Hopscotch

Members and attenders of the Reformed Churches in general seem to be able to jump ship from a particular church to another quite easily. The reasons are not usually because people move away from the area, but for other ‘human’ reasons. Hopscotch can be played because we fall out with other members, or the music isn’t right, or the minister doesn’t quite tick your box. Reformed christians can be a fickle lot.

 

I found myself wondering if Jews jump Synagogues, or Muslims jump Mosques, or Roman Catholics jump Chapels for the same reasons. I don’t think so, but you can feel free to correct me if I am wrong. Maybe the protestants are not so good at real ‘God Worship’, and are more inclined to be judgemental? Just a thought.

 

If we go to church to worship God as our primary and even sole purpose, does it show us as a bit shallow if we jump ship for these other ‘human’ reasons? What if we get to heaven, and the choir isn’t as good as we thought, or St Peter isn’t as rugged and handsome as we imagined, or there are folks who made heaven that we just couldn’t get on with while on earth? Hold on, these aren’t the reasons we are in heaven. It is everything, and only, to do with worshipping our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Anything less is unChristlike, and we wouldn’t fit in, would we?

 

Having said all that, I can fully accept, and agree, that if any church or religious denomination at any level, falls away from the true gospel of Jesus Christ, then we should not be playing hopscotch, we should be doing an immediate sprint dash away from it, as fast as we can and as far from it as possible. We cannot live in harmony with bad theology that translates into false prophets or prophesy.  

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. 2 Peter 2:1-2 NIV

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Another Elephant

“First they came…” is attributed to pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group. The full content is:

 

First they came for the communists,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the catholics,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a catholic.

Then they came for me,

and there was no one left to speak for me.

 

The following statement is taken directly from an Arabic newspaper:

Al-Qaeda-linked militants, who kidnapped hundreds of workers at a gas plant in the Algerian desert, said they were after “crusaders” and not Algerian nationals, one of the released hostages told Al Arabiya in an interview.

 

The reference to “crusaders” is obvious. Apparently we don’t learn from history. The Islamist terrorist attacks in Algeria and now in a packed Nairobi shopping centre have been all over the news, and you must have seen some coverage of the atrocities. In both cases, the Islamist terrorists allowed Muslims to go free before they made their assault. But hey ho, that’s away over in Africa. Doesn’t affect us, and I am just scaremongering right? Take another look at the words of the Islamist terrorist when he spoke to another fellow Muslim. Yes, Muslims are Islamists. Maybe we should think of them as ‘Muslamists’ because they are one and the same, and cut from the same cloth. Maybe not all terrorists, but the Mosque attendance in ‘Western’ countries is showing a robust growth in spite of the extreme Muslamist scandals. It’s a strange contradiction that a so called ‘religion of peace’ can be responsible for such murderous activities on innocents.

The civilised and tolerant nations have suffered various terrorist attacks. Who can forget the USA 9/11, or the Glasgow Airport attack, or the London 7/7 and 21/7 Muslamist atrocities, to name a few, and there are many more. I will leave you with a thought, which I borrowed from someone else: “Not all terrorists are Muslims, but all terrorists seem to be Muslims”. Unfair? Of course there are other terrorist groups, but we ignore the obvious at our peril. We can pretend the elephant is not in the room, but it is impossible to ignore for ever, no matter how hard we try.

Distortion

Senior teachers at a South Lanarkshire school have been removed following a parent outcry over the involvement of a US-based religious group. Some parents have labelled the Church of Christ extremist, and outraged that their children were given books at an assembly questioning evolution and highlighting the church’s own religious viewpoints. BBC News 13 Sep 2013

Churches in general, and not just this one have to be very careful in today’s very secular society. We must also acknowledge that our tabloid media play to the gallery when they find something that might pull down any church, and for any reason. A scottish rag ‘news’paper published a photo of one of the leaders of the ‘extremist’ church face painted to provide the image to accompany their smear article. The leader’s face was painted for a bit of fun at a school outing to show what pirate Jack Sparrow might have looked like. The rag failed to mention this. It also failed to say that this same church leadership have been a very active part of the school, without incident, for the past 8 years.

 

What on earth brought this hullabaloo about? Apparently a book was handed out to some of the schoolkids which depicted the ‘young earth’ position that many other christian scientific academics also believe, ie the earth may be less than 10,000 years old and not billions as some other scientists think. At this point it is essential to say that science does not, and has never, spoken with one voice. Science is not the enemy of faith, but can accompany it. At the same time, primary schools are teaching detailed same sex education to very young minds. I can’t help but wonder which causes more harm?

 

We should also note that the issue was brought to the media attention by the humanist society of Scotland. Is the penny dropping now? If you thought that this church had an agenda, more so the humanists who want nothing to do with God at every level. It has nothing to do with science or faith after all, it is the humanist society making a headline while they can, and getting their 15 minutes of fame in the process of making maximum damage.

 

I know many Christians, and some support the young earth view, and some that the earth is billions of years old. They don’t fall out, or shout that the folks who don’t think their way are heretics. There is no fight, just a healthy difference of opinion, and anyway, when we get to heaven we will not be asked how old we thought the earth was, we will be judged on what we did with Jesus and His teaching.

 

So, the 8 year work and witness in a local community school has been brought to an unfair and abrupt end by a devious humanist, and with the glad help of a rag tabloid, but take heart my friend, if you are a Christian, you will know the end of the story, and guess what? WE WIN!

 

Reality Check

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Philippians 3:20,21 NIV

 

Sometimes I desperately need a reality check. If you follow these blogs, you will know I tend to keep an eye on the news reports, and then try to make sense of the sad headlines. There is nothing wrong with that of course, but it is good to be refreshed by taking a step back, and seeing the bigger picture. My life and future is not all wrapped up in a newspaper headline like a fish supper. I have another outlook, and a better one at that.

 

The problems of government and politics, and even human suffering is not the story. At least not mine. I am here for a short while, placed in this world for a purpose and for a time which is not in my hands. My own health, or that of my family and friends concerns me, but that is not the overriding issue either. It is even bigger than that. I have a vivid memory of an older saint who was told by his doctor to set his affairs in order because he was on borrowed time, and would soon die. “No”, he told the doctor, “I’m not gonna die, I’m gonna live forever.” I loved it when I heard it, and it still stirs me now.

 

We don’t live here. Our passport only tells part of the story, because our real country is heaven, and our citizenship is there, if we have claimed the Saviour as ours, and accepted His great free gift of eternal life. Another old saint once told me, “Don’t let anyone, or anything get between you and heaven”. He was fighting his own very serious health problems, and was still focussed on his heavenly home. I am sure he made it!

So, while this natural world wrestles with civil wars, atrocities, inhumanity and wrongdoing on a grand scale, I take a reality check, and remind myself that I don’t belong here. As an old gospel song says, “I’m kind of homesick for a country, to which I’ve never been before. No sad goodbyes will there be spoken, for time won’t matter anymore.… Beulah Land.” Did somebody just say ‘amen’?

Direction

I try to keep an eye on local, Scottish, and UK national news, but the Australian General Election caught me by surprise, but a nice kind of surprise. The new Prime Minister designate Tony Abbott took the nation by storm, and some shock. The reasons given in the popular media put the opposing Labour Party defeat down to public infighting. It caught my attention for a different reason altogether.

 

Mr Abbott is obviously his own man, and I get the impression he ploughs his own furrow, like it or lump it, so he has been controversial in many of his views, but he still commanded a massive groundswell for political change. While almost all other ‘progressive’ leaders are lining up behind the movement to legislate for same sex marriage under the smokescreen of equality, this man has the nerve to buck the trend, and not dance to the current mood music of the age. He openly stands for traditional marriage ie, one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

This made me think of the differing directions of our other ‘civilised’ nations. The march to government legislation for homosexual marriage is much greater than any opposition to it. So we can either take it that Australia’s new government takes notice of its people, and acts accordingly, or this same nation is not progressive and therefore a dinosaur! The USA, UK and Scotland have ridden roughshod over public opinion to get this thorny issue out of the way before election time, while Australia took it head on, as an election issue and won. What does that tell you? I know what it says to me. If only there were more leaders with a backbone, like Tony Abbott, and not ones with a wishbone like Barack Obama, David Cameron and Alex Salmond. Not only did Abbott ask what the electorate wanted, he put his reputation on the line, and gave them the risky choice to vote on the subject. Wishbone? No, certainly a backbone!

Inconsistency

“The SNP’s Bill to redefine marriage is to be “fast-tracked” through the Scottish Parliament, with March pencilled-in as the date for Royal Assent. According to the Herald newspaper, MSPs will hold double evidence sessions on the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill, with early start times.” – News Report

 

At the same time as this rush to legislate for homosexual marriage in Scotland, there seems to be a lack of real help for the victims of the horrific gas attack on innocents in Syria. Yes, I do know about money being sent to help refugees, but welcome as it might be, it is like placing a band aid over the already festering sore? Would it not be a better idea to tackle the root of the problem, and not the symptom?

 

I bring these two newsworthy items together to show the inconsistency of government to show leadership, and to demonstrate the disrespect it has for the wishes of the electorate. I would suggest that there are times when government must show leadership to take the nation in a direction which the ordinary people would not ask for. Take military action as an example. If you ask the man or woman in the street if they want to use our service men and women in a war zone, they would naturally say no, because we are careful about putting our young men and women in harms way. However, there must be times when military action is the right thing to do. Of course, the major party in Scotland is calling for the removal of the Trident deterrent from Scottish soil, so by definition we diminish any argument for the use of military force of any nature, and at any time especially the use by rogue states of other weapons of mass destruction. We are good at showing off our forces at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, though.  

 

The other aspect of leadership which is lacking is on same sex marriage in Scotland. The largest consultation response in the life of the UK and Scottish Governments were received on this matter, but set aside. There were various reasons given for this, eg: some churches and organisations used postcards with tick boxes, and when those results are taken out of the overall response, the result flips to the desired political outcome. Another example of a lack of leadership in Scottish politics. To compound the issue, as the press release above says, the SNP is fast-tracking the same sex bill, and holding double evidence sessions to make sure it passes all political hurdles, as it surely will. I suggest there is an unholy rush, and we will get the Independent Scotland we deserve if both the bill, and the Independence Referendum succeed.

 

I smell inconsistency in the corridors of Scottish power.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. James 1:8

Revulsion

The images of Syrian men, women and children choking for breath and suffering from a Sarin gas attack in the outskirts of Damascus are etched on my mind, and I am sure they will be on yours too. I have heard many words which have been used to describe this atrocity, no matter who any of us think may be responsible. Words like; horrific, inhuman, unethical, immoral, and evil. Where does this sense of natural revulsion come from, because I have heard them used by people of great faith, some faith, and no faith at all?

 

The theory (yes it is just a theory) of evolution suggests that we have evolved initially from a big bang, and then by chance mutations, through single cells to the complex human beings we are. So where did our inbuilt, inbred and natural feelings of immorality and evil come from? Did that happen by chance in every part of the globe, and in every human being?

 

I do not think the feelings of revulsion are an accident. I believe God has placed in each of us the ability to know right from wrong, and good from evil. There is no coincidence that the word ‘evil’ is just one letter short of the name for the father of evil, the ‘devil’. So here is an observation and another question. Why do we see the evil of extreme acts of depravity so easily, but we are slow to recognise the same root of immorality and evil when it is closer to home, and in our own lives? Is it because it is so much easier to point the finger at another place, than to see our own shortcomings and sin?

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:20 NIV