Friday, 10 June 2016

To Brexit or Remain, That is the Question

So I thought I’d do a blog on ‘Remain’ or ‘Brexit’. I admit I am no expert, but I do know bogus arguments when I see them - and I see them on both sides. Right now I lean toward Brexit and if forced to vote now, that is where I'd very reluctantly make my mark.

Since I am not an expert, I'd appreciate factual corrections and invalid arguments being pointed out. Also, if you have a contrary perspective - share it. But let's please avoid the smoke and screens that seem to prevail - I hope I have not been guilty of that!

1) Ad-hominem arguments
In the first place, we must push aside the ad-hominem arguments. An ad-hominem argument is one that attempts to win an argument by personally attacking the opposition. So, an ad-hominem argument might go like this … 

Nigel Farage and Donald Trump are racist - so don’t join them, vote ‘Remain’.

The question is not if certain people are racist or not, but are their arguments valid or not. Even if Farage is racist - a vote to Brexit need not be racist at all, and a vote to Brexit need not mean joining Nigel Farage. If we followed that logic, we better hope there are no racists, or paedophiles, or rapists who are voting to remain - as that would make all the ‘remainers’ rapists, paedophiles and racists. 

2) The Immigration fallacy
A Brexit vote need not be about anti-immigration at all. But is about filtering who can and cannot enter the country. We can Brexit, and if we want, we can have open borders too - that would be up to us to decide. We can let in as many people as we want. Since we are a democracy, if Farage was Prime Minister (Which is not going to happen) and all our fears about him proved true - guess what, we can vote him out. 

The problem is the argument seems to go like this … 

Brexit: Vote out, then we can control our Boarders and decide who can and cannot come in.
Remain: But we need immigration, immigration is good for the country and its economy.
Brexit: But we can still have immigration, just controlled.
Remain: But we need immigration. Immigrants are good for the economy…

You can see what happens - the Remains don’t seem to listen to the Brexits. They seem to think we either have completely open borders within the EU or completely closed borders outside the EU.

The question for the Remains to answer is this: Accepting that we need immigration and that immigration is, on the whole, good for the country and economy; Is every single immigrant that comes into the country good for the country and its economy? Surely the answer is ‘no’. Brexit, many are, most probably are but certainly not all. Brexit enables us to simply say ‘no’ to those who are not good for the country and its economy.

3) The Economy
The fact is, all the so-called experts agree, we are financially better off in Europe. I think if as a country we continue as we are, the elites are probably right. I say ‘probably’ because they may be wrong too. The fat is, nobody knows. But on balance, I reckon the elites are right. But, that would be our fault - not for Brexiting, but for not sorting out our industries and education etc. Britain needs  to concentrate educationally on things like engineering instead of some of the plethora of social sciences. I am not saying they should all be stopped - but the emphasis seriously needs to change. 

If as a country we fail to create, innovate, produce and manufacture things - we have nothing substantial to trade with. This is why Germany is so strong. The make things and sell them. We rely on services, e.g. financial services. This is good but we depend too much on it which may be good for the country as a country - but not good for the average Joe.  When we say that Financial Services are good for the country - by ‘country’, we, in fact, mean the elite within the country.

4) Germany - The Powerhouse of Europe
Now this is not a criticism, but an observation. But it seems to me that what Germany attempted and failed in, in WW2, to rule all of Europe, they are now achieving through an ever-closer EU. Now don’t misunderstand me - this is not a comparison with Nazi Germany at all - Germany is, on the whole, a forward thinking, democratic nation. But they are, without a doubt, the powerhouse of Europe, and the EU strengthens their position toward being the undisputed ruler of Europe. Their influence on the EU is out of all proportion to the size of the country - and this seems to me to be wrong.

5) ‘Remain’ and Change the EU from the inside.
This argument makes a lot of sense on the surface. It is true that if we leave, we will still be affected by various EU rules and regulations regarding trading etc, but being out of the EU, we will have no say about those rules and regulations. If we remain, we can campaign to bring about change.

For me, this really is the big issue. Although at the moment I will probably vote Brexit, I would much prefer to remain in an EU that is much better. Now it seems to me that everyone on both sides of the debate admits the EU is significantly flawed and really needs to change. So I take that as a given. The problem is, I have absolutely no faith whatsoever that a vote to ‘Remain’ will lead to any change at all. 

If David Cameron was unable to negotiate anything at all of any significance with the threat of us leaving as an incentive, then if we vote to remain, the EU will know we are in for good, and will be totally de-incentivised to change. 

6) The EU will give us a good deal even if we Brexit.
I cannot see that it is in the EU’s interest to give Britain a good deal on a Brexit. If they do, they would be signalling to all the other EU countries that they too can leave and still have good deals. I imagine the French will start to get itchy feet and demand a referendum. I’d have thought the EU will need to make an example of us. Of course, they are not going to say that. But from their perspective that would make sense - or others will get itchy feet.

7) If we leave, Scotland will leave
This may be the case. I hope not. We really would be ‘Little Britain’. I think they probably would go for another referendum. If they do have another referendum and leave the UK and join the EU, they would still work very closely with us - that is for sure, as it would still be in both our interests. However, Britain would possibly be a little better off financially as Britain would no longer be subsidising Scotland. On the other hand, they would certainly wait a while before going for a referendum. If the UK fairs better financially out - I think Scotland will stick with us, if we enter another recession - they will likely vote out. I just hope they give it a good five years to let the dust settle first.

For me, it is a really tough decision. Culturally, I love Europe. I love the idea that I can just go there anytime I please. I love the idea of retiring in Spain! I really do. But since I am not remotely persuaded that by remaining within the EU we can change it, then for the sake of a much greater value - Democracy, I think I will take my chances and vote Brexit. I am not 100% though. 

In the end, I will vote with a clear conscience and trust the Lord’s sovereignty, being thankful that my allegiance is not to the United Kingdom or the EU, but with a much better Kingdom to come - praise God for the certainty of that. 

Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Truth about Halloween

What is Halloween reallyall  about?

Halloween Brightens up the long dark winter
To many people Halloween is just a bit of fun. The winter is a long, dark and cold season. Imagine there was no Guy Fawkes night with bonfire and fireworks, no Halloween with parties, dressing up, trick or treat, no Christmas with family get-togethers, feasts and celebration - imagine how dull and dreary winter would be. It would be horrible!

Halloween is one of the three main winter celebrations that brightens our winter and makes it far more bearable. 

But isn’t it evil?
For most people, probably for you it really is just a fun time. There is nothing sinister about it at all. Maybe a few kids go too far with their 'tricks', maybe some people wake up the next morning hung over, but that is usually as bad as it gets.

But Halloween trivialises evil. If evil is little red devils with goat feet and pitched forks, then evil doesn't really exist right? Wrong!

We would be naive to imagine there is nothing sinister about it at all. The truth is, some people do have a morbid side. A fascination with death and evil. Halloween feeds that morbidity with horror movies. Horror movies are sinister, they entertain using the most horrible, sick, disgusting and evil ideas and images they can concoct, and the more evil and graphic - the better!  Why do people find it entertaining seeing others getting torn to pieces and horrifically tortured or eaten alive etc? Without pressing the point too hard, I think it is fair to say, there is at least something sinister about that.

Then there are those who really are evil. The truth is, whatever terrible, sick and evil act you can imagine - if it is possible, somebody somewhere is probably doing it. Then there is the general evil in the world. A suicide bomber blows himself and other up! A nation rises up against another in war. This is evil - mass, mass murder! Satan loves that stuff. Evil really exists, we live in a broken, messed up, mad world that is crying out for salvation from evil - but rather than face up to evil, we trivialise it.

Now for the Surprise
Having said all that, the surprising thing is that Halloween is in fact a Christian Celebration, like Guy Fawkes and Christmas.

Now there may be a few druids out there who would argue: “Actually Halloween was originally an ancient celtic festival Samhain”. But the truth is nobody today celebrates Samhain (maybe a few tree-huggers in Lewes), we celebrate HALLOWEEN'.

Halloween comes from ‘Hallows Eve’. You can easily see the similarity. Hallows Eve was celebrated by Christians long, long before Samhain. So what is “Hallows Eve”? Well we know what ‘Eve’ means. Think ‘Christmas Eve’. Christmas Eve is the evening before Christmas Day. Eve means ‘The evening before’. So Hallows Eve is ‘The Evening before Hallows Day”.

So what is ‘Hallows Day?’ Hallows means ‘Saints’. Hallows Eve, or Halloween is the night before ‘Hallows Day’ or ‘All Saints Day’. Many churches around the country, especially Anglican churches still celebrate ‘All Saints Day’. 

‘Saints’ are Christians. All Saints Day is the day that Christians celebrate their champion Jesus’s victory over all the powers of hell, darkness and evil. 

So the Bible tells us concerning Jesus …

15 And having disarmed the [evil] powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2). 

Christians used to celebrate this event by dressing their children up to make a mockery of the devil and His demons. It was a way of saying, “We have no fear of you at all, you are powerless”. It was a time to mock and scorn the powers of darkness and celebrate the victory of Jesus, not a celebration of evil. It was an expression of faith that, no matter how dark the world gets, the day will drive the night away, one day, forever, and all because of Jesus.

Hallows Eve is the night before that celebration. It was believed that the night before All Saints Day, the powers of evil would do their worst knowing that the coming day would drive them and their darkness away.

Darkness must always give way to light!

Sadly, Christianity is as real to people today as Halloween. However, just as there is real evil in the world, so Jesus really has defeated the powers of evil. Jesus really does set people free and brings true light to their dark world. In the darkness - without Jesus people are lost in life, many people feel this ‘lostness’, not knowing who they really are or why they exist or what is the point of it all. But nobody needs to be lost. This Halloween could become not only a time for fun and parties, but a time when Jesus the Light of the world comes into your life to bring light to your world. 

Wanna know more? Inbox me.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Gap Year Internships - why you should encourage them!

GAP YEAR Internships

Young people in our churches face an enormous challenge when they finish college and head off to uni. Many churches and parents lament the fact that when their young people leave Home and church for uni, they also leave the Church and God for the world! The story is so common it is tragic.

But it is hardly surprising. Uni is a very hostile environment for a young Christian. Both Brighton and Sussex university boast a great, 24/7 party life in the city with cheap booze, alternative lifestyles and total acceptance - literally, anything goes! The slogan of Sussex uni is ‘Be Still and Know’. They have deliberately left off ‘That I am God’. Sussex uni was one of the first universities to be built on secular humanist values.

Think about it, we take a teenager who has lived at home all their life, been part of a stable Christian family and church, with friends and family within the church where they get lots of support and encouragement in their faith, we then thrust them out, away from just about every bit of support they have ever known, into a totally strange environment, with strangers all around them, with no restraints except their own will - and the environment is friendly in just about every way except one - it is totally, completely and openly hostile to their christian faith. That is not an exaggeration. 

Of course they are desperate to make friends - and you don’t make friends by being a wet blanket. The only way to make friends is to fit in, be one of them, go out with them - just be like everyone else - or be isolated. (Of course their is the CU - but these vary in quality from year to year and are not the local church.)

Then, they secretly seek out a church on Sunday where they find a welcome, but everything is different there. Not many people their age if any. It is another place where they feel awkward and don’t really fit in. The difference between church and uni, is that church is one awkward place they don’t have to go to.

University life is hard enough to adjust to; new people, new classes and learning, a whole new city. To have to go church hunting and try to fit in there too, on top of everything else can just be too much.

It is no wonder our young people go off the rails - we hardly give them a chance, it really is sink or swim, and for far, far too many it is sink!

Brothers and sister, we cannot afford to keep throwing our sheep to the wolves without preparation and protection! Is there anything we can do to help?

Gap-Year Internships on Site
I believe it basic common sense to encourage every 'student to be', to first go to the city of their university and spend a year as an intern with a local church.

This has great advantages.

  1. It serves the city they will go to and benefit from.
  2. It provides a  strong theological foundation for the student.
  3. It give them an opportunity to really focus on God and getting deep roots down into a local church.
  4. It give them a head start in getting to know the city and the culture.
  5. It enables them to establish strong, gospel relationships with christian friends and church family that will help them through the coming years.

The five points above also mean the student will be more influential than their peers when they start. They will feel more confident and will not have to start searching for a local church when they arrive. As they begin uni, they will have a church family and key friends and mentors who can help them navigate the gauntlet of temptation that university life throws up.

These are some of the reasons we at New Life Brighton offer a Gap Year internship for those planning to study in Brighton. We believe it is basic wisdom to do so. If you know anyone thinking about studying in Brighton, why not encourage them to first do an internship with us? While you’re at it, work on making it part of your church culture that students seek out Gap Year internships in the relevant city.

To find out more, contact me:

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

What kind of God Allows Suffering #2

In my last blog I introduced this subject, you should read the one first if you haven't already. In this blog we begin to see God's perspective on this world. We could not know God's perspective, but He has revealed it in the Bible so that we can know and understand. The Bible reveals the following ... 

1) God created a good world. In Genesis 1, we are told five times that God created this world GOOD. That means, He is responsible for creating a GOOD world and NOT a war-torn, famished, polluted, broken, disease-ridden, messed up, chaotic world of pain and misery. There was none of that in the world He created, nothing in it to spoil it. No sickness, suffering, disease, disaster or death, no human wickedness, no injustice, no pain - just good - that is the world God created. If we are going to complain about the Christian God - then we cannot attribute the creation of a messed up world to Him - that is not the God of the Bible. He created a good world.

2) God created the first ever human couple, Adam and Eve. Their life (like ours) came from God and was sustained by Him. He provided for them a beautiful, harmonious and pristine world to live in and it was only good in every way. He literally provided everything for them!

3) Now this next bit people often don’t like, but it has to be said because it is just true. That is, because He created everything Himself, including Adam and Eve, He rightfully owns everything. He owned Adam and Eve. In fact, since we were all "In Adam", God rightfully owns you and me too. We are not our own, we did not make ourselves. Back to Adam and Eve ... And because He owned them, He had every right to give them His law - and He did. The law was, 

“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” 
(Genesis 2:16,17)

4) This law was not hard to keep. The fruit from just one tree in the whole world was forbidden. They had everything else. God made everything, He is perfectly right to reserve anything He makes for Himself, since it is His in the first place, He is not obliged to give us absolutely everything and it is unreasonable and ungrateful to expect everything. But anyway, God never gave that rule for nothing. 

5) In giving this rule or law, God did a number of important things.
a) God exercised His authority. God is God! We should obey Him simply because He is the Authority. Our godless, modern thinking hates authority. The idea that we should obey someone just because of who they are strikes at the our prideful hearts. “Give me one good reason why I should obey you!” we say. God’s answer is simple, “Because I Am GOD!”. The Bible tells us that by His word He created the heavens and the earth. Imagine the power of His word. That we would dare defy, reject and rebel against Him would be laughable if it was not so dangerous. We should obey, simply because God has spoken.
b) This rule was necessary for Adam and Eve’s humanity. The fact that God gave them a command, meant that they had a choice about obeying God or not. We have that choice today. There are two reasons parents want their own children to obey them. 
(1) Because parents love their children. The rules parents give are to keep their beloved children safe and for their ultimate flourishing. 
(2) Parents want children to obey them, because the obedience of a child to a parent is an expression of trust in the parent. That is to say, the child obeys because the child loves the parent. Imagine your child only obeyed you because they had no other option. The very fact that they can go against you but choose not to, speaks of their love and appreciation of you. They freely choose you.

That is what God’s law enabled Adam and Eve to do.

5) He gave them the choice of living in that pristine world under His rule and authority, or they could reject His authority. But to reject God’s authority is to reject God Himself, because He is ultimate authority. 

To reject His authority is to take control of our own lives with ourselves as the highest authority. We become God’s of our own lives - the Bible calls this idolatry. We cannot do that without taking control of God’s world too - because, we carry out our defiance and rebellion by doing what we want in His world and with His world - as if it is ours to do as we please. 

The problem here is, though we (human kind) want to act like we are gods, we are not. The truth is, we cannot govern and control this world with justice and in harmony. We cannot sustain it or hold it together. Our limited power, wisdom and understanding means we are ignorant of how to govern this world and our universe. That is why we have so completely trashed it. That is why there is so much human misery. The world is falling apart and so are we. 

It is a strange thing but, this world is in desperate need of God to intervene, yet still mankind denies and rejects Him. No wonder the Martyrs in the book of Revelation cry out … “How long O Lord, How long?” 

Part 3 to follow soon.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

What kind of God allows Suffering?

All Suffer
Suffering comes to us all. Possibly the worst kind is the truly heart wrenching experience of helplessly seeing our loved ones suffer. How quickly we would swap places with them. Have you ever experienced that kind of suffering? Do you know what it is to feel pain? Physical? Emotional? Mental? Heart wrenching pain?

What Kind of God?
The sad truth is, the only qualification for experiencing suffering is that we live long enough. Isn't that true? When faced with such cruelty, it is understandable that people blame God. What kind of a God does this kind of thing? What kind of God allows this kind of thing?

Unsurprisingly, the answer most people come to is that God is cruel and unjust, or there is no God. You'll doubtless agree with me that, it is easy to see why millions of people would say that. The thing is, I would entirely agree with them, they would be right ... but only if this life is all there is. 

If there is a God and this life is all there is, then God is unjust, uncaring and pointless. If there is no God at all, then this life is all there is and life is pretty wicked in the evil sense. Hitler, Fred West and the 911 bombers get the same reward as you and I.

More to it
But, there is so much more to it than that. There is a God, and he does care for you very much, so much more than you know, and he makes the world of difference. The problem is, we cannot see it for ourselves, so God has revealed it to us in the scriptures as we will see in a future blog. But for now, let me explain two things God does now.

A Devoted Friend
I love the 'Lord of the Rings". Frodo sets out on an epic journey. The journey has a purpose (destroy the ring) and destination, to take the ring to Mount Doom in Mordor where the ring can be destroyed. The journey is perilous. Frodo endures many hardships, but also experiences laughter, he sees much bloodshed, but also great courage and nobility, he sees much evil, but much good too, watches loved ones slain in the battle and experiences many sorrows, but the sorrows are because of the of loved ones lost, the pain is at the loss of loyal friends. Isn't this like life?

JRR Tolkien was a devout Christian and it is easy to see the influence of his faith in the Lord of the Rings. Frodo is not spared the hurt and pain of the journey, neither are we, but the journey is made more bearable by Samwise Gamgee. Frodo is not alone on the Journey. Samwise is his devoted friend who shares in all Frodo's trials. Frodo knows that Samwise, his devoted friend knows. What tremendous comfort, to have someone we can talk with at any time, who knows exactly what we are experiencing. However, there is a point where Samwise must leave Frodo and Frodo is alone.

This is why Samwise is just a shadow of what God does. God does not spare us the pain of the journey. We cannot avoid it. But the pain is so much harder to bear when we feel our aloneness in it. The promise of Jesus is that, unlike Samwise, Jesus walks with us through it all, he shares in our pain and suffering, experiencing it with us. He is an ever-present comfort in times of trouble so that we need not be alone.

Jesus promises His friends in John 14 ...
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another comforter to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

In this way, by His Spirit, Jesus Himself promises to comfort and strengthens us, He gives us real hope - but the promise is for those who love and obey Him. That is not to say that He doesn't care about those who do not love and obey Him, but of course he will not force Himself on those that don't love Him, that don't want Him. If you don't want Him in your life, He respects that. 

Of course what we want though, is for God to be our servant. A kind of divine waiter. We want Him to stay out of our way while we enjoy our lives, but when we want something we click our fingers and God the waiter to dutifully come at our beck and call. When He doesn't we get angry with Him. But God is not merely our 'Waiter' who runs to our beck and call, He is not there just to be used by us, He is God, and if we shut Him out of our lives, it seems ironic that we then blame Him for not being there.

And the condition of obedience is simply because, if we don't trust and obey Him, He cannot help us - remember, He doesn't force us to trust and obey Him, but He wants us to. Like a small child standing on the kerb of a busy road with cars rushing by, the child is wise to take the hand of a loving parent who can get hm to the other side, but the child must trust and obey that parent to get safely to the other side. But if we are like the child that refuses to trust and obey, that thinks he knows best and insists on going his own way, the Lord allows us to do so, sadly with tragic consequences. Jesus does not want that, He wants us to trust and obey Him.

A Worthy Reward
The second thing God does is to show us what His overall purpose is. It is easier to endure hardship and pain when we know it is worth while. In a superficial way we see this in everyday life. Think about how dull and dreary work is for many people. BUT ... it does become easier if there is purpose in our work. Perhaps we are saving for a holiday in the sun. At lunch time we might look at brochures or go online to explore the hotel, the beeches or nightlife we are looking forward to. The work we're doing, as dull as it is, is what makes the holiday possible. The harder we work, the longer and more enjoyable the holiday - it is worth it!

Of course there are many people who squander all their money on cigarettes and other lesser things so have nothing to show for their work - and never get that holiday because they spent their money on sweeties! We cannot avoid suffering, but it need not be in vain. There is purpose in it all. Even in the helplessness of watching a loved one suffer - we will see How God specifically knows that pain, and how there can be purpose even in that if we will trust, obey and love Jesus.

The Apostle Paul knew about God's purposes and so invested His life in them. As a direct result he suffered intensely, but was able to write ...

1 Corinthians 4
17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

It's not that Paul didn't truly suffer, he did, read the scriptures and you will be left in no doubt about that, but compared with the 'eternal glory' to come, his intense sufferings were light and momentary. Paul understood that when we trust In Jesus, all suffering passes along with this brief life, and God will give an eternal reward that "far outweighs them all".

As the old Hymn goes ...

"Strength for today, bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.
Great is Thy faithfulness!"

In my next blog I will explain what God has actually revealed, that we need to know if we are to make sense of suffering.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

How I came to be a Christian

By Faith!

When I was a little boy I always believed there must be a God up there somewhere. I was also captivated by the film shown every year at Christmas for a few years ‘Jesus of Nazareth’.  If you asked my mum, she would say she is CofE and my Dad would say Catholic, but neither of them ever went to church  - I don’t remember seeing a Bible in our home either.

It was not until years later I got converted.  To cut a long story short …

Mum and dad split up, by 15 yrs old I was off the rails. By the time I was 18 I had 3 appearances before magistrates and appeared twice at Chichester Crown court for more serious crimes.

What began the change was years of listening to, and idolising Bob Marley and smoking loads of weed. I learned Bob was a Rasta and I came to the conclusion that Bob must know something I don’t about God so I decided to find out about the Rasta God. I thought, I could handle that, smoking weed and listening to reggae.

I learned Rastas read the Bible so I got myself one and started reading. I was again absolutely stunned by Jesus in the gospels. He seemed so true and good and amazing, I kind of knew He was real. But I also began to see that Rastas and the Bible could not both be true, either both were rubbish or one was true. I was persuaded the Bible was true. I then began really searching and in my search got involved with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. About a year later (I was 20) I got converted - it was life-changing.

I remember that while learning with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and some Christians I got to know, I became confused, I didn’t know what or who was true. I remember listening to Tracey Chapman's song crossroads ...

Demons they are on my trail
I'm standing at the crossroads of hell
I look to the left I look to the right
There're hands that grab me on every side

I specifically remember feeling like that and praying, 

"Jesus, when you was on the earth I would have followed you, but now you're not, and I don't know which crowd to join. I could study every religion and still not know for certain. It's up to you, take me or leave me to the devil, there's nothing I can do."

It was after that, that Jesus dramatically broke into my life. While I was praying, I heard words spoken to me in the most amazing way and repeated 3 times.

"Jesus died for you"

Although I'd read this many times in my life and knew it, the thought, occurred to me exactly like this … 

 "He died to take away my sin, the way to God is open". 

As I thought “the way to God is open” it is as though heaven was opened up for me at that very moment, I might as well have been there, the joy I was suddenly experiencing was unbelievable.

It is as though the penny dropped and my eyes were opened, I knew Jesus had taken hold of me and saved me. The way to Him was open and my years of searching ended. It wasn't that I found Him, I didn't, I gave up and left myself to Him. It was He who then took hold of me. Then there was joy, it was electric! Uncontainable. The night Jesus saved me was unquestionably the best night of my life so far. He filled me with His Spirit so that I overflowed with so much joy I could not contain myself, I laughed out loud and cried, my belly hurt, I was so happy. I had never known such joy. Then came peace. 

I still didn't know which crowd to follow, which religion was right or even if there was a right one, all I knew is that I found Jesus and He is all I needed. I was walking on air.

The next morning I read my Bible. OMG! I'd been reading it for years but this was different. It was all so new and it spoke amazingly to me and thrilled me. I remember so clearly reading John 1, especially these verses ...

11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

I knew immediately that this explained my experience. I'd been born of God! It dawned on me that I was now a child of God. That was another joyful moment. I don't mean I felt happy, I mean something happened inside as I read and joy welled up and overflowed. I can only describe it as a purifying and cleansing joy.

That same day I arranged to see the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses and told them I have found Jesus. They both told me I had been deceived and smirked at me, but I didn’t care, what I had was simply the best. I told the Christians the same but their reaction was different. They praised God! They told me how they had been praying for me that I would find Jesus. They seemed as excited as me! And again there was so much joy, this time, not only me but them too. Then I began to understand that I wasn't the only child of God, I was part of a family, and these were my brand new brothers and sisters - and they were great, we had something so amazing in common. 

That week I went to church for the first time. It was a tiny little church in Fittleworth. A few old people, a good Christian friend and me. Two things struck me that day. 1) The dullness of the church building. 2) The joy I experienced again as I sang the first song I ever sang as a Christian.

You are the King of Glory
You are the Prince of Peace
You are the Lord of heaven and earth
You're the Son of Righteousness
Angels bow down before You
Worship and adore, for 
You have the words of eternal life
You are Jesus Christ the Lord

Hosanna to the Son of David
Hosanna to the King of kings
Glory in the highest heavens for
Jesus the Messiah reigns!

As I declared those words to Jesus, it was just as though someone had written the words for me to sing to Him, they were perfect! And again, I was filled with joy!

That was a very dizzy week! My major life decisions were settled there and then - I knew I was changed forever, I knew my whole destiny and life was changed forever, my life was devoted to this new person in my life, Jesus.

Since then I have been devoted to following Him. It has certainly not been easy, in fact it is really hard at times, quite a lot of the time.

But that was the beginning of my faith in Jesus. That was the beginning of my walk with Him. 

I have been a christian now for 24 years and I have absolutely no regrets - Jesus is the most wonderful, perfect, kindest and most powerful and wise person in the universe and I feel so blessed that I know Him and that he calls me His friend - that is awesome!

All this sound strange? Well don’t just believe me, find out for yourself. I’d love to meet with you to share the good news with you, help answer questions, my hope is that Jesus will do for you what He has done for me.

Romans 1
16 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. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’

Acts 2
38 Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.’

If you would like to take a step of faith to find out more, Private Message me and I will be happy to meet with you for a one off chat about it, whoever and wherever you are, then see how it goes form there.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Stephen Fry's rant against God!

Stephen Fry annihilates God
Stephen Fry famously had a good old rant against God recently - you can watch it here:

Does Stephen manage in a few sentences, manage to annihilate the God of the Bible? unfortunately for him - no! Big fail Spephen. But then, if you rage against what is true, you are bound to failure.

 He annihilates a false God of his own making, one that I certainly don't believe in.

Stephen Fry's rant is an emotional (not intellectual) rant. That is not to say his emotive questions, accusations and objections are not important, they are - but they are, at core, emotional. 

Now, if someone is going to annihilate the God of the Bible, then guess what? You have to deal with ... THE GOD OF THE BIBLE! Surprise! Fry totally fails to do this. If he was arguing against the God of the Bible he would not say the things he says.

Either he has never read the first few pages of the Bible and so is arguing from total ignorance, or he has read the first few pages of the Bible and is conveniently ignoring it and instead creating a straw man to knock down. Whatever, it is unacceptable to do that and anti-intellectual. Anyone can do that. 

EXAMPLE - Stephen Fry rants against a God who created bone cancer in children and bugs that burrow into children's eyes. He claims he would give God a good telling off, he reckons he would say, and I quote: 

"How dare you create a world with such misery that is not our fault!"

Now, if that is what the Bible tells us about God, then I agree with Stephen! I too would hate such a wick, cruel God - but that is not the God of the Bible. Any four year old who reads the first page of the Bible could tell you that! Read it. The story of creation appears on the first page of the Bible in Genesis 1. In just 31 verses it tells us about the creation of everything. In those 31 verses we are clearly told that creation was created good.

'IT WAS GOOD' appears four times and 'IT WAS VERY GOOD' once at the end. Now when God says something is GOOD, it means, it is good in every conceivable way. There is nothing at all remotely bad - not a shadow of it.

So, Stephen Fry needs to argue against a God who created a really Good world, a world GOOD in every way - otherwise, he is ranting up the wall and not dealing with the God of the Bible at all.

So, if on that great and glorious day when God judges the world, Stephen Fry does try to take the moral high ground with God and says to Him ... 

"How dare you create a world with such misery that is not our fault!"

God will reply, (hyperthetically) ...

 "Ermmm, I didn't create such a terrible world! I told you that on the first page of the Bible, what are you going on about? Didn't you read it!"

Big fail Stephen Fry!

But there are other problems too.
Stephen Fry's argument is purely emotional - as is so often the case, it is not an intellectual objection, it is not rational, it is not evidential, it is purely emotional. Stephen Fry is clearly very angry with God - that is obvious. Now that is very strange. It is not normal to get really angry with something you don't believe exists. How many people are really angry with fairies because they don't grant everyone's wishes, or Father Christmas because he does distribute gifts fairly and equally to everyone around the world? None! People get angry with people they believe are real!

Stephen Fry is a closet Christian!
Ok, that might be going a bit far - but I have a feeling, Stephen Fry like so many people, knows, deep down inside, that there is, or may well be a God - but Stephen's problem is that God doesn't do what Stephen wants Him to do so Stephen is angry and rejects God and throws all his toys out of the pram. Stephen may well be trying to provoke God to action of some kind - but God will not play Stephen Fry's game or anyone else's. God has revealed Himself to us through JESUS whom He authenticated by raising Him from the dead. JESUS is God's testimony to the world.

But, let's suppose for a moment that God did create the world evil, well then it just means God is evil, it does not mean he does not exist. Not liking him does not make him go away. Stephen knows this and refers to it in his rant when he refers to Thor etc. But his problem is, apparently, specifically with the christian God - all the more reason for Stephen to actual deal with the God of the Bible which he fails to do when he ignores the fact that the God of the Bible created a good world.  A fair question would be, '"Why would a Good God allow His Good world to be ruined?" - that is a good question - but it is not one Stephen asks.

An Intellectual does not equal an Authority
But there is another problem with Stephen Fry. He is an intellectual, but he is not a philosopher, he is not a scientist of any sort, he is not a theologian. Why on earth rely on him as an authority in these matters? He studied English literature! He is no authority on these things at all.

If you want to know about Shakespeare, sure, ask Stephen Fry, he knows about that stuff, but when it comes to cosmology, philosophy, theology (The queens of the sciences) - he is a laymen.

He is very intelligent, but it is not how much you know that counts, it is what you know.

I doubt he is "100 times more intelligent than most of us" as some reckon. He got an UPPER SECOND CLASS honours degree in English lit for goodness sake. My daughter got a FIRST CLASS honour degree in forensic biology - she is a lot more qualified than Stephen Fry. He is very articulate and certainly intelligent - so was Adolf hitter - doesn't make him an authority either. There are literally thousands and thousands of people in Brighton more highly qualified than Stephen Fry. Everyone who has a BA SECOND CLASS (hons) is as qualified as Stephen Fry. Anyone who holds a BA FIRST CLASS Honours, or a Bsc, a Masters or doctorate is more qualified than Stephen.

7) Ricky Gervais - Really??? Stephen Fry was bad enough but Ricky??? The man is a joker - literally. If he lived in medieval times he would have been a jester with a jester's hat and silly bells on his toes - are you seriously suggesting the jester Ricky is an authority? 

8) All the stuff about cancer etc is an argument for, not against the God of the Bible. The Bible explains that stuff. If the Bible is true, then we would expect to find that, plus a whole load of evil.

Like I said above, if people want to disprove THE GOD OF THE BIBLE, then they have to deal with THE GOD OF THE BIBLE.

To Argue against the Christian God, you must argue against a good God who created the world GOOD. A world without death, disease, illness tragedy. One needs to deal with a human race that became corrupt and rejected the God who held the world together in harmony and destroyed the good world God created (and continues to do so).

Most importantly, it is easy to disprove God if he is not true. According to the Bible Chrissie only has to prove JESUS did not live, did not die on a cross or did not rise again. The bible tells us, the whole christian Faith stands or falls on the resurrection of Jesus, and not on some monstrous God who created the world evil as Fry suggests.

This is what the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:14-19

And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

Nuff said.