Saturday, March 10, 2018

A matter of life and death

Almost nine million abortions: 550 every day; 3,800 every week; 16,000 every month; 200,000 every year. Every one is a human life.

Peter Saunders, chief executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship, writing in Trtiple Helix,  the CMF magazine on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Act,  says there are 100,000 people alive in Northern Ireland today because they don't have a law that allows abortion like we do in the British mainland.

Apparently these figures are not sufficient. The We Trust Women campaign, driven by abortion providers BPAS and approved by the Royal College of Midwives, the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, wants to decriminalise abortion completely, so that women can have an abortion at any time, for any reason.

No one, says Dr Saunders, would contemplate dismembering a newborn baby and throwing its body parts into a bucket. Yet because the baby is still in the womb, abortion is considered acceptable. Is tthis not discrimination nased on age, size or neurological capacity, just like racism or sexism? It is not, he says, too late to do something about it.

Think about it.

Friday, April 01, 2016

The path to freedom

R. T. Kendall was minister at Westminster Chapel in London for 25 years. I am told he has written more than 50 books. Although officially retired, he still preaches by invitation and he still writes. (He's a little bit younger than I am, so there's hope for him yet.)

One of his best known and most successful books is called Total Forgiveness. After he wrote that, he wrote another called Totally Forgiving Yourself. (If you haven't read it, you can see the video here.)

Now there's a subject that needed to be written about, without a doubt. Sometimes we make mistakes. We know that we have been completely forgiven, but we can't forgive ourselves. We insist on going back in our minds and beating ourselves up, with thoughts like "How different things could have been, if only. . ." 

If God has forgiven us and we haven't forgiven ourselves, we are living in disobedience, beneath the privilege of grace. Forgiving ourselves, says R. T., is what God wants us to do, it's what the devil doesn't want us to do, and it will bring us inner peace and freedom.

If this is your problem, you can be set free as you listen to the video.

 If the enemy takes you back into your past,  says R. T., there is one thing you can do. Remind him of his future.

Monday, March 28, 2016

No genocide, says Britain

In Iraq, Christians, who totalled 1.4 million, are down to about 30,000. In Syria, where there were 1.25 million Christians, figures are down to about 500,000. 

Pictures may no longer appear regularly in the newspapers, who have other themes to take their interest. But the rape and the butchery at the hands of ISIS continue. Even children are crucified and beheaded. One Iraqi Christian woman reported last week how she saw her husband crucified on their front door.

Last month the European Union decided unanimously that the persecution of Christians by ISIS in Syria was genocide - an attempt to exterminate an entire group of people. Two weeks ago the US House of Representatives voted by 393 to nil to call on the Obama administration to declare ISIS guilty of genocide.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has described ISIS actions as genocide. (Although  President Obama has not yet managed to do the same.)

A UN decision that ISIS activities constituted genocide would demand action from signatories to the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and require prosecution of perpetrators when hostilities were over.

Last week Lord David Alton proposed an amendment to the Immigration Bill in the House of Lords which would have led to a High Court ruling on whether ISIS' actions amounted to genocide. The decision would have had implications on priority for asylum seekers.

The Lords voted against the amendment 148 to 111. The Government is said to have imposed a whip on Conservative peers to vote against the amendment. Lord Carlile described Labour's refusal to support the amendment as "supine" and "chickening out." 

"Surely parliaments such as this should recognise the suffering of victims of genocide, and not merely by wringing our hands with rhetoric about those victims. Where else have they to turn to if not to parliaments and governments such as ours?"

Many of the Lords were said to be furious over lack of support for the amendment. 

Lord Alton said  "This was a day when Britain neither salved its conscience or offered practical help, but chose to look the other way. When historians come to consider the lamentable failure of both Parliament and Government to speak and act they will surely conclude that we failed to recognise the crime above all crimes."

A Home Office spokesman said the amendment would have created a dangerous loophole. The presumption of status could have made it more difficult to exclude those that were a threat to our communities.

Pray for Christians who are still suffering in the Middle East. Please sign Barnabas Fund's petition for the genocide of Christians and other minorities in Syria and Iraq to be recognised. You will find it here.    

Friday, March 25, 2016

The problem of the universe (2)

It's remarkable how scientific discoveries simply confirm what the Bible has been saying for centuries.

People once had all sorts of strange ideas about what supported the earth - until scientists discovered that it floated in space. It says in the book of Job, one of the oldest books in the Bible: He hangs the earth on nothing (Job 26:7). 

It was once believed that the earth was flat. Aristotle (384 -322 BC) suggested it was round, partly because of the round shadow of the earth on the moon during a lunar eclipse. The fact of a spherical earth was finally demonstrated by Magellan in the 16th century. The book of Isaiah, written about 700 BC, says He. . . sits above the circle of the earth (Isa 40:22).

Only in comparatively recent years has it been discovered that the earth is winding down as energy reduces. The Bible has been saying so for centuries in at least three places:

Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will endure; Yes, all of them will grow old like a garment (Psa 102: 25, 26).

The heavens will vanish away like smoke, The earth will grow old like a garment (Isa 51:6).

You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of your hands; They will perish, but you remain; And they will all grow old like a garment (Heb 1:10, 11).

By the way, the Bible says that Jesus rose from the dead. Let me ask you something. Do please answer the question. Have you studied the evidence for His resurrection?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Speaking up for traditional marriage

Fifty years ago, homosexual practice was illegal. Today, it is widely accepted, and the general attitude is that you mustn't say anything about it. How does such a complete change come about in 50 short years?

There is no doubt that the homosexual lobby has had a definite agenda. Let me mention some of its aims.

One has been to force society to accept their lifestyle as normal and healthy. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention statistics say that sexually active men and boys aged 13 to 24 were over 1,000 times more likely to become infected with HIV than their heterosexual counterparts. There have been rapid increases in syphilis and gonorrhea in the homosexual community. These facts are played down.

Another has been to get the homosexual agenda into schools. Hundreds of primary and secondary schools in the UK are introducing courses produced by the leading homosexual lobby group Stonewall.

A third has been to attack churches and re-interpret Bible teaching.

Another has been to see same-sex marriage legalised. Same-sex marriage is not really marriage. Marriage is between a man and a woman. God invented marriage at creation, and no amount of shouting can re-invent it.

A fifth is to shout down all opposition. If you oppose same-sex marriage or the homosexual lifestyle, you are automatically a bigot and a homophobe. People don't like being called bigots and homophobes, and so keep quiet.

Are you going to speak up for traditional marriage? It's not too late. If you do, you may be accused of hate speech, which will probably not be the case. (Someone said "We have fallen victims to two big lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone's lifestyle, you must hate them, and the second is that to love someone you must agree with everything they say or do. Both are nonsense.")

There are two reasons why you should speak up for traditional marriage. If you don't, the homosexual lobby will win by default. And if you don't, who will?

Listen to Dr Lisa Nolland, of Anglican Mainstream: "Jesus. . . spoke a good deal about sex issues - even more than about poverty or love.

"Jesus condemned porneia, which meant any sex outside heterosexual marriage. Incest, fornication, gay sex etc. His hearers would have known that.

"Moreover, Jesus claimed to fulfil Old Testament law, and clearly endorsed and extended its core ethical and religious values - among them the sexual. He showed mercy to sinners, but took sin seriously. So should we."

Saturday, March 19, 2016

How daughter's death changed an abortionist's life

Dr Anthony Levatino is an obstetrician and gynaecologist who has done more than 1.200 abortions. When he was younger, he married and he and his wife wanted to have children. 

They found they had an infertility problem, so decided to adopt. They found the process difficult, until they found a pregnant 15-year-old who wanted to give up her baby. They adopted the baby girl, and decided to call her Heather.

When Heather was five, she was playing one day in the back yard. Her parents heard a squeal of brakes from the front of the house. Heather had wandered into the road and been hit by a car. She died in her parents' arms in the back of the ambulance.

"People who have children may think they have some idea of what that feels like. I guarantee you," says Dr Levatino, "if you haven't been through that yourself, you have no idea what it feels like, and I pray you never find out."

When he next did a D and E abortion, he looked at the pile of body parts on the table. He didn't see what a wonderful doctor he was helping the mother with a problem; he didn't see her wonderful right to choose; he didn't see the money he had just made in 15 minutes. "All I could see was someone's son or daughter."

 From then on, he did mainly suction abortions. But a change had come that he couldn't take back. "When you finally figure out that killing a baby for money is wrong, it doesn't matter if the baby is this big, this big, this big or this big, it's all the same."

Dr Levatino is the former abortionist interviewed on the videos I mentioned in my last blog post.

"I haven't done any abortions since then," he says, "and I never will."

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How abortions are done

So British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the UK's biggest abortion providers, have launched their campaign to have all abortion legislation swept away and women free to choose to have an abortion at any time, for any reason.

No other medical procedure, they claim, is so out of touch with clinical developments and the moral thinking of the modern world.

They don't mention, of course, the sudden shock of an unplanned pregnancy; the number of women pressured into abortion by husbands, partners, parents and friends; the increased risk of mental health problems and suicide after abortion. Or the medical complications. Or the fact that abortion kills a baby.

By coincidence, a matter of days after their campaign was launched, a series of videos was published on a new website - - showing just how abortions are carried out. A former abortionist describes what happens in a suction D and C abortion, a D and E abortion, a late term abortion, and an abortion using abortion pills. 

There are no bloody photographs or pictures of live action; the procedures are demonstrated using animated diagrams. The videos are said to be medically accurate.

The video on D and E abortions has been viewed more than 2,700,000 times in the three weeks since it was placed on YouTube, and some viewers are said to have changed from pro-abortion to pro-life.

You can watch the videos here.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Israel: Dark days ahead

A Palestinian ran amuck in Jaffa this week and stabbed 10 people. There were other Palestinian attacks the same day. Two Israeli policemen were shot.

Jewish residents near the Gaza border have heard the sound of digging underneath their houses. Terrorists from Gaza have been digging terror tunnels underneath the border. A number of tunnels have collapsed, killing the men working inside.

The battle for the land seems to be intensifying, as one Jerusalem resident put it.

Prime Minister Netanyahu's annual visit to meet President Obama in Washington has been cancelled, and no one seems clear why. One Israeli news source says Obama, as one of his last acts before he leaves office, will use the UN Security Council to force Israel and the Palestinians to negotiation, seeking to force Israel to divide Jerusalem and the Palestinians to recognise the Jewish state.

Whether Obama does or he doesn't, all nations will eventually turn on Israel. Israel will be invaded, and Jerusalem will be taken. The Jews will flee to Jordan, and the invading armies will follow. Then a remarkable thing will happen. . . The Lord Jesus Christ Himself will return and fight against the armies from heaven.

What days we live in. "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Psa 122:6).

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Providing 'spare part' babies

Women whose babies develop fatal defects in the early stages of pregnancy will be given advice on going ahead with the birth so the NHS can harvest the babies' organs, according to the Mail on Sunday.

Many mothers opt for an abortion after being told the child has no hope of survival once born. Now, the newspaper claims, mothers will be supported to have the baby at nine months so the child's organs can be taken for transplant.

Speaking of obtaining organs from newborns, transplant surgeon Niaz Ahmad, of St James University Hospital in Leeds, said "We are looking at rolling it out as a viable source of organ transplantation nationally."

At the moment, doctors will not raise the issue of donation first with expectant mothers, but wait for the women to approach the NHS themselves. However, that could change, Mr Ahmad is reported to have said.

A lead nurse has been appointed to co-ordinate efforts to educate NHS staff about talking to parents about such a sensitive issue.

In some cases, where donation had been agreed, babies could be certified brain dead, but their bodies kept alive by artificial ventilation, so organs removed would be fresh and have more chance of successful transplant.

I have previously expressed the view that brain death is not in fact death and donors would still be alive when the organs were removed.

Dr Trevor Stammers, lecturer in bioethics and medical ethics at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, said "It would be frankly abhorrent if transplant doctors were to ask women whose unborn children have been diagnosed with severe defects to let their baby go to term for the sole reason that its body can be raided for its organs.

"Mothers electing to carry babies with such severe defects to term - because they would love the child for as long as it should live - have, up till now, often been pressured to abort anyway. They have been regarded as foolish to continue the pregnancy. 

"It is concerning that mothers will now be encouraged to go to term with the express intention of the  child's organs being taken. What happens if they change their mind once they see their newborn son or daughter?

"It is a ghoulish suggestion. The concept reduces the baby to nothing more than a utilitarian means to an end - a collection of spare parts - rather than respecting life for its own sake.

"I know those organs can potentially save the lives of others, but at what cost to our humanity?

"The integrity of transplant medicine has already been compromised by using organs from euthanised adults. Raiding the bodies of children born only for their organs will further tarnish the profession."

Thursday, March 03, 2016

The power of forgiveness

In 2006, a young man walked into a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, ordered the teacher, a teacher's help and the boys to leave, shot the 10 girls one by one, then turned the gun on himself.

Two years ago I wrote about the almost incredible love and forgiveness showed by the Amish people to the gunman's widow. Now the gunman's mother, Terri Roberts, is telling her story.

On that never-to-be-forgotten morning, after hearing a garbled report of the shooting on the radio, she drove to her son's house, where she met her husband and a state trooper. She asked the trooper "Is my son alive?" The trooper said "No, ma'am." She collapsed in a heap on the ground.

That afternoon her husband was saying "Those poor parents, those poor children, we will have to move far away from our Amish neighbours. . . " Henry, their Amish neighbour, insisted the Amish wanted them to stay.

"The Amish. . . attended our son's burial, surrounding us and protecting us from the media cameras. The first parents to greet us that day had lost two daughters at the hand of our son. They asked us how we were doing."

The following July many of the Amish attended a picnic at her home. "The loving atmosphere was incredible, demonstrating how, even through the hardest of situations, we can surrender our angst and discover peace and joy.

"Knowing that I am battling stage four cancer, this past Christmas a school bus pulled into my driveway with 35 Amish friends singing carols to me."

Her conclusions?

"Bitterness and anger are worse than any cancer, eating away at our souls. Even in hardship, praising God for His provision changes our perspective, granting grace for the 'next step.'

"Surrender and submission have become words of great strength to me. By submitting to a higher plan I've found joy in the midst of the trials of tragedy and health.

"I've been in the lowest pit, in the deepest depths, but God's grace provides a way out through daily surrender - and I see His goodness."

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Man dressed in glowing white

"Jesus is moving in these Middle East nations. Many there are disillusioned and broken and just want to know the truth. Now more than ever there is a harvest among Muslims that has not been seen in history."

So says Tyler Connell, a young American who travels to faraway countries, like countries in the Middle East, then visits American universities like Harvard, Iowa State, Clemson and the University of Georgia to tell what he has seen.

He tells the story of a young man named Daniel* who works among Syrian refugees in Jordan. One day he visited a family of eight. The father was a devout Muslim. "I'm Daniel and I'm here to tell you about Jesus," he said. The family turned almost white and looked at each other. The father was yelling.

Daniel's interpreter explained that the previous night a Man dressed in glowing white opened the door of their tent and stood in the entrance. "My name is Jesus and I am sending a man tomorrow named Daniel to tell you more about Me," He said. Then He disappeared.

When Daniel arrived at their doorway and told them his name they were undone. The whole family gave their lives to Jesus and are now planting underground churches in Jordan.

The father got a large mobile phone bill and asked his 15-year-old daughter about it. "It's because I'm telling all our relatives in Saudi Arabia about Jesus," she said.

You can see more here.

*Name changed for security reasons.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Muslims 'sick of Islam'

A 21-year-old Iraqi woman who escaped after being tortured and kept as a sex slave by ISIS, speaking in London, appealed for the world to "come on board" in fighting the terrorist group. ISIS were  criminals, she said, and needed to be tackled by the world community.

Nadia Murad said her mother saw ISIS fighters kill six of Nadia's brothers, then they took her mother and killed her. "I was already orphaned because I didn't have a father. All I had was my mother."

Nadia was taken as a sex slave along with 5,000 other Yazidi girls and women. "When they took me to Mosul and raped me, I forgot my mother and brothers, because what they were doing to the women was more difficult than death.

"Until now girls as young as nine are being rented and sold out. A year and a half has passed and the genocide against the Yazidis is continuous. We die every day because we see the world silent in face of our plight."

A hundred women who escaped ISIS when their mountain stronghold was attacked in 2014 are now fighting alongside Kurdish Peshmerga forces. Another 500 are waiting to be trained. "We will do whatever is asked of us," they said.

Christian Aid Mission reports that more and more Muslims in Iraq are hungry to know about Christ after witnessing the brutality of groups like ISIS. "They're just sick of Islam," said one ministry leader.

Friday, February 19, 2016

How Ingrid Bergman found Christ

Gladys Aylward was a housemaid in London. For years she had dreamt of being a missionary in China. When the China Inland Mission turned her down, she decided to go alone.

She saved for months for the fare, then travelled overland - the cheapest way to go - carrying a suitcase of baked beans, hard-boiled eggs and cream crackers to feed her on the journey.

In China, she learned to speak fluent Chinese and had some amazing adventures, not least when she led more than 100 orphan children through Japanese-occupied territory to freedom.

It was decided to make a film of her life called The Inn of the Sixth Happiness; Ingrid Bergman was chosen to play "the small woman" (Gladys Aylward was just 4ft 10in tall). Gladys was critical, having heard that Bergman had had children out of wedlock with film director Roberto Rossellini.

Bergman was so moved by the story of Gladys Aylward that she felt she must meet her. She travelled to Taiwan, where Gladys was living. Unfortunately, by the time she arrived, Gladys had died.

Kathleen Langton-Smith, who had gone out to Taiwan to help Gladys, showed her the room where Gladys had lived and the bed in which she had slept. Bergman was so overcome she fell to her knees in tears. Kathleen used the occasion to lead her to Christ.

You can read more details of the story here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Taking human life without restriction

I suppose it had to come - but it speaks volumes about the hard-as-flint state of our hearts regarding the disposal of unwanted human life.

A new organisation has made its appearance, called We Trust Women. It points out that abortion is still a crime (subsequent legislation did not alter the fact; it simply said that there would be no prosecutions if abortions were carried out according to certain circumstances).

We Trust Women says this harms women, restricts women's fundamental rights - though there has never been a right to abortion - and suggests a woman's body is her own, without making mention of the body of the unborn child. It wants all legislation sweeping away, so that nurses and midwives would be able to perform abortions, women would be able to have abortions - including sex-selection abortions - at any time without reference to doctors, and women would be able to take the abortion pill at home.

The new organisation appears to be largely the work of BPAS, Britain's largest abortion provider. (Ann Furedi, BPAS's chief executive officer, has always been honest about wanting abortion to be legal at any time for any reason.) BPAS is supported by a number of pro-abortion groups - and the Royal College of Midwives.

You might have thought that midwives. being actively involved in bringing new life into the world, might not have been in favour of such an extreme position, but the college has lent its support reportedly without having consulted its members. You can express your concern and request they consult their membership here or here.

The respected group 40 Days for Life, described as the largest internationally co-ordinated pro-life movement in history, uses three methods: prayer and fasting, community outreach and peaceful vigils. It has had remarkable successes in 32 nations.

A number of women from the group Abortion Rights accuses 40 Days for Life of coercion, harassment and intimidation. The women, "representing various denominations of Christianity" - the denominations are not specified - have founded a new organisation, Christians for Choice.

One of the founders, Edem Barbara Ntumy, writes: "I believe being pro-choice and being a Christian are not diametrically opposed." She does not explain how she reconciles the deliberate taking of innocent human life with the teachings of Christ.

Friday, February 12, 2016

When we make a mistake

We all make mistakes.

I have made mistakes in the Christian life, which I have later bitterly regretted. When that happens, we have a tendency to despair. We think "I've made a mess of it. What's the use of trying now?"

Consider the story beginning at Matt 26:36. They were in Gethsemane, shortly before Jesus was crucified. He asked His disciples to pray with Him. They fell asleep. Twice.

He said "The hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going." The damage was done, and could not be undone. But Jesus did not condemn. It was as though He was saying "Come on. Let's go on to what's next." 

I remember once when I was bemoaning my failings. It was as though God spoke to me. He said *You're my son." Just three words. But those three words kept me going for days.

If we make a mistake, it isn't the end. There are still lessons to be learned; still more victories to be won. Pick yourself up and keep on going. Have we entered into a personal relationship with Christ? We are still citizens of the kingdom. Still sons of a loving Heavenly Father.

The BBC and assisted suicide

The BBC, described as a cheerleader for assisted suicide, has again been accused of bias after the broadcast documentary this week of a man taking his own life at a Swiss clinic.

Simon Binner, a British businessman, had motor neurone disease. His wife Debbie was opposed to his taking his own life. "Watching him plan his own death, while I still wanted more time, was overwhelmingly traumatic," she said. "He had rights, but how much of his life was mine?"

The BBC was said to have made last-minute changes to the documentary, How to Die: Simon's Choice, after early copies were released to journalists. Footage of Mr Binner's corpse and scenes involving the drug used were edited after an executive from the Samaritans raised concerns that the BBC might fall foul of guidelines that prevent broadcasters from giving detailed guidance about suicide methods.

Leading blogger Archbishop Cranmer said of the programme: "This wasn't human action morally scrutinised, but political policy advanced emotively. How to Die wasn't so much concerned with how to die as why on earth not? . . .

"When will the BBC sensitively follow a pregnant woman through her BPAS or Marie Stopes counselling? When will they explore the views of her distraught partner as he weeps and longs for a chance to become a father? When will they broadcast the contentious performance and harrowing process of carrying out an abortion, and justify it all to the Guardian on the grounds of it being 'ambitious,' 1compelling,' 'groundbreaking' TV journalism of 'one of the toughest decisions there is to make'? 

"Or is it that changing the law on abortion is simply not on the BBC's political agenda?"

A petition has been organised protesting the BBC's bias and requesting them, in the interests of journalistic responsibility, to air a documentary about someone who is terminally ill and deeply opposes assisted suicide.

You can sign it here 

Monday, February 08, 2016

Lessons learned in prison

Daniel Waheli, with his wife and children, was serving as a missionary in a predominantly Muslim country in Africa. One night, six men came. Four of them had guns. They took him and put him in a small cell with a thin mattress.

He had been questioned by authorities before. He would tell them that he loved their country and he had started a successful business there. Then he noticed the writing on the wall of the cell: "Oh God, it has been more than five months. Please, help me to get out of here." He realised this might take longer than he had thought.

Work had kept him busy. Here, he had time to listen to God's voice. He prayed for hours at a time. God began to speak to his heart. He could barely keep up with all the things God told him. After they gave him his Bible back, he pulled strings from the mattress to serve as bookmarks. He looked at the places he had marked each day to remember the things God had told him. Eventually, he had more than 120 bookmarks.

He was released after almost three months. The presence and the voice of Jesus were clearer to him than ever they had been before. 

Waheli says God taught him five principles about suffering that every follower of Jesus should remember:

1.  Be ready for persecution. Suffering is promised for every person who seeks to live a holy life before God, regardless of calling (2 Tim 3:12).

2.  Rejoice in your sufferings. Suffering can help us develop character which can lead to a hope that does not disappoint (Rom 5;3 - 5).

3.  You are blessed by God in your suffering (1 Pet 4:14; Matt 5:11).

4.  Seek to "bless those who persecute you" (Rom 12:14). The power of love and forgiveness in action helps suffering Christians to bless their persecutors. Pray that God gives you eyes to see your persecutors as people who know not what they are doing and who deeply need Jesus.

5.  Suffering will help you comfort others. God often allows something to happen to you so that you can learn and "be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" (2 Cor 1:4).

God intends to build our character to help us better serve Him in love and perseverance. Waheli says his suffering induced indescribable peace, joy and hope in God and in His promises that with and through Him, we will lack nothing.

May we endure hardship with joy and perseverance.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Law chief intervenes in 'gay cake' case

An appeal in the Ashers "gay cake" case in Northern Ireland was halted at the last minute this week after an intervention by Northern Ireland's Attorney General.

The McArthur family, who run Ashers Baking Company, was asked to bake a cake bearing the slogan "Support gay marriage." The McArthurs, who are committed Christians, declined. They were taken to court by the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland (with £40,000 of public funds).

Judge Isobel Brownlie decided the McArthurs had unlawfully discriminated against homosexual activist Gareth Lee on grounds of sexual discrimination and they were ordered to pay £500 compensation.

They arrived at court this week expecting their appeal to be heard before Northern Ireland's Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, but the appeal was postponed after an intervention from John Larkin QC,  Attorney General of Northern Ireland, apparently on the grounds of a potential conflict between Northern Ireland equality legislation and European human rights laws.

The Court of Appeal will meet in March to hear legal arguments on the compatibility of Northern Ireland law with European law, and the appeal will now not be heard until May.

Homosexual campaigner Peter Tatchell, who originally supported the claim against Ashers, announced this week that he had changed his mind. He said the claim against the bakers was well intended, but was "a step too far." The request to bake the cake was refused not because Mr Lee was homosexual, but because of the message that was asked for on the cake.

"Should Muslim printers be obliged to publish cartoons of Mohammed? Or Jewish ones publish the words of a Holocaust denier? Or gay bakers accept orders for cakes with homophobic slurs?" There was a difference, he suggested, between discrimination against people and discrimination against ideas.

He's right. There's a big difference between having the legal right to do what you want and forcing everybody to like it.

Monday, February 01, 2016

'Oldest hatred' js increasing

Antisemitism in Europe has reached an unprecedented level. 

Last year antisemitic incidents in London rose by more than 60 per cent. Jewish emigration from Europe had a record year, with 7,000 French people arriving in Israel. In Germany, according to an EU agency, 64 per cent of Jews avoid the public display of symbols which would identify them as Jewish.

In American universities, three quarters of Jewish students had witnessed antisemitism on campus, with a worsening of incitement and hatred.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said antisemitism was not merely growing among immigrant communities, but gaining traction across Europe. "Even respected Western opinion leaders have become affected with hatred for the Jewish people and the Jewish state," he said.

"Islamic extremists incorporate the most outrageous antisemitism into their murderous doctrines. We see this in Gaza; we see it in Raqqa; we see it in Teheran.

"The Palestinian terrorists don't want to build a state; they want to destroy a state, and they say that proudly. They want to murder Jews everywhere and they state that proudly. They don't murder for peace, and they don't murder for human rights.

"While across the region, Islamist militants brutalise entire populations, enslave and rape women,  murder Christians and gays, the UN Human Rights Council repeatedly condemns Israel. More than North Korea. More than Iran. More than Syria. More than all of them put together. Some things just don't change.

"When a state like Iran and movements like ISIS and Hamas openly declare their goal of committing another Holocaust, we will not let it happen. But Europe and the rest of the world must stand up together with us. Not for our sake; but for theirs."

●  What is the reason for the world's "oldest hatred"? People won't understand antisemitism until they recognise it is spiritual in origin. The enemy provoked Pharaoh to kill the Israelites in Egypt and Haman to kill the Jews in the Persian empire in an effort to prevent God's promises being fulfilled in the birth of Christ. He failed. He had Herod kill all the young children in Bethlehem in an effort to destroy the Saviour. He failed. He is now trying to prevent Christ's second coming, for it signals his doom. He will fail there too.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psa 122:6).

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Were Sodom and Gomorrah man and wife?

It has been said that Christianity in the United States is "miles wide and inches deep." There's some truth in that. But can it be even worse than we have supposed? The facts quoted by leading American evangelical Al Mohler, if true, are profoundly shocking.

He says that, according to researchers:

●  Fewer than half of all adults can name the four gospels.

●  Many Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the disciples.

●  Sixty per cent of Americans can't name five of the Ten Commandments.

●  Eighty-two per cent of Americans thought "God helps those who help themselves" is a Bible verse. (Born-again Christians did better - by one per cent.)

●  At least 12 per cent of adults believe Joan of Arc was Noah's wife.

●  Fifty per cent of graduating high school seniors thought Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife.

Americans revere the Bible, Mohler suggests, but they don't read it.

Churches must recover the centrality and urgency of biblical teaching and preaching. We will not believe more than we know, and we will not live higher than our beliefs.

But parents, he says, are to be the first and most important educators of their own children. They cannot franchise their responsibility to the congregation. Children must see their Christian parents as teachers and fellow students of God's Word.

God help us. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

The life of Neriyah Arabov

Neriyah Arabov was the only Jewish pupil at his school in Uzbekistan. "The name Neriyah stuck out against all the Mashas, Sashas and Pashas," he says. When he was 17, he and his family emigrated to Israel. He grew to love the country, and rejoiced that he would never again be called a dirty Jew by his own countrymen.

He got a job with the Tel Aviv municipality, where he met  a man who read the Bible and said Jesus was the Messiah. He realised the man knew the Bible better than he did, so he began to read the Bible in order to prove him wrong.

What he saw in Isaiah 53 shook him. He realised the prophets were speaking about Jesus. As he read the Bible one day, he asked God to show him the truth about a personal matter no one else knew anything about. God answered.

He prayed a second prayer. Again, God answered. Unable to resist any longer, he fell to his knees and accepted Jesus as his Saviour.

Now he had opposition from his family. "How could you do such a thing?" they said. "Why do you believe in Yeshua? Is the synagogue not good enough for you? What are you looking for with the Christians? Why are you getting into something that is not Jewish?"

Neriyah went to Bible college. While at Bible college, he began to suffer from severe headaches, and found that something was wrong with his kidneys. But God, it seemed, had a plan for that too. . .

Neriyah and his wife now lead a messianic fellowship in Israel. They distribute food packages to needy families, do free tours to holy sites and care for Holocaust survivors.

For more details of Neriyah's story, see here.

●  Record numbers of Jews from Europe are moving to Israel as antisemitism in Europe increases. This Wednesday, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, is also Holocaust Memorial Day UK. For details of the day, see here.