WHAT MAKES THINGS BREAK UP LIKE THEY DO?

(April 04, 2020) Brian Bell asks the question above

In my mid-teens I was studying for what was then an ‘O’ level in English Literature. In the process of that study I had to read William Golding’s book Lord of the Flies.

If you have read the novel or are familiar with it from some other source (such as the film version) then bear with me; however, for those who are not familiar let me give you a very brief summation…

The novel is set on an unknown, unnamed island on which a plane, carrying a group of choir boys, has crashed and none of the adults survive. It then describes how the boys form separate groups and their behaviour begins to disintegrate.

Two of the boys are Ralph and another referred to as ‘Piggy’ – as the process of disintegration takes place, Piggy asks Ralph the question, ‘What makes things break up like they do?’

It was this question of Piggy’s which at that time in my life led me to write an essay basically on the topic ‘God is Left Out. This was selected for publication in the school year book but its assertion that our brokenness resulted from leaving God out did not, so far as I recall, impress my English teacher, who was rather sceptical.

And so here I am, some 50 years later and ‘What makes things break up like they do’ is still a relevant question!

Why? The world is still disintegrating, presently in the grip of Covid–19. And so I share some brief thoughts on ‘break up’… (more…)

JESUS –THE MISSIONARIES’ MESSAGE

(April 2, 2020) Dr George Forbes, missionary statesman, brings an Easter reminder that God so loved the world…

Admittedly the world is going through trying times such as never encountered before! But we Christians know that our God is real, loving and caring for those who know and love him. And… that Jesus is still the final and absolute answer to the greatest need off all – the way back to God and full salvation!

As I reflected this year on Easter as a special time on the Christian calendar, I thought immediately that the message of all true missionaries is Jesus.  He is the reason that we celebrate Easter. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest evidence of the love of God for humanity that could ever be.

I first heard this message in a little Salvation Army meeting in July 1949. That was the day I knelt at the penitent form in that simple chapel and surrendered my life to God. That was the day I called on the name of Jesus and was saved.

That is now seventy years ago and the joy, the peace I found that day is richer and deeper than ever!

Powerful hope!

  • The celebration every Easter by followers of Jesus centres on him.
  • And why? God’s gift to the world was his only Son!
  • This is the good news that has been declared not only at Easter, but all year every year, for centuries.
  • This is the event that changed the world, bringing fallen, sinful humankind a hope that shines brighter every year!

(more…)

IS DIVINE PROTECTION GUARANTEED?

(March 25, 2020) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, challenges misquoting of scriptures in these troubling times…

Unquestionably these are exceptional times of national and international stress. Sadly the response of so many people to that stress has been significantly less than commendable!  Selfishness and hostility – especially on the ‘battlefield’ aisles of supermarkets – has been on shameful display.

Without doubt this has been a distressing and troubling time and Christians are inevitably asking such questions as:

  • Why has God permitted this epidemic?
  • Why doesn’t he stop it?
  • Is he using it to accomplish some greater purpose?
  • Is this evidence that we are living in the End Times? and then of course…
  • Can Christians avoid contracting the virus? (the BIG question so many Christians are asking).

Hyper-faith distortion
Let me first state that I firmly believe that God miraculously heals many people today. I have both personally experienced and witnessed it. It is appropriate to ask God for healing.

But I do not believe that it should be a Christian’s unalienable right to be protected from illness or tragedy as neither the biblical testimony nor that of Christian history substantiates that position.

In the last few weeks many Christians have been placing posts on social media asserting the ‘correct’ position a Christian should take regarding the Coronavirus (or any) worldwide viral infection.

From a hyper-faith position there are those who are telling us that the Bible affirms that God has given solid assurance that his children will be protected from such epidemics and that we need to embrace those promises, fully place our trust in God and the authority of his word and claim deliverance from those diseases that threaten us.  I have read such affirmations eg ‘I believe the Lord will protect you and that none of your family will die before their time and that you and your family will live to be a blessing to many, many people!’ (more…)

WE HAVE A REDEEMER, A PASSOVER LAMB OVER US!

(March 16, 2020) Hope Flinchbaugh shares encouragement in these days of virus panic…

Daily news from around the world regularly reports people panicking over the COVID-19 virus… the resultant sicknesses, deaths, sports events and shows being cancelled, businesses closing, insufficient stocks of various essential and other grocery items in stores… and more.

For Christians it’s a time not to be panicking but to recall we have protection as we trust in Jesus our redeemer and his power.  And as I do so afresh I’m reminded of something that happened back in 2002.

I had accompanied my father – Reverend Glenn Keenan – on one of his missionary trips, this time to China. In meetings arranged by my dad I would play the piano and sing.

One evening Dad drew this chalk picture for the Chinese people.

As Dad drew the picture I played and sang, then he spoke on its meaning. These are the Chinese characters (pictures really) for the word ‘redeemed.’ The characters mean ‘Lamb over me’ – the top is a lamb and the bottom character translates ‘me.’

Isn’t that beautiful? ‘The Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, over me.’ Jesus is over every Christian!

Power in the blood of Christ
Just as we left China in October 2002, the SARS epidemic broke out – face masks everywhere, panic setting in. (more…)

THE END OF HUMAN CIVILISATION?

(March 8, 2020) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, sounds a battle cry…

In keeping with its objective of vigorously propagating ‘politically correct’ ideas and globalist theories, on March 3 the ABC published an article titled ‘The human race is not special. So why do we think we’re immune to mass extinction?’ (Link: Global-warming-mass-extinction-psychological-impact).

The article was written by Geoff Dawson who is described as ‘a psychologist and Zen Buddhist teacher.’ On the bases of these incontestable (?) credentials he writes, ‘A report written by Paul Gilding, a fellow at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, and commissioned by the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, put forward the view that there is a “high likelihood of human civilisation coming to an end in 2050” if action is not taken to curb climate change.’

Then, after stirring up the panic warning of mass extinction in 30 years’ time and standing on what he clearly considers to be the triple high grounds of intellectual enlightenment, godless Zen Buddhism and the pretence of profound compassion (particularly for panicked children), he continues… (more…)

REALLY?

(March 07, 2020) Charles Schwab shares a reflection on this month’s Encouragement article, declaring that every Christian is a minister so let’s cut through the challenges…

I appreciate Dr Robert and Maureen McQuillan’s article Just Hanging Around encouraging Christians to be active in their local churches.

And as I read it I felt a quickening to share my long-term convictions about Christians taking up their God-given capacities to be vessels of God towards a whole range of needs in the lives of others.

But there can be challenges to Christians – ordinary Christians – when it comes to being mobilised in ministry. We will come to these challenges in a moment.

Highlighted biblical truth
Since the Protestant Reformation (1517 AD – 500 years ago) which highlighted the biblical truth that justification being made right with God is a consequence of faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord (Romans 5:1), various other biblical truths have been resurrected from relative obscurity.

One such truth is that every believer has one or more areas of ‘ministry’ or service to which the Lord has called and is equipping them. We don’t get to ‘call the shots’; God determines and in such a way that we are not consulted!

The notion that ‘the priest is the minister and does everything that is central in the life of the church’ had its ‘back broken’ in the Reformation. (more…)

LET THE NATIONS BE GLAD!

(March 6, 2020) Dr George Forbes, missionary statesman, brings a pre-Easter reminder that God loved the world…

‘O let the nations be glad and sing for joy; for you [God] shall judge the peoples righteously and govern the nations on earth’ (Psalm 67:4).

When this short psalm was written and then sung in Israeli households and other places, the truth of God’s love for all nations, as well as his eternal purpose for them was expressed well.

But… Israel did not often consider the nations. In fact, many of them were enemies of Israel. They were not thought to be worthy of God’s favour or blessing and in Matthew 23:15NLT Jesus denounced Israel’s history of making gentile converts to Judaism – ‘What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!’

Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, people have gone their own way, in sinful rebellion and self-centredness. Even after God gave Abraham his favour and made his descendants his chosen people, giving them the Ten Commandments, religious leaders added burdens of religious rites and ceremony that became impossible to bear.

There is only one way to enable the nations to be glad and sing for joy. And that is God’s way.

(more…)

GRIEF, GRIEVING – AND GOD’S GRACE

(March 04, 2020) Alistair Pitman shares from his heart how God helped him through stages of grief over losing his late, first wife, Dorothy…

One of the hardest points in the grieving process came around the second month after Dorothy’s passing in 2014. I had been missing sharing with her all that doing life together involves.

Immense grief
I’d also been missing the depth of Dorothy’s love for me, accepting me regardless of my faults and weaknesses!

I had not realised how much I had taken Dorothy’s love for granted. It was always there – I just didn’t realise how great her love for me was until it wasn’t there anymore!

It was her special gift to me, and I really wrestled with this reality. Even close friends couldn’t replace what I was missing. The depth of sorrow I was experiencing was immense… but it was from this place that God really ministered to me.

I went out for a run one day, mulling over how much I missed the depth of Dorothy’s love. Later I arrived back at my driveway still thinking about grief and its various stages.

Suddenly I experienced God’s manifest presence in a powerful way! (more…)

JUST HANGING AROUND?

(March 04, 2020) Robert and Maureen McQuillan challenge encouragingly…

Chatting to friends recently about churches growing in 2020 once again raised the issue of everyone being involved; that we all need to get back to grass-roots discipleship of sharing our faith/ testimony every opportunity that comes our way.

That neither pastor nor pastoral team alone can fully build the local church!

But… the challenge in this ever-so-busy-lifestyle-packed age is: ‘Are we open to the Holy Spirit’s leading to take those opportunities?’

A memory flooded back to me (Robert)… I was in a church office awaiting someone coming for counselling and time was getting on. I had turned to gaze through the tall, wide windows onto the pleasant garden outside when the youth pastor happened by. Stopping, he commented, ‘For some strange reason, Robert, I had the impression you were casually hanging round, waiting for a train!’

Hanging around…
I had smiled. Unexpectedly a line from David Meece’s Gospel Train hit me… ‘All aboard for the gospel train, my seat’s reserved, and my ticket’s paid.’

Then a picture – one of many Christians from different churches waiting at a station called The Church, all confident that they were all okay and would definitely be on board when that ‘good old gospel train to heaven’ eventually came along.

But… they were just standing there… hanging aroundthat’ station – doing nothing, going nowhere. (more…)

DON’T BE ASHAMED TO SHARE THE GOOD NEWS

(March 04, 2020) Carol Round challenges…

‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile’ declared Paul in Romans 1:16.

  • Is it difficult for you to share the good news, the gospel of Jesus?
  • Does fear of ridicule stop you from sharing?
  • Maybe you don’t share because you think only your pastor, or an evangelist like Billy Graham, can be successful in the quest to tell others about the greatest news ever.
  • Well… you’re not alone!

God isn’t looking for all-stars
After her father passed, Anne Graham Lotz described her daddy, Billy Graham like this: ‘When I think of him, I don’t think of Billy Graham, the public figure. I think of my Daddy. The one who was always a farmer at heart. Who loved his dogs and his cat, who followed the weather patterns almost as closely as he did world events. He wore old blue jeans, comfortable sweaters, and a baseball cap, loved lukewarm coffee, sweet iced tea, one scoop of ice cream, and a plain hamburger from McDonald’s.’

Continuing, she added, ‘God is not looking for all-stars. He already has an all-star, named Jesus. He is just looking for ordinary people who will follow the all-star, Jesus, with unwavering hearts. That’s you and me!’ (more…)