In the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus begins to teach His disciples, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Here, Jesus Christ turns the world upside down or rather, the right side up! Christians are poor in spirit and yet they are blessed! They are happy and fortunate! It is even good to be a mourner! However, Jesus isn’t here referring to physical poverty or mourning the loss of loved ones. Instead, He is describing attitudes that define His followers.
Have you felt a sense of shock or concern about the level of swearing you hear in public these days? I’m sure I didn’t hear so much when I was a lad – and I’m only in my early 40’s! I don’t want to sound like a moralising grumpy old man but it is a real concern. The Bible teaches that our speech is a key measure of character. Jesus said, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Individual characters make up a community. Our speech is an indicator of the health of our society.
Copy of Christmas Message submitted as a peice amongst other church leaders in the local newspaper:
I love to see the children in our Church family at Christmas time and always! We’ve been blessed with new little ones this year. I have three children myself and I know that it is a daunting joy to bring them up. There’s so much you naturally want to protect them from; so much you want to give them.
From an article to a local paper:
In terms of any comments from a Christian perspective, I see two main areas of concern.
Firstly there’s the social / community aspect. Clearly there are vulnerable people behind some doors who will be terrified by Trick or Treat callers. Children are potentially vulnerable to some people behind the doors – and it’s advisable that if children do go trick or treating, responsible adults go with children – at least to be there at the end of the pathways to homes.
The very concept of threatening an unpleasant consequence if the person at home doesn’t deliver the treat is worrying. That we can get something through threat is not good. Even though it can be by mutual consent of the threatener and the threatened, the principle itself is not good. This, together with a general breakdown of respect and trust in our present society, one can see it doesn’t lead in a healthy direction. Maybe we should start a tradition of offering to do jobs for people instead of threats!
This is not a promotion for our own church, which bears the word ‘evangelical’ in its title! Evangelical is not a separate denomination. There is no Evangelical HQ which tells affiliated churches what to believe. Evangelical properly refers to a movement which runs through a range of mainstream Christian denominations.
My thesaurus tells me that evangelical is defined as to do ‘with missionaries or their work’. This rightly describes one characteristic of an evangelical Christian: They believe there’s good news and have a desire to share it. The word evangelical itself comes from the Greek word meaning ‘good news’. Yet this in itself isn’t exclusively a Christian activity. In advertising, for example, a company may be evangelical in the promotion of its products!
One key word that parents try to teach their children is ‘sorry’. Maybe we can remember our own parents trying to get us to apologise for hitting our brother/ sister or for breaking the window, or whatever!
Can you remember that battle within you as you knew what you should say, but pride and stubbornness made this small word the hardest word to say!
Sometimes people with firm beliefs are accused of being intolerant. Yet it can also be the case that people with strong beliefs strongly believe that we need to respect others even if they strongly disagree! We must not confuse disagreement with intolerance nor assume strong belief as unreasonable. In fact we have a strange and dangerous new intolerance emerging in our society dressed up as tolerance! It criticises those who do have clear beliefs and tries to shut them up calling them intolerant! We have extreme political correctness that refuses to call a spade a spade or to acknowledge the plain nose in front of its face! Christian Union groups have been refused rooms to meet on university campuses by a number of Student Union bodies. Those who say, “I firmly believe”, are written off as bigots. The hypocrisy is that those who try to silence strong believers obviously have strong beliefs themselves!
By now the refuse collections and a visit to the tip have cleared the remnants of Christmas! We moaned at the voluminous packaging, food the children didn’t eat and the bin that was too small for the rubbish! There’s even a gadget available to squash it down. It would be far better if we did not produce so much waste.
The Bible teaches the principle of responsible use of resources. This principle relates to much more than packaging and bin filling. We only have so much time to live and we only have a certain number of opportunities in life.
When US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, said “… there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns…” many people, with furrowed brows, struggled to make sense!
But as we try to peer round the edge of the year into 2005, what hopes can we have for the future? We live in a world of many unknowns. Who knows what events will be round the corner of the year? Will there be a major terrorist attack? On a personal level, will we have to face illness or unemployment? On a brighter note, maybe there’ll be new cures for dreaded diseases. Maybe there will be greater peace and stability in the world. Maybe…but we just don’t know.