Pondering Brexit

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The other day, surrounded by pint glasses, we got into a ‘Brexit’ debate.  This featured two UKIP types living in a UKIP area, the type of area that is afraid foreigners are taking over the nation, reads the ‘Daily Mail’ and ‘Express’ considers themselves hard working, debt paying and have a hankering for when things were better, back in the day…

These are indeed good people and while I intended to enlighten them on the real world, however much they have travelled the land they remain imbued with the spirit of this area and fail to comprehend life elsewhere.  So instead of arguing from a position of ignorance, my usual stance, I decided to cease and ask what Jesus would say.  I failed to get an answer…

Jesus was clever enough never to mention the politics of his day and there is no doubt he was well aware of them.  What is his position today?  Scripture tells us he is in charge of this world though the enemy has taken possession of it and those who reject Jesus.  The question has to be how do we tell what God is doing and what the enemy is doing in this world?  It would be very easy to read into the political situation our interpretation of things, this however is an unstable way to work.  So we need principles to guide our interpretation.

Jesus never spoke from a political standpoint, his standpoint was the Kingdom of God and our place in it.  The individual must stand for Jesus and follow him rather than a nationalistic position or a political one.  My country right or wrong is not a biblical position neither is following slavishly all manifesto’s of any political party, nations make many bad mistake and politics is a movable feast with little solid bases to stand on.  It is not wrong to support your nation nor is it wrong to work for a political party that one considers is best for the good of all but many traps lie therein.

Brexit, supported by ‘little Englanders,’ racists afraid of Muslims, black folks and foreigners generally changing the world in which they were born alongside general concerns with the shambolic manner of the EU operation does not represent a biblical viewpoint.  If we knew how the EU operated, and few indeed actually understand that, we might be in a position to decide the proper course of action.  However we all decide from a position of half truth and lies distorting our image of the EU and through the media led campaign many are educated to react emotionally to the EU rather than thoughtfully.  I cannot be considered a thoughtful one as you will understand.

Throughout scripture runs the refrain to accept the stranger among you, to aid the refugee, to welcome those from other lands forced upon you by war or disaster.  The reaction to the million or so rushing to Europe in the past couple of years whether running from war, disaster or economic failure has been unbiblical for the most part.  Poland, Austria and Hungary now with Italy have gone for far right governments, Germany with a Christian educated leader now watching her support drain away has taken many but at great cost.  The right wing media present a daily diet of incomers crime and failure.  No wonder people fear and rush to the rabblerouser rather than think.

The Christina must decide on Brexit through as much knowledge as he can muster.  This is not easy.  Emotion must be replaced with facts.  The sight of business rushing out of the nation, Brexiteers rushing to move their hedge funds to Dublin and obtaining EU passports via Malta’s dubious government reveals just how costly leaving the EU will actually be.  The millionaire Brexiteers who claim a lower economy is a good thing ought to just right the word ‘greedy’ upon their brow to proclaim their position.  The Christian cannot put his nation first and must decide if the EU stability is better than economic failure.  He must decide whether refusing people in need is Christian and what can he do about this.

Where have my pondering’s got me?  We cannot put nation before God, we must support refugees and the needy rather than a desperate fight to ‘keep them out.’  We cannot encourage racism, nor can we allow the economy to collapse while a few enrich themselves.

One thing we must have is another referendum on leaving the EU.  We must also have enquiries into the ‘dark money’ floating about, its source and intention.  We must also have better information as to the good things the EU does as to just a diet of propaganda against it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Approaching Easter

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Recently a French Gendarme found himself in a difficult position facing a gunman.  I am unclear of all the details but it appears this man took the place of a woman in danger and through this act was shot dead.  Rightly his president claims that this man is a ‘hero’ a much abused word these days.

He of course is not the first police officer in France or many other nations who has taken such a step and paid for it with his life.  Many soldiers in war have done the same and indeed many individual citizens have also risked their lives for another, many dying as a result.  Paul I think it is mentions this in a letter emphasising how rare it is that one would lay down their life for another yet Jesus, while we were yet sinners, laid down his life for us, for me, for you!

An emotional response is often the result but this is insufficient, we must give ourselves wholeheartedly to this God who loved us, me, you, so much that he would not only die for us but for the whole world!  We, I, must give myself to this God who loves me so much!

This God has done so much for me, daily I see his grace, how come I find myself so often wallowing in self pity, lust, hate, or some fear of loss and forgetting him and his great grace?  How quickly I like the people who crossed the Red Sea forget what he has done for me and return to type.  How quickly I allow my self to rule and not the new man in Christ Jesus!

Dwell in Christ and rejoice, he will never leave you never forsake you, when he is far away it us we who ave moved, he remains permanent.  Let us go back to him and wallow in his grace daily.

 

Lenten Spring

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The weathermen, those sick twisted individuals who hide behind attractive young female presenters, wish us to believe Spring is sprung on the 1st of March.  That date they also assure us will be one filled with cold east winds direct from Siberia with added snow flurries.  They say this with a young woman’s smile!  ‘Lenten’ is an old word that really means ‘Spring,’ it is then no surprise that when ‘Lenten’ begins the snow appears.

The word ‘Lenten’ has been shrunk these days to ‘Lent,’ and is seen as a time some Christians spend preparing for Easter.  Not all Christians do this, only those filled with the leftovers of Roman Catholic tendencies.  The churches based on scripture, Baptists, Presbyterian’s, Pentecostals etc, tend to ignore the period altogether.

The New Testament makes no mention of such an event, indeed it is in the second century, Ireneaus in Lyon and Tertullian in North Africa, we read about a short fast from Friday to Sunday, around forty hours, not days, that the church used to commemorate the crucifixion.  The New Testament writers of the first century were celebrating that event daily or weekly as circumstances allowed, I am unclear whether an annual event was commemorated as they expected Jesus return ‘soon’ though this is a possibility.  It would be understandable but Paul, Peter, James and the writer to the Hebrews do not mention Easter.  I recall reading some time ago, therefore forgetting where, that John the Apostle considered that Easter ought to occur alongside Passover, however the Roman church rejected this and followed the idea that Peter, as holder of the Keys to Heaven, was more important.

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By the Council of Nicea in 325 AD the various forms of fasts that occurred over the world were regulated and a fast of forty days was the result, this however was not a hard and fast instruction but it was held to in most places. One element was a six day fast which had arisen in some quarters which later became incorporated as ‘Holy Week’ which ends on Easter Day.  Churches then as now tended to interpret fasts in various ways, people are often unwilling to give up old habits, others do not like change and the independence of some is challenged by instructions from the centre.   Redeemed human nature is just as hard and difficult as unredeemed.

The reformation led to another reappraisal of scripture and many of the added excreta were removed by the reformed churches, Lent among them.  Their Christianity was scripture led and while Easter was adhered to, rather strange if it were not, fasting was rejected as ‘papist.’  The confusion of the days led to differences in what was rejected and what continued in various places, the Church of Scotland became Calvinist Presbyterian while the Anglican Church of England kept a great many Roman practices and many continue up to this day.  This leads to theological confusion which leads to a great many compromises which hinder the ‘man in the pew.’

The public at large celebrate Easter though in today’s world few understand what it implies.  The sale of chocolate Easter Eggs, often used as a Christian symbol in the distant past, appears to be all that some care for, alongside the two week school holiday.  Media coverage of Easter fails to indicate what it is all about though occasionally some rightful elements break through.

Why Pancakes?  Shrove Tuesday, from the Anglo Saxon ‘Shriven’ meaning to have confessed and been forgiven, had a special significance in England.  Pancakes were prepared and enjoyed, because in so doing a family depleted their eggs, milk, butter, and fat which were part of the Lenten fast.  At this time, some areas of the Church abstained from all forms of meat and animal products, while others made exceptions for food like fish.  For example, Pope St. Gregory (d. 604), writing to St. Augustine of Canterbury, issued the following rule: “We abstain from flesh, meat, and from all things that come from flesh, as milk, cheese, and eggs.”  These were the fasting rules governing the Church in England; hence, the eating of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Catholic Answers. 

Pancakes and eggs are often eaten by those suggesting they ought to ‘give them up’ for Lent.  The cynic suggesting that giving up greed, resentment, malice, theft, murder, drunkeness and lying might be a better idea get little sympathy I find.  However this indeed is what Lent ought to be about, preparing the individual for Jesus.  This does not require Lent, Easter or any other time of the year and I myself do not usually go in for ‘Lent’ and its efforts, however this year I have decided to cease reading the media, full of lies, temptations to anger and worse, instead filling the time with bible study and prayer and making an effort to move away from the many vices that I have allowed to dwell within, however hard this may be to give up the more popular items!  Lent is meant to bring us closer to Jesus, while the pomp may be needless the idea is worth trying, so I will have a go, I and the world around me must benefit.

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Palm Sunday

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Coming from one of those austere evangelical backgrounds I find the Anglican church and her ways sometimes strange.  I often mutter at the vicar and Curate “Papist” or “Heretic” when they talk of the Anglican calendar or activities.  They always ignore me!

Today being Palm Sunday we had the local Beaver Scouts parading in, flags and banners and all, even though there were only around a dozen of them.  In the 1950’s the then ‘Boy Scouts’ and ‘Girl Guides’ would have had dozens not a dozen on parade, fashions change and the military aspect of such events does look somewhat incongruous to me these days. Being Palm Sunday and with many kids and strangers accompanying them the service was aimed in their direction and handled quite well I thought.  The curate had many kids out there acting out Jesus entry into Jerusalem in both modern and ancient style.  The eight year old with beard and Jesus hair went down very well even if he could hardly see where he was going.  The music also was aimed at kids, well most of it, and this appeared to be enjoyed more by the adults!  It makes a change from the usual stuff.

Churches like the Anglicans make a big thing out of Easter, quite rightly in my view, however evangelical churches while remembering Easter tend to take the view each Sunday, if not each day ought to be ‘Easter.’

‘Lent’ is something many follow giving up things in preparation for Easter.  It does appear to me however that what most people give up is nothing of any value.  Often we hear those who give up chocolate, sweets, beer or some such, we never hear of those giving up hate, resentment, cheating or the like, I wonder why?  Those who choose to follow Jesus ought to be giving up wrong attitudes and putting themselves under his control that way they need not give up anything but continue to develop the life Christ wishes to live through them.

Oh how easy it is to talk innit?  How hard to live the life.  Yet of Jesus died for us, if Jesus will judge us one day, and if Jesus loves us and one day we will be with him then it is worth while trying to follow him.  I have touched on his life and I have tasted something nothing on earth can equal (So how come I forget this so easily?) and I want more of it.

The meeting this morning ended with a whimper as the kids paraded out and the leaders went with them.  We all stood there for a moment somewhat stunned at the ending and then made a dahs for the coffee!  Several were killed in the rush!  I got in first however…

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Where Are We?

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So I wake in the morning and wonder “Where is my head?” It was there the night before, I remember talking to God in a sleepy type of way yet in the morning, refreshed and awake, there is no sign of it.  There is no sign of the faith, love and earnestness that appeared in my thoughts either, vanished like mist in the sunshine.

At times like this I ask “Where are we?”  If God is there, and I met him the other week I vaguely remember, I remember also answered prayer and small miracles, so why can I not figure it out this morning?  Of course he is there however my body has decided that sleep, hunger, exercise, sex, illness or some other desire has pushed him out of mind and he may be gone for some time.

The difficulty of remembering God when such moods arise cannot be measured, we are all slightly different, as indeed are our situations.  The clever people tell us to “Have Faith, remember he is always with you” and they are of course correct.  However this does not make it any easier, especially if pain or tiredness hinders thinking.

The truth is sometimes we don’t want to think about God, we prefer other delights, or somethings not necessarily delightful, it just dominates the thought processes.  There is much to say on this subject but my mind is fogging over with tiredness, I have just eaten, and I just cannot be bothered thinking.  Maybe laziness is the real problem, not the other things…

Genesis 16

The bible, that collection of Gods works on earth, does not hide the truth about people, not even those chosen by God personally to do his work.  Genesis 16 gives a wonderful insight into people, not just people of their time but people for all time.

Around about 2000 BC God reaches down to a man called Abram living around Ur in what is now southern Iraq and tells him to leave his father and mother and go to a place he will be shown.  At the time it is likely Abram only knew the goddess situated on top of the ziggurat in Ur itself and the lesser moon-god placed alongside her.  So why did God reach down to Abram?  There were I believe 25,000 or so in Ur and many more like Abram round about, why pick this man?

Eventually Abram makes it to Canaan and settles there.  However his wife has not produced a child and feels this deeply so she resorts to the fashion of the day and forces Abram, who shows little reluctance, into sleeping with her slave girl as wife.  This situation is not recommended in scripture but as these people did not possess scripture bar God revealing himself to Abram their lack of appreciation is understandable.  Hold on a minute, even though scripture was not laid down in our hearts we know right from wrong yet Sarai & Abram went ahead with this just the same.  Conscience is inbuilt I say.

Inevitably this goes wrong.  Hagar, the slave, becomes pregnant (I wonder how long that took? Did Abram make it last?) and soon a bitchiness found only between females comes to the fore.  Having suggested the idea in the first place Sarai then blames Abram for Hagar’s abuse of her mistress, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering,” she yells at him.  Abram, head of the house though he is, responds with a courage renown to belong to many a married man, “Your servant is in your hands, do with her whatever you think best,” he says running for the hills.

Things do not turn out as one would expect.  Hagar, being abused, runs for the hills but meets with God there.  In similar fashion to Abram this son is given the promise of becoming a huge nation, many descendants, too numerous to count, although he will however be a ‘wild donkey of a man’ and turn everyone against him.  Why does God do this?  It is unclear to me why this should be, surely ‘wild donkeys’ ought to be avoided? However she returns to her home and life continues.

Note the lack of scripture, the human responses so similar to our own, and at no time did Sarai nor Abram ask the God who called them out of Ur about their lack of child.  These people had no bible, we have it complete yet we are less used by God than they!  We know that in all things God works for the good but his ways do not match our understanding. In this situation Abram was 86 years of age, God appears to him later when he is 99 and he has a son then, his own.  Some of us may find that encouraging…

Community

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I hate the word ‘community!’

Everywhere you look the word arises, police and government officials, media personnel, advertisers and so many others use this word and it means absolutely nothing!               Since the 1980’s when it came to the fore during the Brixton and other riots the word ‘community’ has become one of the ‘in words’ used by people who should know better.  At that time the greasy Conservative Home Secretary Kenneth Baker was never off the telly telling us of his discussions with ‘Black Community Leaders.’  What community leaders?  Who elected them?  I recall when I was around 10 or 11 years of age listening to a discussion amongst some locals round the corner from where I lived.  One remarked that she was the ‘Tenants Association Chairwoman,’ this surprised me as I had never heard of this and I winder if my parents had also?  That women has pushed herself to the front was my limited understanding and black community leaders, Bernie Grant and  Diane Abbott proved to me that such people still existed.  What community did they represent?  The black one?  The mixed (diverse we must say today) population?  No, they represented themselves and Abbott has done so ever since.

There is NO community!  Certainly not in London where I resided for twenty years or more. There are groups of people, sometimes organised sometimes just for a project, who work together, but there is no community.  It is a word that since the 80’s has drifted into media speak and is repeated automatically by those who do not have time to think.  It ought to be banned and people forced to use appropriate words such as Town, city, village, hamlet, dump!   Area is an acceptable word, as is district, locale or some such, just don’t go implying there is a ‘community’ a word that suggest togetherness where there is none.  And to be fair usually there is no keen community anywhere.  In some places neighbours do get along well, caring for one another in times of trouble, lending a hand, keeping the streets secure and such but these are in small areas only, anything beyond a few houses and the darkness descends.  Let us drop the words used wrongly and say what we really mean by communicating with words that truly mean something concerning the district in which we live.

Oh yes, later I will discuss the use of the Americanised phrase ‘growing’ as in ‘Grwoing the church,’ or ‘Growing the business.’ No, you ‘build’ a church, you ‘build’ a business, and if you cannot speak correctly don’t say anything!

Deceit, continues but different

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Watching a repeated yet again programme about Adolf Hitler, his rise and fall I noted how he called a well educated intelligent nation to destruction.  His words inspired many yet they were full of lies and few saw through them.  One woman looking back wisely noted that it was not Hitler himself but the ‘dark satanic power behind him.’

She was right of course.  Hitler was an unbalanced men, he had many problems within himself and found in war a way to express himself and survive.  Outside of war he failed to relate to people properly and refused to accept anything that did not meet with his wishes. In itself this is not indeed unusual and such a tendency can be found within us all to some effect however when used by a greater power it led to slaughter, mass slaughter.

In the 1930’s the lie spread was a nationalistic aggressive one based on Darwinism.  The weak go to the wall and the strong thrive.  Opponents must be heartlessly destroyed, pity is weakness, the feeble minded were worthless and must be removed for the greater good and opposition must be wiped out. In short truth, the knowledge of right and wrong that is hard wired into us through our conscience must be pushed aside and killed.

Today the lie is more subtle, today the lie removes right and wrong and replaces this with political correctness, the new standard that must be obeyed and all opposition swamped!

Today the lie is a false kindness.  While aborting babies is seen as normal, some seven million since 1967 in the UK alone, opposition to this murder is opposed on the lie that ‘it’s a woman’s right.’  Nobody has a right to murder.  Same sex marriage has arrived in the UK even though a mere twenty years ago this was rightly seen as a nonsense.  Today however anyone who opposes this or objects to homosexual behaviour is regarded as a criminal and receives abuse and much name calling for standing up for normal behaviour.

Political correctness rules today by a subtle shift from right and wrong.  Instead of rightly accepting people because they exist we must never disagree with them if the murder a child in the womb or have an abnormal sexual behaviour.  We MUST accept this or else!  That is the fascist way today!

Christians will of course accept all people as they are, whatever their situation and they will point them to Jesus Christ so they too will have the opportunity to repent, that is change their ways and find a new and abundant life in Christ Jesus.  There is no other way to God the father on this earth.  Peoples sexual sins, the abuse of a child in the womb are all able to be forgiven by the gracious kindness of our God who wishes all men to receive a life full of joy.  His truth rings a bell within us, a bell we resist because we prefer the easy option of our own ideas.  However truth, the sense of right and wrong still call us to obey them.  We know within ourselves the sense of right and wrong,  we deceive and hurt ourselves by refusing to obey this.

My the Lord bless you and keep you, may he make his face to chine upon you and give you his peace.

Sentimental Worship Songs

Is it just me?

Four songs were sung today and I noted an inclination towards a type of song that I am not too keen on.  Where it comes from I could not say, but I might guess, and I for one am not happy with the idea.  What I am getting at is the slow, almost sentimental approach to a song.  It seems such an attitude is worship but to me while this has a point, that ought to be  a reaction that comes after praise and not something that leads into it.

The spiritual will say they began the day praising and came to church ready for such a response.  I say the majority live in the real world.  Praise ought to lead into worship, slow songs rarely do, especially when the words are slushy and not biblically motivated.

It seems to me we are seeking experience and not worship!

One example.  “Jesus, we enthrone you” used to be one of my favourites.  Sung with pace and gusto a room full of people were lifted to look at Jesus and not themselves.  When searching YouTube for this song it took a long search before I found one at the right pace, all the others were slowed into ‘gushy’ mode.  This ought not to be.

Some slow songs are marvellous, I used to like many, but the trend today is to sentimentalise the song and therefore the worship, this is a big mistake.  I am more sentimental than most but this trend does not inspire looking to Jesus, it inspires looking to the emotions.  Emotion is great, and ought to be expressed in worship, however it is easily replaced by something based on emotion, not faith in a person.

 

Joy and Responsibility!

A sudden joy came over me this morning.

I entered the day in the usual fug and sat at the desk searching for a brain.  Suddenly it came to me that I was privileged to have been chosen to hear God’s call to Jesus!  The worries and problems of the previous days disappeared.  Suddenly I was clear in my mind, suddenly I lived again!

My life was changed by the thought that Jesus had called me, God the father had chosen to reveal Jesus to me and therefore he was going to be with me.  Considering my thoughts over the past week this was great.  This was something I needed to hear and as always I did not expect to hear this and not at that time of day either.

Jesus has called me, Jesus has chosen me and like Peter as they walked by the shore he asks me to ‘Follow Him.’  It is easy to be glad that he has called, it can be difficult to follow, it can be glorious when we do however.

I respond by saying ‘Yes’ when he says ‘Follow Me.’  I am comforted by his leading and his concern, I remain however conscious of my uselessness, my weakness and my temptations.  However let us have a go, we can only win with Jesus!