up to £11.99 I might have to wait for it to appear in The Works for a Fiver!

I should restate, that as far as we know, Dr Peterson is not a Christian – not yet anyway. Please pray for him. Please read the ‘review’. It’s a valuable contribution to The Peterson phenomenon.

One more quote from John:

It is reminiscent of the Enlightenment’s doomed attempt at Christian virtue without embracing Christian truth – a wanting the fruits without the roots.’  At base level, Peterson’s stance is one of moral rearmament – turn over a new leaf, pull yourself up by your bootstraps.  Maybe, just maybe, Peterson will come into a full-orbed understanding of true Christianity.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

For all that, given Common Grace, Peterson is saying many things we Christians can support (read the review). I certainly don’t reject him at all. If I do read the book – and I think I ought to – my ‘insights’ will probably be far less insightful but definitely briefer.

Thank you, John, for the article.

 

 

 

Abortion – Holding Down The Truth

At the end of this section is a letter I sent to the Welsh Assembly back in February to oppose the funding of Abortions from Northern Ireland. But I’d like to set the letter in the broader context. Events have followed on from the letter showing how utterly absurd it is to deny what’s real – that is, we are aborting babies not lumps of cell tissue. This denial can only be described as the deliberate holding down (or suppressing) of the truth in unrighteousness.

Rom 1:18  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

The suppression spoken of in the verse is of a continued effort exerted to keep the truth from rising to the surface. it’s been described as akin to holding a beach ball under water. Very difficult to do. To keep it under water takes a lot of effort! But every now and then it pops up to the surface as you will see in the videos.

Just the other day I happened to watch a feature on BBC breakfast about infertility and the anguish for couples that cannot have children. Yes, we call them children. The time, research, cost and pain couples go through to have children is quite extraordinary. But the results are beautiful and amazing! I know this to be true.

And then a ‘royal’ baby is born. Yes, it’s incredible, a little boy for the world to Coo over. I wonder when the happy couple, grandparents and indeed the public and even Parliament starting calling that little life a baby. I would think fairly early on, as soon as she knew she was expecting, while the baby was still in the womb. The Royal Fetus somehow doesn’t sound quite right.

In the letter below I mention the trauma of (a real) miscarriage where all hopes for that little life are dashed. Yes, a life all the same, and treated as such. I also mention the joy of a safe arrival.

It’s quite clear then, at least it seems very clear to me, that if the child is wanted it’s a baby, a little life with a future and a hope, but if that same little life with all its future and hope is not wanted, it’s called a fetus and can be terminated. That’s how we treat a product, a commodity to be discarded at will, not a baby. We treat animals better than that! I know the decision to terminate is not always easy, maybe rarely easy. But we should ask why it isn’t easy. Could it be that suppressing the truth takes an awful lot of effort? Going against what is known deep down to be an egregious crime is actually very difficult to do. But many millions have done exactly that all the same. 

All the above is very recent but shortly after I’d written the letter Jenny Rathbone AM (Assembly Member – A Welsh MP) was interviewed. It was a few weeks ago now but please watch the two videos as they demonstrate very clearly the deliberate suppression of the truth – never mind the ethics of truthful unbiased reporting.

Num 32:20  So Moses said to them, “If you will do this, if you will take up arms to go before the LORD for the war,

Num 32:21  and every armed man of you will pass over the Jordan before the LORD, until he has driven out his enemies from before him

Num 32:22  and the land is subdued before the LORD; then after that you shall return and be free of obligation to the LORD and to Israel, and this land shall be your possession before the LORD.

Num 32:23  But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out.

I first watched the report – about completing a Medical Abortion – I happened to be at home watching the BBC Regional (Wales) news at lunchtime. My thought at the time was ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s never shown again’. I remember quickly rewinding the live TV so I could play it back to record it on my phone. I wasn’t 100% sure what I’d heard so listened really carefully when I played it back. So I listened ‘drop-jawed’ to what Jenny Rathbone AM calls the woman. To my surprise, the interview was aired again in the evening – with a difference.

This time the offending word MOTHER had been edited out. Exactly as I thought. There’s your honest unbiased reporting for you from the BBC. I couldn’t say if it was edited out at the request of Jenny Rathbone (most likely as a supporter of Abortion) or if the BBC took it upon themselves to edit Mother out. Either way, the BBC have a responsibility to be truthful to reality. They could have refused to edit it but they obviously didn’t. The reason I recorded both before and after was because I thought that’s what they would do. The editing is really obvious and badly done (deliberately I hope). Like everyone, Jenny Rathbone knows the truth. She expressed it in the original interview. The edited version is the deliberate suppression of the truth. This isn’t to single her out but it serves as an example of how suppressed truth ‘pops up’ unconsciously to the surface. Colloquially we might call it a Freudian-slip’ but it’s much more than that.

You may have heard the expression ‘be sure your sin will find you out’. You might not realise that saying is from The Bible. Although the original context is said to the Israelites it holds true as a principle. Your sin will find you out. Not everyone gets found out in this life. Some fear they will be found out and exposed and then sadly commit suicide to escape the shame of discovery. But there’s another day coming when there will be no escape.

Rev 6:15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains,

Rev 6:16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb,

Rev 6:17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?

 


Women and Children’s Health Branch
Welsh Government
Cathays Park
Cardiff
CF10 3NQ

6th February 2018

RE: Funding / Enabling NI Abortions

Dear Assembly Members,

A few months ago a lady I know had a miscarriage at around 11 weeks. This was as you might imagine quite devastating for her, and her husband. In fact, as many do, they held a short service for their unborn child. She grieves for that precious little life. Just a few days ago another lady I know gave birth to a healthy baby boy.  That family is rightly rejoicing. The lady that miscarried did not think any less of her child than the one that went full term. I suggest most ladies’ that miscarry feel a terrible sense of loss. Why is it then that in our so-called civilised society we are on a mission to terminate our unborn children? Not only this, in Northern Ireland where the unborn has some safety, we in Wales are considering inviting women to bring their unborn children here. Why? That they might be killed in what should be the safest place on earth – the womb.

Some have called the culture in which we live ‘The Culture of Death’. The measure of civilisation can be measured by how we treat the most vulnerable. Who amongst us are more vulnerable than the unborn? Our culture seeks to deprive the unborn of the right to be born, to have a future, to live. As if our society were not already in The Dock standing accused of taking the lives of thousands of children – we intend on heaping upon ourselves even more guilt by inviting and cajoling like the child catcher the helpless children so they might be terminated. Termination is euphemistically called a ‘Health Service’, (Children’s Health!) which in itself must be regarded as a contradiction. Shame on us! Shame I say. This is not the mark of civilised people.

In light of the above, and more, much more could be said; I implore you to take a stand against funding NI abortions. I do not support funding NI Terminations.

Yours Sincerely,

Michael J. Iliff

 

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?

 

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.

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.

Freedom of Speech and the current confusion and  obscurity regarding an adequate definition of Extremism

This morning I read this post by Stephen Kneale at The Arbour. Later, I read Isaiah 54:17. What follows below are commentaries from Albert Barnes & John Gill on this verse in Isaiah. They are quite lengthy, but given the apparent progress the enemies of The Gospel of The Lord Christ are making it seems somewhat providential to post them here. And let’s be clear, the defense of Traditional Marriage isn’t about battering Homosexuals or anyone else. What it is really about is the authority of the Bible and among other things what it means to be a Christian. What is a Christian is an ongoing question that will not and is not going to go away. Why? Because sinful man is forever trying to find a way of Salvation that keeps man on the throne. The cry of sinful man, no matter how polite it can seem, is ‘We will not have this man (The Lord Jesus) rule over us. (See Luke 19:14) The Freedom to express any other view or belief other than the one you are told to express, particularly on SSM or Abortion, is starting to look like and feel like extremism. If it looks like a duck….

Here’s the text of Isaiah 54:17. ‘no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication from me, declares the LORD’ (ESV). The comments of Barnes & Gill follow.

No weapon that is formed – No instrument of war, no sword, or spear; no instrument of persecution or torture that is made by the smith, Isa 54:16.

Shall prosper – On the meaning of this word, see the notes at Isa 52:13. The sense here is, that it shall not have final and ultimate prosperity. It might be permitted for a time to appear to prosper – as persecutors and oppressors have done; but there would not be final and complete success.

And every tongue – No one shall be able to injure you by words and accusations. If a controversy shall arise; if others reproach you and accuse you of imposture and deceit, you will be able ultimately to convince them of error, and, by manifestation of the truth, to condemn them. The language here is derived probably from courts of justice (see the notes at Isa 41:1); and the idea is, that truth and victory, in every strife of words, would be on the side of the church. To those who have watched the progress of discussions thus far on the subject of the true religion, it is needless to say that this has been triumphantly fulfilled. Argument, sophism, ridicule, have all been tried to overthrow the truth of the Christian religion. Appeals have been made to astronomy, geology, antiquities, history, and indeed to almost every department of science, and with the same want of success. Poetry has lent the charm of its numbers; the grave historian has interwoven with the thread of his narrative covert attacks and sly insinuations against the Bible; the earth has been explored to prove that’ He who made the world and revealed its age to Moses was mistaken in its age;’ and the records of Oriental nations, tracing their history up cycles of ages beyond the Scripture account of the creation of the world, have been appealed to, but thus far in all these contests ultimate victory has declared in favor of the Bible. And no matter from what quarter the attack has come, and no matter how much learning and talent have been evinced by the adversaries of the Bible, God has raised up some Watson, or Lardner, or Chalmers, or Buckland, or Cuvier, or Wiseman, to meet these charges, and to turn the scales in favor of the cause of truth. They who are desirous of examining the effects of the controversy of Christianity with science, and the results, can find them detailed with great learning and talent in Dr. Wiseman’s Lectures on the connection between Science and Revealed Religion, Andover, 1837.

This is the heritage – The inheritance which awaits those who serve God is truth and victory. It is not gold and the triumph of battle. It is not the laurel won in fields of blood. But it is, the protection of God in all times of trouble; his friendship in all periods of adversity; complete victory in all contests with error and false systems of religion; and preservation when foes rise up in any form and endeavor to destroy the church, and to blot out its existence and its name.

And their righteousness is of me – Or rather, ‘this is the righteousness, or the justification which they obtain of me; this is that which I impart to them as their justification.’ The idea is not that their righteousness is of him, but that this justification or vindication from him is a part of their inheritance and their portion. (Albert Barnes December 1, 1798 – December 24, 1870)

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper,…. All weapons of war, as the Targum, which are made with a design to hurt and destroy the people of God, shall be rendered useless; not one of them shall prosper to the advantage of their enemies, or so as to answer their design; nor to the hurt and prejudice, ruin and destruction, of the saints:

and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment; that shall raise any calumny upon thee, or bring any charge against thee, or enter into a lawsuit with thee, litigate a point with thee in any court of judicature, or claim, in right and law, a power, authority, and dominion over thee, as the pope of Rome does over the consciences of men:

thou shalt condemn; disprove and roll off the calumny, refute the charge and accusation, put to silence the clamours and pretences of wicked men, carry the cause against them, and shake off the yoke of bondage they would bring them under; and, instead of being condemned by them, condemn them. By “weapon” may be meant all the attempts made by force to ruin the interest and church of Christ in the world, such as the bloody persecutions of the Roman emperors, who, though they made sad havoc of the professors of Christianity, and designed hereby to have rooted it out of the world, and thought they should have accomplished it, yet could not do it; so far from it, that the Christians yet more and more increased, insomuch that it became a common saying, that the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church; also the wars of the Papists with the Albigenses and Waldenses, and all the cruel methods they have taken by fire and faggot, and the bloody inquisition, to hinder the growth of what they call heresy; yet all have been in vain, a reformation has taken place, and many nations have embraced the truth, and shook off the yoke of Popery; together with all their efforts since to crush the Protestant interest; and though the kings of the earth will be stirred up, and gather together to the battle of the Lord God Almighty, they will not succeed, but be overcome and slain, and the beast and false prophet at the head of them will be taken and cast alive into the lake of fire: and by the “tongue” may be designed the edicts of the Pagan emperors, forbidding the exercise of the Christian religion, and threatening the preachers and professors of it with imprisonment, confiscation of goods, and death itself; and the anathemas, bulls, and interdicts of the popes of Rome, as well as the reproaches, scandals, and calumnies uttered by the emissaries of that church against all that depart from it; together with the errors and heresies of false teachers of all sorts in all ages of the world, which, though levelled against the faith and doctrine of the church of Christ, have not been able to subvert it, nor ever will:

this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord; this, with all that is said in this chapter, is the part, portion, and privilege, that such shall enjoy who serve the Lord Christ, and not antichrist; they shall be treated rather as sons than as servants, and have an inheritance assigned them; not only protection from all enemies, and absolution from all charges, but they shall receive the reward of the inheritance in heaven, that which is incorruptible and undefiled, and reserved there, since they serve the Lord Christ:

and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord; the vindication of their righteousness, of their cause, and of their character; or the reward of their righteous works in a way of grace; even all that righteousness and true holiness that is in them, and that righteousness which is imputed to them, and by which they are justified, are from the Lord; by which they are secured from all the charges of law and justice, and, from all the accusations of men and devils, and which will answer for them in a time to come, and acquit them at the bar of God before men and angels; see Rom 8:33. (John Gill 23 November 1697 – 14 October 1771)