Saturday, September 26, 2009

Changed in the twinkling of an eye

It's remarkable how people will believe anything except the truth.

People who have no time for the Bible say they have discovered from a calendar of the ancient Maya civilisation of Middle America that the world is due to end on December 21, 2012.

Television channels are talking about it, books are being written about it, websites are discussing it and Hollywood is making a film about it.

I am told by people who study such things that the Mayan calendar does not say that the world will end, but suggests that because of the position of the planets in the solar system at that time there will be terrifying repercussions down here, with earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and worldwide disasters. Some are now saying that life down here will end at that time.

Now I believe in Bible prophecy. After man first sinned, for instance, the Bible said that there would come a Saviour, divine, eternal, born of a woman, in Bethlehem, from the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, of the tribe of Judah, of the house of David, at a time in accordance with the prophecy of Daniel. He would be despised and rejected of men, would die for the sins of the people, would be buried in a rich man's grave and would be resurrected. It happened. Other Bible prophecies have similarly been fulfilled.

Now does it not seem to you that if Bible prophecies that have been fulfilled have been fulfilled in such exact detail, then Bible prophecies which have not yet been fulfilled will be fulfilled in the same way?

There is one event prophesied in the Bible in greater detail perhaps than any other. (Whole chapters are devoted to it.) The Bible says that Jesus will come to earth a second time, not at the end of the world but at the end of this age, to deal with all those living who have not repented of their sins, to set up His earthly kingdom and to reign and rule, not just as King of the Jews, but as King of kings and Lord of lords.

We are not to set dates for His coming, but we are given signs of the time of His coming. There will be earthquakes, famines, wars and rumours of wars (Matt 24:6, 7). There will be signs in the sun, in the moon and in the stars, with men's hearts failing them for fear (Luke 21:25, 26). There is no reason to suppose this is countless years away.

The apostle writes in 2 Tim 3:1 - 5: "In the last days perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power."

What period of time does that remind you of?

Now there is one thing that is to happen before Christ returns with His saints and His feet stand again on the Mount of Olives (He will return, the Bible says, to Jerusalem). He will take all those who belong to Him to be with Him.

This is described in 1 Cor 15:51, 52: "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed - in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." We are told to be ready for that day.

It is described again in 1 Thess 4:13 - 18:

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you should sorrow as others who have no hope.

If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who sleep in Jesus.

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

Therefore comfort one another with these words.

My favourite bit there is the last part of verse 17: "And thus we shall always be with the Lord."

What a prospect!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Wanted: a second William Booth

Britain, alas, seems to have done it again. The Daily Mail reports:

A vast study of youngsters' wellbeing in 30 industrialised nations ranked Britain among the worst for health, lifestyles and school standards relative to public spending levels.

Under-age teenagers in Britain are more likely to get drunk than those in any other country, and the proportions of teenage mothers and single-parent families are amongst the highest in the survey.

In "risky behaviour" - a combination of drinking, smoking and teenage pregnancy - Britain's performance is worse than all nations other than Turkey and Mexico.

Educational achievement is low given the billions poured in by Labour, with more than one in 10 youngsters aged 15 to 19 not in school, training or work. This is the fourth highest rate in the 30 countries. Only Italy, Turkey and Mexico perform worse. . .

The report, published by the economic think tank the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, compared data from 30 leading countries on children's welfare. . .

Teen drunkenness, as measured by the number of youngsters aged 13 and 15 who have been drunk at least twice, tops the league table at 33 per cent.

By an apparent coincidence, the letters page in the same issue of the same newspaper contained a letter from a Derek Hanna, of Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim. It said:

One of the nation's greatest sons, William Booth, once said: "The chief danger of the 20th century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, politics without God, salvation without regeneration and heaven without hell."

No wonder the nation is in such decline and the future looks so bleak.

The only hope, the letter said, is that God will raise up another William Booth. Or another John Wesley.

May it be so.

No feet, no footprints

It would be difficult to find someone these days who hasn't heard of man-made global warming, polar bears under threat and the need to reduce carbon footprints to save the planet. Forgive me if I sound flippant in talking about it: frankly, I don't believe it. (Actually, I hear the climate is getting colder.)

A British population control group has had an idea: stop babies being born so they won't be able to produce carbon footprints. The Optimum Population Trust from the London School of Economics points out that a lot of births are unplanned.

A report commissioned by the trust claims that contraception is almost five times cheaper than conventional so-called green technologies, so the trust is calling for birth control to be included in funding for climate change in order to reduce the number of unintended births.

Said Anthony Ozimic, of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children: "Whatever the evidence regarding man-made global warming, the right to life and the right to found a family are fundamental, universal human rights enshrined in legally binding international conventions. Will the members of the Optimum Population Trust please tell us which of their children should not have been born in order to save the earth?"

That reminds me of a married mother of three children I knew of who became pregnant a fourth time. She went to see her doctor and explained that she didn't really want more than three children.

"Well, let's see," said the doctor. "Of the three children you have at home, which one shall we get rid of?" The woman was horrified.

"Well," said the doctor, "the one you have in the womb is just as alive as the other three, so why not get rid of one of the older ones?"

The woman put away all thoughts of an abortion. She is now an active pro-lifer.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Obama, Israel and the Palestinians

I understand that when Barack Obama became US President he gave himself two years to resolve the Israel/Palestinian issue. There's optimism for you.

Benjamin Netanyahu, who became Israel's Prime Minister not too long ago, was said not to favour a two-state plan. Israel was under pressure from the US to agree to just that.

After careful consideration, Prime Minister Netanyahu said he would agree to two states on two conditions: first, that the Palestinians would recognise the Jewish state's right to exist, and second, that the Palestinian state would be a demilitarised state so that it would not be able to attack Israel.

The Palestinians' response was not long in coming. Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority's Mahmoud Abbas, said the Israeli leader's speech "torpedoes all peace initiatives in the region."

Another Abbas aide, Yasser Abed Rabbo, said recognition of Israel's Jewish character was a demand for Palestinians "to become part of the global Zionist movement." Hamas said the speech reflected Mr Netanyahu's "racist and extremist ideology."

Kifah Radaydeh, a Fatah official, rather let the cat out of the bag. She said the Palestinian Authority will resume violence and terror against Israel when Fatah is "capable" and "according to what seems right." "It has been said that we are negotiating for peace," she said, "but our goal has never been peace. Peace is a means; our goal is Palestine."

At its recent conference in Bethlehem, Fatah, the so-called moderate wing of the Palestinians - perhaps emboldened by encouraging sounds from President Obama - embraced the Aksa Martyrs terror group as a Fatah organisation, endorsed the use of terrorism against Israel, demanded that all terrorists be released from Israeli prisons as a precondition to "peace" talks and decided that their national enterprise would not be achieved until not only Judea and Samaria but the whole of Jerusalem was cleansed of Jews and under Palestinian sovereignty.

President Obama does not have much cause for optimism. There are 22 Arab nations surrounding Israel with a combined population of more than 300 million, compared with Israel's five million Jews - a ratio of 58 to one. The Arabs have 5,300,000 square miles of land, compared with the Jews' 8,000 square miles - a ratio of more than 660 to one. But they are not concerned with the land they have. They want the bit Israel has.

In considering the issue, there are a number of other things to think about. First, the US has placed extreme pressure on Israel to cease building of any kind on land it hopes will be given to the Palestinians for a Palestinian state. (Imagine being told by another nation when you are able and not able to build on your land). Such building is said to be a stumbling block to peace. The real stumbling block to peace, however, is not Israeli building but the fact that the Palestinians refuse to accept the right of Israel to exist.

Second, Benjamin Netanyahu is pressured to negotiate with the Palestinians. How do you negotiate with someone who refuses to accept your right to exist and is still sworn to destroy you?

The third and most important fact is one that politicians of all kinds appear either to deny or to ignore. In the Bible, God calls the land of Israel "my land," a phrase He does not use to describe any other portion of land on the planet. The Bible makes it clear that God has given the land for an everlasting possession to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants - in other words, the Jews.

Try Gen 17:7, 8, 19 -21; Gen 28:13 - 15 and Gen 35:9 - 15. Or 1 Chron 16:15 - 22. Or Psa 105:8 - 12.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Well done the NHS

Britain's National Health Service has had some criticism recently, and often deservedly so. But the NHS does provide free treatment where it's needed, and sometimes it does an excellent job. Where praise is deserved, praise, as well as criticism, is in order.

Scott and Michelle Stepney, who live in Cheam in Surrey, had a four-year-old boy when Michelle found she was pregnant with twins. At 19 weeks of pregnancy, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Current medical practice was immediate surgery, which would end the lives of the babies but virtually guarantee the mother's long-term survival. Michelle was given a stark choice: choose between her life and the lives of the babies.

Scott and Michelle spent the next few days in a turmoil of indecision. Scott wanted his wife alive. Michelle was hysterical with grief.

"I had my son Jack, who I adored," she said, "but these babies were already part of me. I had seen their faces on the scan. I was their mother. I was meant to protect them. How could I agree to their deaths just to save me? It felt like agreeing to murder."

Michelle pleaded with her cancer nurse at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Surrey for further help.

The Royal Marsden has an MRI scanner that is not only one of the most powerful in the country, but can provide clear close-up images.

According to the Daily Mail, 30 specialists, including obstetricians, gynaecologists, pathologists, surgeons, psychologists and a pioneering radiologist, armed with an extremely clear scanned image which showed where the tumour was and what type it was, met together to consider Michelle's case.

They devised a radical programme of low-grade chemotherapy which it was hoped would contain the development of the tumour without harming the babies until the babies were big enough to be delivered by Caesarean section. Michelle agreed to the programme.

At 33 weeks, Michelle went into premature labour and gave birth to twin girls, weighing 3lb 11oz and 3lb 5oz. She then had a hysterectomy.

Now two years later, the two girls are fine and Michelle doesn't have cancer. She is subject to six-monthly check-ups, but the cancer is gone.

Three lives saved, you might say, and a very grateful family.

Like I said, credit where credit's due.