Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Here you can find the answers

I was just reading of someone complaining that the Bible is full of contradictions. That's a common excuse for people who don't want anything to do with the Bible.

The next time someone tells you that the Bible is full of contradictions, ask him to quote one. He may have difficulty. If he does come up with an apparent contradiction and you're not familiar with it, look it up.

The Bible is the most remarkable book. It's the only book that has clear, specific prophecies of events made hundreds of years in advance and fulfilled in exact detail.

The book of Daniel, for example, tells when Christ would appear. The book of Micah tells where He would be born. The book of Isaiah says He would be born of a virgin.

Isaiah 53, written 700 years before Christ's birth, says He would be despised and rejected. He would be a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. He would have a life of suffering. He would be smitten and afflicted. He would go like a lamb to the slaughter. He would die with the wicked, and He would be buried in a rich man's grave.

The book of Zechariah tells how He would be sold for 30 pieces of silver.

One psalm, Psalm 22, tells how His hands and His feet would be pierced; how His bones would be out of joint but none of His bones would be broken; how His heart would be ruptured within Him; how they would cast lots for His garments.

The Bible also tells where you can find the answers for your problems, how you can find abundant life for now and how you can have an assurance regarding your future.

The Bible changed my life - very much for the better. It could change yours too.

But you would need to read it.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Rules to make marriage last

Despite the fact that two-thirds of the Scottish population is opposed to legalising same-sex marriage and despite the fact that it has been discovered that legalising it would cause chaos in a whole raft of laws, the Scottish Government has decided to go ahead with legislation.

Despite the fact that half-a-million people have petitioned against change south of the border and despite the fact that the Conservative Party has lost a vast number of members, largely because of the Prime Minister's fixation with legalising same-sex marriage, David Cameron has said that he is absolutely determined to do it.

I notice that Labour's Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has been speaking of marriage as "a long-term relationship." Not a lifelong relationship, but a long-term relationship.

Does this mean that couples being married will not have to promise "till death do us part," or that having made a promise "till death do us part" they can then ignore it?

Harry Benson, of the Marriage Foundation, mentioned a couple of interesting facts.

Almost half of all new babies in the UK will not grow up with both of their parents.

And the 2001 census showed that of couples with children of 16 who were still together, 97 per cent were married. Only three per cent were not married.

He shared with supporters of the Family Education Trust four rules he had devised for his own children. Adhering to the four rules, he said, could halve family breakdown.

First, no boyfriends or girlfriends before the age of 18. It was almost inevitable that relationships before that age would not last. This would take away sexual pressures from children who may lack the maturity to handle them.

Second, don't form an exclusive romantic relationship with someone unless you can see yourself marrying them. If at any point you can't, end the relationship.

Third, look for someone who can make a decision and stick to it, not a drifter.

Fourth, "Girls, say no to moving in until he says yes to your future."

Rules to be recommended?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Anti-Israel? The BBC? I should say so

Another blatant example of the BBC's shameful anti-Israel bias.

Archbishop Cranmer writes:

One is used to this sort of thing from The Guardian: its Israel-loathing anti-Semitism has long been a matter of public record. But The Guardian is a privately-run, commercial enterprise with the right in law to believe as its proprietor wishes and speak as its editor wills.

The same rights do not extend to the BBC, which is publicly owned and financed by the British taxpayer, with a commitment to broadcast impartiality and factual accuracy.

His Grace has been following this story closely for the past week: The Commentator blog drew attention to the fact that the BBC's online coverage was manifestly anti-Israel and pro-Palestine: every participating nation had its capital city listed, bar the state of Israel, which was left blank.  Yet the non-state of Palestine had its capital listed as 'East Jerusalem.' Despite Israel's seat of government- the Knesset - being in Jerusalem, and despite a plethora of foreign embassies being located in Tel Aviv, the BBC opted to identify neither as Israel's capital city. And yet, despite the Palestinian seat of government being in Ramallah, and despite Jerusalem not being divided, the BBC opted to carve the East away and hand it, lock, stock and barrel (Temple Mount, Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre) to the self-proclaimed Palestinian Authority.

This was a blatant bias and factual inaccuracy. Even those who might defend the BBC with an appeal to UN declarations on the 'international' status of Jerusalem - contra Israel's own assertion about its capital - are left floundering in the knowledge that any part of Jerusalem claimed by the non-state of Palestine is nothing more than self-proclamation.

Yet the BBC summarily dismissed what Israel says of and claims for Jerusalem, while validating and authenticating what Palestine says and claims of the city.

Unsurprisingly, people wrote to the BBC to complain, including the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, which wrote:

. . . we were astounded by the decision of the BBC to discriminate against Israel in the network's Olympic page. For each country (and non-country) participating in the London Olympics, a special page was given on your internet site which included background information such as capital city. For each country (and non-country) apart from Israel. Jerusalem is the capital city of the state of Israel, and accordingly we request that you correct this matter immediately.

The BBC acknowledged:

Due to an error which was made at the time the information was added onto the website, incorrect details and mistakes appeared on the Israeli and Palestinian team pages. This has since been rectified in line with BBC policy.

And so the offending page was amended to read: 'Seat of government: Jerusalem, though most foreign embassies are in Tel Aviv.'

Still no mention of a capital city.

The Israeli Prime Minister's Office sent a further letter of complaint, but the BBC made it clear that this was as far as they would go.

So the Prime Minister's Office launched a Facebook page to increase awareness and to pressure the BBC in this matter. The page description states: 'Following the BBC's decision to omit Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel from its Olympic Games website, this is your place to support Jerusalem - the one and only Capital of Israel.'

The Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat wrote: "We will not accept those who deny our history, our sovereignty, and our right to determine our own capital. Irrespective of the BBC's political agenda, Jerusalem was, is and will always be the capital of Israel and the spiritual, political, and physical center of the Jewish people."

You can read the rest here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The case of the flying cat

I came across an interesting story the other day. It's supposed to be true: it gave the name of the man whose church it was and all.

A Christian minister had a kitten at home. The kitten climbed a tree in the garden and was too scared to come down. All attempts to tempt it down failed. Then the minister had a brainwave.

The tree was too slender to climb, but if he tied one end of a rope to the tree and the other end to his car and moved his car, it might bend the tree sufficiently for him to reach up and grab the cat.

He moved the car little by little, getting out each time to see how he was doing. Just a little more, he thought, and we've done it.

As he moved the car for the last time, the rope broke, the tree snapped back into position and the kitten sailed through the air and disappeared.

The minister searched the area and asked if anyone had seen the kitten, without success. Eventually, he committed the cat into God's care and went back to work.

A few days later, he met a woman church member in the supermarket. He saw cat food in her trolley, and he knew she hated cats. "Why are you buying cat food?" he said.

Her young daughter had been begging for a cat, and she had refused her. Her daughter persisted. Finally, she said "Well, if God gives you a cat, I'll let you keep it."

She watched the child go out into the yard, get on her knees, and ask God for a cat.

"Pastor, you won't believe this, but I saw it with my own eyes. A kitten suddenly came flying out of the sky, paws outspread, and landed right in front of her."

There was a comment at the end of the story: Never underestimate God's sense of humour.

I felt I could have thought of a better comment.

Never underestimate the prayers of a child.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Never mind the parents, what about the children?

Two things happened in the past several days which give an insight into people's attitude towards children these days.

First, Sir Elton John said it would be "heartbreaking" when the boy born to him and his homosexual partner David Furnish, using the services of an American surrogate mother, discovered he had no mummy. But he wanted him to have a brother or sister to go to school with him and to play with him.

Bill Muehlenberg wrote:

Am I the only one absolutely staggered by all this? He has a flash of insight and honesty, realising that he is messing with his own child big time by denying him his right to have a biological mother (and father), and yet he says he wants to do it all over again!

Is this the height of selfishness or what? Is this the height of stupidity or what? Is this the height of arrogance and callousness or what? I repeat: Elton is a big fat selfish greedy pig. No question about it. So is every single adult boofhead who thinks he or she has a right to deliberately bring children into the world robbed of their own mother and father.

I do not resile from this statement for a moment. I am sick and tired of seeing poor defenseless and helpless children being treated as mere commodities or fashion statements for completely selfish adults who think they can buck biology, spurn morality, and defy logic.

Shame on Elton, and shame on all these other selfish social engineers who do not give a rap about the well-being of children and simply want to satisfy their own greedy wants. They are deliberately creating a new stolen generation - cavalierly denying children the two most important people they will ever need.

But we live in an age which is contemptuous of children and their basic human rights. All the attention is on the selfish whims and wants of immature adults who think the world owes them everything - including their own designer children.

Second, Peter Saunders reported that the number of babies created by IVF and subsequently aborted because of Down's syndrome is increasing - because, he says, society is increasingly taking the view that it is better if children with this condition are not born at all. 

His piece was prompted by a report in the Daily Mail. He notes readers' comments on the report at MailOnline - frighteningly indicative, he says, of growing intolerance of disability in our society.

(For the uninitiated, people visiting MailOnline can vote "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" in favour or otherwise of readers' comments.)

The most popular comment on the report, with 540 "thumbs up," read:

It is not selfish to prevent a lifetime of pain, misery and social rejection. Not to mention the psychological damage those with Down's Syndrome experience. It must be a very tough decision for the mothers so the added pressure and guilt-tripping does not help.

The comment with the most (246) "thumbs down" said:

These women are the result of the 'me me me' consumerist society - where nobody apparently should be forced to get outside of their comfort zone - in case it makes them 'feel bad.' It's an utterly disgraceful stat - and eugenics is not too harsh a word to use.

The idea that only God can give life and only God has the right to take it seems quite to have gone out of fashion. The general idea seems to be "I'll choose what I do, and whatever I decide to think about it is fine."

I think the most praiseworthy of the comments was one which said

My son has Down's Syndrome and Bladder Entrophy. We never knew until he was born as I refused screening for Down's. I was 21 and it made no difference to me. I also lost his twin at 5 weeks. If that's not the survival of the fittest, I don't know what is!!! I have been asked before that if I could, would I change him? The answer is no. My son is the light of my life and I would choose to have him again a million times over.

Talking about abortion, I saw a slogan on a poster on a pro-life website that said

Life is the right of every child. Not a special privilege for the fortunate, the planned, and the perfect.

I like that. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

How can I prove the existence of God?

The atheist says there is no God. But he can't prove it. And where the atheist really comes unstuck is when he can't explain how the entire universe came into existence out of nothing.

The agnostic concedes that there may be a God, but suggests that it's impossible to know for sure.

Is it possible to prove the existence of God?

Yes, it is. A preacher named Peter Grant has a good way of illustrating this.*

Suppose you decide to go to the office to see if your boss is in. You see his car in the car park. You ask his secretary if he's in. "Yes he is," she says. "I've just been talking to him." You see the light underneath his office door. As you get nearer, you hear what sounds like his voice talking to someone on the telephone. All this would be good grounds for concluding your boss is in his office.

But there's one more thing you could do. You could open the door and meet your boss face to face. At that point, the other things would still be valid, but would become secondary, because now you've met him face to face.

If you want to find out if God is real, you can consider stories of answered prayer; hear evidence of changed lives; read others' testimonies; study examples of fulfilled prophecy. All these things would be valid. But there's something more you can do. You can have something more personal than that.

Jesus said "unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." "Born of water" is evidently a Hebrew expression for natural birth. In other words, if you want to enter the kingdom of God, it's not enough to be born naturally, you also need to have a spiritual birth. Jesus called it being "born again."

Don't laugh. Don't mock. Don't jeer. That would be allowing your prejudice to make the decision without putting it to the test.

Repent of your sins. (We're all sinners. We've all done things we shouldn't have done and not done things we should have done.)

Tell Jesus you're sorry for the things you've done. Tell Him if He's alive and He's who He says He is you will yield Him your life and follow Him. Ask Him into your life. 

As He comes in He'll do a work in your life by His Spirit. You will enter into a personal relationship, and you will know that you know that you know that you know that God is real.

Jesus said "The one who comes to me I will by no means cast out." He keeps His promises.

* Described by Lee Strobel in The Case for Faith. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2000, p85.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Not all doom and gloom

People who imagine that churches in Britain are three-parts empty, populated by old ladies and doomed to be converted into carpet warehouses could be in for a shock.

The church in Britain is growing.

A new survey, Church Growth in Britain from 1980 to the Present, published by an international team of researchers at Cranmer Hall, home of an Anglican theological college in Durham, shows that

* There are 500,000 Christians in black majority churches in Britain. Sixty years ago there were hardly any. 

* At least 5,000 churches have been started in Britain since 1980.

* There are one million Christians in Britain from black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities.

* The adult membership of Anglican churches in the London diocese has risen by over 70 per cent since 1990.

Roughly the same number of churches have closed as have opened. Some denominations - notably 'mainline' denominations like Anglican, Methodist, URC and Catholic - have seen serious decline. But some churches, especially churches rooted in ethnic minority communities and newer denominations, have seen major growth.

David Goodhew, writing in the Church of England Newspaper, says church growth happens most often where there is population growth, immigration and economic dynamism. Church planting is the most effective single strategy for growing the church. A theology of church growth is needed.

The idea that countries in the West are getting more secular and nothing can be done about it flies in the face of the evidence.

"Jesus remains as magnetic as he was 2,000 years ago. The Holy Spirit is just as widely at work - if we have eyes to see him. Research into church growth in contemporary Britain shows that when people step out in faith God uses that faith to grow churches and bless communities."

Christianity might not be growing as quickly in Britain as in some nations, but it's not dead yet.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

The story of an awesome little girl

Eric and Janet Beatty knew before their daughter was born that she was going to be different. Prenatal screening showed facial deformities. Baby Clara had Treacher Collins syndrome, caused by a genetic fault.

It was unusual for Treacher Collins babies to be born in Belgium, where the Beattys lived, because parents almost always decided to abort.

For the Beattys, there was no question of abortion - despite the looks of disapproval from medical staff both before and after the birth. "It was kind of strange sometimes with the doctors," said Eric, "some of whom I think really, really questioned why we had this baby."

The Beattys moved to the United States where Clara could get the nursing care she needed. Cosmetic surgery, if she had it, would need to be repeated as she grew, so Clara - she's nine now - is waiting until her teens.

When people stare, she just smiles and says "Hi." But "I want to try to make myself as much like the other kids," she says, "so I can stop having everyone asking me questions, because it gets so annoying."

When Clara finishes her homework, she helps classmates with theirs. She volunteers as a mentor for an acting troupe for children with special needs. When she grows up, she wants to be a doctor. "It's fun," she says, "to help someone and give them a better chance at life."

Some classmates at school couldn't understand why a reporter would want to write a story about her (you can read the story here).

"Why?" said one.

"Because Clara is awesome," said another.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Nebuchadnezzar's dream

About 2,700 years ago, Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of the Babylonian Empire, had a dream.

In the dream, he saw a great image. The image's head was of gold, his chest and arms of silver, his stomach and thighs of brass, his legs of iron and his feet part of iron and part of clay. As Nebuchadnezzar watched, a stone cut out without hands hit the image's feet. The image was broken to pieces, while the stone became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

Daniel the prophet, who had been taken as a captive to Babylon from Israel, interpreted the dream for Nebuchadnezzar. (You can read the story in Daniel, chapter two.)

God, Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar, wants to show you what will happen in the days to come. You, he said to Nebuchadnezzar, are the head of gold. After you will come an inferior kingdom of silver, then a third kingdom of brass. The fourth kingdom of iron will break and bruise others. Then will come a divided kingdom, symbolised by the feet part of iron and part of clay. At that time God will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, but which will stand for ever.

 The kingdom which followed Nebuchadnezzar was the empire of the Medes and Persians. The third kingdom was the Greek empire of Alexander the Great. The fourth kingdom was the Roman Empire. In this historical timeline, we are now in the days of the feet of iron and clay.

The stone cut out without hands is the Lord Jesus Christ. In these days He will return, destroy His enemies and set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed. His return will be the most momentous event since the crucifixion and resurrection 2,000 years ago.

Are you prepared?

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Just in case you needed to know

I understand from the news tonight that scientists may have found the God particle.

I don't know much about the God particle, but I do know that God exists.

I've just been talking to Him.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Battling on for the right to die

There has been a concerted effort in the battle to legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia in recent days.

The British Medical Journal had three articles in a recent issue aimed at neutralising medical opposition to euthanasia.

Of 45 motions tabled for the 95-minute session on medical ethics at the annual representative meeting of the British Medical Association, 20 dealt with euthanasia or assisted suicide, 14 of them supporting a relaxation of the BMA's current opposition to assisted suicide legalisation.

Nine of the 14 used almost identical wording, suggesting they emanated from the small minority group Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying, which is supported by Dignity in Dying (formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society).

In the event, only one motion on the subject was debated. It called for the BMA to adopt a neutral position on change in law on assisted dying. Had it succeeded, it would likely have led to a further attempt to change the law in Parliament. It was defeated.

The motion also suggested that "assisted dying is a matter for society and not for the medical profession" - but, said Dr Hamish Meldrum, the BMA's outgoing chairman, "the medical profession is not only part of society, but it would be members of the medical profession that would have to carry out the wishes of society were there to be a change in the law."

Dignity in Dying is planning a mass lobby of Parliament on July 4.

A number of organisations opposed to the legalisation of assisted suicide have organised a rally at Emmanuel Centre, Westminster, tomorrow, July 3. Speakers include Anne Widdecombe, Lord Alton, MPs Jim Dobbin and Fiona Bruce, Dr Peter Saunders, Brian Iddon and Lord McColl of Dulwich. The rally will include an opportunity for people to visit with their MP at the Houses of Parliament. 

Tony Nicklinson, a 58-year-old from Melksham in Wiltshire, took his case to the High Court. He has locked-in syndrome. His mind is in perfect working order, but he is paralysed from the neck down, and he wants permission for a doctor to end his life. If permission were given, it would have the effect of legalising euthanasia.

The majority of people with locked-in syndrome want to live. Because Tony Nicklinson is unable to take a lethal dose himself, his request challenges not so much the law on assisted suicide as the law on murder. Few would fail to have sympathy for him in his condition, but to grant his request would set a dangerous precedent indeed.

As Baroness Campbell, herself disabled with spinal muscular atrophy, has said, disabled people need help to live, not help to die.