Thursday, October 27, 2011

It will be worth it all

Catalyst, a magazine published by CARE, the Christian charity, tells how Robin Mark, the Christian worship leader and songwriter, had a tough-looking character with a skinhead haircut march up to him at a Belfast conference.

Robin began to wonder if his number was up. "I honestly thought this was going to be an aggressive encounter," he said.

The skinhead demanded to know if he had written the song Not By Might. Robin admitted that he had. "I want to thank you," said the man. His wife had died and he had felt suicidal. The song had pulled him back from the brink.

"That song," he said, his eyes filled with tears, "has saved my life." Then he turned and walked off.

God wants to use every one who belongs to Him. Sometimes He lets us know when it's happened. Often He doesn't. That's a good thing; otherwise we would begin to think it was us, and it isn't. It's just God's grace working through us.

It's not easy being a Christian. There are a lot of hard things to go through. But one day, when we see it all and understand, we'll say "It was worth it. Oh yes, it was worth it."

Saturday, October 22, 2011

It's a man's issue too

The day my girlfriend told me she was three months pregnant I was absolutely devastated. She had already told her parents, now I had to tell mine. I made sure Dad wasn't around when I told Mum, hoping that she would understand. When Dad arrived home Mum told him my girlfriend was pregnant. By the time I got home they had already been to see my girlfriend's parents to discuss the situation my girlfriend and I had got ourselves into. Together our parents decided that an abortion would be the best for all concerned.

My girlfriend and I were both 17 years old and didn't have a clue what to do about the problem we had. My Mum assured me that it wasn't a baby but just a piece of lifeless tissue, shaped like a kidney. I now know that at three months the baby was fully formed in every detail, completely individual to any other human being, never again to be duplicated.

I spent the next few days convincing myself that my life would have been ruined if I had had a baby to support. Besides, I wanted a bigger and better motor bike than I already had. I had my whole life ahead of me. I wasn't going to let a baby spoil everything for me.

I don't think my girlfriend really wanted to have the abortion, but I talked her round to everybody else's point of view. Our parents made arrangements for the abortion at the Hazel Grove clinic.

The day my girlfriend went for the abortion I was at work. I was feeling all kinds of emotions. I was feeling guilty, but at the same time relieved. To make matters worse, when my girlfriend got back from the clinic she went hysterical at me. She was feeling guilty and sick at what we had done. For months after she would break down with bouts of uncontrollable sobbing.

I had no answers for her; I felt as guilty as she did. She used to count the weeks and months up to the time when the baby would have been born. The week the child should have been born was the worst. We were sitting in my bedroom talking and she began to sob again, mourning the loss of our child.

I have a poem she wrote that night. Unknown to her I kept it and it haunted me for years.


I love my little baby,
But he's not here at the moment!
Because he's been dumped in a dustbin,
Poor little thing,
He would have been born in about a week,
I wish I'd kept him.

There's nothing more I can say about abortion that the poem doesn't say; except that abortion is not just a woman's issue because it also affects men. It is only because of Christ's great love and mercy that I know I have now been forgiven and set free from the guilt I had suppressed for so many years.

Next Thursday, October 27, is the National Day of Prayer about abortion. Seven million babies have been aborted in the UK since abortion was decriminalised. Ninety-eight per cent of abortions are for social reasons. One per cent are because of suspected disability.

The day of prayer is organised by Image, a Christian pro-life organisation. While I was thinking about the day, I came across the testimony above in an Image publication.

People are asked to arrange some prayer on the day. Would you be able to do that?

Details of the day, free prayer guides and a PowerPoint presentation can be downloaded here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

'They won't communicate with me any more'

Abby Johnson started work at an abortion clinic in America's lone star state because she cared about women in crisis and wanted to do the right thing.

She believed the purpose of Planned Parenthood, whose clinic it was, was to prevent unwanted pregnancies, thus reducing the number of abortions, and that the organisation saved the lives of women who otherwise might resort to some back-alley abortionist.

She worked there for eight years, eventually as clinic director. Then one day, because of a staff shortage, she was asked to assist in an abortion. Unusually, it was an abortion guided by ultrasound.

On the ultrasound screen she saw a 13-week-old baby - head, arms, legs, even tiny fingers and toes. The baby started kicking, as though trying to move away from the probe, struggling to turn and twist away. Then it crumpled. Finally, it was gone.

"Then it hit me. . . It wasn't just tissue, just cells. It was a human baby. And it was fighting for its life. . . What I have told people for years, what I've believed and taught and defended, is a lie. . .

"This thought came from deep within me: Never again."

Abby resigned from the clinic. Planned Parenthood went to court for a gagging order preventing her from speaking about her work at the clinic. The judge threw out the application. Abby is now a pro-life activist.

This month is the second anniversary of her leaving the abortion industry. She writes:

"I am a better mother, a better wife, a better friend, and a new creation in Christ. These two years have been the best of my life. . . My marriage is better than it has ever been.

"I never realized how the evil of my job had crept into my life at home. Now we are free of that. I value my daughter more than I ever have. I never really saw motherhood as a gift; now I am able to see that it is the greatest gift we are given as women.

"So many of my friends are still there, in those clinics. People that won't communicate with me anymore. Good people who are misdirected. I am now the enemy. . . I feel broken for all of those that are still caught in the justification of the abortion industry."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Militant Islam - and apathetic Christians?

British Government ministers appear willingly blind to the threat from militant Islam.

A radical group, Muslims Against the Crusades, has launched a campaign to turn areas of Britain - Birmingham, Bradford, Derby, Dewsbury, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Luton, Manchester, Sheffield and Waltham Forest and Tower Hamlets in London - into Muslim enclaves ruled by sharia law and outside British jurisprudence.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, intelligence chiefs have warned Government ministers that 2,000 extremists based in Britain are actively planning terrorist activity of some kind, and 200, at a conservative estimate, are planning suicide bombings in Britain.

While the threat from militant Islam grows, non-Christians seem unable to understand why Christians in the West provide so little support for persecuted Christians elsewhere. In countries under Islamic rule, countless Christians have been massacred or caused to flee while Western churches have stood by apparently unconcerned.

It was announced a few days ago that the British Government is cutting overseas aid to countries where homosexuals are persecuted. Persecuted Christians, apparently, don't count.

Respected Israeli commentator Caroline Glick points out that a decade ago there were 800,000 Christians in Iraq. Today there are 150,000.

When the Palestinian Authority was established in 1994, Christians made up 80 per cent of Bethlehem's population. Today they are less than 20 per cent. Since Hamas "liberated" Gaza in 2007, Christian churches, convents, book stores and libraries in Gaza have been burned and Christians killed and assaulted. No one has been arrested for anti-Christian violence.

In 1946 the majority of Lebanese were Christian. Today, less than 30 per cent are Christian. In Turkey, the Christian population has dwindled from two million at the end of World War I to less than 100,000 today.

In Syria, Christians once made up nearly half the population. Today four per cent of Syrians are Christian. In Jordan half a century ago 18 per cent of the population was Christian; today, two per cent.

"Sadly for the Christians of the Islamic world," she says, "their cause is not being championed either by Western governments or Western Christians. . . Aside from Evangelical Protestants, most Western churches are. . . uninterested in defending the rights of their co-religionists in the Islamic world. . .

"Instead, over the past decade these churches and their related international bodies have made repeated efforts to attack the only country in the Middle East in which the Christian population has increased in the past 60 years - Israel. . .

"It is unclear what either Western governments or Western churches think they are achieving by turning a blind eye to the persecution and decimation of Christian communities in the Muslim world. As Sunday's events in Egypt and other daily anti-Christian attacks by Muslims against Christians throughout the region show, their behaviour is not appeasing anyone. What is clear enough is that they shall reap what they sow."

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Muslim spring, and a Christian winter

Last Sunday more than a thousand Coptic Christians dared to stage what was supposed to be a peaceful protest in Cairo. They were protesting violent state-supported attacks on Christians by Muslim groups and the recent burning of churches.

It was not long before they were attacked by angry Muslims and by the army. They were beaten, shot and dragged through the streets. Two armoured vehicles belonging to the army drove into the crowds of unarmed demonstrators, going backwards and forwards, mowing people under their wheels. What some eye-witnesses saw was so horrific that I would not want to repeat it here.

Between 20 and 40 Copts were killed and hundreds wounded. Some were dragged into dark alleys to be dealt with. One had his throat cut.

Egyptian authorities put out a report that soldiers were being killed by Copts. The report was later discredited. It was said that no soldiers had died.

The US President issued a statement expressing concern for "the tragic loss of life among demonstrators and security forces" and appealing to "all parties" to refrain from violence.

Said one commentator: "Perhaps I ought to join the president in his concern and call for restraint. I call upon the security forces to refrain from killing Christians, and upon Christians to refrain from dying."

As another pointed out, the Muslim spring in the Middle East is a Christian winter.

How could such a thing happen as happened in Cairo on Sunday? Mark Durie explains that Islam demands that a state be ruled by sharia law, which demands that non-Muslims live under dhimmi status.

"The 'crime' of the Copts in Aswan province was simply that they wished to repair their church. This is opposed by the (theological) logic of the dhimma pact, which states that non-Muslims are not allowed to repair places of worship, on pain of being treated as 'people of defiance and rebellion,' from whom 'safety and protection' have been withdrawn. In other words, such a person can be killed and their belongings plundered (because they are entitled to no protection under Islamic law).

"For some pious Muslims in Egypt today, the act of repairing a church is a flagrant provocation, a breach of the peace, which amounts to a deliberate revocation of one's rights to exist in the land. This becomes a legitimate topic for sermons in the mosque, as the faithful are urged to use their hands to defend the honor of Islam. It is seen as no injustice, and even a duty, to destroy the church and even the lives of Christians who have the temerity to repair their churches. Likewise those who go to the streets to protest church destruction are also rebels who have forfeited their rights to 'safety and protection.'"

Melanie Phillips wonders if Messrs Obama and Cameron realise what they have helped unleash by promoting the removal from office of Egypt's President Mubarak. It is hard to know, she says, which is the more terrifying - the malevolence displayed by the West towards Israel, or its sheer craven stupidity.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

'Putting the fear of God' into atheists

William Lane Craig is research professor of philosophy at Talbot Theological College in California. He is also a renowned Christian apologist who has debated some of the world's best known atheists. He comes to England this month to lecture on the rational grounds for the truth of Christianity and to debate the existence of God with leading atheists.

He will speak between October 17 and 26 in public meetings in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Cambridge, Oxford and Southampton. You can find details of his meetings at

Atheist Sam Harris describes Craig as "the one Christian apologist who seems to have put the fear of God into my fellow atheists." Professor Richard Dawkins, arguably Britain's best known atheist, has declined to debate with him, and offered a variety of weak excuses for doing so.

(Newspaper columnist and president of the British Humanist Association Polly Toynbee agreed, to many people's surprise, to debate him in London, but later withdrew, saying "I hadn't realised the nature of Mr Lane Craig's debating style, and having now looked at his previous performances, this is not my kind of forum.")

The invitation to Richard Dawkins to a public debate in Oxford remains open. If he fails to turn up on the night, the meeting will go ahead, but an empty chair will be placed on the platform and allowed to remain there through the meeting.

You may remember that two years ago increasingly aggressive British atheists paid for posters on the sides of buses saying "THERE'S PROBABLY NO GOD. NOW STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE."

The organisers of the meeting in Oxford have now put posters on the sides of Oxford buses saying "THERE'S PROBABLY NO DAWKINS. NOW STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY OCT 25TH AT THE SHELDONIAN THEATRE."

I like it.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The king's song (2)

Prayer is not just asking for things. Whatever else prayer is, prayer is also spending time with your closest, dearest Friend.

The Song of Solomon says (in the King James Version of the Bible): "O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely."

The Song of Solomon is a love story between the king and a Shulamite maiden. The king and the maiden have secret places on the stairs where they can meet to be together. He longs to see her and to hear her voice.

The Song of Solomon is also an allegory of the spiritual relationship between the Christian believer and her Lord. Imagine the Shulamite maiden is the believer and the king is the Lord Jesus.

If you are a believer, you have a secret place where you can meet with Him. The secret place is on the stairs. There may be steps to climb to reach it.

You may have family responsibilities which make it difficult. When you try to get there, the telephone rings, the baby cries and there's a knock at the door. Suddenly, you're desperately tired and your mind is filled with all manner of things.

You want to be there, because you want to be with Him. But did you know that He is longing to see you, longing to hear your voice? "Let me hear your voice," He says, "for your voice is sweet, and your countenance is lovely."

Here's the wonderful thing. He's the Creator of the universe. All things were made by Him, the Bible says; without Him was not anything made that was made. And you're just you.

But every time you go to meet Him in the secret place, He's there, waiting.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Choosing life or death

A recently published study of the parents of Down's syndrome children revealed that:

* 99 per cent said they loved their Down's syndrome son or daughter

* 97 per cent said they were proud of their Down's child

* 79 per cent felt their outlook on life was more positive because of him or her

* 95 per cent felt their other children had a good relationship with him or her

* 84 per cent felt their other children were more caring and sensitive to others because of him or her

* Five per cent were embarrassed by their Down's child and four per cent regretted having a child with Down's.

One parent said: "I've learned the good lessons of patience and that its rewards are a smile - and that is always enough." Another said: "Our son is the greatest joy and motivation of our lives." Said a third: "What at first appears to be the worst possible thing that could be happening can turn into the best possible thing."

Of brothers and sisters (12 years old or older) of Down's syndrome children, 96 per cent said they liked their Down's sibling; 94 per cent said they were proud of him or her; and 88 per cent said they were a better person because of him or her.

But now note the following facts:

More than 90 per cent of unborn babies with Down's syndrome are aborted. To put it another way, three babies are aborted every day in England and Wales because of Down's syndrome. Tests now being perfected which will enable Down's to be identified in the early weeks of pregnancy simply by examining a blood sample from the mother are expected to increase the number of abortions of Down's babies still further.

There were 2,044 responses in the survey mentioned above. The study's authors, Dr Brian Skotko of the Children's Hospital in Boston, USA, and colleagues, concluded that the parents' decision to abort the Down's syndrome baby or to continue with the pregnancy can depend on the information provided by their health care providers. And mothers reported that the information they received was oftentimes inaccurate, inadequate, and in the worst cases, offensive.

Will somebody please take some notice?

Saturday, October 01, 2011

A sensible answer required, please

You may be aware that the BBC's religious and ethics department (whose head is a Muslim) has suggested broadcasters replace the terms BC and AD (Before Christ and Anno Domini), when referring to dates, with the terms CE and BCE (Common Era and Before Common Era) because it is necessary to avoid offending non-Christians.

You may also be aware that following a complaint by a customer at a Blackpool cafe, police threatened to arrest the Christian owner for displaying the words of the Bible, projected on a nice pictorial background, on a DVD screen on the inside wall of his cafe. It is suspected that the person who complained is a homosexual.

The majority of people in the UK are at least nominally Christian. When is someone going to be threatened with arrest for offending one of them?

Could someone please provide a sensible answer to the above question?