Saturday, November 28, 2009

Christ is the answer

What an age we live in!

One afternoon this week I was looking at a few recent news items. The Bank of England had loaned £61 billion of taxpayers' money to two banks without Parliament or the public being told. Representatives of 192 countries were about to meet in Copenhagen to consider spending vast amounts of money to prevent predicted global warming that isn't happening.

In the UK, convicted murderers were being allowed to sleep at home, apparently because of a lack of prison places. People guilty of causing grievous bodily harm, sexual assault and rape, including child rape, were being dealt with by being given a police caution.

Schools were failing to provide adequate teaching. Vast numbers of youngsters were leaving school without an adequate mastery of the three Rs.

On the evening of that same day I attended my first Christmas carol service this year. Standing by a Christmas tree in the bitterly cold outdoors in the centre of a little community not too far from my home with Christians who were singing carols with infectious joy, it hit me afresh.

He came. He did it. He lived, He died and He rose again.

He's alive today. He's coming soon. "Be of good cheer," He said, "I have overcome the world."

If you don't know Him personally, make His acquaintance this Christmas season.

"Come to me," He said, "all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

Five minutes to midnight?

Pressure on Israel has been increasing. And Israel appears to be ready to compromise on some important issues.

This week, following pressure from the US, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a total freeze on building construction in Judea and Samaria for 10 months.

The following day Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot announced that the US now wants Israel to release a thousand Palestinian terrorists from prison, allow Palestinian paramilitaries to operate in areas at present under Israeli control, and surrender land in the Jordan valley to the Palestinians - all this before starting talks with the Palestinians.

According to the newspaper, if those talks begin, the US will insist that Israel accept a Palestinian state in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza and ethnically clean those areas of Jews.

Recently US National Security Adviser General James L. Jones said nothing was going to stand in the way of the creation of a Palestinian state. The time had come, he said, to relaunch negotiations without preconditions to reach a final status agreement on two states. He emphasised President Obama's personal commitment to this resolution.

When he was campaigning for the top job at the White House, Barack Obama said "We must isolate Hamas [the Palestinian terrorist organisation in charge in Gaza] unless and until they renounce terrorism, recognise Israel's right to exist, and abide by past agreements. There is no room at the negotiating table for terrorist organisations."

That appears now to be forgotten.

Javier Solana, Secretary General of the Council of the European Union, was talking some months ago about imposing a Palestinian state by UN resolution, if necessary without Israel's consent.

Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper says that according to Israeli officials the US was considering adopting a unilateral declaration by the Palestinians of an independent state in the West Bank and Jerusalem, regardless of negotiations with Israel.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is said to have had positive meetings with EU states, including France, Spain, Sweden and the UK, with regard to the plan for the unilateral declaration of an independent state, and he is reported to have said the US did not oppose his plan.

When Israel's Prime Minister visited the US earlier this month, he was granted a meeting with President Obama only at the last minute. He was transported to the White House in a van, instead of the official vehicle which normally takes world leaders to meetings with the US President, and the White House issued no official photographs of the meeting.

Meanwhile, Israel is still faced with the possibility of attack from Iran, whose leadership has promised to wipe Israel off the map. While Iran rushes to stock nuclear weapons, the US and the EU do nothing to prevent it except continue to threaten sanctions.

Iran tests an advanced warhead design as it gets caught shipping weapons to Hezbollah. Syria is reported to give the group operational control over Scud missiles. It's five minutes to midnight.

Tyranny abhors a vacuum. While the US and the West dither in Hamlet-like fashion over whatever we shall do in places such as Afghanistan and Iran, the Axis of Evil is in full swing in its plans to destroy Israel and threaten Europe and America. . .

The time for dithering on Iran is over.

Iran is currently engaging in large-scale military exercises to protect its nuclear sites from a possible pre-emptive strike by Israel, and trying to pressure Russia for delivery of promised
S-300 anti-aircraft defence systems, which will make an attack on Iran's nuclear sites so much harder.

Pressure on Israel will continue to increase as Bible prophecy continues to be fulfilled.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Getting answers to prayer (again)

The Bible tells the story of Hannah. Hannah was dearly loved by her husband Elkanah, but she had a problem. She was barren. She had no children.

Elkanah's other wife, Peninnah, who evidently had no trouble having children, used to mock Hannah until Hannah was throroughly miserable. Why was Peninnah allowed to mock Hannah in this fashion? Because, I would suggest, Hannah needed to get desperate.

When she got desperate, she went to the temple and prayed. She promised if God would give her a son she would give him to the Lord all the days of his life.

When Eli the high priest saw her lips moving and no sound coming out, he thought she had been imbibing a little too freely and told her to leave off the drink. Hannah explained she was not drunk, but had been praying from the anguish of her soul. Eli blessed her, and prayed her prayer would be answered.

When Hannah left the temple, she wasn't sad any more. She knew she had touched home. She knew her answer was on its way.

When the child was born, she kept the promise she had made to the Lord. When the boy was weaned, she took him to the temple and gave him to Eli. The boy, Samuel, became the prophet in Israel. (You can read the story in 1 Samuel.)

There are two lessons from the story of Hannah. The first is that sometimes an answer to prayer can be delayed until it fits in with God's plans and purposes. The second is that sometimes, instead of just putting up with a situation, we need to get desperate. When we pray like we won't take no for an answer, things begin to happen.

Is that OK?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Britain's conspiracy of shame

On the subject of abortion, Chuck Missler, of Koinonia House, suggests that after decades of battling for the hearts and minds of America, the effects of millions of prayers are being felt.

Between faithful crisis pregnancy workers, technology that allows us to look inside the womb, and mothers who have hope for a better way, the tide is turning against abortion in the United States, he says. There are now officially more people in America who call themselves pro-life than pro-choice. . .

Abortion is losing its appeal all across the nation. A Gallup poll in May found that more than half (51 per cent) of Americans polled described themselves as "pro-life" and 42 per cent described themselves as "pro-choice." The self-described pro-lifers outnumbered pro-choicers for the first time since Gallup started polling on this question in 1995. . .

It is good to see hope for America's unborn children after decades of fighting. But the battle is not over. There are still more people who need to come to truly appreciate the value of even the youngest human life. There are millions of little ones still waiting to be born, and there are millions of mothers who will be much better off finding help so they can joyfully hold their babies in their arms. Keep praying.

What we have here in Britain is a Government-led conspiracy to see that abortion is made available to anyone who wants it.

The Government will tell you that an abortion is allowed only "if two registered medical practitioners certify in good faith that continuation of the pregnancy would involve risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the woman greater than if the pregnancy were terminated." Doctors (some are more conscientious than others, it must be said) sign consent forms at random, sometimes without even seeing the patient - and get paid for it.

Recently the ProLife Alliance won a long, drawn-out legal battle to force the Department of Health to reveal details of abortions carried out between 24 weeks of pregnancy and birth ostensibly on grounds of serious handicap. The Department of Health tried practically every trick in the book to prevent the information being made available.

The alliance said in a statement:

The most significant aspect of the tribunal decision is not so much the ruling re the disclosure of statistics as the damning assessment of the Department of Health's failure to regulate abortion.

The Department bears the full burden of enforcing abortion laws in this country, yet the tribunal highlights the absence of any mechanism for rigorous scrutiny of abortion referral forms, with no audit, spot checks, outside opinion or quality control of the basis for the terminations. It expressed particular concern that decisions were not scrutinised clinically or substantively and that no witnesses were able to point to a case where the diagnosis of a certifying doctor had ever been checked by the Department of Health.

Whilst the alliance is opposed to all abortions, it says, it would argue that at the very least there should be mechanisms in place to ensure conformity with the existing requirements of the Abortion Act.

I look forward to the day when many more people on this side of the Atlantic become seriously concerned about the barbarous practice of killing unborn babies.

You can make a difference

Mrs Mary Fox lived with her 17-year-old son Raum in Bodmin, Cornwall. Raum, who had learning difficulties, was bullied by local youths - to the extent that his mother walked with him to and from school.

On Guy Fawkes night, some youth put a lighted firework through the letterbox of their home. The firework set the house on fire. Three youths were seen laughing and mocking outside the house as flames shot out from the front door two feet into the air.

Raum suffered minor injuries as his mother pushed him through an upstairs window. His mother died in the fire.

What happened to them brings to mind the case of 38-year-old Fiona Pilkington, whose teenage daughter Francecca had severe learning difficulties. Local youths made their lives a misery for years. They shouted obscenities and threw missiles at the house; I don't know what they didn't do altogether. Ms Pilkington made 33 separate complaints to the police. The police and the local council apparently did nothing.

Eventually Ms Pilkington decided she couldn't take any more. She put her daughter in her car, drove to a quiet spot, doused the car in petrol, and with both of them sitting inside, ignited the petrol. Both died in the blaze.

I don't blame the British nation as such for getting into the state that it has, although a nation is made up of individuals, and every individual must be responsible for his own conduct. I don't blame the Government for everything that happens, although the Government has done little to stop it, and much of what it has done has only made things worse.

In large part, I blame the Christian church. I think the Christian church - of which I am a part - has not been what God intended it to be and has not lived as God intended it to live.

Please don't be discouraged. Be encouraged. Decide you are going to be the person God intends you to be and live like God intends you to live, letting your light shine into this nation's darkness so that you will make a difference.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

A word from Dottie Rambo

The other night when I tuned in to a Christian TV station there was a recorded interview with Dottie Rambo. Dottie Rambo was a gospel singer who wrote thousands of gospel songs.

She appears to have had some times of heartache in her life. Perhaps it was during one of those times that she wrote the particular song she was discussing. I don't know the title of the song; I'm not too sure of the words. But the theme of the song was this: you've come too far to turn back now. You've fought too many battles. You've seen too many victories. You've seen too many suns go down to think about quitting at this stage in the game.

When God had finished sending plagues on Egypt and that colossal number of Israelites was on its way to the Red Sea there was still time to turn back. When the Israelites were camping by the Red Sea and they found themselves trapped between the Red Sea in front of them and Pharaoh's chariots behind them there was still time to turn back. But once they had crossed the Red Sea on dry land and the waters of the Red Sea had closed behind them, there was no going back.

Ahead of them was the wilderness. It wasn't going to be easy. The difference was that now they had their freedom. In Egypt, their lives had been dictated by the slavemaster's whip. Ahead, their lives would be subject to God's promises.

The Christian life is something like that. When you became a Christian, Paul says, you were delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of His Son. It isn't all easy, being a Christian, but it's all glorious. I don't know if it happened that way with you, but when you became a Christian, someone should have told you you were going to be in a battle. "Be strong," Paul told Timothy, "in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." The thing is you're on the winning side. "Thanks be to God," says Paul, "who always leads us in triumph in Christ" (2 Cor 2:14).

Starting the Christian life is not enough. We've got to run the race. We've got to finish the course. We've got to cross the line. That's the important thing: that we finish the course.

There may be a Christian reading this who has had a hard time and is feeling ready to quit. Don't do it. God knows where you live. He hasn't forgotten your address. He hasn't accidentally deleted your personal details off His computer database. He has a purpose for your life and He is preparing you for it. The most important deliverance of all may be just around the corner.

Besides, if you have experienced His deliverance and known His love, if you have, as it says in Hebrews, "tasted the heavenly gift. . . become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come," who are you going to go back to?

You mustn't give up. "He who endures to the end shall be saved." You might have a few bumps and bruises by the time you've done, but you need to reach the finishing line. You can't give up. You've fought too many battles. You've been delivered too many times. You've seen too many victories. You've come too far to quit now.