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Abuse

 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. ‘If anyone causes one of these little ones – those who believe in me – to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung round their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! Matthew 18:5-7 NIV

The UK was rocked once again by new allegations of child abuse by Roman Catholic priests and monks against young boarding school pupils in the north of Scotland. There have been others, and this new revelation is added to the heap of the growing list of reports. The abuse is of the devil, carried out in priest’s garb, and then there is the cover up which went on for decades because the youngsters were ashamed, and because they trusted their overseers. The so called priests were moved about and hidden from public gaze when the church hierarchy found out. The church protected the perps and left the victims to their own fate. Some committed suicide, and those who did not, live with physical, faith, and emotional scars for the rest of their lives. I am sure there are more abuses to surface. As a dad and granda, this news makes my blood boil. The verse above says what will happen to someone who makes a child ‘stumble’, so where does child sexual abuse lie? The church cannot save satanic priests from hell!


As a Christian, and trying to live a decent and Godly life with His help, I find myself asking these basic questions:

Why did these priests think they were above the normal law of moral decency?

What Bible did they use, because they didn’t do what it said?

Why did they not own up right away when they knew they had sinned, but carried on with their abuses on other children, until their transfers were authorised by their ‘protectors’?


Then there is the final question:

On seeing all of these abuses, why do ordinary Roman Catholic members stay within their fold, and there is no mass exodus of disillusioned parishioners? The answers to the other questions must be addressed by the Roman Catholic church, but this last one is down to the pew sitters. Are they in denial, just like the demonic priests? There is no doubt about how any church (of any denomination) overseer/priest/minister must behave, and the following verses can be found in every Bible, so there is no excuse.


Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful...temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. 1 Timothy 3:1-4 NIV

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Uncertain

 For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle? 1 Cor 14:8

 


No one likes uncertainty, whether in secular life or the life of the church. The bugler plays on direct command from the General, so that the troops know if it is the start of the day, the end of the day, or a call to battle. We can’t blame the bugler if the wrong message is played. It has to go back to the Generals who are directing the charge.


I am more than a little troubled because there are times I can’t make out the bugle call. Is it the start, or the end of the day, or did I hear the muffled sound of a call to battle? I am not sure. When war is declared, and the soldiers line up to face the enemy, they do well to recognise the Generals’ clear and certain commands. The private in the army may not always know or understand the strategy, but he or she should recognise the call. There should be no doubt, because the result of the battle could depend on it.


In our times, war is a last resort, because it causes misery, casualties and bloodshed. So the leaders make every effort to debate, dialog, discuss, compromise and appease, all to avoid facing the obvious challenge that war is inevitable, and without a victor, there is no victory. So we are left with the situation where both sides take comfort in the fact that there were no losers, and therefore by definition, no winners either. A war ended like that, usually comes up again at a later time to be fought by debate and discussion all over again.


We are in a deathly struggle with evil day and daily. We dare not try to appease or compromise with the devil, no matter how appealing it is to avoid the horrors of war. We appease at our peril, because then the devil knows he has the upper hand and we are not fighting him, we are having a nice chat to avoid confrontation. The church of God has many foot soldiers, who belong to different regiments, and who react in different ways. I am thankful for those little bands of soldiers who hear the faint call to war, and get ready for the battle, no matter the personal cost. There are some Private Soldiers who would rather be in the other regiment doing what they were trained to do, fight!


Whether in the Regular Army, or God’s Army, if the Generals are uncertain about their plans or the strategy to adopt, beware because the war is almost certainly lost right at the planning stage. The bugler gets an uncertain message, and the troops do not know what to do, or how to react, so they might as well sit down and brew up a coffee or a cup of tea. Of course the generals might want to ask the enemy into their tent to have a chat, and get to know each other better. That always suits the enemy, and gets us nowhere because that army will have already compromised their position.


I have not even mentioned the college educated strategy advisors, who behind the scenes, are whispering compromise in the ears of the Generals. These advisors are the next Generals in your army. Yes, I am more than a little troubled, because the trumpet call is getting fainter every time there seems to be a need to face the enemy head on. Tea and sympathy is not enough. We need some Godly Church leadership.


I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:15,16 NIV This is bad news, but look what John records just a few sentences later: To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Revelation 3:21,22 NIV

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Friends

 You have been best friends for many years, and have gone through some bad times, but many more good times and you know each other really well. In a way you have grown to be like each other, and in an uncanny way, you sometimes know what the other is thinking, and can even finish each other’s sentences. In fact, there is a comfort in that friendship which is hard to put into words because it goes so deep, and has lasted so long.

Then, out of the blue, another ‘friend’ tells you some things about your best pal that you never knew, and these are not good things. In fact, they make you cringe, and you are left with some questions of your own, and many problems too. You have been assured that you are hearing the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it sounds, and you have only been told these things for the best reasons, and to save you heartache further down the road.


What do you do? It’s a dilemma worthy of a peak time TV soap plot. Either way you will probably lose a friend, but which one? One has been at your side for many years and there was never a hint that anything was wrong, but the other is offering to help you by telling you the truth about that close relationship which they say wasn’t all that you thought it was.


A final thought. What is your advice if that special relationship isn’t a person??

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Opposites?


 

I am noticing a growing trend for the women in our society to want to be men. We get the recent news that women want to be included in the ancient home of golf at Muirfield, where the Scottish Golf Open is being held. There are a few very vocal ‘ladies’ who want the same rights as the men, and not to be excluded from this club. Scotland’s First Minister has entered the debate by saying he would not attend the Open because of the men only rule, and he is a keen golfer.


Then there is the now closed debate on same sex marriage, because from next year homosexuals will be able to have their marriages blessed in church, or to be more accurate, some churches. That is until the law is tested (and it will be) to show the inequality of how differently they are treated by some. So, we have another group of men who want to be women and vice versa.


This all got me thinking. Are we all the same, different, or complementary? It seems it depends on which group is shouting the loudest at any given time. All women golfers want to be members of Muirfield? Not at all, only some are making it their protest of the day, and it certainly doesn’t mean all women agree. A very small minority of women want to be men, but it seems from the way the news is presented that this is true for all women. Again, not true. Believe it or not there are women, no let’s call them ladies, who can see and celebrate the differences between men and women physically, emotionally and psychologically, and thank goodness for the majority of these sensible people. On top of all that, we have girls who want to be ‘boy’ scouts, and boys who want to be ‘girl’ guides, or more likely not to be the children, but adults with their own agenda.


I am the biggest cheerleader you will find for Mums and Motherhood, and I don’t have a problem that Dads can’t be Mums, in spite of the obvious ‘inequality’ it demonstrates. I can hear you say, ‘don’t be stupid’. Really? The rolling stone of equality has not stopped, and in this moving process it has gathered no moss, so there is more to come. There is an old saying, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”. If ‘equality’ has its way to the ultimate conclusion, then it will be the men who will be rocking the cradle, while all the women are too busy trying to be men. So, all that to say this: Can we please let men be men, and women be women, each complementary to the other, and then maybe the family unit could be made stronger as it should be, and children happier and more secure in an otherwise uncertain society? Just a thought.

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Duplicity

 The dictionary definition of duplicity: deceitfulness in speech or conduct, as by speaking or acting in two different ways to different people concerning the same matter; double-dealing.

 


Having ridden roughshod over the wishes of the majority of UK voters by introducing homosexual marriage, that same government has now dropped their plans for minimum pricing for alcohol, and also plain packaging for cigarettes.


There was a major consultation on homosexual marriage, and the results were fudged to give the answer the politicians wanted. Many thousands of responses were discounted because they were sponsored by churches. The Bill should never had made it into the statute books, but it was pushed through the Commons and the Lords, and back to the Commons to be made law. I will accept the law, even though I don’t agree with it, because we live in a democracy. However I still wonder how the law made it through, when the majority didn’t want it and made their mind known, or didn’t care?


Then there are the policies of minimum pricing of alcohol, and plain packaging for cigarettes. Both were flagship health improvements which would help the welfare of the nation in years to come. It was almost given as self evident and supported by health professionals and law enforcement officers equally . Less alcohol sold equals fewer deaths, domestic fights, and visits to A&E, plus safer homes for children. Making cigarettes look less desirable means fewer cases of lung cancer in life for many youngsters who might never start to smoke.


Why did the same sex marriage bill make it into law, and the alcohol and tobacco programs get dropped, not to even be debated? I suggest it’s down to voices which shout louder than any ordinary citizen who participates in a consultation. Those loud voices who shout that there is no evidence that tobacco or alcohol causes disease and death. They shout loudest, who can whisper in the itching ears of our law making politicians. This is undeniably the common factor in all three examples. If I was disillusioned with those in power in our nation before, I am disgusted now. I think these recent events give the best example of duplicity I could find, but the Bible was already there speaking words of truth in these verses: For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather round them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 4:3,4 NIV

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Opt In or Out?

 There is an energetic debate going on within the UK, whether organ donation should be an opt in, or an opt out system. The assumption being proposed is that medical staff in the UK will presume you have consented to organ donation, unless you have opted out. I don’t want to explore the ethics of this being the right or wrong thing to do, but look at it from a different angle.

I believe that many folks think their faith, or to be more accurate, their religion, is an opt out system. It would work this way: If you are baptised or christened into a particular church ‘denomination or family’ when you are a baby, then that automatically makes you a member of that faith group, and therefore a christian. So once a ‘christian’ always a ‘christian’, unless at some stage in your later life, you decide to change your mind and opt out. If you don’t do anything about it, you are heaven bound.


Sorry to burst your bubble, but according to the Bible, it doesn’t work like that, because we can only OPT IN to salvation and faith! If you don’t make a conscious decision to ask for forgiveness from a loving and gracious God, you are not a christian by membership of any denomination or faith group, no matter what they tell you. The decision is not made as a baby. Christening or infant baptism doesn’t change the baby, it is a set of promises for the parents and Godparents.


It’s personal, and it’s a conscious choice, as these words confirm: If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 NIV. That just leaves the question, ‘Have you opted IN?’

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Whose Church?

 The well suited, bowler hatted, orange sash wearing official angrily said, “No one will tell me which road I can or cannot walk to church”. The words stuck in my mind and I couldn’t shift the image of the angry man who was on his way, with his marching band  to his place of worship. Or was he? A little while later, in order to maintain the peace, the police tried to reroute the orangemen away from a possible flashpoint. But why stop trouble from the enemy, when you can make some of your own. After all, they didn’t really want to march, they wanted to fight, and fight they did.

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Luke 10:29 NIV


A modern day parallel would be where a protestant orange marcher, seeing his catholic neighbour hurting (that could be physical or emotional) would leave the marching band and try to look after the catholic. After all, the orangemen were on their way to church, right? If only it was that simple, or easy. But it isn’t because we have complicated it.


You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:43-45 NIV


The man who was on his way to church had been walking behind an open Bible, a symbol of the faith he possesses, but it is evident that his Bible doesn’t have these passages, or if it did, he had missed them somehow. The resulting yob, mob violence against the police was inexcusable on every level. One of their ‘own’ MPs was even knocked unconscious as he tried to intervene, but a mob has no ears, just very angry voices, and wielding a big stick (or two!). Was I dreaming, or did Northern Ireland host the recent G8 summit, and receive all sorts of praise for the progress they had made in achieving peace across the sectarian divide? In the words of the ancient sage, ‘aye right!!’


Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:21,22 NIV


In the interests of accuracy, could we rename the euphemistically titled ‘marching season’ to the ‘fighting season’, or maybe the ‘angry season’, or even the ‘hate season’? At least until that church going angry man, and others like him, can find these passages in the Bible?

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Malala

 Malala Yousafzai is a name that will not be forgotten. The name belongs to a brave young girl who was targetted by the Pakistani Taliban to be shot because she wanted to be educated, and wanted her friends to have an education too. She almost paid the ultimate price, but she survived the bullet to her head, and what is more important, she lives to tell the story, and unbowed, continues to fight for education for all, right across the world.

The terrorists miscalculated. Their plan to silence a young girl who only wanted to hold a pen and notebook, and learn, has backfired and has gone global. This made me look carefully at our vision of education in the UK. For the most part, although thankfully not all, young people here don’t think school is cool, and they will readily complain about almost anything to do with their teachers and lessons. But then they didn’t pay such a high price for their education, did they?


In the years that are coming, who do you think will benefit from their education? Those who moan about it, or those, like Malala, who survive a murderous attack, bounce back, and appreciate the gift that education is? I have already placed my vote.


Like others, I was inspired by this 16 year old birthday girl, who held the UN audience captive by her words, but mostly by her spirit. She didn’t give up. But for me, the most telling part was that she didn’t want revenge on her would be assassins. She wanted peace, forgiveness, and education for others just like her. She got her forgiving attitude from her faith and her parents. We ignore the power of these at our peril. Parents, make sure your example and words deliver the proper messages to your child(ren).   


This was not a Christian message, but very much based on her Islamic faith. I would not and could not defend Islam, but I do recognise courage when I see it, and I applaud that in Malala. Oh, and when you watch her speech, you cannot miss the thanks and praise she gives to her ‘god’, in spite of the fact that her shooter was also of that same faith. She took the chance to make, not only a political, but a religious statement at the same time. Two lessons jumped at me. Firstly, the general attitude of our own youth to education in the UK, and secondly, how quickly she forgave in the name of her ‘god’. I would pray for these attributes to be translated into our secular society, and Christian faith communities in our own nation. Is that too much to expect?

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Fast Track

 During my employment in a major computer company, something called ‘fast track’ was used to identify people who had the qualities to become a senior engineer or manager, and were able to leapfrog over others to get into their position faster than usual. The system worked most of the time, but sometimes the candidate messed up, and was dropped from the program. I can understand the need for such a system in business, but in matters of faith?

This week it was announced by Pope Francis that Pope John Paul II was ‘promoted’ to sainthood because there were two miracles attributed to him after his death. According to the 2 miracle rule, he can become a saint. In the same announcement, Pope John XXIII was also canonised to sainthood after being fast tracked into the position, although he had only one miracle attributed to his intervention after death. Is this really what has to be done to become a saint? Really??


I don’t want to offend or upset anyone, but I have a really big problem here. Either the Popes of the Roman Catholic church are right or the Bible is right. Both can’t be right, can they? A quick search found the word saint or saints used almost 100 times in the Bible, but the name was never first given after death. They were saints in life first. In fact, we are all considered saints in the eyes of God when our sins are forgiven as Paul says:

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:2 and what about these other words of Paul when he says: For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:5


So to my thinking, there are many saints alive and well in this world going about their ordinary lives, trying to live good, faithful and holy in God’s sight. I have been privileged to know some personally. Can someone show me in Scripture where becoming a saint is linked to miracles, whether one, two, or several? Or for that matter that anyone other than Jesus Christ can make all miracles happen? There is NO ONE standing between us and God, except Jesus Christ. Not a saint, and not an angel, just Jesus! What a great thought, so take heart my friend and know, when you are a child of God, you are already a saint, and that is a better place to be than in a pontiff’s letter of recommendation. After all, saints are not chosen by man, even a good man, but by the will of God. Sadly we have either forgotten all about what the Bible says, or we were never acquainted with it in the first place.

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What Now?

 Read 1st Thessalonians chapter 4 verses 1-12, first.

A man preaching in the open air from 1 Thessalonians 4, in Wimbledon, London this week was questioned, arrested, charged and imprisoned for seven hours while the police and lawyers worked out if he had committed an offence. One woman from the whole listening crowd (that’s all) made a phone call to the police complaining that the speaker was homophobic, and wanted something done about it. The police duly arrived and dealt with the situation.


The whole thing is on You Tube and you can make your own mind up by reading the article, and watching the video on this link: http://www.christian.org.uk/news/video-arrested-for-saying-homosexuality-is-a-sin/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+christianinstitute+%28The+Christian+Institute%29&utm_content=FaceBook


I suppose the incident raises a few questions, but how about these for starters:


1. If a pastor or minister preaches something in his sermon which offends a person by suggesting that homosexuality is a sin as recorded in the Bible, would you expect that offended person to call the police?


2. If that offended person in church did phone the police, do you think it right that the ‘suspect’ should be questioned, arrested, charged and imprisoned to await trial for repeating that the Bible says homosexuality is a sin?


3. Is the UK in danger of falling into a police state where faith/belief/thought is an offence punishable by imprisonment? Hence the title question, ‘What Now?’


Now here is a question for my friend ‘Anon’: As a self professing christian, would you have phoned the police if you were in the crowd listening to the street preacher? Anon, you and I have traded many thoughts on this issue, usually in a good and reasoned exchange, so please take the time to read, watch and let me know what you think of the item and videos, bearing in mind that it may open up many other and different issues and questions.


Of course others are also welcome to comment, and that would possibly add another dimension to a two way conversation.

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