Archive for July, 2011

Can Anders Behring Breivik be forgiven?

July 28, 2011

He has been described as a “Christian Fundamentalist” but this young man is no follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. (1John3v7-12) In the aftermath of last week’s horrific events, journalists and others are analysing his motives, background, up-bringing and his psychological make-up – but I wonder will anyone tell him that he needs to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation?

“Why should he get the chance to get right with God?” Many may say. “And how can God ever forgive someone for such a heinous and despicable crime?”

Today I pray for the parents and loved ones of all those (mostly young) people who were killed. As a mother myself, I cannot even begin to imagine the agony that they are going through. I pray also, that those who have been injured will recover successfully and I also pray that no other person out there with a mindset like Breivik’s will adopt his techniques and do the horrific things that he has done.

But today I find that I must also pray for Anders Behring Breivik himself, as he is presently in solitary confinement and thankfully has not been given the opportunity to unleash his rhetoric to the world. I pray that he will somehow come to see the depravity and depths of evil to which he has sunk and that when he is confronted with this, as a broken man he will truly repent and put his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Few have ever sunk to the depths of depravity that this man has sunk to, yet it is a fact that we all have sinned at some time or other. (Rom. 3v23)

Jesus died for your sins, for my sins – and yes, for the sins of Anders Behring Breivik.. “And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1John 2v2)

And so, as he sits alone in that cell, reflecting on these things, I pray that the Lord will speak to the heart of Breivik, resulting in his brokenness, repentance and salvation. Yes, he will have to take the consequences for what he has done, for we reap what we sow. But can Breivik truly be forgiven by God? The answer is – yes, it is possible. God’s message to Breivik tonight is: “For så har Gud elsket verden at han gav sin Sønn, den enbårne, forat hver den som tror på ham, ikke skal fortapes, men ha evig liv;” (John 3v16 in Norwegian)

“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also to walk , even as he walked.” (1John 1v3-6)

I thank God that whether our sins have been small or great in the eyes of the world, He can perform that miracle in our lives, whereby in His strength we can keep His commandments. And I thank God for His great forgiveness and for the strength that He gives to enable us to “walk, even as He walked.”

Tonight I also reflect on another Norwegian – Matias Orheim (1884 -1958), who left an outstanding legacy of poems, music and spiritual songs. A farmer’s son, he came to know the Lord in 1900 and although he was blind, Matias was a prolific writer and composer; his wife died just a few hours after him. In his hymn: “I found my God in Early Years,” which is translated from Norwegian, Matias Orheim describes throughout his great joy in his salvation. This is the first verse…

“I found my God in early years,

He wept away my sins, my tears.

It was my best decision.

He filled my life with love and awe,

And I in light God’s Kingdom saw,

How wonderful a vision!”

My prayer today is that young (and older) people in Norway and throughout this sin-stricken world would accept the gift of spiritual vision that was given to the physically blind Matias Orheim. Oh, that they would find the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who loved each one of them and gave Himself for them.

Link to this hymn: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/i/f/o/ifoundmg.htm

“Time and Tide Wait for no Man” – and the Story of King Canute

July 21, 2011

On a recent trip to my native Northern Ireland I noticed a beautiful clock with a swinging pendulum in the window of a charity shop. I love clocks and although this one needed a bit of work, I couldn’t resist its ‘Big Ben’ chime and so I purchased it for a very small price. Others in the family have become irritated with this chime ‘on the hour – and every hour’ with good reason I suppose! However, it has awakened me to a couple of very important trains of thought, especially after a comment by my youngest daughter the other day… “You know Mum, even if you live until you’re eighty, you really haven’t got that much time left.” She was joking of course, but as I listened to the steady tick of the clock, I started to do some serious thinking about my life – and about the use of my time. Within the Christian’s life, time is a precious commodity which should never be wasted or misused. I remember well one particular verse from the old hymn “Our God, our help in ages past,” sung at a funeral once…

“Time like an ever-rolling stream,

Bears all its sons away;

They fly forgotten as a dream

Dies at the opening day.”

Every tick of the clock and every chime on the hour is a constant reminder to me of my own mortality in this fleeting scene of time. And yet I am just that: a mortal being who becomes weary on occasions, needing rest – and the Lord knows this! Yesterday I climbed a mountain with my daughter on her birthday but today I feel really exhausted with a sore throat. What good am I to anyone today? Yet I know that in the Lord’s strength I can touch lives – and most importantly, I can pray, for His strength is “made perfect in weakness.” (2Cor. 12v9) Perhaps today in my weakness, I am of more use to the Lord…

If the story of King Canute is true, then he certainly had no illusions about his power or role as just another man making his way through life. King Canute (or Cnut) lived around c985-1035 and was King of Denmark, England, Norway and parts of Sweden. Although I have no idea as to King Canute’s spiritual standing, he was certainly right about one thing, as this story illustrates…

His subjects were always praising the King, telling him how wonderful and powerful he was. Then one day, tired of this constant flattery, the King demanded to be brought to the seaside where he asked to be seated by the rolling waves of the sea. With such foolish words as: “Your highness, there is nothing you cannot do and all things will obey you,” echoing in his ears, the King commanded the tide to turn back. But of course the rolling tide never ceased on its course. Turning to his subjects, the King enquired whether they had learned a lesson from this little episode, showing that there is only one King who is all powerful and who holds the oceans and the course of nature in His hands.

For my own part, I have learned two lessons from my relentlessly chiming clock this week… Firstly, that I must be focussed and not waste the precious and limited time that the Lord has given me to serve Him while I live here and now. Secondly, there is absolutely nothing that mankind can do to halt the process of time and tide. Yet, today the Lord has taught me that my health and very existence are totally within His hands too. Moses may have stretched out his hand over the sea – but it was God who made that path through the rolling waves, so that the Children of Israel could pass through safely.

There is only one King who can command the winds and sea (Matthew 8v27) and who has determined “that there should be time no longer.” (Rev. 10v6) Today I look to Him as the Master planner and controller of my life’s timetable; He who will roll back the angry waves, making a path for me to cross over. Praise God…

“I do not have to cross Jordan alone,

For Jesus died for my sins to atone…”

Please Pray for Youcef Nadarkhani who has been sentenced to Death in Iran

July 8, 2011

How shocked I was to hear that Youcef Nadarkhani, a 34 year-old pastor from Rasht in Iran who has been jailed since 2009, could be executed at any time. Youcef left Islam to be a Christian when he was still a teenager and later became pastor to a small evangelical church known as the Church of Iran. Married to Fatemah Pasindedih, he has two young sons aged six and eight. Because Youcef’s sons were being forced to learn the ways of Islam at school, he decided to protest about the matter and as a result of this the secret police called him before a political tribunal where the original charge was for protesting. Later those charges were changed to apostasy and the evangelising of Muslims.

The latest news is that Youcef could face execution by hanging within hours or days. Previously many relatives of victims of this regime have discovered that their loved ones were murdered without their knowledge and they were never even allowed access to their bodies after death.

Please pray also for Youcef’s family and others who may be in a similar position right now. Rumours that the death sentence has been annulled are unlikely to be true, according to those who have known about such cases in the past. It is more likely that Youcef has been given an ultimatum: “renounce your faith or face execution.”

If we are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we too could quite possibly be asked to renounce our faith some day – but praise God for the strength that He gives His children under such horrific circumstances.

In John 16v2 we read these words: “…yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God a service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.” (John 16v2&3)

We live in days when the forces of evil are slowly creeping into societies where freedom of choice in matters of faith have previously been taken for granted. Oh, that we would be vigilant and pray for the societies we live in, as this subtle erosion of civil and religious liberties spreads like a cancer across a complacent world.

The days are closing in, the signs of our times are evident and we must “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear…” (1Peter 3v15)

Let us never forget all those across the world who suffer for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, in the knowledge that it is quite possible that we too may suffer such things in time to come. We must act as we feel led by the Lord… write to authorities, embassies, political representatives, create awareness… but above all we must pray (and encourage others to pray) at all times for all our suffering brothers and sisters in the Lord, including Youcef Nadarkhani, his wife Fatemah and their little sons in Iran at this terrible time in their lives.

“Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” (Hebrews 13v3)