Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A determined prayer warrior

I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year. This next year could be a most important one. There are tremendous needs. And tremendous opportunities.

Do you believe in making New Year resolutions? Have you thought, I wonder, of becoming involved in urgent, desperate prayer for your families? I ask because everywhere I look I see the children of serious, loving Christian parents, carefully brought up in church and Sunday school, beginning to drift away from the Christian faith.

I was reminded of the subject by the true story of a man we will call George. He and his wife had two daughters. He decided to spend an hour every day praying for their spiritual welfare. He continued to pray an hour a day for his descendants until one day he announced he had a promise from God that four generations of his family would all be Christians.

His two daughters - the second generation - both married ministers. Between the two of them, they had one boy and five girls. The boy became a minister and the five girls all married ministers. When it came to the fourth generation, two boys - cousins - were the first to go to college. One announced quite early on that he believed God was calling him to the ministry.

The other decided - a little apprehensively, in view of the family tradition - that he didn't want to be a minister. What's more, he wasn't going to be a minister. He was going to become a psychologist. He wrote a book on psychology, which became a best seller. His name: James Dobson.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A birth like no other

A company of pollsters discovered a number of children preparing for Christmas who had no idea whose birthday they were supposed to be celebrating. How sad.

This birth was like no other. This baby was unique. He was every bit as human as each one of us, but He was also divine. "The Word," says John in his Gospel, "became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."

God knew none of us could make it to heaven on our own, so He sent Someone to make it possible for us.

You may feel almost worn out, with shopping, cleaning, cooking and wrapping presents. But do make sure that you have the eternal life He, and He alone, came to bring.

The Son of God became Son of man so that sons of men might become sons of God.

Happy Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Queen and the need for Christianity

The Queen's speech this year will focus on her Christian faith and her belief in the important role of Christianity in modern British life, according to the International Business Times.  It comes at the end of a year marred by terrorist attacks by ISIS extremists.

The former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, said the Queen's speech would be poignant, as she reflects on the attacks on British holiday makers in Tunisia and the massacre in Paris.

"Clearly extremism is a backdrop to anything that any public figures say at this time. If people in this country gave greater heed to what the Queen says about the importance of Christianity in our personal as well as our national life," he said, "then we would be in a better place to confront it.

"The Queen will also be aware that Christians and others have faced unprecedented persecution over the last year in parts of the Middle East, and could even face extinction.

"There is pressure for the next Coronation to be multi-faith or no faith. My understanding is that it will actually be a Christian event, but obviously the Queen would want to reinforce that."

A source told the Mail on Sunday: "Over the years we've seen a greater emphasis on the Queen's faith and we're certain to see it in this year's Christmas broadcast. There's a fundamental optimism which, to an extent, is driven by her faith in contrast to the overall gloom. She is driven by a deep and spirited faith."

The content of the Queen's annual prerecorded speech, which last year attracted 7.8 million viewers in the UK alone, is such a closely guarded secret that Palace officials refer to it by the code-name "QXB," for Queen's Christmas broadcast.

The Queen's speech airs on BBC1 and ITV at 3pm on Christmas Day. It is also broadcast across the Commonwealth.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Balm in Gilead

Some months before I found Christ - many years ago now -  I heard Paul Robeson sing an old negro spiritual.

"There is a balm in Gilead
  To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
  To heal the sin-sick soul."

The phrase "sin-sick soul" spoke to my heart. There is only One who can provide healing here. A psychiatrist might shed some light on the need. A psychotherapist might give some idea of its effects. But only Jesus can dispense a cure.

It's like a nasty sports injury. It's painful, and you long for a balm to ease away the pain. Unlike a sports injury, it's not a physical pain. "Come unto Me," says Jesus, "all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

"Come," he says. Don't think it over. Don't philosophise about it. Do it.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Street preacher gets a reprieve

Mike Overd preaches the gospel regularly in the streets of Taunton, motivated, he says, by his love for Jesus Christ and a deep concern for people who don't know His great love.

One day a man who identified himself as a homosexual objected to something that was said about homosexuality and insisted on debating it. Mr Overd was charged under the Public Order Act, which deals with threatening words or behaviour. At Bristol Crown Court he was fined, ordered to pay costs and ordered to pay compensation.

The Christian Legal Centre (part of Christian Concern) took a dim view of a remark by the judge that Mr Overd should not have referred to Lev 20:13 in explaining what the Bible said but could have used Lev 18:22, and decided to back Mr Overd in an appeal.

At Taunton Crown Court Circuit Judge David Ticehurst upheld the appeal and overturned the conviction.

King Solomon High School in Redbridge recently held an "LGBT Week." The pupils were given rainbow badges which they were told they must wear or they would be given detention. 

When one of the sixth form girls went home with the news, her mother, Anna Erickson-hull, wrote a protest on her Facebook page. She quoted 1 Cor 6:9, 10: "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."

Apparently someone complained to Facebook, and Facebook took down her Facebook page.

The Office for National Statistics says that one per cent of the population in Britain is homosexual. Actually, the figure is 1.6 per cent, but that includes bisexuals. That one per cent is holding this nation to ransom, and the nation is helping it do so.

The sooner this nation comes back to its senses the better.  

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

The day Tass became a Christian

Taysir Abu Saada - Tass to his friends - was a Muslim. He was born in Gaza and grew up in Saudi Arabia. He hated Jews. He joined the PLO, trained as a Fatah sniper, and was Yasser Arafat's personal driver.

Seeking a better life, he moved to the United States and got a job as a waiter in a restaurant. He dreamed of poisoning Jewish customers. One customer, an American named Charlie Sharpe, was the first to say "Thank you" for taking away his empty plate. Tass decided to look after him, and the two became friends.

One day Charlie spoke about a "spiritual connection" he had, which brought him peace and wonderful blessings. For weeks Tass wondered what it might be. He decided to ask.

"Tass," said Charlie, "to have the peace I have you need to love a Jew."

"I hate these people. You know how I feel about them," said Tass.

"What do you know about Jesus Christ?" asked Charlie.

"I know Jesus - he's a prophet. As Muslims we believe in him." 

"He's more than that. He's the Son of God. He is God," said Charlie.

"No way!" said Tass, and started to leave. Charlie told him to hold on, grabbed a Bible and placed it between them.

"The minute he put the Bible between the two of us it was like something powerful just took me and threw me away from it," says Tass.

"Why did you jump?" asked Charlie.

"I can't touch that."

"Why? It's just a piece of paper."

"No, it's the word of God and it's God and the name of God is in it."

"Do you believe this is the word of God?"


 Charlie began to read about Jesus from John 1. "In the beginning was the 
 Word. . ."

"When he started reading," says Tass, "I started shaking and I lost control and the next I know I'm on my knees on the floor with my hands lifted up, inviting Christ to be my Saviour. I felt like a mountain lifted off my shoulder and a joy and peace came into my heart I never experienced before." 

 "Do you know what happened?"


"You've become a Christian," said Charlie.

The next day Tass had an unusual burden to pray, and found himself praying for the Jewish people. "Oh God, bless your people Israel. Gather them to the Promised Land." He shut his mouth with his hand to stop himself.

He told his wife and children. They were converted too. They founded two ministries, Hope for Ishmael and Seeds of Hope. They opened a kindergarten in Jericho, where the children learn to be kind to each other and treat each other with love and respect. Enrolment is doubling, and there's a waiting list of over 200. 

They're planning a cultural centre and a youth centre. Young people can play games and watch soccer and basketball - an alternative to hanging about the streets, where they can be seduced by groups like Hamas.

It's amazing how the Lord Jesus continues to work in these days.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Where Christian lives are cheap

The militant Islamist group al Shabaab has publicly declared that it wants Somalia free of Christians. According to the nation's constitution, Islam is the state religion. Open Doors says those who attack Christians do so with impunity. Suspected Christians are frequently killed on the spot.

Said one Christian: "It appears that I live in a hell on earth. I wish I could just stand inside a  church and cry out in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Still they manage to maintain a witness. One has regular contact with camel herders. He gave them a radio tuned to a Christian radio station. The camel herders are illiterate, but they listen to the radio every night.

In Nigeria, thousands of Christians have been killed or abducted by Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group. Hundreds of churches have been destroyed.

In Sudan, blasphemy laws are frequently used tor prosecuting Christians. A significant number have been imprisoned. President Bashir's government has demolished churches, killed Christians in bombings and allowed others to kill Christians with impunity.

In Eritrea, Christians are considered a threat to the state. They have been tortured, beaten and imprisoned in horrific conditions.

Syrian Patriarch Ignace Joseph lll Younan said Eastern patriarchs had warned the West from the beginning that the situation in Syria was much more complex than in Egypt, Tunisia or Libya, and conflict would create only chaos and civil war.

"They responded: No, the Assad regime will fall in a few months..As I predicted, that hasn't happened, and five years later, innocent people, especially Christians, have no support. The West has betrayed us."

Says Generals International: "Many of us live mostly isolated from the atrocities. We're so used to hearing about unrest and turmoil in places like the Middle East and Africa that we hardly flinch at news of bombings or shootings 'over there.' The scope of this horror is hard to wrap our heads around; meanwhile, it is a daily reality faced by thousands. 

"We are calling on you, our brothers and sisters in Christ. Take a step back from politically charged rhetoric. . . Jesus Himself told us to pray 'Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven'. . . 

"We are here on earth. And terrorism is not the will of heaven. So we will pray, and we will love because the kingdom of darkness is no match for those two things when they come together. . .

"Pray for those who are choosing to destroy others and sometimes themselves. If they only knew the great love which the Father has for them, they might change their minds and choose God's plan of salvation, instead of destruction. 'For this is the way God loves the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.'

"Ask the Lord to uncover every planned attack. . . Ask God to stop those who persist right in their tracks. Proclaim that their hiding places will be uncovered."