Sunday, 27 September 2009
Today we discover that this micro-managing government has effectively criminalised quid pro quo! They will be picking the company we keep, the books we read and how late we stay out soon. It was GK Chesterton who declared:
“Once abolish the God, and the government becomes God”
BBC NEWS | UK | Childcare help 'could be illegal'
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
Why I Joined the Mormon Church
I remember my first contact with Mormonism, and the elders who taught me. I remember vividly the conviction with which I embraced the church and it's teachings. I recall experiencing a burning in the bosom, not just once but many times, and can picture to this day where I was kneeling when it first happened. I could barely contain my excitement as I discovered more through the missionary discussions. This revolutionary message that the heavens were not sealed and that God spoke again through living prophets. I recollect my baptism at the District Centre then, before Wales had a Stake; It has two now.
It took less than a month for us to make our momentous decision and, whilst this may seem hardly enough time to fully consider the issues, I assure you we were convinced and had no doubts. I realise now that that month was the culmination of a longer period of questioning and seeking. In the end ours was a real "road to Damascus" experience and, like Saul, it was as if scales fell from our eyes.
Contrary to what you might think, I am not part of an anti-Mormon group. I am not an anti-Mormon at all but a Christian. I am a member of a local Baptist church and my life is taken up with full involvement there. My time is not spent pouring over anti-Mormon literature, nor is it spent finding ways to "get at" Mormons. I do, however, share my experiences and findings with others in the same spirit in which Mormon missionaries go around the doors. I have found the truth and, especially in relation to Latter-day Saints, wish to share it.
I am sometimes asked why I now "fight" the Mormon Church. Mormons I meet ask why I try to convert church members who are, after all, already Christians. I might ask the same question of Mormon missionaries. When they find a Christian on the doorstep do they back away saying "Oh, you already know Jesus"? They do not, because they believe that there is no salvation outside the Mormon church. I believe there is no salvation inside the Mormon church and so, by the same token, I proselyte Latter-day Saints.
Why I Became a Christian
I have already said that I was happy as a Mormon and that I have no complaints about the way the church treated me. The inevitable question is, "Why, then, did you leave? There must have been something wrong".
I recall it was one Friday evening, the children were in bed, and there was a quiet moment when we looked at each other apprehensively. We had not been discussing church, either that evening or that week, except in the general way. I remember how we tentatively but finally agreed that there was something wrong. There was an unspoken, undefined, significance to that word "something" precisely because we had nothing to complain about.
One of us, I don't now remember who, said, "It's not working, is it?", and the other one agreed. Again an unspoken understanding of something we had never discussed or given the vaguest expression to, yet we each knew what the other meant. Our faith was not "working". What did we mean by that? We didn't then know or understand, but we felt an earnest desire to put right whatever it was we felt was wrong because our church membership was important to us.
It was then that we made a decision that, to this day, makes people stare. We turned to a Christian friend. It seems almost inconceivable, especially since we had no reason to shun our church friends, that we should do such a thing. I believe God was in all this. Of course I would say that, wouldn't I?
I believe our friend John could barely contain his excitement at being presented with such an opportunity. He did hold himself back, however, and simply invited us to church. "Come and see" he said to us. It was in that church that we experienced such a love for God that we were left wondering what it was that we thought we had been experiencing for all those years. Don't misunderstand me. I am not suggesting that Mormons are loveless, or that they have no genuine desire to serve God. But this was different.
When I set out to read Romans I was looking for a solution to the problems of my faith as a Mormon. I was not trying to sort out the Mormon Church. I was trying to sort out Mike Thomas. I wanted to get right with God so that I could be a better Latter-day Saint. Now you might say that I had a peculiar way of doing this. After all, going to a non-member etc. But God was in this from beginning to end so how could I do otherwise?
It was now that I did the one thing I had never done before. I knelt before God and asked Jesus to be my Saviour. I had believed in him for years, but I had been taught that the way to salvation was by obedience to the Mormon church. The church had effectively stood between me and God.
I came to see that there is only one mediator between men and God, the man Christ Jesus. I realised that the head of every man is Christ, not an organisation. I saw that all who came to him would not be condemned but would receive eternal life. I had an assurance of eternal life, something I had never known before, something no Mormon knows because the Mormon church teaches that salvation is by obedience, and so it is arrogant and presumptuous to say that you know. The Bible told me that I could know, the Mormon Church told me that I couldn't. I chose to believe the Word of God.
Now I was faced with a dilemma. Could I give up all those things that had been my life up to now? Leave my church friends? People think that obedience is all about the ten commandments and that sort of thing. Really it is about attitude. What really is the most important thing in your life? Put like that there was no other choice. I left the Mormon Church and embraced my newly discovered joy. My life since really coming to know Jesus bears no comparison to all those years when I only thought I knew him. Iremember the sobering realisation of what was happening when my wife one day said, "You realise we can't go back?"
I made the right choice and discovered a God who truly proves his faithfulness. So many scripture promises came true for me when I sought him and and discovered that "if you seek him, he will be found by you" (1 Chron.28:9). Coming from a system that saw obedience to law as the way to God I was brought to rejoice in the fact that "a righteousness from God , apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify" (Romans 3:21). The assurances of God's Word are a blessing to me beyond anything I could hope or ask. I know that through faith in Jesus I have eternal life as a present possession and a guaranteed inheritance (John 5:24). I just thought you would like to know.
What we Discovered in Romans
What did we find in our reading of Paul's letter to the Roman? We travelled what we later found was called The Roman Road. It is one of many journeys through the Bible designed to help us understand the fundamentals of God's Word. I reproduce it here:
THE ROMAN ROAD
This is a simple explanation of the gospel, using scriptures from the Book of Romans - hence the name. It can be easily marked in your Bible by writing the first reference at the beginning of Romans, and then in the margin by each reference writing the reference which follows. Thus when you want to share the gospel message from the scriptures, you do not need to remember a string of references, you just need to look at the book of Romans and follow the road through it. The references and a brief description follows. Feel free to explain them in your own words.
3:10 - There is no-one righteous, no matter how good we are or how hard we try.
3:23 - All have sinned and fallen short. It is impossible for us to measure up to God's standard.
5:12 - Death came to all men, because all sinned. It is our nature to sin.
5:8 - Because of God's love for us, he sent Christ to die for us - while we were still sinners, not because we had done anything to earn it.
6:23 - The wages of sin is death - wages are what you earn as a result of what you do. The gift of God is eternal life - you do not earn a gift, or deserve it. God gives the gift because He loves us. We do not need to work for it, only accept it.
10:13 - Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, regardless of who they are or what they have done. You only have to call.
10:9,10 - True, heart-felt confession of faith in Jesus is what it takes to be saved, not works.
Monday, 21 September 2009
Christian hotel owners face ruin after 'defending their faith' in row with a Muslim guest | Mail Online
It started as a religious discussion over the breakfast table at a private hotel.
Several months later, the Christian owners face ruin after a Muslim guest complained that she had been insulted. Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang are being prosecuted under controversial public order laws designed to target yobbish and abusive behaviour on the streets.
A Christian couple who run an hotel in Aintree got involved in a religious discussion with one of their guests, who turned out to be a Muslim lady having treatment in a local hospital. Exchanges were said to be “warm”, the couple insisting they were simply defending their faith against remarks made by the guest. The lady complained to the police and the couple now face a possible £5,000 fine and a police record, as well as losing regular business from the hospital as a result of the incident.
I have to say that if you are running a business that depends on the good will of the public it seems the height of folly to be so forthright in your views as to risk your reputation and damage your livelihood, especially when the woman is a patient in the hospital on which you depend for 80% of your business; you are asking to make her a victim and you a villain. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1) I am all for being “fools for Christ” but I don’t see anything in the Christian faith that demands foolishness. That having been said since when was it against the law to be foolish?
The issue here, however, is that the views we hold, the thoughts we have, our right to express them and the common and well-established principle that we all occasionally have to hear things we don’t like without being a girl about it are all under threat. George Orwell observed:
“Liberty is the right to tell people what they don’t want to hear”
The thought police don’t agree and, sponsored by the liberal agenda prevalent across parties today, they are all over us like a rash and they are showing an alarming bias.
You remember the story of the woman caught “in the act” of adultery who was brought before Jesus (John 8:3). The question often asked is, if she was caught “in the act” where was the man? In the same way, since this was a “discussion” why is only one party in the dock?
The newspaper reports, “It is alleged they suggested that Mohammad, the founder of Islam, was a warlord when the guest challenged them about their Christian beliefs. The woman also claims that the couple, who vehemently deny the allegations and say they were simply defending their faith, described her traditional dress as a form of bondage.”
She said something, they said something, feelings ran a little high and the thought police ran to the defence of the perceived victim. But there is no victim, only an exchange of views, a disagreement and what used to be called, before the world went mad, “ a bit of an argy-bargy”. In political circles such exchanges, when they occur, are euphemistically labelled “a frank exchange of views”, everyone picks up on the sub text and moves on. Why is religious discussion treated differently?
It is because we live in a secular society and officialdom “can’t be asked” to bring wise and equitable judgement to these situations. In their efforts to achieve a “fair” and liberal society they have developed a vision of the future that sees religion effectively privatised. Influenced by such “fine philosophers” as Dawkins and Hitchens (that was a joke) they feel they can dismiss religion as socially insignificant, even dangerous.
The problem is that, notwithstanding the bad-tempered pronouncements of curmudgeons like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens et al, people have faith and express and practice it in a variety of ways.
Notably, both Islam and Christianity are evangelising religions so trying to privatise religions with declared society impacting intentions, and with those religions making up the greater part of the earth’s population, seems ambitious to say the least. I suppose the default position in that case is to placate the religion that is perceived to pose the greatest threat and oppress the religion that is little more than irritating and and inconvenient.
If these darling liberals are determined to defend the rights of Muslims to live and express their faith, sometimes in very offensive and threatening ways it must be said, they must defend the right of Christians to the same degree, even if they can be foolish about it sometimes.
I have said that both both faiths are evangelising religions but that has not always been true of Islam. In his book From Babel to Dragomans the orientalist Bernard Lewis writes of Islam as a conquering religion observing that:
“In traditional Islamic states, the business of government was carried on by two main groups, known as the men of the sword and the men of the pen. The former were the armed forces, the latter the civilian bureaucrats…the two together were commonly considered to be the twin pillars of the state…The Fatimids, for the first time in Islamic history, added a third – the Mission.”
Note that until the coming of the Fatimids mission was not part of the Islamic state. The Fatimids emerged in Egypt towards the end of the first Millennium (Christian calendar), following in the footsteps of the Abbasids whom they attempted to overthrow, and held that other branches of Islam had gone astray. Believing themselves to be the true heads of pure Islam (why does this sound familiar?), they followed the traditional policy of conquest and subjugation against other Muslim states. But the rest of Islam was bigger and better prepared and they resorted to the novel policy of mission.
It is interesting that one of the complaints made by the guest at the hotel was that the proprietors insisted that Islam’s founding prophet was a warrior. Perhaps not a wise thing to say to a paying Muslim guest who might take offense and her business elsewhere nevertheless quite accurate. Which raises the question, are they being prosecuted at least in part for stating, not a religious conviction, but an irrefutable historical fact? Is the state now insisting on a role in defining what is and what is not legitimate historical reporting?
This all leaves me, and I am sure others, in something of a dilemma when it comes to voting. On the one hand I don’t believe the alternatives to this current government are viable for all sorts of reasons (I might be persuaded otherwise). On the other, I am convinced that something must be done to stop this petty-meddling juggernaut before the freedoms we have for so long taken for granted, that our fathers fought and died to preserve, and that make our country great are totally taken from us.
Christian hotel owners face ruin after 'defending their faith' in row with a Muslim guest | Mail Online
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
'They won't come and help, sweetie. Make the best of the time you have with him,' says a midwife to a devastated mother - CCFON.org - Christian Concern For Our Nation
A dystopian society is one in which people experience the worst of all possible worlds while the government condition people to think that everything is as it should be, that they have never had it so good. Welcome to our dystopia.
A devastated mother, who watched her premature baby die when doctors refused to help him because he was born two days early, has condemned medical guidelines which said the baby should not be saved.
Sunday, 13 September 2009
Tuesday, 8 September 2009
It is one of my favourite jokes and is entirely childish, even infantile. Someone is introduced to you as Richard and you respond, “Well, are you a Richard, or are you a Dick?” It is especially effective when the Richard in question is a youth who would blush uncomfortably at your remark, shuffle his feet and mumble “Richy actually.” Apparently there are those who don’t appreciate this kind of humour and I suppose if you have to listen to it day after day it must quickly wear thin.
I cannot tell you how many times people many years ago, on finding that I worked for the now defunct gent’s outfitters John Collier would break into song: “John Collier, John Collier, the window to watch".” That advertisement hadn’t run for years but it demonstrates the power of advertising that it stuck in people’s minds and, even now I am sure, people of a certain age will have sung and not just read that line.
I accepted it and either smiled benignly or responded sardonically with, “That’s the first time I’ve heard that – today.” It would never occur to me to complain since that was the firm I was glad to work for and the song went with the tag. Now, however, canteen staff at Flintshire council, North Wales, have responded to “immature comments” from “a few customers” about the traditional 19th century pudding Spotted Dick by renaming it “Spotted Richard”. I can’t help but think someone is bound to ask, “Is that a Richard, or is it a Dick?”