As I write this I am in the process of moving from being primarily the Director of FAITH Christian Group in Reading into something new. Quite what that is I do not know but it feels as if it has something to do with communicating Christ and the Church “out there” and facilitating local Christians.
I’ve always had a passion to make Christ known, but unsure and indeed probably afraid to do it or to know how best to do it.
Unclear but becoming clearer.
I actually set up “CrossTownServices” over 20 years ago inspired ate the time by both travel to other towns and cities, both in the U.K. and Europe and by “The Cross in Town“.
Please note that I try to represent the mainstream of Christian opinion and theology, however, occasionally I may share what some would consider the view of a particular stream of Christianity; a more narrowly held theology or at times my personal take on what I believe scripture says.
In particular these pages do not represent in any way the views of Faith Christian Group of which I have been director since 2005.
|Comments Off on What do John Cleese, Nancy Pelosi and Jesus have in common?
You know how it goes. One minute you’re watching Nancy Pelosi on YouTube, the next up pops John Cleese!
So I was musing on the fact that Nancy Pelosi referred to the Capitol as “The Temple of our American democracy” and the implications of that mindset when I then hear John Cleese rather irreverently talking about Jesus clearing the temple!
When Jesus “cleared the Temple” he did act rather out of character, enraged by the abuse of that “House of Prayer” – His Father’s house. He behaved in a way that in today’s terminology many will have thought as unacceptable, politically incorrect (!), disrespectful and even violent. Someone might have said “unprecedented in our history” or at least “not since the Romans” (insert British!).
A couple of days before the “storming of the Capitol” a session of the Senate opened in prayer to multiple gods, not just the true God. You will remember the one, he acknowledged Brahma amongst others and ended with “Amen” and “Awoman” (which he says was meant as a joke). Could it just be that it was enough to open the doors of the Capitol to the “mob”? Possibly. The “Founding Fathers” would have believed firmly that “Thou shalt have no foreign gods” and “No gods before me“.
So here’s my observation. If the Capitol is viewed as a “Temple of Democracy” then they have turned to the false worship of a man made ideology. I have always struggled with Americans saluting their flag and not letting it touch the ground. It is as if it is sacrosanct, holy, set apart.
The Houses of Representatives and Senate should be there to represent (the clue is in the name) and defend the people of the United States and to uphold law and order on their behalf that they might live in peace. This last year has demonstrated a complete failure to do that across American cities. It is very easy when you have #WealthPrivilege to ignore the needs of ordinary people, especially the poor.
I was bewildered by the outrage that was expressed by the demonstrators entering the “temple” and worse still even the “sanctuary”! It is just a building at the end of the day. Representatives and Senators are just people.
The Old Testament is full of the history of Israel turning away from God and reaping the results of that, usually in military defeat and enslavement. Those accounts were recorded that future generations might not repeat the error.
Can we hope and pray that what has occurred will be a sobering moment to reflect on what sort of nation America wants to be and see a genuine return to honouring God.
You cannot have a leader that thinks only of himself and uses others, including it would seem God, for his own ends, even if he does a lot of good along the way.
I reckon we’ve just lost a sheep in wolf’s clothing in exchange for s wolf in sheep’s clothing. Let’s hope and pray not.
Actually, listening to the whole prayer Emanuel was doing well. A long coherent “christian” prayer. An immense shame therefore that he ended the way that he did, and there is no indication in the tone of his voice that he was making a small joke about political correctness. Possibly he had been handed a script and then adlibbed the end!
BTW, speaking of unfortunate prayers, I had no idea that this had happened 6 years ago! What damage did that do?
I’m writing this purposely just post election and before the final results have been fought over. I saw this play on words in someone’s Tweet and thought it quite witty.
I write elsewhere about “Truth”, and where is that issue more relevant than in an American Presidential election. It’ impossible to even know what the truth is amongst all the exaggeration and at times outright lies.
Tragically it seems that this world cannot cope with truth. It certainly can’t cope with someone saying that they got something wrong or that they are changing their mind! That would be just too grown up.
Over time so many words change their meaning and most of the time that doesn’t matter. But TRUTH?, now that’s a different thing.
TRUTH used to mean what really is; what really happened; what is happening”; to do with “FACTS” and “REALITY“, two more words that have come to mean whatever the speaker wants them to mean. This I’m told is something to do with “Post Modernism”.
So it was with the debate between Biden and Trump. Would either if them know what truth is if it jumped up and bit them? Doesn’t seem so. Apparently the past 8 years have been occurring in parallel universes. In this case a Democratic Universe and a Republican Universe. What should have been a debate based on actual figures, actual events, actual people’s pain, suffering, grievances, fears, hopes and aspirations, deteriorated into a childish slanging match not much above “My Dad’s bigger than your Dad.” To hear a prospective POTUS resort to “Oh shut up!” was depressing. Equally to hear the current POTUS tell his opposite number that he isn’t smart. Well again, nuff said.
It would seem that the same gathering of people can variously be described as a peaceful protest and a violent riot. Arson becomes an expression of frustration. Looting becomes some sort of equitable redistribution of wealth. Apparently its O K for young people in masks to use force, bully, curse and throw molotov cocktails, but not appointed officers in uniforms. But enough said on that topic.
If America is to become “Great” (i.e. leaving open the question was it ever?) TRUTH needs to take centre stage and that I fear is highly unlikely.
I can so imagine Donald Trump, or indeed most of the other current politicians, voicing the words of Pontius Pilate to Jesus, “What is Truth?”
Ultimately there is only One Truth and He is also the Way and the Life.
There is a very good and clear statement which leaders of Churches and Charities in Reading put together, as a response to all the media coverage around the death of George Floyd, which I would personally generally endorse, except for the use of the phrase “brutal killing”. It can be seen here, but please read on below.
It ought to be the case that the statement and sentiment “Black Lives Matter” should go without saying, but some people feel that unless one actually states it repeatedly like some sort of mantra, one is being “racist”. It should also go without saying that as Christians we believe that we are all descendants of Adam and Eve and therefore that race is pretty much a human construct underpinned by the idea of evolution, not creation. It seems profoundly stupid to suggest that skin colour alone makes any one human superior to another.
The tragedy of George Floyd’s death became the trigger to many more tragedies and horrendous rioting, criminal damage, with massive repercussions and potentially a revolution in the States. Pure conjecture spread like wildfire on social media. The truth didn’t matter. The myth formed within hours and became “fact” overnight. Such is the modern world.
One of the most unfortunate effects has been a polarisation of views whereby one only has to say, or not say, a particular phrase and one is condemned as something unpleasant. The U.K. has escaped the excesses of the fallout, but we must sympathise with parts of America which have been badly effected. We should also be saddened by how the actions of certain individual police officers in America have resulted in the felt need to state that Blue Lives Matter.
Have you watched what actually happened?
Months on from the original event, bodycam footage was released which should have been seen immediately after the event. I recommend that you at least listen to the first 10 minutes. Here is a man clearly under the influence of drugs, behaving erratically and resisting arrest. 30 minutes in we get the second officer‘s bodycam footage, and therefore the same events from a different angle.
My heart goes out to George Floyd who has got himself into this mess by passing off a forged bill (which he admits to btw), one of many that he had on him. My heart of course also goes out to his grieving relatives.
But I also feel so terribly sorry for the police officers simply trying to do their job! This situation escalated steadily and progressively and lessons seriously need to be learned in training around restraint. But please, please watch. Don’t just condemn me out of hand because of what you have been told. In particular, when did he start saying “I can’t breathe“? Listen to what people around are saying to Floyd and the police! Listen to the words of the police officers and put yourself in their shoes.
SIMPLY TRAGIC AND AVOIDABLE – I’m not being insensitive, but watch and then tell me again that this was anything more than a legitimate arrest of a criminal that went horribly wrong. What would you have done?
When all is said and done ongoing there are two things which have resulted.
One is that certain political factions have used events to push their agenda, in some cases using violence with no concern for the breakdown of law and order.
The other is the growth in influence of the political organisation “BLM“.
It is overtly anti-Christian* and christian values. They make themselves impossible to support if one wishes to remain true to one’s own beliefs around the sanctity of life, family, marriage and other issues.
*It has more recently (September 2020) come to light that the leaders of the movement are actively into a traditional African religion which includes ancestor worship and calling on the spirits of the dead. This is heavy stuff and you may in any case think that voodoo, contacting spirits and the like is nonsense. However they openly say that BLM is a spiritual movement, so it is no wonder that their world view is so at odds with the conservative “christian” American one aside from the racial inequalities element.
Opinion amongst Christians is very divided over whether this “plague” has come from God.
Those that say “no” take the line that God is a God of love who cares too much for mankind to do such a thing. Certainly after the flood God gave the rainbow as a sign that He would never again destroy the whole world.
But of course those who feel that God has sent this would say that He is NOT destroying the whole world. In 2 Chronicles 7 we read ” 12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Those are challenging words and yes they are “Old Testament”, yet if we look at the Revelation of John we see terrible things ahead of the world which have yet to come.
What is for certain is that, come what may, God will use circumstances to bring about His will, And so it is now that Christians all over the world are being drawn to pray as perhaps never before in recent history. In the U.K. probably not since the Battle of Britain when the whole country was called to prayer.
In Exodus 20 God spoke all these words, saying,
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 You shall have no other gods before me.”
It is most certainly time to pray and hold God to His word that “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land
All Christians must surely be at one in praying that God will use this time to draw millions, even billions, to Himself. Even in tragedy may the find consolation and salvation.
|Comments Off on The ‘present state’ – the economy
We live in an intolerably unequal world and even in an unacceptably unequal country. The U.K. is a great place to live if your annual income is over £100,000, not so bad if it is over £50,000. But what about the rest?
High salaries for those in so-called responsible positions only lead to high prices for housing, both rented and to buy, leading to inner city squalor for the poor. Many young people now face the probability of never owning their own property, unless mum and dad have considerable assets.
Low pay, zero hours contracts and ridiculously low Universal Credit all contribute to the existence of an under-class, many of whom have lost hope. They aren’t the working class anymore they are the “wish we could be working” class.
As some-one ultimately responsible for one of the U.K.’s largest food banks I have seen the growth in poverty first hand since 2008. Demand for food parcels shows no sign of levelling out let alone decreasing.
Time after time I come across the pure ignorance of the “Westminster Bubble” as regards the reality of life for many people.
At some point we have to wake up to the fact that not one of us has the right to a high income, a large house, multiple holidays, multiple cars, expensive clothes, etc. etc. “I earned it”, “I worked hard for it” doesn’t wash. The money you have came from other people. Did you simply overcharge for your services, your time, your intellect?
It is time to somehow regulate salaries. No-one deserves over 6 figure salaries, and even that is laughable. I even know of Charity bosses on massive salaries. How on earth did that happen?
Then there’s un-taxed companies …… I don’t need to go on.
Those of us on decent salaries don’t need tax cuts! We need to know that we have a working Welfare State, acceptable health care for all, great care of the elderly and protection for the vulnerable, and that old chestnut “affordable housing”. Bring back Council Houses! By the thousand.
This is the first time I’ve posted anything from UCB Word for today, but this is serious stuff. It may need reading more than once to take in.
“If you train yourself to listen carefully to what someone is saying, they will generally tell you who and what they are before you get into a relationship with them. Prevention is better than cure! But more times than not, when someone begins to warn us of their weaknesses and what to expect, we jump in with our motivational ‘Oh no, that can’t be true’ thoughts, and encourage them to move forward with us. We need to learn the priceless art of listening without interrupting. If you do, you’ll save yourself years of tears, secret disappointments, and negative experiences. Rather than using your optimism and persuasive style to coerce somebody into accepting your goals and objectives, you need to know when a person can’t become something just because you want them to or believe they can. They can’t run on your fuel! Your character and maturity won’t make up for their lack of it. Without your awareness of this principle, these high-maintenance relationships can weary you and drain your strength for years. In private or professional relationships, if you have to keep motivating to get started, you’ll have to keep motivating to maintain. On the other hand, if you look, listen, pray, and observe, you can decide whether it’s worth the effort to engage in the relationship in the first place. And if you ask God, He will guide you in this: His Word says, ‘Look with your eyes…hear with your ears, and fix your mind on everything I show you; for you were brought here…that I might show them to you.’ ”
Is 59-61, 1 Thess 1