Friday, November 27, 2015

How to pray for ISIS

Those belonging to ISIS have sworn by Allah to rid the world of other religious groups, even at the price of their own lives, and to restore the glory of Islam as they understand it. They use rape, beheadings, shootings, crucifixions and sexual slavery as weapons against their enemies. They are prepared to fight for several generations to see their aims fulfilled.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who says Britain is in the top tier of ISIS's overseas targets, is seeking approval in Parliament for British air strikes in Syria as well as in Iraq.

Decisions are not only in the hands of politicians. If you are a Christian, there is something you can do. If we are Christians, there is something we must do. Pray. Prayer can make a difference.

Click here for an article on how to pray for ISIS, and here for a first-rate 30-day prayer programme.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Christianity 'Europe's only hope'

Ten days since the so-called Islamic State loosed its terror on Paris. People are still holding their own private inquests, with all their whys and wherefores.

Since 9/11, Western political leaders have been hiding their heads in the sand. They seem unable to understand Islamist jihadi ideology. Warnings from ISIS that it would flood Europe with Muslim immigrants, with ISIS operatives among them, seem to have been ignored.

After 9/11, Western leaders said "This has nothing to do with Islam." Strange, we thought, since everyone responsible for it was Muslim and did what they did precisely because they were Muslims. Then came the London bombings of 7/7. Western leaders came up with a reason that was a model of political correctness. "This has nothing to do with Islam," they said. We thought differently. After the recent Paris attacks, they said "This has nothing to do with Islam." They are wrong. This has everything to do with the violent tradition of Islam, considered every bit as valid as others consider the peaceful tradition.

Mark Durie, a Christian who is an accepted expert on Islam, says it is irresponsible and dangerous to claim that a tenacious enemy is insane and incomprehensible. To refuse to  acknowledge the ideology of ISIS and to deny its relevance is tantamount to a death wish.

"To combat this ideology," he says, "it is necessary for Europe to prove ISIS wrong on all counts. It must show strength, not weakness. It must have confidence in its cultural and spiritual identity. It must be willing to fight for its survival.

"It must show that it believes in itself enough to fight for its future. It must defend its borders. It must act like someone who intends to win in an intrinsically long war against an implacable foe."

A wave of secular humanism has swept across Europe: "I don't need God. I can manage quite well by myself." For the man in the street, when the Paris attacks came, there was surprise, for sure. There was shock, without doubt. But what seemed quite obvious was a spirit of fear: where will they strike next?  Liberal humanism - call it what you will - is a religion without a heart.
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, who resigned his post as an Anglican bishop in 2009 to become director of an organisation preparing Christians for ministry in areas where the church is being persecuted because of religious extremism and ideological secularism, suggests that only Christianity  can save Europe.

It is quite astounding, he says, that some, instead of seeing Christianity as part of the answer, take the opportunity to smear all religion by association. "The truth of the matter is that Europe needs to recover its grand narrative by which to live, by which to determine what is true, good and beneficial for its people. The nostrums of Marxism and Fascism have brought frightful suffering for its people. Now another totalitarian ideology threatens.

"A truly plural space can only be guaranteed by intrinsically Christian ideas of the dignity of the human person, respect for conscience, equality of persons and freedom not only to believe but to manifest our belief in the public space, without discrimination against or violence to those who do not share them. 

"Instant self-gratification and endless entertainment will no more contribute to contemporary European survival than they did to ancient Roman. What is needed is an ethic of service, selflessness and sacrifice for the sake of the common good. Many will recognise this as the teaching of the Galilean Master, not of any paganism, ancient or modern, nor of any ideology, secular or religious.
 . . 
"The extremists have decided what their values are and from whence they come. Have we anything to counter with? The institutions, culture, achievements and values of Europe can most readily be understood with reference to the Judaeo-Christian tradition. . . It is time to reappropriate it."

He's right.

Will there be enough active Christianity to meet the need?

One thing is certain. Western Christians need to waken up from their slumbers and become the people God called them to be.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Eternal life begins here

Why would a God of love send anybody to hell?

God doesn't send anybody to hell. They go because they refuse to accept God's offer of forgiveness in Christ. Many people live all their lives by their own standards. When they hear of sin and heaven and hell, they mock. All sorts of people have different ideas, they say. Who knows? Besides, nobody ever came back to tell us. (Are they sure?) 

God sent His Son to be a sacrifice for sin. Jesus was murdered. He was clearly, incontrovertibly dead. Then He came back to life. Hundreds saw Him. He ate food with His disciples. He told them "A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."

He told one "Reach your finger here, and look at my hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into my side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." Jesus didn't just talk about eternal life. He demonstrated it.

The Christian who has experienced forgiveness of sins knows he is forgiven and is certain that he has a home in heaven. He has God's promise. He has a hope - not in the sense of "I hope so," but a sure hope, a certain hope. He has tasted a little bit of heaven down here. He knows that because Christ lives, he will live also.

If you don't have the assurance of sins forgiven, if you don't know you have a home in heaven, let me ask you a question in all sincerity.

Have you examined the evidence of Christ's resurrection?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Coming back from the brink

John Smeaton is director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. On the blog he writes for the society, he occasionally quotes some remarkable figures.

Like this:

It is estimated that more human beings have been killed by abortion worldwide in the past 40 years than people have been killed in all the wars in recorded human history.


I have written once before on this blog about American doctor Matthew Harrison.

I told the story of Ashley, the 20-year-old daughter of Christian parents, who was in love with her boyfriend. Unexpectedly, she fell pregnant. Overcome by the circumstances, she went to an abortion clinic.There they gave her a first-stage abortion pill and watched her while she took it. (The abortion pill is a two-stage procedure. The first pill starves the baby of progesterone, which is essential for continuing development. A second pill, given  some 72 hours later, starts labour so the woman ejects a dead baby.)

Immediately, Ashley realised that what she had done was contrary to everything she believed in. She asked the abortionist what she should do if she changed her mind. She was told if she didn't take the second pill the baby would still die. If it didn't, it would be born deformed or seriously defective.

Ashley confessed to her mother what she had done. Her mother took her to a pro-life doctor - Dr Harrison - who felt he should help. It was about 36 hours since she took the pill. If he could flood Ashley's system with progesterone, there was a chance it could out-compete the abortion pill. "I told Ashley and her mother my plan, and told her the risks. This had never been done. I doubted it would work. She didn't care about the risks to her. Ashley was ready to do anything to save the baby's life."

Ashley had progesterone injections twice a week. At full term, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

The treatment has now been perfected : 137 babies are said to have been born without complications, and a further 76 women are still pregnant. In the US, an abortion pill reversal kit is now available under medical supervision.

At abortion clinics in the UK, more than half the abortions are done using the abortion pill. Is it possible that an abortion pill reversal kit could be made available here?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Still no peace for Israel

There have now been something like 1,000 terrorist incidents in Israel since the beginning of October, with stabbings, shootings and vehicles used to run down Jews. There have been widespread complaints about incitement by Palestinian leaders and on social media.

This week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to Washington for his first meeting with President Obama for more than a year. It was, he said, one of the best meetings he has had with President Obama.

Obama is said to have given up on the prospect of peace, even the prospect of an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, before he leaves the White House in 2017. The two agreed to appoint teams to determine the size of an increase in military aid to Israel starting in 2018.

Meanwhile there were a number of stabbings in Jerusalem - one of a security guard by an attacker as young as 11 - and a 19-year-old member of the Border Police, who suffered serious head injuries when he was deliberately run down by a Palestinian driver, became the 12th Israeli to die as a result of terrorist attacks since the beginning of October.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

A very important question

Jesus was with His disciples in the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, a beautiful area below Mount Hermon. "Who do men say that I am?" He asked."Some John the Baptist," they said. "Some Elijah. Others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." "But who do you say that I am?" Peter spoke up. "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

"Who do you say that I am?" That's a most important question. Muslims tell me that in the Bible Jesus never claimed to be God. Yet He was crucified for that very thing. An important part of the gospel is that God Himself paid the price for my forgiveness.

 How about John 8:58, 59:

Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." Then they took up stones to throw at him.

Or John 10:30 - 33:

"I and my Father are one." Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, "Many good works I have shown you from my Father. For which of those works do you stone me?"  The Jews answered him, saying, "For a good work we do not stone you, but for blasphemy, and because you, being a man, make yourself God."

Or Luke 5:20, 21:

When he saw their faith, he said to him, "Man, your sins are forgiven." And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, "Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

Or Mark 14:61 - 64:

Again the high priest asked him, saying to him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" And Jesus said, "I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven."  Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, "What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?" 

In this multicultural age, it's important Jesus is not just included among a collection of others. He's unique. He's the Saviour of the world. "For unto us a child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."