Saturday, November 27, 2010

A much better way

Andrea Minichiello Williams is chief executive officer of Christian Concern, an organisation which supports Christian standards in society. On her blog two days ago she posted the following, which merits careful consideration:

Yesterday the Government published the 'Schools White Paper.'

At 4.29 it states:

Children need high-quality sex and relationships education so they can make wise and informed choices. We will work with teachers, parents, faith groups and campaign groups, such as Stonewall to make sure sex and relationships education encompasses an understanding of the ways in which humans love each other and stresses the importance of respecting individual autonomy.

Not content with pushing for and achieving equality laws that promote a homosexual agenda, Stonewall wants to get its message to children directly. . . currently the actor Sir Ian McKellan is touring schools across Britain on behalf of Stonewall. He is giving assemblies, talking to children in classrooms and promoting a homosexual campaign "to tackle homophobic bullying". . . Stonewall's solution to bullying is to promote and legitimise the practice of homosexuality to children. That is not right. . .

When asked how teachers should explain the Christian stance on homosexuality, Sir Ian said that they should abandon the teachings of the church. They may not need to if Prime Minister David Cameron gets his way - in February he told pro-homosexual magazine 'Attitude' that the Church of England should change its policies on homosexuality.

The Prime Minister is serious about the homosexual agenda. Last week a Conservative councillor from Bristol, Chris Windows, was actually
suspended after he expressed concern over Sir Ian's visit to schools in his ward. The more that incidents like this happen, and the less the Prime Minister defends freedom of speech, the more it is eroded and the more society is harmed. . . What happened to the concept of "I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it"? . . .

The White Paper also stated:

4.30: Children can benefit enormously from high-quality Personal Social Health and Economic (PSHE) education. Good PSHE supports individual young people to make safe and informed choices. . . We will conduct an internal review to determine how we can support schools to improve the quality of all PSHE teaching, including giving teachers the flexibility to use their judgement about how best to deliver PSHE education.

This is a strong endorsement of PSHE ahead of a likely attempt to make PSHE compulsory in future legislation. PSHE, in its current form, is often taught as a politically correct programme which encourages the "promotion of equality" in sex education. In practice this means the promotion of the practice of homosexuality; legitimising same sex relationships as normal and desirable, as well as treating heterosexual cohabitation as equal to marriage.

The promotion of practising homosexual relationships as normal will not benefit children, only confuse them. It's contrary to the ethos of many parents and schools, whether Christian or not, and it may cause a range of difficulties for Christian teachers. . .

I will be doing all that I can to resist any attempt to make PSHE in its current format compulsory in schools. Please join me in resisting Stonewall's determined and aggressive campaign for the hearts and minds of our children. Their agenda must not go unchallenged.

In a country full of unplanned pregnancies, abortions, STDs and family breakdown, Christians have a strong argument that there is a better way. The 'sexual liberation' experiment has failed and has produced bad fruit.

We can offer values and an education based on our Christian faith. We can teach children about the importance of marriage and the family. We can teach them about purity and how to respect who they are. . . We can teach them that abstinence before marriage is the best way. We can give them positive life lessons and help them to avoid some of the consequences of sexual promiscuity.

The message is one of hope and promise and yet one that is excluded from the debate. It is time to re-enter the debate.

You can read the whole thing here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The courage of Lillian Beard

The newspapers are full of bad news. National debt. Lawlessness. Violence. Immorality. So here's some good news.

Mark and Vesta Sauter were missionaries to the Czech Republic, with a particular desire to reach the country's deaf people with the gospel. After three years' service, they hadn't led a single deaf person to Christ.

Lillian Beard, a long-time supporter, decided she was no longer content just to pray for them. She wanted to go to help.

Vesta wasn't at all sure about that. The problem was that Lillian was 90 years old and in a wheelchair. And although she was fluent in sign language, she didn't know the Czech sign language.

Lillian's friends didn't want her to go. They thought she was crazy. "Listen," said Lillian. "I can die there just as easily as I can here. They can put me in a box and send me home. Serving Him is all I want to do." So she went.

The Sauters arranged for her to speak at a luncheon at a deaf club in Prague. On the day, the club was packed because people were curious to find what a 90-year-old woman who had travelled so far to speak to them would have to say. They demanded to see her passport as proof of her age, and passed it round the room for all to see.

Anna Smolkova, a deaf Czech woman, was there. She was the matriarch of a family of 60 deaf people. She was an alcoholic, an atheist, and hostile to the gospel. "I want to make it very clear to you that I don't want anyone in my family to know about Jesus or God," she had said.

As Lillian began to speak, something happened. "I didn't believe this woman was 90," said Anna. "I was amazed at how beautiful she was, how she radiated. Something touched me inside. . . Something began knocking at my heart. . . and wouldn't release me."

When Lillian had finished, Anna asked her "Why are you so beautiful? Why do you radiate?" Lillian said "It's the love of Jesus."

Kneeling in front of Lillian's wheelchair so they could see one another eye to eye, Anna peppered Lillian with questions. When she'd finished asking questions, she accepted Christ.

Anna arranged to be baptised with all her family present. She helped lead her three daughters to the Lord, then her sons-in-law. She baptised one of them herself in the bath. There wasn't much room, so she baptised half of him, then baptised the other half.

She led many of her 14 grandchildren to Christ. She helped plant churches. She started a Christian youth camp.

Lillian, who spoke at the club that day, is now with the Lord. She died this year, aged 101. But the work among the deaf continues to flourish - in large part, because of a lady of 90 in a wheelchair.

You can read the full story by clicking here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A tale of Evan Roberts

We were invited to a wedding in South Wales. The friends who invited us kindly arranged two nights' accommodation for us so that we could travel down one day, spend the following day at the wedding, and drive home the day after that.

All we were told about the church building where the wedding was to take place was that it had been borrowed for the occasion and that it was within walking distance of the place where we were staying.

On the morning of the wedding, we walked to the church. When we arrived I discovered, to my delight, that it was the very place where the Welsh revival began. It was the chapel where Evan Roberts, the young man so wonderfully used in the revival, used to worship.

Some time later, friends offered us their house in South Wales for a week's holiday. We weren't able to go at the time originally suggested, so it was some weeks later we took up the offer. On our journey down, it came time for a break, and we couldn't find a motorway services open. It was uncanny. Until eventually we came to a motorway services near Cardiff that we wouldn't have visited otherwise.

On the car park were a number of cars with fish emblems on the back, and we got chatting to the occupants. It turned out they were all going to a week's convention in a large tent in the grounds of Swansea University. "You must come," they said. We were staying quite near Swansea, so we spent four or five evenings at the convention and enjoyed some great meetings.

Providence, as some people used to call Him, had so wonderfully arranged the details of our holiday that not only that: on the Wednesday afternoon of our week's holiday there was a meeting at the chapel where Evan Roberts used to worship to mark the 100th anniversary of the Welsh revival. We went along.

There were people there from all over the place. There was no one there who actually remembered the revival 100 years before - although there was a 100-year-old man in the meeting - but there were people whose parents had been involved in the revival.

It was at that meeting that I heard a story about Evan Roberts I had not heard before.

An old retired minister told how his mother had been one of the young women who went round the churches with Evan Roberts, taking the revival with them. One day, when the old minister was four years old, a knock came to the door of the farmhouse where they lived. The four-year-old boy ran to open the door. A man was standing there.

"The man smiled at me," he said. "I will remember that smile as long as I live. He said to me - in Welsh - 'Is your mother in?' I didn't reply. I turned and ran into the farmhouse to my mother and said 'Mother, Jesus Christ has come.'"

The man of course was Evan Roberts. The boy didn't know who it was. He had no idea. But the man had such a presence about him that the little lad thought it was Jesus.

What a story.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Love beyond telling

So many people don't understand what a Christian is. A Christian is not just someone who was christened, or someone who goes to church, or someone who tries to live by a set of rules.

A Christian is someone who has repented of his (or her) sins. Someone who knows that his (or her) sins are forgiven. Someone who has invited Jesus Christ to be Lord of his (or her) life. Someone who has entered into a personal relationship with a living Saviour.

Jesus said "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27).

Jesus has never ever spoken to me in an audible voice. But He speaks to me often. Through the pages of Scripture. Through other people. Through circumstances. Through a still, small voice speaking silently to my heart. Most often as I spend time communing with Him.

God wants you to be His. He has a purpose for your life. He can only lead you to it as you yield to Him.

He loves you. He gave His Son to die in your place. He needs you to open your heart to His love.

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee:
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

God's love is beyond compare.

Don't miss it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

'Redefining' marriage

The Times, named as Publication of the Year by the homosexual organisation Stonewall for its coverage of homosexual issues, says it looks forward to the time when the need to fete any media organisation for intelligent, open-minded, even-handed coverage of homosexuals and homosexual issues will be redundant.

It says it hopes, with the very best of wills, that Stonewall will soon also be irrelevant, because its work will have been done.

Meanwhile, homosexual activists in the UK are planning to use the law courts to impose their views about homosexual marriage.

In a campaign evidently organised by homosexual activist Peter Tatchell, four homosexual couples are to apply for civil marriage licences, and four heterosexual couples are to apply to register civil partnerships. When they are refused, they expect to go to the courts, claiming the register offices' refusal is a breach of their human rights.

In Mexico City, a 50-year-old woman has given birth to her own grandchild. Her son, who is a homosexual, wanted to have a baby, so she offered the use of her womb. An egg was donated, fertilised by sperm from the son and implanted in his mother. After the birth, the woman said she felt "strange" because she didn't feel either like a mother or a grandmother.

In the UK, a man placed an advertisement in a homosexual magazine saying he wanted to be a father. A lesbian - part of a lesbian couple - replied, and two children were born by artificial insemination. All three adults are now at the Court of Appeal in a battle over custody.

The Bible says God inaugurated marriage between a man and a woman, and records His purpose for doing so - because He sought godly offspring (Mal 2:15). Unfortunately for homosexuals, homosexual marriage doesn't bring forth offspring.

In attempting to redefine marriage, homosexuals have ignored what the Bible says on the matter. But there's one fact they can't escape.

God has a right to say what's what about marriage. First, because He's God; and second, because He invented it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The tale of a dog named Djaingo

Steven Boyd had been 12 years in the army. A series of accidents left him with multiple traumatic brain injuries, followed by a paralysis of the gastrointestinal tract. He could vomit 10 to 15 times an hour for days on end. He sometimes broke ribs in the process.

Steven felt he was dying.

One day he wandered into an animal shelter and offered to walk some of their dogs. While he was there, his eyes met the eyes of an Australian cattle dog.

In that moment, he said, he knew they were meant to be together. He offered to buy the dog. The shelter workers said the dog was due to be put down the following morning. The dog was too aggressive and could not be trained. Steven insisted.

He got his way.

Steven called the dog Djaingo. He put him through his own course of training. Within six months, Djaingo was affectionate and obedient. "He saved my life as much as I saved his," says Steven.

Four years ago, however, several days of vomiting left Steven feeling it was all too much. He took the cap off a bottle of bleach and prepared to commit suicide by drinking it.

Then he heard a voice, as clearly as he has heard anyone's voice. "Don't do this," it said. "It was my Father God," says Steven, "and I broke down. I get teary-eyed now talking about it."

Steven says his sickness has changed him. It has softened his heart in so many ways; made him realise that things people take for granted are sometimes the most important things in life.

Last year he taught Djaingo to say grace, and made a video of Djaingo saying grace as a gift for his mother. Steven knows the dog is not really praying, just being obedient so he can get his dinner - but, he says, "it's an affirmation of my faith."

Steven put a copy of the video on his Facebook page to amuse a few friends. Someone put it on YouTube. It was shown on TV. It's been seen by thousands, if not millions of people. (You can see it by clicking here.)

Steven has received 5,000 messages from people around the world, many of them saying how they have been blessed and encouraged by the video.

"Who would have thought," says Steven, "God would use my fat dog to spread His glory?"

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Solving the welfare problem

Iain Duncan Smith is a man for whom I have a great regard. When he lost his job as leader of the Conservatives in the House of Commons, he didn't go missing from the Commons, but continued his work as an MP.

He did a brilliant job of standing up for what was right with regard to the Mental Capacity Bill. To the best of my knowledge, he has always stood up for marriage and the family.

He has worked hard to solve social welfare problems, and he hasn't just pontificated from on high, but gone out and about to meet people in need so he can understand their problems.

As Work and Pensions Secretary, he now proposes social welfare reforms.

I think most people would disagree with giving people with large families £1 million and £2 million houses to live in. Most sensible people would agree there is something wrong when people can collect more in benefits by not working than they can earn by going to work.

Iain Duncan Smith proposes to guarantee that people who choose to work rather than live on benefits will be in pocket by doing so.

What really seems to have got people spitting mad, however, is the suggestion that people on long-term benefits who are able to work - the idea is to target layabouts who choose to live on welfare rather than go out to work, and get people back into a work habit - should do some unpaid work or risk losing their welfare payments.

The left-leaning Archbishop of Canterbury complains that this will send benefit claimants into a "downward spiral of despair."

The apostle Paul was careful to remember the poor (Gal 2:10). He said those in the church who were really in need should be cared for (1 Tim 5:3 - 14), but he said those who would not work, being able to do so, shouldn't eat either (2 Thess 3:10 - 12).

Sounds reasonable to me.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Tell her then

Talking (as we were) about moves towards the perfect marriage, I remember a little poem, author unknown, given to me by a dear Christian lady years ago.


Amid the cares of married life,
In spite of toil and business strife,
If you value your sweet wife,
Tell her so!

There was a time you thought it bliss
To get the favour of a kiss;
A dozen now won't come amiss -
Tell her so!

Don't act as if she's past her prime,
As though to please her were a crime -
If e'er you loved her, now's the time;
Tell her so!

Well, it can't do any harm, can it?

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Why the 'chattering classes' have got it wrong

Euthanasia supporters among the "chattering classes" are playing on fears of death and dying to call for the legalisation of assisted suicide in the UK - but it will be not they, but the elderly, the frail and the not-so-well connected whose lives will be at risk.

So says Cristina Odone, journalist, novelist and broadcaster, in a report for the Centre for Policy Studies. She is a research fellow at the centre.

If assisted suicide were legalised, a new category of less-than-perfect citizens would be created, she says. Hard-pressed hospitals and hard-up institutions would see the elderly and frail as a burden to be disposed of, not people to be cared for.

"The elderly, people with severe disabilities, the mentally unstable, and those with terminal illnesses will be presented with self-inflicted death as a natural, normal and expected final solution.

"They may feel that, once over a certain age, or grown too dependent on others, or too fed up with life, or too ill, they should opt for death rather than life. Worse, many may be coerced, actively or subtly, by cost-conscious hospitals, or by intended heirs with an eye to a legacy, or by exhausted carers."

The report warns that assisted suicide, once legalised, could slip quietly, almost unnoticed, into full-blown euthanasia.

Then there was news that Maryannick Pavageau, a Frenchwoman who was in "locked-in syndrome" for years - conscious but paralysed after a stroke - has been awarded the Legion d'Honneur for her efforts in the fight against euthanasia.

Some of her comments are interesting. "Public statements," she said, "produce unexpected collateral damage amongst people suffering from serious illness such as locked-in syndrome.

"We are constant consumers of TV and radio programmes. In response to our deep discouragement - and who is free from that - we are only offered this final right, hypocritically baptised as a sign of love.

"A recent study in the quality of life of locked-in syndrome patients found, to the astonishment of the medical profession, that when asked 'If you had a heart attack, would you want to be resuscitated?' the great majority of us answered: 'Yes.'

"All life is worth living. It can be beautiful, regardless of the state we are in. And change is always possible. . . All those who ask to die are mostly looking for love."

Friday, November 05, 2010

Terrible suffering, great blessing - and it will come

Pope Benedict recently summoned Middle Eastern bishops to Rome to discuss the plight of Christians in the Middle East. After two weeks of talks, the bishops issued a statement at a press conference at the Vatican.

The statement was presented by Monsignor Cyril Salim Bustros, Lebanese-born Greek Melkite Archbishop of Our Lady of the Annunciation in Boston, Massachusetts, who, it is said, is going to become Archbishop of Beirut. He said on behalf of the bishops that

* Christians cannot speak of the Promised Land as an exclusive right for a privileged Jewish people.

* This promise was nullified by Christ.

* There is no longer a chosen people - all men and women of all countries have become the chosen people.

* The Holy Scriptures cannot be used to justify the return of Jews to Israel.

* The Holy Scriptures cannot be used to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestinian lands.

* Israel should end its occupation of Arab lands.

This is pure, downright wrong.

There is doubt in some quarters about who is a Jew, so let's begin there. The biblical definition of a Jew is clear: a Jew is someone who is a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. A Gentile is someone who is not a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God knows who is a Jew.

God said to Abraham "Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are - northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants for ever" (Gen 13:14 - 17). What does "for ever" mean?

God made a covenant with Abraham, which was confirmed through Isaac (Gen 17:18 - 21) and Jacob and his descendants (Gen 28:10 - 14). The Bible says the covenant was an everlasting covenant (Gen 17:7), and that the land was given them for an everlasting possession (Gen 17:8). What does "everlasting" mean?

God promised that He would scatter the Jews from their land because of their disobedience, but that He would also return them to their land, and they would never again be scattered from it (Amos 9:14, 15).

God has not forgotten His promises to His Jewish people (Jer 31:35 - 37; 33:23 - 26; Isa 49:14 - 16).

Paul wrote in the New Testament after Christ's death and resurrection: "Has God cast away his people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away his people whom he foreknew" (Rom 11:1, 2). He points out in Romans 11 that the majority of the Jews are in unbelief, but that when the fulness of the Gentiles has come to faith, God will turn again to His Jewish people (Rom 11:25).

The suffering of the Jews in the Holocaust is almost impossible to imagine. But there is a time of persecution for the Jewish people still to come that will be worse than the Holocaust. Jeremiah calls it "the time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer 30:7). Daniel calls it "a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation" (Dan 12:1). Zephaniah calls it "a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness" (Zeph 1:15, 16). Jesus said it will be "great tribulation, such as has not been seen since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matt 24:21).

During the Holocaust, a third of world Jewry was killed. But Zechariah says that during this time still to come, two-thirds of the people in the land will be killed (Zech 13:8). But all the Jews who remain will come to faith (Zech 13:9; 12:10; Jer 31:31 - 34). Israel will become a completely believing nation. Paul's prophecy will be fulfilled. "And so," he wrote, "all Israel will be saved" (Rom 11:26).

"Israel" there means Israel. The word Israel occurs in the New Testament more than 70 times, and each time it means Israel; never the church.

The suffering of Israel will be equalled only by their subsequent blessing. They will have praise among all the people of the earth (Zeph 3:20); Gentiles will serve them (Isa 49:22, 23); the shechinah glory will again be seen in Jerusalem (Isa 4:5, 6); and all the nations of the earth will go up to Jerusalem to worship (Zech 14:16; Micah 4:2).

Jesus was killed because He claimed to be King of the Jews (Luke 23:2, 3). His title hung over His head in three languages as He was crucified (Luke 23:38). He has never reigned, has He? He is going to. When He returns to earth, He will return not only as King of the Jews, but as King of kings, and Lord of lords.

Bible prophecy will be fulfilled.