Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Remembering

It seemed like time stood still yesterday as people remembered the Nazi killing machine on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Hundreds of former inmates gathered there, unable to forget.

At the Museum of the Holocaust at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, I remember standing in the Hall of Remembrance, which commemorates the Nazi killing centres where countless thousands died. I explained to the Jewish doorkeeper  that I was not a Jew, but a Gentile. I asked his forgiveness. "Ah,"  he said, "It wasn't just the Jews. It was Communists, prisoners of war. . . "

A gentle man from Poland recalled an incident while an inmate in Auschwitz. As he walked down a corridor, he heard another inmate out of sight singing an aria from Tosca. SS men ran over and the singing suddenly stopped. Later, he asked what had happened. "He was killed," he was told.  

Some Jews became atheists as a result of the Holocaust. "Where was God?" they said. Unfortunately, they had the wrong question. The correct question was not "Where was God?" but "Where was man?"

Antisemitic incidents in the UK last year are set to be the highest in the past 30 years. In Europe, antisemitism is said to be at its worst since the Nazi era. In France, eight synagogues were attacked in one week.

People need to remember that one day everything will be put right. Not a single thing will be forgotten. Nothing is more certain.
     

Friday, January 23, 2015

Frieda's miracle

Frieda Roos van Hessen was born into a Jewish family in Amsterdam. They were not practising Jews: Frieda had been to synagogue only once, for her brother's wedding. But they knew they were Jews.

Frieda had a beautiful singing voice, and decided to become a singer. She trained at Amsterdam Conservatoire, and was soon performing to packed houses. She was chosen to sing the lead in the Dutch version of Disney's Snow White. She was a soloist in a performance of Verdi's Requiem for the Dutch royal family.

Then the Germans invaded Holland. As a Jew, Frieda was forbidden to perform for non-Jewish audiences.

One day a car pulled up at the house where they were staying. Her parents were arrested and taken away. They died in Auschwitz.

Frieda hid in the house and was not discovered. That night, she fled for her life. For the next four years, she hid in eight different locations. She escaped Nazi soldiers eight times. Once she was arrested, then set free again in miraculous circumstances. At one time she lived for months in one room.

Then came the news: the war was over. There was dancing in the streets.

After the war, she met a pastor, who sent a German woman to see her. The woman told her stories of Jesus. "I thought you were an intelligent person," said Frieda. "How can you believe all this nonsense?"

The woman asked her to read Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22. Alone, she read Isaiah 53 and understood not a word. She began to read Psalm 22 and came to the verse which says "they pierced my hands and my feet." She let out a yell. "That's Jesus!" she said. She went back to Isaiah 53. She understood every word. "How could I have lived all these years without this?" she said. "It was like coming out of a dark hole into the light."

She was converted instantly through reading the Old Testament.

Frieda, who lives today in the United States, is now 99 years old, and still active. Her aim: to show the power of the love of Jesus.

Next Tuesday is not only the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, but also Holocaust Remembrance Day. You can read about it here and here.

You can see Frieda's testimony, complete with photographs and recordings, here.
          

Monday, January 19, 2015

Suffering for their faith

The past 12 months have seen the highest level of persecution of Christians worldwide in living memory. One hundred million Christians are facing persecution.

Islamic extremists are the main persecutor. In some countries, Christians face imprisonment, torture, rape and death.

More than 70 per cent of Christians have fled Iraq since 2003. More than 700,000 Christians have left Syria since civil war began in 2011.

The organisation Open Doors has published its 2015 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most dangerous to be a Christian. North Korea tops the list for the 13th successive year. Meeting with other Christians there is virtually impossible. Anyone discovered in unauthorised religious activity is subject to arrest, arbitrary detention, disappearance, torture and/or execution.

Next countries on the list, in order, are Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iran, Pakistan, Eritrea and Nigeria. You can see further details here.

Lisa Pearce, CEO of Open Doors in the UK and Ireland, says "I am convinced that what happens in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa in the next three years will define the future of Christianity as we know it. We can't afford to sleepwalk through these difficult days. Open Doors isn't saying there should be special treatment for Christians - of course there shouldn't. But there must be equal treatment - the fundamental right to follow any faith, or none."

Tomorrow will be the launch of the World Watch List and a report in Parliament on global persecution. It's not too late to e-mail your MP to invite him or her to attend the meeting.
        

Saturday, January 17, 2015

2,484 killed in Nigeria. Who cares?

When 17 people were killed by Islamic terrorists in France, the leaders of something like 40 nations - with the notable exception of President Obama of the USA - gathered in Paris to protest Islamic terrorism.

Last year 2,484 were killed in Nigeria as a result of Islamic extremism, the highest total of any nation in the world. This year hundreds more have been killed already. Men, women and children, hunted down, shot, drowned or burned alive. Who cares about them?

Among politicians, a few individuals have expressed concern. Douglas Alexander, shadow foreign secretary - his father was a Church of Scotland minister - has expressed concern. He promised that a Labour Government would appoint a global ambassador for religious freedom to tackle the persecution of Christians worldwide.

But it seems that for the majority of politicians, Islamic extremists in Africa can do what they like. Words, perhaps. But actions?

Lisa Pearce, CEO of Open Doors in the UK and Ireland, says: "Responding to a question from MPs about whether in light of increasing persecution now was the time to appoint an ambassador for religious freedom to campaign for religious freedom internationally, the UK Deputy Prime Minister has just responded confirming that, 'while it is necessary to keep an open mind' about whether more should be done to protect Christians, the UK Government would not be making the appointment.

"Of course that appointment wouldn't have changed the world on its own, but it would have been a step.

"Meanwhile the church is experiencing persecution on an unprecedented scale. Time is running out. Surely we need to move beyond 'keeping an open mind' and do something?"

There are things that can be done. For instance, the UK pays £249 million in foreign aid to Nigeria each year.
        

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Is Jesus the Son of God?

A Muslim challenged me to produce a single example in the Bible where Jesus Himself claimed to be the Son of God. How about Mark 14:60 - 62:

And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, "Do you answer nothing? What is it these men testify against you?"

But he kept silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, saying to him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?"

And Jesus said, "I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven."
 
 In Exodus 3:14 God revealed His name to Moses: 

And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Thus shall you say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"
 
 Dr Henry Morris says there are seven "I ams" in the book of Genesis; 21 (3 x 7) in Exodus; seven in Psalms that speak of the future sufferings of Christ; 35 (5 x 7) in Isaiah; 70 (10 x 7) in Ezekiel; 21 (3 x 7) in Jeremiah; 21 (3 x 7) in the smaller prophetic books; 154 (22 x 7) in the prophetic books as a whole; and seven in the book of Revelation.

In John's Gospel, Jesus uses seven "I ams" with descriptions of Himself to explain His ministry. He says "I am the bread of life" to explain that the manna in the wilderness is a picture of the Messiah. Every one who seeks Him will find Him; whoever partakes of Him will never hunger; each one has to seek Him for himself; every one finds sufficient for his salvation.

The seven "I ams" are I am the bread of life (John 6:48); I am the light of the world (8:12); I am the door of the sheep (10:7); I am the good shepherd (10:11); I am the resurrection and the life (11:25); I am the way, the truth and the life (14:6); and I am the true vine (15:1).

Somebody said that whatever the spiritual question, the answer is Jesus. Would you agree?
     

Thursday, January 08, 2015

First birthday for baby saved from death

Mrs Mhairi Morris, of Crawley, West Sussex, was 20 weeks pregnant when her waters broke. She was taken to East Surrey Hospital, where a consultant told her her baby was a "non-viable foetus."

She says the consultant told her there was nothing he could do about it, and she would have to go to theatre. Mrs Morris felt so long as the baby was alive, she had to give him a chance. When she declined an abortion, the consultant rolled his eyes.

Doubting her resolve, Mrs Morris researched her condition on the internet, and found it was possible to carry on with her pregnancy. She was placed under the care of a woman consultant, who "kept writing 'termination of pregnancy' on my notes."

The baby was born at 25 weeks. He is now a beautiful, bright-eyed boy, and has just celebrated his first birthday.

An NHS Trust official said Mrs Morris had been given a range of options.

With abortion being so easily available, it seems the nation has lost its respect for human life.

Suppose assisted suicide were legalised. Then where would we be? 
    

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Billy Graham (96) plans for 2015

Billy Graham, who is 96, used to make a long list of New Year's resolutions, but got discouraged when he didn't keep them. So this year he's concentrating on just one: to become more and more like Christ.

"To be like Christ," he says, "means to be like Him in behaviour - rejecting sin, living pure and godly lives, and sharing His love with others. It also means to be like Him in character - in love and peace and patience, and all the other fruit of the Spirit

"If you've never invited Christ to come into your life, do so today. Then ask Him to help you become more like Christ this year, as you submit to His word and follow Him."

Not a bad resolution for a 96-year-old. Not a bad resolution for someone of any age, come to that. 
     

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Palestinians fail in their UN bid

The Palestinians failed in their bid for a Palestinian state at the UN.

Palestinian leaders, who have refused to negotiate with Israel, went unilaterally to the United Nations with a request for the UN to recognise a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria - the so-called West Bank - and part of Jerusalem, requiring the Israelis to leave by 2017.

Eight nations voted in favour of the Palestinian resolution in the UN Security Council, leaving Palestinians one vote short of the nine they required. (If they had received the nine votes, the bid would not have succeeded. The US would likely have used its veto.)

The eight who voted in favour were Russia, China, France, Jordan, Argentina, Luxembourg, Chile and Chad. France's vote was a surprise: France had previously promised not to vote against Israel. The US and Australia voted against. The United Kingdom abstained.

US Ambassador Samantha Power said the resolution was "deeply unbalanced" and included "unconstructive deadlines that take no account of Israel's security concerns." She said the US voted against it "because we know what everyone here knows as well: peace will come from hard choices and compromises that must come at the negotiating table."

The Palestine Authority's representative Riyad Mansour said "The result of today's vote shows that the Security Council is clearly not ready and willing to shoulder its responsibilities in a way that would. . . allow us to open the doors to for peace."

Israel's representative Israel Nitzar said "The Palestinians have found every possible opportunity to avoid direct negotiations with Israel. They have engaged in a never-ending string of political games, and now they are parading into this council with preposterous unilateral proposals. I have news for the Palestinians: you cannot agitate and provoke your way to a state."

Although the majority of Americans support Israel, relations between US President Obama and Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu are at their lowest. The US State Department last year cited Israel for "unacceptable behaviour" more times than anyone except Syria, Iran and North Korea. President Obama is said to be campaigning against the selection of Netanyahu as Prime Minister at Israeli elections in March.

While Hamas is stockpiling rockets and building new tunnels in preparation for the next war against Israel, the General Court of the European Union decided to remove Hamas from its list of terrorist organisations.
       

Friday, January 02, 2015

The battle goes on

2014 was a difficult year, with civic rights and freedoms being attacked and secular humanists seeking to bury every public manifestation of Christianity. 2015, with thousands of children being reported for playground banter and the reports passed to education authorities and Ofsted inspectors, doesn't look like being much different.

Home Secretary Teresa May has announced extremist disruption orders to counter Islamic extremism - but which could penalise criticism of same-sex marriage or sharia law.

The Liberal Democrats, who favour liberalisation of drugs laws, want to enforce sex education - possibly with sexually explicit materials - for children as young as seven. The battle against legalised abortion continues in Northern Ireland. With reports of as many as one person in 33 opting for death in Holland, where euthanasia is legal, Lord Falconer still wants assisted suicide to be legalised in the UK.

But the Government has done a partial U-turn with its instructions to promote "British values" in schools. Faith schools were being told they must be tolerant of other faiths and staffs were to be prevented from teaching that certain lifestyles were wrong.

Christians protested. There were challenges from MPs and the prospect of a judicial review. The Church of England said Government plans were "negative and divisive" and increasing Government involvement in schools risked turning Ofsted into a "schoolroom security service."

New guidance to all schools now says achools are required to respect people, not beliefs, and no additional equality duties are required. Unfortunately, Christians say that Ofsted is not following the guidance in many cases.

The price of freedom, said someone, is eternal vigilance. Dare I wish my readers a blessed, prosperous and fruitful new year?
    

Thursday, January 01, 2015

A few facts and figures

The Christmas and New Year holiday seems to be time for quizzes and things. So let's have a quiz.

Here's the first question. How big is the universe? Well, consider.There are 100 billion stars in our galaxy. (There are an estimated 100 to 200 billion galaxies.) The average distance of each star from its nearest neighbour is 37 trillion miles. If you were to travel through space at five miles a second, travelling 37 trillion miles would take you more than 200,000 years.

God, who created the universe, is greater than it all. (If God exists, why doesn't He reveal Himself? He has revealed Himself. He has revealed Himself, for instance, in creation. Perhaps God wants people to choose to follow Him. There is all the evidence that people need.)

How big are you and I? There are more than seven billion of us on earth at this time. Tiny specks in a vast universe. But each of us fearfully and wonderfully made. And each one of us infinitely precious.

So precious that when we went adrift, God was willing to give His own Son. Our righteousness was no longer good enough, so God allowed His Son to die so we could share His righteousness. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. If we decide to believe on Him as our Lord and Caviour.

The choice is ours.
 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A new job for grandmother, 95

Mrs Connie Vitolo, who is 95, lived in New Jersey in the United States. Until she had a nasty fall, and moved to live with her daughter Anne in Virginia.

Having lost her own home, depression set in. One day she prayed to die.

Anne knew this wasn't right, and prayed that God would give her mother a purpose for living.

He did. Mrs Vitolo began to crochet blankets for an orphanage in India. "She really has a lot of Joy just doing this," says Anne. "She can do it all day and she doesn't get tired."

Before starting a blanket, Mrs Vitolo prays. Having started a blanket, she prays "Jesus, don't let me die before I finish my blanket."

Ranjit Abraham lives in India. His father, a pastor, founded 17 orphanages. On a trip to the US, Ranjit visited Mrs Vitolo to say thank you. He gave her a big hug, and she showed him a pile of multicoloured blankets ready to go. 

"What that lady is doing is amazing," said Ranjit. "It's something that is giving her life and is breathing in life and nurture to a child in another country."

"Jesus has a purpose for us all," said Mrs Vitolo. "But I never thought He had a purpose like this for me. I'm very happy, and honoured and humble. Jesus, I love You. I thank You and praise You all my days. Until the day I come home."
        

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

One of the greatest stories ever told

Bible literacy is diminishing. The Bible Society arranged a survey on the story of the Nativity. People 55 and over gave the most correct answers.

Ninety per cent said there were three wise men who visited Jesus. The Bible doesn't say how many there were. Only three per cent got the right answer.

Eighty-four per cent said Mary travelled to Bethlehem on a donkey. The Bible doesn't say how Mary travelled.

Thirty-five per cent said Mary and Joseph were married when Mary found she was pregnant. They weren't. They were betrothed. Only 30 per cent got the answer right.

Forty-two per cent believed Jesus was born on December 25. The Bible doesn't give a date. The date of a pagan festival was chosen to celebrate His birth.

Interesting? Listen to James Catford, Bible Society group chief executive: "The Bible could be lost to future generations unless we all take action. That's why in the week  leading up to Christmas and beyond, we are encouraging parents to leave a little time in their annual celebrations to help pass on one of the greatest stories ever told."
         

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Good questions. Do we have some good answers?

Christianity is the most widely persecuted faith in the world, and four-fifths of this persecution is at the hands of Muslim jihadists, Chris Sugden, executive secretary of Anglican Mainstream and director of academic affairs at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, says in the latest issue of Evangelicals Now.

He asks some pertinent questions:

Should persecuted Christians move from the Middle East? Should they suffer in silence, resist or retaliate? What is the difference between being prepared for martyrdom or for genocide? How chould the church respond to the violence that intends to uproot whole Christian communities from their homelands?

He adds some interesting facts:

The plight of persecuted Christians is often misrepresented by western media. Archbishop Kwashi of Jos, Nigeria, writes: "It is wrong to claim that insurgency in the north of Nigeria is fuelled more by poverty than by Islamic extremism. Poverty does not explain the killing of 40 schoolchildren - Muslim children - in Potiksum. Boko Haram and its kind delight in massacres, slaughters, rape and murders. This is not the face of poverty, but of radical Islamist jihad."

The Minister of State for International Development. Desmond Swayne, said in the House of Commons that Christians who argue that the jihadist's violence stems directly from Islam were talking manifest nonsense. He refused to recognise any claim of vulnerable religious minorities for help beyond generalised humanitarian help. This notion collapses under its own contradictions.

Bishop Nick Baines of West Yorkshire and the Dales said we must continue to pray, continue to give, to lobby politicians and to engage with the media. Were we content to live in a country that refuses to address the question of asylum for people who have lost everything and have nowhere to go back to?

We must make clear to churches, says Canon Sugden, which organisations are definitely supporting persecuted Christians. Government-supported agencies refuse to discriminate, and Christians get left out. Christian organisations that attempt to fill the gap left by political intrigue include Barnabas Fund, Open Doors, Aid to the Church in Need, World Vision and Andrew White's FRRME. Organisations such as Christian Aid and Tear Fund are constrained bv the Department for International Development's strings, often resulting in non-Christians getting help from all over and Christians getting little or nothing.

Finally, says Canon Sugden, an important expression of our compassion would be to welcome those who needed asylum into our homes and churches - and press the Government to give them entrance visas. One family per church would meet a major need. When he suggested it in a sermon in his church, he had three offers at the end of the service.

So - what are we going to do to help?
     

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Nazi SS officer's son who loves the Jews

Werner Oder was brought up in Austria. His father was an SS officer, whose job was to train einsatzgruppen, army units whose job it was to murder Jews.

"The Bible," Werner says, "says very clearly that those who curse the Jews will be cursed by God. That curse manifested itself in our life in the most terrible way. We encountered chaos in our home; anger, violence, hatred. Antisemitic language was normal.

"My life was going down the same road. I became angry, violent, very aggressive. People who just slightly offended me I calculated coolly at home how to kill them.

"A person said to me one day 'Werner, the way you're going, you have got two choices. You're either going to prison for life or you're going to hell for ever, so what are you going to do about it?'

"One night I had this terrific demonic manifestation in my life. I thought I was going to die. I cried out to God - the God who didn't exist, the God I didn't know about. I said 'God, I don't want to die. I want to live.'

"God answered. He sent me an evangelist. He told me Jesus is the Son of God, who loved me and died for me on the cross, and if I put my trust in Him He would forgive my sin and set me free from all evil. From that day on I put my trust in Jesus. I was changed."

Werner started to attend a Roman Catholic church. One Sunday morning as he sat in church, he had a revelation: Jesus is Jewish.

"I thought who is God? Do we know His name? I suddenly realised it is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel. God is the God of Israel.

"I realised that Jesus Christ was never His name. That's a Greek translation.

"His mother Mary was never called Mary because she was never a Catholic. She was a Jewish woman from Nazareth, who had a revelation from the angel Gabriel. who told her she had a son named Yeshua, who was to be the Saviour of the world. This was the beginning of my love for the Jewish people.

"I couldn't do anything about the people who were murdered, but I had this horror when I discovered what took place. I felt someone ought to come from the Nazi world to at least apologise. This is a very benign term - how  can you apologise? - but at least I wanted to be a friend to the Jewish people. . . "

You can see the whole of a remarkable interview here
      

Monday, December 08, 2014

Schooldays, witchcraft - and George Fox

Twenty-five miles from here as the crow flies is a hill that can be seen for miles around, when it isn't raining. (A local saying has it that if you can see Pendle it's about to rain, and if you can't see it, it's raining already. A scurrilous statement, that.) I went to school within a mile or two of the hill's Big End, and on Saturdays I climbed its slopes and tramped its length.

It's probably best known for its connection with the Pendle Witches (or the Lancashire Witches, as author Harrison Ainsworth called them). Four hundred years ago, Pendle was considered a wild and lawless region, "fabled for its theft, violence and sexual laxity, where the church was honoured without much understanding of its doctrines by the common people."

Roger Nowell of Read Hall, JP for Pendle, was investigating people failing to attend  the Church of England when he received a complaint that John Law, a pedlar, had been injured by witchcraft. Law appears to have suffered a stroke shortly after an argument with one Alizon Device. Alizon Device, being investigated, made claims about a rival family.

The magistrate's inquiries led to some 11 people being sent to Lancaster Assizes and one to York Assizes in 1612 to answer charges of causing harm by witchcraft, Ten were sentenced to death by hanging. They were apparently poor uneducated people who earned a living by begging, home cures, threats and extortion. Except for one, Alice Nutter, the widow of a prosperous farmer, who is believed to have been a Catholic and it is said may have declined to give evidence in her defence for fear of incriminating other Catholics.

The trial became the best known of all British witchcraft trials, largely because of an account of the trial, The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster, published by the clerk of the court, Thomas Potts.

Fortunately the hill has some more godly associations. George Fox. founder of the Society of Friends, commonly known as Quakers, realised that it took more than going to Oxford or Cambridge to make a minister, and he had scant respect for "steeple-houses," for the church, he said, was the people, and their head was Christ. Born the son of a godly Leicestershire weaver, he was constantly on the move, exhorting people to repentance and "turning people from darkness to light." 

He arrived in Pendle around 1651, when he was about 26 years old. He had already served two periods in prison because of his outspokenness. He writes in his Journal:

"As we travelled we came near a very great hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved of the Lord to go up to the top of it; which I did with difficulty, it was so very steep and high. When I was come to the top, I saw the sea bordering on Lancashire. From the top of this hill the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered. As I went down, I found a spring of water in the side of the hill, with which I refreshed myself, having eaten or drunk but little for several days before."

Jesus said "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).

George Fox was a good example, would you think?
  

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

When politicians act like kings

Laura Perrins has a good memory. She remembers younger days, when she used to play "If I were king." It's a game where you get to do lots of stuff and impose your will on the world - without the consent of the people.

Why are British voters so disenchanted with politicians - of whatever stripe? Why are the ruling elite, both Conservative and Labour, scratching their heads wondering why the hoi polloi are so fed up with their ruling? In a perceptive piece at Conservative Woman, Ms Perrins attempts an answer.

"In a democracy," she says, "we have the illusion of the elite representing our views, but in vast policy areas, this is not reality. The political parties campaign on major policy areas, but once in power they seem fixated on discrete but important changes, especially in social policy.

"What the voters are really saying, I believe, is that something is not right. They are saying 'This is not what I signed up for'. . . These voters believe they are living in another country.

"One of Cameron's seminal comments was 'If I were king I would spend an inordinate amount of parliamentary time redefining marriage. When I finish I will eat lots of pizza and ice cream at a gay wedding and fly the rainbow flag from government buildings. I can do this - because I am king!'

"Now, it may be the case that lots of people have no problem with this, but I am pretty sure that they do have a problem with gay marriage being used as a way to hammer home the progressive liberal agenda on any dissenters. So Christian bakers who refuse to bake gay cake must be run out of town - or at least forced to pay compensation for holding fast to their view that marriage is between one man and one woman. It is pizza, ice cream and gay cake for all - or else!

"This is followed by the unbelievably patronising mantra that schoolchildren must be 'prepared for life in modern Britain.' We all know 'modern Britain' means whatever the ruling elite want it to be. . . The test, now administered by Ofsted, is meaningless but very dangerous dross - a power grab by those who get to be king every day. . .

"This is what the British voters have been subject to by those who like to play at being kings. No wonder many believe it is time for the guillotine."

Incidentally, it has been discovered that only a third of schools now stage a traditional nativity play. The rest favour modernised versions with fairies, aliens, lobsters, spacemen - and Elvis. Small wonder a recent poll showed that 36 per cent of children didn't know whose birthday they were supposed to be celebrating at Christmas.

What are tea towel manufacturers going to do if children stop wearing tea towels for headdresses in the annual Christmas extravaganza?
     

Monday, December 01, 2014

Nicky Morgan takes on faith schools

Education secretary Nicky Morgan is taking on Britain's faith schools by ordering them to teach children to be tolerant of other religions and respect lesbian, homosexual and transgender relationships.

Schools have been warned that those that fail to follow new rules on "British values" would be judged inadequate and would face closure.

Trinity Christian School in Reading, which had an excellent report in 2013, has been told representatives of other faiths should be asked to lead assemblies and lessons, and staff should be prevented from teaching that certain lifestyles are wrong.

At an Orthodox Jewish primary school, a girl aged nine was asked if she understood how babies were made and whether she knew any homosexual people. A Jewish high school has been placed in special measures and rebuked by Ofsted for failing to promote "British values."

A consultation on school regulations during the summer was criticised for being too short and falling largely in school holidays. The new regulations, requiring all schools to actively promote "fundamental British values," were issued in September.

In a letter to Nicky Morgan last week, Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief inspector of schools, said of 35 maintained schools and academies inspected without notice since the beginning of September, 11 were not preparing pupils for life in Britain. They included schools that were not teaching respect for and understanding of the various faiths found in Britain, and schools that were not developing pupils' awareness and tolerance of communities different to their own. He said he intends to meet with education leaders from the different faith communities over the next few weeks to discuss Ofsted's inspection frameworks and guidance.

Christians are up in arms. They recognise there are many non-Christian religions in modern-day Britain, but they have different truth claims and cannot be all lumped together in a multi-faith mishmash.

Colin Hurt, director of the Christian Institute, says "The new rules are being used to compel religious believers to actively promote beliefs and lifestyles with which they profoundly disagree. There is vast scope for school inspectors to hassle individual schools, including any state or private school with a Christian ethos.

"The Government claims the changes are in response to the 'Trojan Horse' allegations in Birmingham. But it has now become clear that these school standards were in the pipeline in 2013 - long before the situation in Birmingham was uncovered in 2014.

"The new rules are divisive and are a powerful tool to promote secularism. . . They are promoting intolerance and disrespect for people with traditional religious beliefs."
     

Friday, November 28, 2014

The woman who came back to life

A remarkable story from the United States.

Forty-year-old Ruby Graupera-Cassimiro had been delivered of a healthy baby in a routine caesarean section when there was an unexpected complication. An amniotic fluid embolism in her bloodstream stopped her heart. Doctors say the condition is almost always fatal.

A team of more than a dozen doctors and nurses fought for 45 minutes to save her. They took turns to give CPR and gave repeated electric shocks. Nothing worked. Eventually the doctors stopped all lifesaving procedures. They told relatives there was nothing more they could do. Ruby's husband, mother and sister said their goodbyes and left the room.

They were about to record the time of death when Ruby's heart started beating again. Her family were praying in a room nearby when a nurse came in. "Keep praying," she said. "Her heart just started." 

When Ruby came round, despite being without heartbeat for 45 minutes, there was no trace of brain damage. There were no burns from the repeated shocks and there was no bruising from the CPR.

Then Ruby remembered what she thought was a dream she had had while she was unconscious. She met her late father, who told her it was not time for her to die.

"It was a complete miracle," said nurse Julie Ewing. "It was answered prayer. We were all there. We all witnessed it."

According to the doctors, there was no explanation for her heart starting beating again. Said Dr Amthony Dardano, president of the hospital's medical staff: "There's very few things in medicine that I've seen, working in the trauma centre myself and doing all the things that I do, that really were either unexplainable or miraculous. When I heard this story, that was the first thing that came to my mind."

Later, Ruby went back to the hospital with her baby for a tearful reunion with the doctors and nurses. "All I know is that I'm grateful to be here," she said. " I don't know why I was given this opportunity, but I'm very grateful for it."

You can read the full story here.
  

Monday, November 24, 2014

The best is yet to come

My father had a James autocycle. He rode it to Blackpool one day to find some accommodation for our annual holiday. For some reason, he didn't find any. On the way back, he got lost. He wound up in a little village, where he saw a sign in a front room window: Apartments. He went in and booked.

The village had two buses a week: one on Tuesday afternoon, and one on Thursday afternoon. If you missed the one on Tuesday, you had to wait until Thursday. On our holiday, my parents were bored to death. I thought it was marvellous. I revelled in the fields, the farms with their young calves and the stream running through the village with fish in it.

In those days, it was customary to have one week's holiday away each year. Almost no one had transport. You walked through the streets to the railway station and pushed your way on to a packed train, suitcases in hand. Most people went to Blackpool. The adventurous might decide to go to Morecambe. If you thought yourself a cut above the rest, you would go to Southport. Only company directors and Woolworths managers, it seemed, went to North Wales.

All that changed for me when I was 15 years old. I went on a coach tour to North Wales. The coach went along the A5 across North Wales. I sat by the window, captivated by the countryside. I thought I had never seen anything so beautiful.

I have had quite a lot of holidays since then. I have often thought I would like to see Israel again before I die. It doesn't look like I am going to manage it now. It doesn't much matter; I will see Israel again. When the Lord Jesus Christ returns and brings us with Him, He will reign in Jerusalem. We will reign with Him.

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And he who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.

His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except himself.

He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God.

 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed him on white horses.

Now out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should strike the nations. And he himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

And he has on his robe and on his thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS
AND LORD OF LORDS.
                                                                                                                   Rev 19:11 - 16.

Blessed and holy is he who has a part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
                                                                                                                   Rev 20:6.

There's something to look forward to.
        

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How a Muslim found peace

"I grew up in a Muslim family. I became a very, very strict Muslim, because of the thirst and hunger I had for the Creator. I used to think that His name was Allah. In my wildest imagination, I couldn't imagine that that's not true."

This is the remarkable testimony of a young Muslim.

"I always had a love for God. I really wanted to get to know Him. They told me if you read Koran over and over and over again, you get extra credit. If you wake up early in the morning and read Koran over and over, that really will give you extra credit. That never made me closer to God. I was always so hungry and thirsty and desperate to know God.

"For 12 years I was pursuing God, but I couldn't have a close relationship with Him. I gave up. I was so angry.

"I went to this hotel in Cyprus. I saw a Bible. I said 'Can I read it?' He said 'You can have it.' I began to read the Bible. Jesus was popping out of the Bible. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. I think it was the third night I was reading the Bible. I read that Jesus was the Son of God. That made me so angry. I threw the book at the wall. 

"I didn't touch the Bible for three years.

"I went to this school and my teacher started to talk to me about Jesus. I couldn't believe that God is love because I never received love from God. I was a slave of God.

"I felt that I need to pray to Jesus. I asked a friend of the teacher's how can I pray. She said 'I receive you as Lord of my life. I accept your forgiveness. I accept you as the Son of God.'

"I said 'Jesus, I don't believe that you are the Son of God. I really don't. But if you are the Son of God I want you to come to my life. I don't believe your blood has any power to forgive my sin at all, but if your blood has any power to forgive my sin, I accept it.'

"I went to church. I went to church as a Muslim, but as a Muslim who was so disappointed. The pastor was preaching. I couldn't understand his preaching because I didn't have any knowledge of Bible.

"I saw a man standing behind pastor. I asked myself 'Who is this?' A voice inside of me said 'Jesus.' He walked inside me physically. Fire came all over me. My whole body was on fire. This hand came and touched my heart.

"She said 'Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God?' I said 'No, I don't. Now I believe that Jesus lives and He came to me personally. But Son of God? You need to convince me.' And I saw Jesus in heaven and He was standing on the right hand of the throne.

"He started to pour His Spirit all over me. He convinced me without saying anything. My heart knew He was the Son of God. I ran to the hotel and got to my knees. It was the most wonderful, the most beautiful moment of my life. I never had peace before. It was like I was swimming inside peace.

"If you don't have peace, if you have never received love from God, try Jesus. He will give you love. He will give you joy. He will give you peace.

"If I die today I know He is waiting there for me. I am going to jump into His arms. I am going to dance with Him. He is my closest friend. If you don't have peace, let Jesus come and turn your world upside down, and introduce Himself to you - as Love."

You can see the full testimony on video here.
   

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Happy birthday then

Today I am 80 years old. I don't really know how I got here, to be honest. The last 20 years seem to have snuck by when I wasn't looking.

Admitted, there have been signs. Young women have started to offer me their seat on buses, and I have become a depository for old age jokes. Like The older I get, the more time I spend thinking about the hereafter. I walk into a room, and stand there wondering what I'm here after.

You know the sort of thing. 

Looking back over the years, I marvel at God's grace.

Recently I heard a wonderful testimony from a dear woman busy in God's service. When she was younger, she didn't need God. She was all right. She went to church twice a year, and besides, she had a GCE in religious studies.

The first time she went into an evangelical church, she couldn't wait to get out. But she was back the week after. And the week after that. Until she found God and was wonderfully filled with the joy of the Lord.

I was like that. I didn't want God. I wasn't hurting anybody. All I wanted was to be left alone to get on with my life. God spoke to me for months before I let Him into my life. And all He wanted to do was to make me His and bless me beyond anything I'd known.

We're all of us rebels, you see. Adam started it, by deciding he wanted to be able to make his own decisions. without God. And we kept it up. We're all sinners, you see, if only because we haven't given God His rightful place in our lives.

Even after I invited God into my life, I made mistakes. But that was all right too. He's a Father of the perfect kind. 

He's made changes in my life. For the better. He's made me more like the person He intended me to be.

If there's anything commendable in my life, it's not me. It's Him.
    

Friday, November 14, 2014

So how did we get in this state?

Where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old. . . But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities come from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different. This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking.

In light of recent events. . . terrorists attack, school shootings etc. . . I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. . . The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbour as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about, and we said OK.

Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with "We reap what we sow."

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send jokes through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing yet?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit.

If not, then just discard it. . . no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

The above was written and recited by Steven Levy on America's CBS Sunday Morning Commentary. It could apply equally to the UK.

Just thought you might like to think about it.
   

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mother pleads for child to die

A 12-year-old girl has died in hospital after having food and drink withheld - with court permission. It is the first time a child not on life support and not suffering from a terminal illness has legally been caused to die.

Nancy Fitzmaurice was born with hydrocephalus, meningitis and septicaemia. She could not walk, talk, eat or drink. She needed 24-hour hospital care and was fed and watered by tube.

Her mother, Charlotte Fitzmaurice (36), of Ilford, said "Simple things like birds singing and hearing children play would put the most beautiful smile on her face. She loved Michael Buble, and when I slurped my tea she would give out a hearty chuckle." 

Nancy had apparently developed neurological problems and screamed with pain, despite painkillers.

The mother told the High Court "My daughter is no longer my daughter, she is now merely a shell. I truly believe she has endured enough. For me to say that breaks my heart. But I have to say it."

Justice Eleanor King, granting permission for nutrition and hydration to be withheld, said of Nancy "In her own closed world she has had some quality of life. Sadly that is not the case now."  It took 14 days for Nancy to die.

Said Charlotte: "Watching my daughter suffer for days while they cut off her fluids was unbearable. She went in pain. All I wanted was for my daughter to die with dignity with me holding her hand. Although I will live with the guilt forever, I know I have done everything I can for her and she is at peace.

"Although I know it was the right thing to do, I will never forgive myself. It shouldn't have to be a mother's decision to end a child's life. I believe hospitals and parents should be able to decide without mothers or fathers going to court."

Said Dr Andrew Fergusson, of Care Not Killing: "It is never ethical to speed up the process of dying by any intervention which has the primary intention to end life. Weakening laws that protect the sick, disabled and elderly would put vulnerable people at risk."

ASAN, an American charity, said "Euthanasia of people with disabilities is an extremely dangerous and wholly inappropriate solution to inadequate pain management. In cases where painkillers are insufficient, a number of alternatives for pain management exist."
    

Monday, November 10, 2014

The world's most persecuted people

Christians are the most persecuted group of people in the world. They are being murdered, tortured, imprisoned and assaulted solely because of their faith.

Christians in many parts of the Middle East face wipe-out. Churches and Christian homes are being vandalised and destroyed.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the right to change his religion or belief. Yet in many places those who choose to change their religion are beaten, imprisoned or killed.

The above facts are taken from a report on global persecution, containing almost a hundred pages of evidence, published by Maranatha, the Manchester-based Christian community. The report may be read or downloaded here.

Next Sunday, November 16, is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. A coalition of Christian organisations, impelled by the knowledge that more people had died for their faith in the 20th century than in all the previous centuries combined, decided in 1996 that the church worldwide would no longer be silent.

People from 110 countries pledged to pray in that first year. It has since become an annual event.

Will you pray? You can download a free resource pack here.
   

Friday, October 31, 2014

The man in the borrowed clothes

This month is the 70th anniversary of Nazi Germany's invasion of Hungary: which is an opportunity to tell the story of Pinchas Rosenbaum.

It was late 1944. The Germans were already losing the war, but they still took every opportunity to kill Jews. In a few months, they destroyed something like 600,000 of the 800,000 Jews in Hungary.

Pinchas came from a long line of eminent rabbis: his father was rabbi of Kleinwardein, in north-east Hungary. Pinchas himself was ordained for the rabbinate at 18 years old. It was expected that in due time he would succeed his father.

After the invasion, Pinchas was sent to a Nazi work camp. With several friends, he escaped and returned to Kleinwardein. He obtained false papers for his family, and pleaded with them to flee. His father refused to leave. The entire family except Pinchas was sent to Auschwitz and perished.

From somewhere he obtained a uniform of an officer in the Arrow Cross, the Hungarian fascist organisation that rounded up Jews for the Germans. Mingling with Arrow Cross officers, he would learn who were the next Jews to be arrested, rush to their addresses, "arrest" them himself and take them to the Glass House, a former glass factory, where they hoped to survive the war.

"You're going to have to lend me your suit," he told a friend one day. "I'm going to a party at the Hungarian police tonight. I can't go in uniform. If I'm arrested, well, you'll lose your suit. But if I'm not, I'll give it you back in the morning." The man got his suit back.

One day Pinchas heard that a friend was going to be arrested that same day. He decided to attempt a rescue. He went in uniform to his friend's address and began to curse the Jew. A non-Jewish man was present. "Pinchas, what are you doing?" said his friend. He continued to curse the Jew until his friend caught on and began to play the game. He got away with it.

Before the war ended, Pinchas saved hundreds of Jews, including entire families. When the war ended, he took off his uniform and left it behind in the Glass House. He was still only 21 years old.

After the war, he married and had three children, all of whom moved to live in Israel. He died in 1980, aged 57.
   

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Rape, death and destruction - as the world looks on

Christians in Iraq are in desperate need. Christians have been crucified. Christian children have been beheaded and their bodies cut in half. ISIS, now calling themselves the Islamic State, have seized vast swathes of land in northern Iraq and forced their brutal rule on all and sundry.

Hundreds of thousands of Christians have fled. Most have been robbed of all their possessions and left with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They are homeless, helpless and starving - and facing a cold winter. They are threatened with genocide and extinction.

Hundreds of Christian, Yazidi and Turkmen women are held in Badush Prison in Mosul. The women are raped daily unless they agree to convert to Islam. The UN estimates that there have been roughly 1,500 Iraqi women and children abducted from the Christian and Yazidi communities and forced into sexual slavery.

Said one Iraqi Christian woman: "I wouldn't wish my experiences in Mosul on any human being on earth. They threatened us with death. They forced us to pay jizya - knowing that we can't. For years we have lived close to poverty. In our emergency we Christians looked for help everywhere, but they didn't help us. I plead to the international community, to churches, to human rights organisations, to the UN - to all who promote peaceful living together, to help us."

Politicians have expressed their sympathy, but done nothing effective. They want to bomb ISIS from the air. But what about the Christians?

Says Patrick Sookhdeo: "The real problem is that the Christians have no power, and because of this they are deemed irrelevant. They have no weapons, therefore they are deemed to be no threat. They have no oil, so they have no economic weight. For some politicians it seems better that Christians should leave the Middle East, for then at least they would not be a complication to the situation."

The response from the churches has been negligible.

Are you a Christian? These are our brothers and sisters in Christ. This week, October 26 to November 2,  is Barnabas Fund's Suffering Church Action Week. Will you pray?

You can contact your MP, urging him or her to put pressure on the Government to act. You can sign a petition here.
      

Thursday, October 23, 2014

'British values' - or religious freedom?

Someone suggested that attempting to prevent Islamic extremism being taught in British schools would have repercussions for Christianity. Well, it has.

A successful Christian school in the Home Counties is said to have been downgraded from "good" to "adequate" and could even face closure because it failed to invite a leader from another religion, such as an imam, to lead assemblies.

The school is said to have been in breach of new rules to promote "British values" such as liberty and tolerance, following the Trojan Horse scandal involving Muslim schools in Birmingham.

Orthodox Jewish schools have complained about recent inspections in which girls from strict traditional backgrounds are alleged to have been asked if they were being taught enough about lesbianism, if they had boyfriends and if they knew where babies came from. The girls were said to have been left "traumatised."

The Telegraph, which reported the case, suggests the new rules were pushed through during the school holidays.

The Christian Institute, which is providing legal backing for the Christian school and is preparing a judicial review of the new regulations, says they are "invasive and unjustified." Simon Calvert, the institute's deputy director, says the regulations are invading the rights of children, parents, teachers and schools to hold and practise their religious beliefs.

Home schooling, anyone?
   

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dealing with the pain

Next Monday, October 27, is the National Day of Prayer about abortion. Statistics say that one in three women in England, Scotland and Wales will have had an abortion by the time they are 45. Eight million unborn babies have been killed since abortion was first allowed - equivalent to almost an eighth of the present population.

Yet there are many churches where the word abortion is never mentioned, leaving people who have had a connection with abortion afraid to confess it and unable to find forgiveness and healing.

Says author Jonathan Jeffes: "Christians can be reluctant to engage with the issue because they do not want to appear judgmental or bigoted; thus a powerful silence has grown up around the subject in the church. Two generations of Christians have grown up with little or no understanding of church tradition or theology in this area."

Many Christians are burdened to see a practical and compassionate response to deal with these issues in a church setting.

"Our churches have many women (and men) who feel trapped by the silence and unable to talk about their past personal experience," says Jeffes. "The place they can find themselves is one of real darkness and pain.

"This is where the church could begin to make a real impact. Not by campaigning or protesting but by connecting with a theology of compassion and understanding and humility. If we can start to change the culture of our churches so that women and men who have been through abortion feel welcomed and able to unburden themselves, then perhaps we can start to influence and change the worldview of the surrounding culture."

On the day, will you pray for the silent taboo to be broken so that people can be set free from the pain that binds them?

Details of the day here.
     

Friday, October 17, 2014

One Christian killed 'every five minutes'

The latest issue of Dabiq, the propaganda magazine of ISIS - or ISIL, or the Islamic State, call them what you will - contains a declaration of war against Christians. The front cover shows a picture of St Peter's in Rome flying the black ISIS flag.

"We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women," they say. "If we do not reach that time, our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market."

Meanwhile. a letter has been sent to the heads of state of 95 countries calling for urgent, determined action to halt the brutal persecution of Christians in the Middle East. The letter was signed by International Christian Embassy Jerusalem executive director Dr Jurgen Buhler, World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder, and Dr William M. Wilson, chairman of the Empowered21 Global Council.

Dr Buhler said the participation of the head of the main umbrella organisation representing world Jewry, together with leading evangelical ministries, made the event "historic." "Western churches have to do more to bring the suffering of our fellow believers to the forefront worldwide. To have a prominent global Jewish leader lend his voice to this moral call for protecting the region's persecuted Christians is unprecedented in modern times."

Father Gabriel Naddaf, a Greek Orthodox priest in Israel, told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in September that some 120,000 Christians have been killed each year in the Middle East for the last 10 years. That meant that every five minutes a Christian was killed because of his faith.

"Those who can escape persecution at the hands of Muslim extremists have fled. Those who remain exist as second if not third class citizens to their Muslim rulers."

Israel was the only place where Christians in the Middle East were safe. He appealed to the council's 47 member nations to "end your witch hunt of the only free country in the region." 

Some 4,500 Christians from 80 countries have been in Jerusalem this week to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. A  prayer vigil, organised by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, was held at the southern wall of the Temple Mount, adjacent to the Hulda Gate, on Wednesday. The Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem issued a ban on Jewish participation.

The embassy said the prayer event was "for pilgrims only" and was "not in any way an interfaith event." 
       

Monday, October 13, 2014

Christians 'should speak out for their faith'

John Lennox was born in Northern Ireland. He is professor of mathematics at Oxford University. He is a Christian, and speaks five languages.

He travels the world speaking on a variety of subjects, and has debated his Christian faith with a number of the world's best known atheists.

One day he met bioethicist Peter Singer. "Were your parents Christians?" Singer asked. Lennox said they were. Singer said this was one of his problems with religious belief: children tended to adopt the faith of their parents. Lennox asked "Were your parents atheists?" Singer said that they were."So you adopted your parents' faith." "No," said Singer, "because atheism is not a faith. It denies faith." "Really?" said Lennox. "I thought you believed it."

People think Christians talk about faith in Christ because there is no evidence, but Christianity is an evidence-based faith, Lennox says. "The Gospels were written to provide evidence, as the beginning of Luke attests. The end of John's Gospel says 'These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.'"

You don't have to choose between science and God. "Statements by scientists are not always statements of science. Stephen Hawking said 'Religion is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.' I said 'Atheism is a fairy story for people afraid of the light.'

"For an atheist, they might be missing the point, or evading the real issue." He advises Christians to ask the most important question: Suppose I could give evidence for God, would you be prepared right now to repent and trust Christ?

People often have an attitude that it is fine for you to be a Christian so long as you keep it to yourself. Lennox appeals to Christians to speak out. He points out that the verse - 1 Peter 3:15 - which says always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, is preceded by a verse which says "do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled."

Many atheists, he says, do not support the ideas of militant atheists like Dawkins. "I have many atheist friends who thank me for taking Dawkins on."

The new atheist onslaught, says Lennox, is beginning to wane - "but Dawkins et al are still wreaking havoc in the minds of young people."

He is speaking in Northern Ireland this week, before travelling to the Faroe Islands and Eastern Europe. Wish him well.