Saturday, March 31, 2012

Alive from the dead

Howard Storm tells a remarkable story. At 27 years old, he was a professor of art at an American university. He was also an atheist.

At 38, he was leading a tour by art students in Paris. He was talking with his wife and one of the students in a hotel room when he suddenly dropped to the floor, screaming in pain. His duodenum had perforated.

He was admitted to hospital in a potentially fatal condition, but because it was weekend, no doctor could be found to treat him. After some hours, he lost consciousness.

He found himself standing in the room, looking down at his own body on the bed. He had no pain. He spoke to his wife and another man in the room, and couldn't understand it when they didn't appear to hear him.

Then he heard voices calling his name. "We've been waiting for you," they said. "Come with us. It's time for you to go. Hurry up."

He went with his guides on a very long journey through a grey space that got darker and darker as they went. He realised that he didn't trust his guides and became so terrified he refused to go any further. His guides attacked him, biting and tearing at him until he was ripped apart, unable to move.

A small voice inside his head said "Pray to God." He thought "I don't even believe in God." The voice persisted. He didn't know how to pray, but he decided he was going to pray anyway. "Jesus, please save me!" he shouted.

Storm claims that Jesus appeared to him. He saw his life appear before him - his heavy drinking, his adultery and the rest. He talked with Jesus for a long time, then was told he was to go back to the world and live a different kind of life.

He awoke back on his hospital bed, less than 30 minutes after he lost consciousness. A doctor had been found, and the necessary surgery was done.

As he regained strength, he began to devour the Bible. He attended theological seminary, and was ordained to the ministry.

Howard Storm is now involved in missionary work in Belize.

You can read the full story here.

Friday, March 30, 2012

If at first you don't succeed. . .

They just don't stop trying, do they?

There are people who would like to see euthanasia legalised in Britain. After fighting for its legalisation for years without success, they changed tactic and fought for the legalisation of assisted suicide, again without success.

The law lords ordered the Director of Public Prosecutions to state when he would prosecute in cases of assisted suicide and when he would not. Critics say that since the DPP's statement two years ago, there have been precious few prosecutions for assisted suicide - but assisted suicide remains illegal.

Richard Ottaway, MP for Croydon South and a patron of Dignity in Dying - formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society - was given time for a debate on assisted suicide in the House of Commons. The debate came up this week.

His motion was said to be "That this House welcomes the Director of Public Prosecutions' Guidance to Prosecutors in Respect of Cases of Encouraging or Assisting Suicide and invites the Government to consult as to whether to put the guidance on a statutory basis."

Little by little, you see. A step at a time.

When the debate came up, however, Mr Ottaway's motion had been reduced to "That this House welcomes the Director of Public Prosecutions' Policy to Prosecutors in Respect of Cases of Encouraging or Assisting Suicide, published in February, 2010," and Dame Joan Ruddock, MP for Lewisham, Deptford, proposed an amendment adding "and invites the Government to consult as to whether to put the guidance on a statutory basis."

Dignity in Dying was reported to be lobbying MPs hard, and there were fears that since the debate was on the last day of parliamentary business before the Easter recess, some MPs might have gone home early.

Such fears were misplaced. There were some excellent speeches in a five-hour debate. Mr Ottaway's motion was passed unopposed, Dame Joan's amendment died the death, and an amendment by Fiona Bruce, MP for Congleton, adding "and encouraging further development of specialised palliative care and hospice provision" was agreed.

Care Not Killing, an alliance of organisations opposed to euthanasia, later welcomed the decision to encourage further development of specialist palliative care and hospice provision and to endorse the current law on assisted suicide. John Smeaton, of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, however, said the Commons' welcome of the DPP's policy on prosecuting assisted suicide undermined society's protection of the most vulnerable.

The most important thing is that assisted suicide remains illegal - for now.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A scandal twice over

You may remember a Telegraph undercover investigation filmed doctors arranging abortions for women who said they wanted an abortion because their baby was the "wrong" sex. (Abortions because of the sex of the baby are illegal in Britain.)

Details were passed to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, who ordered an investigation. Inspectors from the regulator, the Care Quality Commission, paid unannounced visits to 250 private and NHS clinics, and apparently found, according to the Telegraph, that more than 50 were "not in compliance" with the law or regulations. Patients were not receiving acceptable levels of advice and counselling, and doctors were regularly falsifying consent forms.

The law says that consent forms are required to be signed by the supervising consultant and by a second professional who has either seen the patient or read the medical notes and the summary of a consultation. Inspectors are said to have found piles of "pre-signed" forms, indicating that doctors were signing forms without even knowing which women the forms related to.

The Health Secretary said he was "shocked" and "appalled." Action would be taken. He said clinics could be stripped of their licences to perform abortions and doctors could be struck off by the General Medical Council.

If Mr Lansley was genuinely unaware of what was happening in abortion clinics, he must have been one of the few people who were. Misuse of consent forms has long been an open secret.

For too long there has been too cosy an arrangement between the Government and the abortion industry. What has gone on in abortion clinics is a scandal. The way the Government has for years turned a blind eye to it is an even greater scandal.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

'Million' protesters preparing to descend on Israel

Israel-haters the world over will be preparing just now for the Global March to Jerusalem.

On March 30 - next Friday, no less - a million people from 20 countries, the march's organisers hope, will seek to breach Israel's borders and march to Jerusalem to protest Israel's "occupation," the "judaisation" of Jerusalem, and "Israeli apartheid and ethnic cleansing."

Simultaneously there will be rallies in 60 countries, often outside Israeli embassies and consulates, protesting the activities of the "racist Zionist state."

The march is organised by, among others, Iran and terrorist organisations like Hamas. Supporters include Archbishop Tutu, Dr Jeremiah Wright - President Obama's former pastor - and Lauren Booth, Cherie Blair's sister.

A south-east Asian contingent, including activists from Indonesia, India and Pakistan, was welcomed in Iran on its way to the march by Iranian President Ahmadinejad. He told them it was no longer legitimate for Israel to occupy any part of Palestine, that the Zionist regime was "like a malignant cancerous cell," and that "the Palestinians should be running the field and God willing that will happen soon."

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, on a website supporting the march, says "We reject all racist laws that distinguish between people based on ethnicity or religion and call for their cancellation and criminalization." In Israel, Jew and Arab can enjoy equal citizenship, and election to the Knesset, the country's parliament, is open to Jew and Arab alike. Conversely, Palestinians have said that when they get their state, no Jew will be allowed to live there.

One of the stated aims of the march is "freedom for Palestine and its capital Jerusalem." New York radio show host Aaron Klein interviewed Frank Romano, one of the march's organisers. Klein offered Romano $50,000 on air if he could name one city in the Middle East outside of Israel that has more freedom than Jerusalem. He was unable to do so.

Israel, let it be said, is not perfect. But Israel is a legitimate sovereign state. Israel did not steal its land from Palestinians, but bought it, often from absentee Arab landlords, when it was desert and malarial swamp and by hard work turned it into an economic wonder. The Global March to Jerusalem, like the Gaza flotillas and the Durban anti-Zion conferences, is nothing more than an attempt to delegitimise Israel.

Israel will have much worse to come. According to the prophecy of Zechariah:

I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem;
The city shall be taken,
The houses rifled,
And the women ravished.
Zech 14:2.

Because it is prophesied in the Bible, it will happen. What is needed is to see that it doesn't happen before its time.

Supporters of Jerusalem can console themselves with the knowledge that one day Israel will be gloriously restored. Says the prophet Zephaniah:

Sing, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away your judgments,
He has cast out your enemy.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
You shall see disaster no more.

In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
"Do not fear;
Zion, let not your hands be weak.
The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you in his love,
He will rejoice over you with singing."

". . .At that time I will bring you back,
Even at the time I gather you;
For I will give you fame and praise
Among all the peoples of the earth,
When I return your captives before your eyes,"
Says the Lord.
Zeph 3:14 - 18, 20.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

'Till death us do part' would be a bit difficult. . .

Well, it had to happen. It might have taken a while, but we did finally get round to it.

Nadine Schweigert, a 36-year-old from Fargo, North Dakota, USA, got married - to herself. She confided to a friend that she was waiting for someone to come along and make her happy. The friend said "Why do you need someone to marry you to be happy? Marry yourself." So she did.

It was quite an affair, with a good-sized guest list of family and friends. The bride wore a long dress in peacock blue satin, and carried a cluster of white roses.

During the ceremony, conducted by a friend, she read her vow: "I, Nadine, promise to enjoy inhabiting my own life and to relish a lifelong love affair with my beautiful self." According to the Park Rapids Enterprise, she presented herself with a ring, and at the point where the groom normally kisses the bride, she invited all the guests to "blow kisses to the whole world."

After the ceremony, guests enjoyed white wedding cake decorated with peacock blue fondant and New Orleans-style king cake. The bride later left for a honeymoon in New Orleans.

Nadine said the wedding went so perfectly, it left her in awe. "I'm very proud of it and I feel very good about it. I'm so glad I did it.

"I'm just a unique, awesome person who doesn't fit anyone's mould or ideal, and I hope you're OK with that. And if you're not, that's OK too."

The bride's mother said that nothing surprised her any more.

Actually, the bride had some experience. She was already married. And divorced.

Her 11-year-old son told her he loved her, but that she was embarrassing him.

Like I said, it had to happen. Start messing about with the law concerning marriage, and there's no limit to where things can get.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Government's consultation on same-sex marriage 'a sham'

The UK Government's official consultation on redefining marriage in order to allow same-sex couples to marry was launched this week.

The consultation will be open for 13 weeks until June 14. You can find details here.

The Government has now included in the consultation a question asking people if they agree or disagree with rewriting the definition of marriage - but the Government still makes clear that its response "will be based on a careful consideration of the points made in consultation, not the number of responses received" and that it is a matter of how not whether the change will take place.

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone gave a "cast-iron guarantee" to the Independent that civil same-sex marriage will become law by the next General Election. "There is no rolling back whatsoever," she said. "The essential question is not whether we are going to introduce same-sex civil marriage, but how."

(If the change is introduced, same-sex couples will be able to choose between a civil partnership and marriage; a man and a woman will be able to choose marriage only. So much for equality.)

Said Colin Hart, campaign director for the Coalition for Marriage, which wants to see the definition of marriage unchanged: "I always thought that a consultation was about listening to people and asking them their views, before making a decision.

"Not only are they redefining the meaning of marriage, they're redefining the meaning of consultation.

"This consultation is a sham. It is being pushed through despite the public never having a say on this change.

"None of the main political parties proposed redefining marriage in their manifestos and the impact assessment misses out many of the possible problems that could occur if this institution is redefined, for example how this change will affect our schools.

"The institution of marriage is not a plaything of the state, it belongs to society and therefore cannot be redefined by a few politicians obsessed with appearing 'trendy' and 'progressive.'"

The Coalition for Marriage's petition asking for the definition of marriage to remain unchanged, launched three weeks ago, has so far attracted 231,000 signatures.

Equality - except for Christians?

You might find it hard to believe.

Nadia Eweida, a British Airways check-in clerk, was instructed to remove a small cross she wore at work (despite the fact that Muslims were apparently allowed to wear hijabs and Sikhs to wear karas and turbans). Shirley Chaplin, an Exeter hospital nurse, was asked to remove a cross she had worn around her neck for years.

Having got no satisfaction in British courts, both are going to the European Court of Human Rights because they want to establish the right of Christians to wear symbols of their faith at work.

They are supported by the British Government's own equality quango, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which argues that workers should have legal protection if they want to display a token of their faith at work.

But Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone - the same Lynne Featherstone who is insisting that UK law is to be altered to allow same-sex marriage - has instructed Government lawyers to ask the European human rights judges to dismiss the claims, arguing that in neither case is there any suggestion that the wearing of a cross is "a generally recognised form of practising the Christian faith, still less one that is regarded as a requirement of the faith."

This within days of a report that the joint committee considering the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill is likely to recommend that bishops should lose their seats in the House of Lords.

Time for Christians - not just some Christians - to stand up for who they are?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Euthanasia on wheels

Dutch Prince Johan Friso, 43-year-old second son of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, suffered severe brain damage in an avalanche while skiing in Austria, and is in a coma. He has been transferred to Wellington Hospital in London.

Doctors say he may never emerge from his coma. If he does regain consciousness, rehabilitation could take months, if not years. In any event, they say, it may be months before the situation becomes clear.

In the Netherlands, where euthanasia was legalised in 2002, there has already been speculation about whether the royal family would ever decide to end his life if he remains in a coma. Media experts on the royal family feel that this would not happen.

Euthanasia in the Netherlands is common. Mobile euthanasia units are now being introduced, the idea being that if your doctor is not willing to end your life you can call in a mobile unit for euthanasia in your home.

The scheme is an initiative of NVVE (the Dutch Association for a Voluntary End to Life), a 130,000-member organisation that is the biggest of its kind in the world. The free mobile service began last week. It is hoped to have six units covering the country by the end of the year.

Novelist Martin Amis was widely quoted for his remarks about "euthanasia booths on every street corner." A deliberate exaggeration, no doubt - but perhaps not as far-fetched as some had supposed?

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Deciding on the right to life

Dr Catherine Constable, an Oxford-educated American bioethicist, writing in the journal Bioethics, says food and water should be withdrawn from all patients in so-called permanent vegetative state, unless there is clear evidence they want to be kept alive.

She argues that it is not in the patient's interest to be kept alive, because an individual in PVS has no consciousness and therefore no interests. Whether he or she is alive, she says, is irrelevant.

Isn't the chance of the patient recovering reason for keeping the patient alive? No, she says. Even if PVS patients recover, they will be in "some state of middle consciouness; a life, quite possibly, worse than non-existence."

This points up again the difference between the Christian worldview and the secular worldview. The Christian view is that any human being, young, old, well, sick, able or disabled, is made in the image of God, and so his or her life is of inestimable value.

Disregard the Christian view, and where do you draw the line?

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

How to get rid of that churned-up feeling inside

Some days ago I read in a newspaper of someone who said "I will never forgive that man for what he did to my family. Never."

When I read something like that - and it's quite common - it sends a shiver up my spine.

This week I read how the mother of an 18-year-old student killed in another school shooting in the United States had forgiven her son's killer. A 17-year-old youth was said to have run amok with a gun, firing indiscriminately. Three youths died. Said the bereaved mother: "I would tell him I forgive him. Until you've walked in another person's shoes, you don't know what made him come to that point."

Statements like that always make the headlines, because most people wouldn't understand how someone in that situation could forgive.

Is forgiveness important? It is. Why?

When Jesus taught the disciples what has come to be known as the Lord's Prayer, He added:

If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Matt 6:14, 15.

When you pray "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us," did you realise you are asking God to forgive you in the same way that you forgive others?

Jesus told a parable of a man who owed a king a vast amount of money; an amount impossible to repay. "Have patience with me," he said, "and I will pay you all." The king had compassion on him, and forgave him the debt.

The man went out, met a man who owed him a small amount, refused his plea for time to pay, and threw him into prison.

The king delivered the man who had been forgiven to the tormentors until he paid all he owed. "So my heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses."

If I have believed on Christ and the Creator of the universe has forgiven every sin I ever committed, how could I fail to forgive a fellow sinner for some odd thing he or she had done?

Unforgiveness leaves me tormented; all churned up inside.

"But he's not asked forgiveness." It doesn't matter. You need to forgive.

"But I can't forgive him. Not for what he did." Yes, you can. You may feel that most certainly you cannot forgive him. But forgivenesss is not a feeling. Forgiveness is a choice. Forgiveness is a decision.

I honestly believe I don't hold unforgiveness against anybody for anything. I can't afford to.

How about you?

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Fighting over the right to marry

When homosexual couples complained they lacked the legal rights married couples have, the Government created civil partnerships, described as marriage in all but name.

Some homosexuals are not satisfied, and want to be allowed to marry. The Government has promised to allow it.

Homosexuals have a variety of arguments in favour of same-sex marriage. Their arguments miss the point. One of their arguments is that homosexual couples are being discriminated against. Not so.

As Bill Muehlenberg points out, a lot of people are not allowed to marry. A five-year-old boy cannot marry. Three people cannot get married to each other. A man cannot get married who is married already. A father cannot marry his daughter. And a girl cannot marry her pet goldfish, no matter how much she might love it.

Are they being discriminated against too?

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone, writing in the Telegraph, says "This is not a battle between gay rights and religious beliefs. This is about the underlying principles of family, society and personal freedoms."

She says the church does not own marriage. By doing so, she infers the church has no right to say who can marry and who can't. There is something she should realise. Neither does the Government.

The principles of marriage were laid down thousands of years ago, and recorded in the first book of the Bible. "It is not good that man should be alone: I will make him a helper comparable to him." "Male and female he created them." "God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply.'" "A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."

Allow one change to the legal basis for marriage, and it's certain other demands for change will follow.

The present Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, made his view known in a speech this week. He said the law has no right to legalise same-sex marriage.

The petition asking for marriage law to remain unchanged has attracted 94,451 signatures in less than two weeks. You can sign the petition at

Friday, March 02, 2012

Working at the edge of the law

A Daily Telegraph undercover investigation made recordings of doctors at Pall Mall Medical, Manchester, the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London, and the Calthorpe Clinic in Birmingham arranging abortions for women who said they wanted abortions because their babies were the "wrong" sex. Abortions because of the sex of the baby are illegal in Britain.

Details were passed to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley. He passed them to police, who have launched an investigation.

"The government, the medical profession and the police have consistently turned a blind eye over many years to practice at or beyond the edge of the law," according to Dr Peter Saunders, CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship.

"The present cases raise again the question of just how many illegal abortions are being carried out in Britain. . .

"BPAS, one of the country's two major 'abortion providers,' just escaped a police investigation when a centre manager at one of their clinics cancelled an abortion for sex selection that other staff at the same centre had authorised.

"Thus far BPAS and Marie Stopes International have managed to escape blame. But the rabbit hole may run deep.

"In 2007 Dr Vincent Argent, former medical director of BPAS, gave evidence to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, in which he alleged widespread abuse around signing of the 'abortion form' HSA1 that allows an abortion to go ahead.

"He said that 'there are widespread variations in the actual provision of signatures' and added that he had personally observed 'the following practices':
*Signing batches of forms before patients were even seen for consultation
*Signing the forms with no knowledge of the particular patient and without reading the notes
*Signing forms without seeing or examining the patients
*Signing forms after the abortion had been performed
*Faxing the forms to other locations for signature
*Use of signature stamps without any consultation with the doctor. . .

"The Labour Health Secretary at the time did nothing about these allegations.

"Perhaps Mr Lansley will.

"By forcefully making the point that some abortions (ie for sex selection) are illegal he has already opened the question as to where exactly the line should be drawn.

"Having started asking questions Mr Lansley may now find it very difficult to stop, because in reality sex selection abortions are actually just the tip of a large iceberg of illegal activity."

There's more. Dr Francesca Minerva, an Australian philosopher and medical ethicist, and Dr Alberto Giubilini, a bioethicist from the University of Milan, suggested it could be acceptable to kill newborn babies born with disabilities who "might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole" and healthy children whose adoption would be distressing for the mother.

Writing in the British-based Journal of Medical Ethics, they said newborns were not "persons" in the sense of "having a moral right to life," only "potential persons."

The idea is not a new one. After all, if it's not wrong to kill a baby shortly before birth, what makes it wrong to kill a baby shortly after birth? (But what if abortion is wrong in the first place?)

I look forward to the result of the police investigation into the Telegraph revelations with interest. But not with an awful lot of hope.