Archive for November, 2016

…”His Compassions Fail Not. They Are New Every Morning…” (Lamentations 3v22)

November 22, 2016

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November, I used to think, is a dull, uninspiring month, a month when the final leaves have fallen, the flowers are almost dead or dying… and all the world lies dull and dreary. But there is something very beautiful about November – its sunsets! In a sense the seasons of the year are like the years of a man or woman. Spring is the childhood of our years, summer is still youthful – but with growing maturity; in autumn our hair will change colour (if it’s allowed to!) and we begin to experience some aches and pains, while winter is, to be frank, approaching death. Of course this is in a normal life cycle. Unfortunately not all lives follow this pattern and sometimes life will be snuffed out in youth or even childhood…

Traditionally November has been a month to remember – we remember the fallen of two world wars and other conflicts and often we remember our loved ones more as the festive season swiftly approaches. Those cold dark evenings are certainly a time for reflection and reminiscing.

As I walk in the fading light of the early evening, listening to the blackbirds in the fields behind our home, I glance towards the beauty of another sunset in the west and I thank the Lord that He has given me another day to live for Him. I thank Him for the simple ability to walk, to see… but above all to appreciate all that He has done for me. In the last few years He has been my Rock, through hospital procedures, operations and bereavements. As John Newton writes in the final verses of his hymn “Amazing Grace”….

“Through many dangers, toils and snares,

I have already come;

‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,

And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,

His Word my hope secures;

He will my Shield and Portion be,

As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,

And mortal life shall cease,

I shall possess, within the veil,

A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,

The sun forbear to shine;

But God, who called me here below,

Will be forever mine.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,

Bright shining as the sun,

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

Than when we’d first begun.”

This is surely the Lord’s promise to all who trust in Him alone for salvation and who walk with Him towards the sunset of their lives. “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth forever.” (Psalm 136v1)

In this Psalm there are 26 verses – and each verse ends with “for His mercy endureth for ever!” If you have not already done so – trust Him for His mercy now, while it is day, before that night comes when your soul will be lost forever.

As I view another setting sun (or even just the darkness fall) I thank Him for the beauty of His creation, in the wonderful knowledge that each new sunrise is another gift from Him – and each sunset is another one closer to Home…

 

 

 

On Fasting, Misinterpretation of Scripture… and Dangerous Cults

November 7, 2016

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In recent years the forces of law and order in western society have been working hard to deal with scenarios that many had never even previously heard of. “Honour” crimes abound and young people flee from forced marriages which are seen as the norm in their native (mostly Islamic) countries. It is also not uncommon to have to bring justice for the victims of certain types of African ritual and religion. “A clash of civilizations” the authorities call it.

While we think that we’re living comfortably and mundanely in our ‘civilised’ little 21st century high-tech world, perhaps somewhere not too far away there is someone else who is trapped in slavery or a child who is being tortured for having an ‘evil spirit.’ It really is horrifying to think of the thousands of cults of one sort or another in this world and how confusion abounds.

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14v12 & Proverbs 16v25)

These thoughts struck me just recently, as I discovered old photographs that I’d taken of the Thames River in London, in November five years ago. They reminded me of a book which I had read some years ago too… “The Boy in the River:” a shocking true story of the murder and sacrifice of a small child in the heart of London in 2001. I was horrified to discover how young children can be the sacrificial victims of certain systems of belief which operate in a very clandestine way. Unfortunately even pseudo “Christian” groups in certain African countries can believe that some very young children have “kindoki” (a kind of witchcraft or possession by an evil spirit) and as a result they are sent back to their native country to have it “dealt with.”

“Dealing with” the offending “spirit” can amount to exorcising the unfortunate child by starving him, since the pastor and his helpers (in their strange mix of traditional beliefs and so-called “Christianity”) misinterpret scripture.

In Matthew 17 we learn of a certain man who came to Jesus, to beseech Him for his son who was described as “a lunatic,” who often fell into the fire – or water.” (v15) The disciples had been unable to cure him and Jesus had rebuked them for this. However, he added… “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” (v21) Here we see that the disciples needed to pray and fast in this instance… not the child. This is at variance with what happened in the case of one young boy in the book, who had been starved in order that an “evil spirit” be removed. Unfortunately, even very young children who aren’t aware of what is happening to them are treated in this way too and often it is the “church hierarchy” who have the so-called evil spirit – not the child.

In a world of widespread confusion, evil and pain, those who know the Lord can only pray for opportunities to serve Him in the places where He has led us to be. We live in a rapidly changing, uncertain world where suffering abounds – perhaps much closer to us than we even realise; the Lord would have us to be vigilant and prayerful as a result. I have discovered many ‘faith groups’ which have sprang up all over the place but Jesus said “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7v20)

Gardeners know how easily weeds spring up and anything taking seed in stony ground is especially easy to pluck up. Yet… “The Lord knoweth them that are His…” (2Timothy 2v19) We need to pray about the evil realities that exist in our communities… including human trafficking and individuals being blackmailed into working for very little or practically nothing. Most of all, we need to pray that souls will truly come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour in these last days when cults and false prophets are on the increase.