(December 19, 2020) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, reflects on attempts to remove Almighty God from society…
This has been a difficult year and a phrase that we are beginning to hear more frequently in the media is ‘The Great Reset.’ This refers to the goal of a worldwide coalition of big business and big tech working in association with the unelected members of the World Economic Forum whose goal is – to use their own words – ‘improving the state of the world’ and ‘to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.’ In their attempts to ‘improve the state of the world’ we have already experienced the loss of many of the freedoms we once enjoyed and took for granted.
Today we are seeing so many parallels with George Orwell’s novel 1984 which was written almost 70 years ago. It is an almost prophetic book that gives a vision of a totalitarian society where individuality is stifled, and basic freedoms are forbidden, and dissent is prosecuted.
On top of this we have experienced the promotion of corrupt and distorted morals in which what –
has been acknowledged for centuries to be wrong, has now become right,
was once recognised as corrupt, is now considered acceptable,
was denounced as immoral is now accepted as normal,
was once regarded a thing of shame, is now a cause for celebration.
(December 19, 2020) Brian Bell challenges our moving into 2021…
A nearby retailer’s Christmas catalogue included interviews with several local personalities and one of the questions asked was to reflect on 2020 and what they had learned ie ‘The best piece of advice I’ve ever received was…’Interestingly one young woman’s reply was ‘This too shall pass…’
Now whether she was aware or not, those words have a scriptural basis. There are times in scripture we read ‘and it came to pass…’ and while the context such as in Luke 2:1 (KJV, Darby) relates to fulfilment of an event, I have heard believers use them in the sense that ‘difficult’ or ‘bad’ times will pass.
Hope for 2021 I’m sure for many, the fact that 2020 is going brings some relief and the hope for something better in 2021. Its true 2020 proved an exceedingly difficult year, as we remember those who lost their lives to the virus; grieving families; for the organisations which collapsed for financial reasons; the loss of jobs and the impact on livelihoods; loneliness for many who live alone. We applauded, of course, frontline health and other workers. (more…)
(November 29, 2020) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, reflects on the full significance of next month’s spiritual highlight…
Christmas is quickly approaching. Having grown up in in Ireland and then ministering in England, I was used to having Christmas as a mid-winter celebration and, I must admit, I miss that kind of Christmas atmosphere! But wherever we live, as Christians the most important thing we associate with Christmas is the birth of Jesus! Images readily spring to mind…
The newborn baby lying in a stable manger.
Mary and Joseph and the shepherds gazing in awe at the newborn child.
The visit of the wise men to the infant Jesus (although their timing was actually off by a couple of years)
Christmas carols playing a part in reinforcing this scenario.
A festival! The surprising thing is that in the early church Christmas was not celebrated as a festival. I don’t mean that the first Christians didn’t believe that Jesus, God’s Son, was born in a stable in Bethlehem. Of course, they did. But in the first couple of centuries Christmas, as a festival, did not exist. In the early writings of Christians, there are no references to celebrating of Jesus’ birth while there are many references to celebrating his atoning death and glorious resurrection. For example, about 20 years after the ascension of Jesus, Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, ‘Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival’ (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).
Why then was the birth of Jesus not also celebrated as a festival? I’m sure that part of the reason was that no one was really sure of the exact date on which Jesus was born although after a few centuries the church, with some rather strange reasoning, settled on two possible dates – December 25 and January 6 – although both dates are probably wrong!
Eventually, almost 300 years after Jesus was born, people began actively to celebrate his birth in mid-winter.(more…)
These are continuing uncertain and unstable days when people are naturally concerned about the outlook, as around the world we see Covid-19 infection rates rising and sadly more deaths, concern for their families and the repercussions of the economic impact brought about by the efforts of governments to deal with the pandemic.
Last month I shared recently some thoughts on my time recovering from surgery (Link: God’s-Repair-Shop). Also, during that time I had been reading through the apostle Paul’s letters to the various churches.
I was drawn to Paul’s words as recorded in 2 Corinthians 7: 5-6 (NLT version) and I share here a few short thoughts by way of meditation and encouragement.
In verse 5 we read of Paul’s dilemma, ‘When we arrived in Macedonia there was no rest for us. Outside there was conflict from every direction, and inside there was fear’ and in verse 6, ‘But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus.’
Paul’s outward look ‘Conflict from every direction’ – do we who are in the Lord’s service today expect to find it anything different? For brevity I suggest two main sources of conflict… (more…)
(October 28, 2020) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, shares a scriptural warning…
Have you heard any gossip lately? More to the point, have you passed on any gossip lately?
I am using the word ‘gossip’ in the commonly understood sense of making derogatory and slanderous comments about other people. While gossiping is endemic and ‘highly contagious’, it should find no place among Christians – but sadly it does!
Speaking against others In his letter James made some pointed comments to the Christians in his day. He wrote, ‘Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it’ (James 4:11).
The Greek verb which has here been translated here as ‘slander’ literally means ‘speak against’ and James used it three times in this verse. The word can refer to slander, gossip, insult, or to talking in ways that are belittling or damaging to others, or even to hinting at something concerning another person.
The J B Phillips translation of these words incisively states, ‘Never pull each other to pieces, my brothers.’ Paul and Peter gave a similar warning to the Christians to whom they wrote (2 Corinthians 12:20 and 1 Peter 2:1). (more…)
(September 28, 2020) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, brings a timely challenge…
I’m sure that we are all weary of the unavoidable and unrelenting news about Corona-19 and the responses to it by various political leaders in Australia. So many questions have been raised concerning the limits of political authority and police functions and personal rights.
Inconsistent political positions and, at times, authoritarian and uncompassionate directives, have not only created confusion but have also stirred the deep concerns of many loyal citizens – including many committed Christians.
This has raised questions such as:
‘What principles should guide Christians when we see political leaders lying or abusing their position of trust or promoting values that stand opposed to biblical values or pursuing policies that suggest self-aggrandisement rather than the benefit of the people they lead?’
‘Should they be challenged and their policies be opposed or should we meekly, quietly, uncomplainingly submit to and support their dictates?’
Recently I’ve read a number of articles by Christians who have expressed profound concern and have challenged many of the political decisions that some of our leaders have been making. And I have also read many responses from other Christians who rebuke those who express their concern and dare to criticise those leaders whose government policies and pronouncements with which they disagree. Often they quote Romans 13:1-7 (particularly the first two verses) in support of their rebuke.
So what should be the Christian position in regard to political leaders when their guidelines, strategies and directives run contrary to democratic values, and more especially to biblical values? Obviously both sides cannot be right! Does Roman 13 endorse a position of acquiescence and impassivity when confronted by overreaching and, at times, tyrannical government officials and policies? (more…)
(August 21, 2020) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, challenges us not to forget…
Last Saturday in various countries throughout the world commemoration services were held reflecting the surrender of Japan on August 15, 1945 which signified the end of World War 2.
World War 2 Below is a photo taken shortly after that day back then in which a celebration party was arranged for the children in the street where I lived in Belfast.
I just about remember that day… the street lined with tables filled with ‘goodies’
that, because of food shortages had been in limited availability during the war years, yet the mums somehow managed to turn the meagre supplies into a celebratory meal! I do remember the sense of joy in all the mums who, after six years of suffering, were so elated to celebrate this wonderful news with their children.
And what a time of suffering those six years were. My father worked at night in an engineering factory in Belfast and most nights German planes tried to bomb it. When my dad went out to work neither he nor my mum knew if he would be returning home the following morning. Just before I was born, German fighter planes would try to shoot civilians; my parents described their fear as they covered my brother and the unborn ‘me’ with their bodies as they watched the bullets rip along the ground close to where they were under cover.
World War 2 was the most lethal military conflict in history. Around 75 million people died (that is about 3.3% of the world population in those days) and that included around 20 million of those who served in the military and 40 million civilians, many of whom died because of deliberate slaughter, mass-bombings, disease, starvation and limited medical services.
We must not forget the horror and the social consequences of those years and the years that followed nor must we forget the sacrifices that brave men and women made to rescue us from ruthless domination. It is right that we from time to time reflect on those events – lest we forget!
(July 31, 2020) Dr Jim McClure, highly respected theologian, responds to an often asked question…
My state of Victoria is in lockdown again – but even if it wasn’t, with the pandemic that we’re all facing there are those who are taking opportunity to get back to fundamental Christian basics, such as Bible reading and scripture meditation.
A question that I often hear about Bible reading and study is this: ‘Which is the best English translation of the Holy Bible? Someone insisted that the best is the King James Version.’ And this is often followed with this comment, ‘But I find the KJV difficult to read’ and a further question, ‘Which is a good modern version?’
When asked my opinion, I respond by firstly state all the earliest manuscripts we have today are copies of the originals – we do not have one original handwritten copy – or even a small portion – of any of the books of the Old or New Testaments.
Copied handwritten copies What we do have, though, is a number of excellent copies that were faithfully hand-written over many centuries. Admittedly there are some minor variations in many of those copies, butnone that in any way changes the Bible’s message. (more…)
(May 20, 2020) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, shares some great Pentecostal insights …
Let me share with you a few recent experiences.
As I was typing this article on my computer today, it suddenly shut down in mid-sentence. That was a little frustrating but after I plugged in the charger, the computer reopened and enabled me to complete the article.
A friend’s mobile phone, which she had had for a number of years, decided that it had worked long enough. It was out of energy! I helped her to buy a new phone and restored the information from her old one. Now she can confidently phone her friends – and play ‘Words with Friends’ – without the fear of a black screen suddenly appearing.
A few weeks ago I got into my car, turned the ignition key – and nothing happened! No noise from the starter motor. No ignition lights on the dashboard. Nothing but silence! I had accidentally left my car door open a little for a couple of days and the battery had drained. Fortunately a friend came to my rescue with a battery charger and soon the car was on the road again.
Dynamite power source!
The similar factor in the above accounts is obvious – that my computer, my friend’s mobile phone and my car failed to work because their power source was missing! (more…)