Prejudices! Jesus came up against them throughout the course of His entire ministry – just as many of us do – especially if we find ourselves seeking to challenge vested interests! It’s usually pretty easy to recognise prejudices when they surface in other people, you will be familiar with the kind of people whose whole demeanour exudes the “don’t confuse me with facts: my mind’s made up!” The trouble is – prejudices are not just about other people: we’ve all got them. It’s just not always quite so easy to recognise our own – but it is really important that we do track them down and Continue reading
Two themes have inspired me to write this article: firstly, that the Lord encouraged – (challenged would not be too strong a word for it!) – to let Him seek out my own prejudices – and the other is that I have just spent much of the past weekend praying for Ireland in the light of the papal visit.
It may be no coincidence that this theme of prejudice has been ‘buzzing’ away in me at this time when Ireland has been so much in the news; and this at a time when it is so important that past prejudices do not dominate future developments in that country.
This has been a major time of uncovering for Ireland, when the results of the deeply held prejudices are being brought out into the open: for example in the infamous Magdalen Laundry homes, and the cruel sanctions imposed on unmarried, in the homes for unmarried mothers when they were separated from their babies.
Last Saturday night, over 80,000 people gathered in Croker Park, Dublin, for a Festival of Families, with testimonies from around the world. That is a beautiful thought for approaching the darker aspects of Ireland that have been to the fore in the last few days in many people’s thoughts and prayer. Continue reading
Here’s a moment’s light relief – but which might just possibly serve as a warning against jumping to outlandish conclusions!
If you have ever wondered why Fire Engines are red, it is because . . . they have got 8 wheels and carry 4 people.
• There are 12 inches in 1 foot
• 1 foot is a ruler
• There was a ruler named Queen Elizabeth
• An aircraft carrier called the Queen Elizabeth sails the seas
• In the seas there are a lot of fish
• Fish have fins
• The Finns fought the Russians
• And the Russians went Red in the revolution
• And that’s why fire engines are red – because they’re always ‘rushing’ around’
When Michael Ross-Watson was seven, a Brethren missionary called at his home. He talked with Michael’s parents for two hours, but they made it very clear that they were not in the least interested in the gospel. They did mention, however, that they had a seven year old son, Michael. There and then, all those years ago in 1953, he made a commitment to pray every day for this young man whom he had never even seen.
Nineteen years later Continue reading
When I heard about Michael’s passing, I immediately let various people know who he used to minister with at our MFOT conferences, including Paul Haglin and Phil Buechler in America. (It was Michael who first took Phil Buechler to Indonesia and introduced him to ministering in that part of the world. Accustomed as he was to being in the presence of the power of the Spirit, I remember Phil saying, ‘Turn it down a bit, Lord, I can’t cope with that much power!” Continue reading
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:1-3, cf Heb. 13:7).
An obvious aspect of being watchmen for the Lord in a post-truth generation is to pray for our political and spiritual leaders – but let’s remember too the many who shape and influence our thinking through the media. Continue reading
It is just over a year now since Keith died, and we sent out our first tribute to him. It’s been amazing how many people have sensed his quiet cheerful presence with them at key moments since then. I read this description of the saints by a (Protestant) writer from the start of the 20th century and thought it described him well. Truly a case of a modern day “saint!” Please keep Linda in mind at this anniversary time and as she moves on into this next year of very active service with Epiphany.
When we read the lives of the saints, we are struck by a certain large leisure which went hand-in-hand with a remarkable effectiveness. They were never hurried, they did comparatively few things, and these not necessarily striking or important; and they troubled very little about the influence. Yet they always seem to hit the mark; every bit of their life told; the simplest actions had a distinction, and exquisiteness which suggested the artist.
The reason is not far to seek. Their sainthood lay in the habit of referring their smallest actions to God. They lived in God; they acted from a pure motive of love toward God. They were as free from self-regard as from slavery to the good opinion of others. God saw and God rewarded; what else needed they? They possessed God and themselves in God. Hence the inalienable dignity of these meek quiet figures that seem to produce such marvellous effects with such humble materials.
Source: Brigid Herman, in Creative Prayer, (Paraclete) the wife of a Presbyterian pastor at the start of the 20th century, also quoted in High Call High Privilege by Gail McDonald, Scripture Press.
When we were in Canterbury, a student called Kat Mills used to come regularly to our house to play the piano. Some of the fruit of this can be appreciated now in this lovely CD that she has recently released. Do have a listen!
If anyone wants a cd copy they can message Kat through her website and she can organise that.
God’s Not Dead – Invite your friends to watch this powerful film!
I love everything that aids devotion to Christ, but I also greatly love and value apologetics – that is, the ability to defend and explain the heart of the gospel to others. With “experience” ever more people’s primary benchmark and first port of call, it is so important to have the capacity to embrace both the rational and the experiential.
Dom recently introduced us to a brilliant YouTube film of practical Christian apologetics that makes its point attractively and powerfully: God’s not dead!
The film “works” for people of any age from upward of thinking eleven or twelve year olds or so. It certainly made a profound impact on our church youth group. We would highly recommend downloading it from Youtube, (It is worth paying a pound extra to watch it in HD if your TV supports it) Continue reading
“I am telling you this now so that your faith in Me may not be shaken. The time is coming when anyone who kills you will think and claim that they are offering a service to God. They will act like this because they have never had any true knowledge of the Father or of Me, but I have told you all this so that when the time comes for it to happen you may remember that I told you about it.” (John 16:1-4)
We have prepared this presentation as a way of honouring and remembering all who are holding true to the Lord in even the most dangerous situations. May it be an inspiration to pray for the many who are in such categories. And the many who are traumatised by loss of loved ones, or deeply unsettled as violence flares in country after country.
We are taking as our starting point words that Kayla Mueller, an aid worker from the United States held hostage by ISIL wrote in a letter that reached her family back home, before being supposedly killed by American air strikes in Syria. We will move on to honour the 21 Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIL and pray for Egypt as it digests this atrocity and braces itself for the possibility of more of its overseas workers in Libya being killed.
Whatever Kayla’s ideology and political involvement before she was captured, it seems clear that something profound happened to her during her long months of imprisonment. Her words, which are mainly taken from a letter she managed to get back to her family, deserve to be heard.
We recently recorded the opening piece of music, which is by the English composer Gustav Holst. This merges into part of a much longer piece of music that I wrote on behalf of Christians imprisoned in the notorious Evin prison in Iran. This includes a section that Justin Coldstream and I co-authored as we reworked an old Czech folk song.
The pictures used in the video were taken just moments before these brave Christians were killed.
May we also commend the prayer and remarkable photograph we sent out on August 10th last year, not least as a starting point for praying for those who have joined the ranks of ISIL?
As we were preparing the text for this presentation, my computer suddenly announced (loudly!): “A threat has been detected!” just as the ISIL pictures were showing. Even computers can be prophetic!
To see pictures of Kayla and to read the full text of her letter please go to Guardian site
Pictures of the Egyptian prisoners on the beach with their Isil captors can be found at: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2015/02/the-wake-up-call-to-the-church-that-is-isis-whos-answering/