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Sunday, 30 June 2013

Should We Pray For Sunshine?

As a self-employed domestic window cleaner, one of the biggest problems that plagues the business is wet weather. Over the years, I have learnt to overcome much of this problem, although there were, and will always be, days lost due to heavy or blustering rain. During the Summer, lost time is often made up by working later into the evenings. But during Winter, with limited daylight hours, lost time cannot be compensated for, resulting in loss of income. Therefore, keeping constant track of the daily forecast had always been essential for planning and running the business. And not to mention "fair weather clients" - customers who believe that cleaning their windows is not worth the fee I ask for, due to threats of rain, even if it's dry at the time I knock on their doors. Believe me, they can be a pain in the neck.

At our fellowship, Ascot Life Church, we have sung on occasions a song which contain the lyrics:
Let it rain, let it rain, let the rain fall on us...
And you know what? Following such Sundays when this song was included in the worship agenda, I have indeed faced a wet working week, more than once! But this song was about spiritual rain, the rain of the Holy Spirit into our lives so others can see the power of Christ within us. And that is where, I believe, the songwriter had got his priorities wrong. The song pleads, Rain on us. But I believe the correct lyrics should have been Rain on them, that is, the lost. The unsaved can only be redeemed through faith by means of the ministry carried out by the Holy Spirit taking place prior to conversion.
Lately, the song had become something of a standing joke between Dave, one of our Elders, and myself. Last weekend, we had a fete at a nearby school field, and the day began with a light shower. Fortunately the rain did not persist, and although a north-westerly breeze made us keep our woollies on, the day was a success, with a good turnout. And it was when I arrived at the school field during the shower when Dave asked me to "Rise to the challenge" and discuss whether it is right for Christians to pray for sunshine, or dry weather.
Not from Original Creation
Our present global climate was not part of original creation. In Genesis chapter one, we read that the waters being divided, with the upper waters forming a vapour canopy above the earth, while the waters below formed the oceans. Alongside this the narrator adds that, "The Lord did not cause it to rain upon the earth..."(2:5.) Therefore, the global climate must have been vastly different during antediluvian days than at present. It has been suggested that the vapour canopy caused the cloudless sky to appear red during the day, allowing the colours of all creation to appear more bright and intense. This seems to have been implicated by the fruit of the tree looking "pleasant to the eyes" (3:6) as well as providing universal warmth required for some species of fauna to grow to gigantic size, the well known Dinosaurs which must have roamed the planet during the days between Adam and Noah, if the historicity of the Bible is to be believed.
The Noachian Deluge was caused, as most scholars believe, by the collapse of the vapour canopy, together with the release of subterranean waters, probably under growing pressure by underlying magma, which too, breached the earth's crust as intense volcanic eruptions. The resulting ash cloud rising into the stratosphere causing the vapour to condense and fall as torrential rain, most likely were the mechanisms required to cause a universal deluge. After the Flood, and the time for Noah, his family and all the animals to leave the ark, Noah may have been aghast with the blue sky interspersed with clouds, seen for the first time ever. We can easily understand the fear Noah must have felt at the sight of rain, in case another Flood was on the way. The Covenant of the rainbow is strongly indicative of the vast change in climate, along with being caught in a sudden downpour, and the settling down of the new meteorological system which had not been present before the flood.

The British are renowned for talking about our unpredictable weather. Often, comparisons are made between the UK climate and that of the Mediterranean, the most popular destination for British holidaymakers (vacationers) where Summers are hot and dry and Winters short and temperate. When in the last few years it had been cooler, warmer, wetter or dryer in the UK than normal, there were fears of a threat of a looming new Ice Age, Global Warming, or nowadays, Climate Change. But the latest meteorological graphs seem to indicate that the variance experienced in the weather pattern in the last few years had not strayed far from average. We Brits pine for the hot, dry summers enjoyed by those living on or around the Med. But as a whole, we are by no means the wettest country by a long shot!
My home town is Bracknell, about thirty miles west of London, and eleven miles east of Reading, our nearest city. According to statistics collected both from the Internet and from a world atlas, annual global average rainfall is 990 millimetres or 39 inches. In the UK, London and the South East are relatively dry, with 583 mm, or 23 inches a year, which is way below global average. In turn, Reading has up to 625 mm, allowing Bracknell with an approximation of 600 mm, or 24 inches. On the other hand, the Scottish city of Glasgow has an annual average rainfall of 1,205 mm, or 47.5 inches, or nearly four feet deep, which is 215 mm, or just over eight inches above the global average.
Worldwide, the statistics are wide. But although the Sahara is the driest area in the world, with an annual rainfall of just a few millimetres, there is far heavier rainfall along the Equatorial regions, such as in the central regions of Africa, which has an annual rainfall of up to 2,474 mm, or 97.4 inches. In turn, Borneo of Oceania has up to 4,974 mm, or 156 inches, while over Cherrapunji, north-east India, average annual rainfall between April and September is 10,922 mm, or 430 inches. But it can be argued that these regions have the monsoon season, with an interspersing dry season, making the weather fairly predictable. As here in Britain, weather is unpredictable with year round rainfall, yet the wettest region in the world with year round rainfall is probably Lloro, in the Choco district of west Colombia. This coastal strip which borders on to the State of Panama has an annual rainfall of up to 13,300 mm, or 523.6 inches. That is more than 43 feet. This sort of statistic certainly makes Britain look more like the Sahara!

I was fortunate when I visited Cairns in North Queensland in 1997. It is literally the wettest area of the whole of Australia, with an annual rainfall of 2,151.3 mm, or 84.7 inches. But like other Tropical regions, the Autumn month of March has 453.4 mm, or 17 inches of rain, compared to the dry Winter month of August, with just 35 mm, or 1.4 inches of rain. Although thick scudding thunderclouds sat over a nearby forested hill, throughout my five-day visit, the area remained dry enough to have made catamaran trips to the Great Barrier Reef possible. Cairns is a classic example of having tropical monsoon season-based climate with an alternate dry period.

Cairns Harbour, with cloud over a forested hill, North Queensland, 1997.

The Bible and Rainfall

The Bible rates rainfall as a blessing and among the temporal gifts of God. In this present fallen, post-diluvian world, the present meteorological climate system, with "the battle of the fronts" is the best system we can have to sustain life. Perhaps the key verse to this subject is Matthew 5:45, (KJV) which reads:

...That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makeeth the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

And this is over the Middle East, which has hot, dry Summers and temperate Winters, as with the rest of the Mediterranean. Yet in Leviticus 26:3-4, Moses wrote:

If ye (Israel) walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.

This is repeated in Deuteronomy 11:13-14 which the promise of rainfall was conditioned on a whole heart love for God and obedience to his commandments:

And it will come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.

Still further throughout the Old Testament, rainfall is conditioned by keeping God's statutes, such as Isaiah 30:22-23 where he wrote that if Israel repents of its idolatry, disposes of all its images, and serve God alone, then he will send rain to bring new life from the ground.

But there is a big problem if rainfall was conditioned upon the nation's obedience to God. This was highlighted in Psalm 14, where King David wrote that God looks down from heaven to see whether there is anyone who has an upright heart and loves God with all his soul, strength and mind. Instead, he sees that they are all corrupt, they have done abominable works, and there is none who does good, no not even one person. Nobody sought after God, nobody called upon him. Therefore, if rainfall was conditioned on commitment and loyalty to God and upon one's own righteousness, then the whole of mankind would have became extinct long before Jesus Christ came to atone for their sins! Therefore, in his grace, or undeserved favour, God sends rain anyway to sustain life. For example, Acts 14:17 reads:

Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

A confirmation from Job 5:10 which he says:

Who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields.

Although in Psalm 65, King David was referring to national repentance of Israel towards God, something many scholars believe will happen in the future, his care for the land on a worldwide scale becomes obvious when we read verses 9-13, which is a good description of the planet at present (NIV):

You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with corn
for though you have ordained it.
You drench its furrows
and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers
and bless its crops.
You crown the year with your bounty
and your carts overflow with your abundance.
The grassland of the desert overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.
The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with corn;
they shout for joy and sing.

This is certainly how much of the land around the world is at present, and that despite that the greater majority of the world's population do not know the Lord. Yet his sending of the rain to sustain life demonstrates the love of God to the world, as depicted in John 3:16, and his act of grace for life to survive. But there is more to all this. The reason for life as we know it to be sustained is really threefold:
1. For people to come to God through faith in Jesus Christ for salvation and inclusion into his coming Kingdom.
2. The establishment of churches worldwide so that communities of God's people can mingle among the rest of the population, providing a light and a witness to those who are lost.
3. God's everlasting covenant with Israel, not the covenant of works as laid down by Moses, but the eternal covenant of grace God made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jeremiah chapters 30-32 gives a full prophecy of this Abrahamic Covenant, along with Ezekiel chapters 36-37, and Zechariah chapters 13-14.

Prayer for Sunshine?

As we had seen, rainfall is one of the temporal gifts of God, as opposed to the eternal gifts such as salvation and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Rain is essential to sustain us. But here in the UK, we have the tendency to compare our climate particularly with Mediterranean lands, and prone to envy their long, hot Summers. Little surprise that foreign holidays to these destinations have grown into one of the nation's largest and most profitable business. I once read a book written by an ex-Jehovah's Witness about us as mainstream Christians preparing ourselves should a couple of Witnesses knock on our door. She then concluded:
We should be ready to meet them. Instead we worry about next month's coach trip to Bognor. Don't we realise that there's a war on? 
Our worry over a day trip to Bognor was not based on the failure of the coach turning up, or suffering a breakdown halfway there, or for that matter, someone falling into distress while out bathing. Rather, with such a prospect of a day trip to the coast, the first thing we worry about is the weather.

It brings me back to last year in 2012, the year of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. I have wondered how many true believers have prayed that the day of the Pageant along the River Thames would take place in fine weather. I have wondered whether there were churches, particularly in London, who set time aside to pray for good weather on that day. The fact was that almost the entire Pageant took place under torrential rain.

On the day of the Ascot Life Church fete, or Fun Day as we call it, we were weary of the weather.  So is praying for sunshine biblical?

The only recorded occasion where the weather came under prayer was when God revealed to Elijah that there would be a forty-two month drought across Israel (1 Kings chapters 17-18). But this had nothing to do with a day trip to the coast! The drought was brought by God to bring backsliding Israel to repentance, particularly under the leadership of King Ahab. During the drought, Elijah was first fed supernaturally by ravens, then he lodged in the house of a foreign widow outside of Israel. It was during that time, when the land became parched dry and people began to go hungry, that he held a contest between the God of Israel and Baal, and his 450 prophets. After two altars were built and the fire came down supernaturally on God's altar, it was clear that the whole intent of the miracle, and the drought, was to bring the people back to faith in God.

And this could be the reason why some places, such as regions and various countries in Africa, suffer drought. To a certain extent, conditional rainfall based on obedience to God's statutes still apply. But more likely, it is to do with bringing the inhabitants to the knowledge of God through Jesus Christ. And what could be a better way for the Christian church to demonstrate their faith but to feed them, and provide clothing and other provisions. James the apostle was quite particular on this matter. In his letter, which mentions Elijah and the drought of his day, he emphasised that faith without works is dead, and therefore just saying to these Africans that they believe in God, and not showing any form of hospitality, will have no impact on their lives, and remain unimpressed with their Christian profession.

When the 42 months were complete, Elijah prayed seven times for rain to fall, and at the conclusion of the seventh prayer, a cloud was seen above the horizon which led to a heavy downpour a short time later. But the miraculous change of weather, meant to have brought King Ahab to faith in Israel's God, instead led to the betrayal of the prophet to the wrath of Queen Jezebel, Ahab's wife, for the slaughter of the 450 prophets of Baal.

Elijah's prayer over the weather is in line with all other miracles found in the Bible, to bring people to faith in God and his salvation. The raising of Lazarus by Jesus, recorded in John 11, was a good example, with Jesus explaining the main reason for the miracle, which is for the crowds to see for themselves that Jesus is the Messiah and therefore to believe, and have eternal life - verses 41-42. In fact, John himself had concluded his whole Gospel with the explanation that all the works Jesus had done, and were recorded were so we would believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and by believing, we can have life in his name (John 20:30-31.)

So should we pray for sunshine, or at least dry weather, for a church to hold an outdoor event? No, I don't think we should. But by his grace, God does at times answer prayer on this matter, as he did on our Fun Day. But it it happens to rain on the special day, then rather than blame God, we should look upon our motives. If the event is church-centred, chances are that it could still rain on the day. Rather, God will only manipulate the weather according to our prayers if such intervention is necessary for the saving faith of a person or a group of people - as was the case with Elijah, and of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.

Oh well, after all that, it's Crete later this year - God permitting...

Sunday, 23 June 2013

This Little Bird...

It was just another Monday, an ordinary non-eventful working day at the beginning of last week. That is until it was time to pack away my equipment in readiness to return home. With the ladders still under my arm, I spotted something unusual lying right in the middle of the footpath, and I was fortunate enough not to have accidentally stepped on it. After all my stuff were locked safely away, I returned to the spot to take a closer look.
It was a hatchling, presumed dead. I felt my emotion rise in pity for this poor thing. Probably no more than a few hours old, its red skin was still entirely without feathers, its tiny head, with just two dark circles for eyes, lying partly face down on the tarmac. As I took a closer look, I wondered how it had got separated from its mother and from the nest. Perhaps it might have been attacked by a cat and then abandoned. Or perhaps, with some species, it was bullied by an older, more stronger sibling. And with some other species, its own mother could have allowed it to starve to death as she focuses on her older, healthier offspring. But again, these were just speculations. The fact that it was where it shouldn't have been. Then I saw one of its legs move ever so slightly. It was alive!
Very carefully I scooped it onto the palm of my left hand. It struggled to move for a moment, its tiny head lying sideways on my palm, held by a thin, wrinkly neck to its body which was barely longer than an inch. As I looked it it, my emotions were high, I felt like crying. If only I knew exactly what to do to save its life. I took a closer look at it, even talking affectionately to it. Its featherless forelegs were already designed to give this creature something which no human can achieve without mechanical aid - the power of flight. I guess my arrival at that spot was timely. Being exposed, right in the middle of a tarmac footpath, and therefore making an ideal meal for a hawk flying overhead, or a snack for a golden eagle gliding above, or for that matter, easy pickings for an owl. As these birds are not so easily found in the South of England, instead it would have suffered the far more likely outcome of human-based destruction by being trodden underfoot or even crushed by the rolling wheel of a bicycle.
I wanted to take it home and nurture it. But I also wondered how my wife Alex might react to this creature in my hand. It was strange, that after nearly fourteen years of marriage, this was one area of our relationship we had never before faced. She could well have taken a quick glance and then shout aloud, Ugh! Get that thing out of the house! But instead, when she saw it lying helplessly in my hand, she too took pity and wanted to nurture it back to health.
We were stuck on how we were to go about it. Then it was her who suggested searching the Internet to find the best possible solution. So while we were searching the Internet, we also tried to seek advice from the R.S.P.C.A. over the 'phone, but were bitterly frustrated at the constant machine replies and verbal box-ticking, which left us no better off than if we had not picked up the 'phone. Eventually, a text came up on the computer that the hatchling should be kept in a safe container close to a source of heat, such as a hot water bottle, and its body covered, imitating the warmth its mother would have provided. As for feeding, tiny pieces of raw meat would have been suitable.
So I left all the care to my wife. The next morning I arose, went downstairs to check on the hatchling. Not only was it still alive (I expected it to have died during the night) but it was moving about at a much healthier rate than when I first found it. Maybe we were doing the right thing after all. Later that day, while I was still at work, I 'phoned Alex to find out how the hatchling was getting on, and her reply was close to tears. She had went out for a couple of hours to visit her mother, who knew a little about bird welfare, and when she returned home, she found the hatchling had died at her absence, and she had blamed herself for leaving it alone in the house. She waited until I arrived home, and I gave it a formal burial, with the spoken words, Rest in peace, little one. Yet I couldn't help feeling a rush of relief at the news of its death, the end of its suffering and its life returned to God who gave it.

The hatchling found on the footpath, having recently died and immediately before burial
But why was I so sentimental over this helpless creature? Why did I feel a slight sense of embarrassment in case someone was watching? Was this emotion unmanly? Un-British? A lack of stoicism? Was it a throwback from my schooldays where other boys would have considered my emotions "cissy" - while concentrating on their rugby, soccer, and other sporting and athletic endeavours - as well as acting tough at the playground in keeping with masculine characteristics? Indeed I knew straight away why I felt so emotional over the creature: the hatchling bore a stunning resemblance to a human foetus.
There is something about the cry of a newborn. In fact, there was an article in the newspaper a few years ago which reported on the results of a scientific research, that the sound of a baby crying affect our brains in a manner no other sound could achieve, not even from animals. There has always been something about a newborn which to this day strikes a chord within my spirit. When the baby cries, my emotions rise with the sound.
Jesus seemed to have agreed. In speaking of young children, he said theirs is the Kingdom of God. He also said that unless we become like a child in spirit, we will never enter the Kingdom of God. And talking about our comparison with birds, he reminds us that God takes special care in feeding the birds. So this demonstrates that the Father cares for them. Then he went on to say that we as individual humans are worth more than five sparrows. One of the most demonstrative examples of the Father's care for children, particularly the unborn, is found in Luke chapter one. Here Elisabeth was six months pregnant with a male foetus who will grow up to be John the Baptist. When Mary arrived at her house, with the embryo of the Lord Jesus only just conceived, the baby in Elisabeth's womb leaped for joy. Even in the Old Testament, there was a case of one un-named newborn who died of an illness only seven days after he was struck down (2 Samuel 12:22-23.) His father, King David made a statement that one day he will go to him, but he cannot return to earth to be with his Dad. In other words, the child went to Paradise, the abode of the righteous dead, (Luke 16:22-23; 23:42-43) most likely as he would have looked as an adult, where he remained until after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Job lamented over the day he was born, citing that had he died either in the womb or at birth, he would lay at rest, even among the graves of the rich, the oppressor and the slave. He would not have grown up to see all the sorrows and the troubles of the world around him, nor see the unfairness of life or the hypocrisy (Job 3.) But God's love required that Job grew up to learn all about those experiences and to go through them himself, suffering grievous loss of both health and wealth, so that in redemption, God can show his awesome power. So every child is precious to God, a fact confirmed in the Gospel of John, where it's said that the light of Christ shines into everyone born into the world (1:4,9.)
If the un-named son of David has anything to go by, there must be more people in Heaven who got there through miscarriages (spontaneous abortions), stillbirths, and in modern times, elective abortions, than those who consciously believed in Jesus Christ as Saviour. In preparation of this blog, I went to the Internet to collect some statistics on the number of elected abortions undertaken each year in England and Wales. The average round number of abortions taken in a year were 200,000, with 201,576 in 2006; in 2007 - 205,598 abortions took place, the highest in British history. Then there was a slight decline, with 202,158 in 2008, and in 2009 - 195,743. Finally in 2010, there were 196,109 elective abortions. Therefore in the five years between 2006 and 2010 inclusive, there were a total of 1,000,751 elective abortions in England and Wales alone, not including those from the rest of the world, or from 1967 when elective abortions were legalised in the UK, nor of the abortions done since, such as 196,082 in 2011. Being curious with the maths, I wanted to work out how the annual statistic worked out in hours. With 8,760 hours in a year, I'm pretty sure that abortion centres were not operative during weekends and public holidays. This leaves 6,072 working hours in a year. Then consider that these centres are operative on a nine-to-five basis, as these operations are by appointment and are not prioritised as emergencies. This means that every hour of a typical weekday, around 98 abortions take place right across the country!
Here are a few snapshots of the results of an abortive foetus, I have included here to drive home the point. I apologise if you find these images distressing:

Then, according to the same statistics, 64.4% of women who underwent elective abortions were in the 20-34 age group, leaving the rest as either teenagers or those 35 years and older. Of the gestation period up to the operation, 77.7% were between 3-9 weeks.

And this, I think, is the main reason why such statistics makes me want to weep. Mainly social and career reasons. True, there were some operations done because the coming child had a high chance of being autistic, or having Downs Syndrome, or even something petty as having a hare-lip, which here in the UK, can be fixed by a simple post-birth operation. So I am aware that some of these mothers felt that they would not have coped with the responsibility of raising a disabled child. But to me at least, even taking disability into consideration, does not justify the killing of the unborn, unless for one exception, that the mother's life would have been endangered had the pregnancy was brought to term. As we had already seen, the Bible is clear that a child is a gift of God, and precious in his sight.

How much worse would it be for a woman to terminate her pregnancy for the sake of pursuing her career, gaining wealth, and to climb the social ladder. Believe it or not, the same statistic page also shown that just under half of all women undergoing abortion, or 49%, were living with a partner. This percentage seems to me way too high for health reasons alone. Others, perhaps was because a child would have got in the way of her social and working life had she been a single mother.
Yet the nation turns a blind eye at the multiple deaths caused by these operations. The foetus is removed and binned, like a used sweet (candy) wrapper. One law for the commoner, but a very different law for the British Royal Family, for example.
At the time of writing, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and wife of Prince William, is heavily pregnant with the third heir to the Throne. Now supposing Catherine decided to abort. What a national scandal this would have been! Newspapers would have splashed such a scandal across the front pages. The BBC and commercial channels on the TV and radio would have wanted to find out why. National sympathy would have been a possibility had her health been in danger. But national outrage if her pregnancy had got in the way of her duties, royal or career-wise, or her social life. One journalist after another would have written articles and blogs of condemnation. She would have been branded by the nation as selfish and downright nasty! As it is, she will be looked after in one of the nation's top private hospitals, and so we are told, soon after the birth, and when both mother and child are ready for discharge, the baby will be held up high at the world famous Buckingham Palace balcony, facing the Mall, crowded with over a million people. In reality, the five years of abortive operations carried out between 2006 and 2010 inclusive would mean a dead foetus for every person standing at the Mall, as was the case during the 2012 Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
Over a million see the Royal Family from the Mall. One dead foetus for every person standing there!

I guess that because the UK has a monarchic system, the very fact of the need for the dynasty to continue makes the English ferociously hypocritical! That is a fact - that if Catherine was married to a plumber, and wanted an abortion, such news would not even have made it to the corner of a local newspaper page. Not in the public interest. Meaning, nobody would care less. But being married to the Prince, second in line to the Throne, and the nation waits in anticipation, some praying fervently that nothing will go wrong during the birth.

Now, I'm not against the Royal Family. About two years previous to this, I wished William and Catherine a happy future together in one of my blogs. As people, I have nothing against them. Furthermore, it is my hope and intent that the birth of Catherine's baby will be flawless and the child healthy. But I weep over the demise of millions of foetuses who God says he favoured and had the full right to live.

But to them, as with the hatchling I found on the path last week, I say:
Rest in peace, little one.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

A Warning For All Of Us..

Throughout some previous blogs I might have come across as a "soft" Christian - emphasising eternal salvation, the love of God, his willingness to save, eternal security and such like, all the positive attributes to our faith. All of these are true of course, as I would not promote anything I know to be false. But all this, I suppose were the offshoot of my Roman Catholic upbringing where I was taught that it would have been a lost eternity in Hell if I were to have died with an unconfessed mortal sin in my soul.  In this Catholic faith, nobody had ever enjoyed assurance of their salvation or what followed in the afterlife. If anything, the terrors of Purgatory and Hell had kept millions enslaved to fear during the Middle Ages, with many of the rich and the well-off paying the Church for early release from Purgatory to enter Heaven, while the poorer majority had to bear the full brunt of their penalty.
So the Church sold to individuals what was actually a release pass out of Purgatory, known in the faith as an Indulgence. Most indulgences only provided a partial release, that is, a shorter time spent in Purgatory. However, anyone who would willingly sacrifice his own life for either the preservation or promotion of the Catholic faith, would have been granted a Plenary Indulgence with which the martyr would bypass Purgatory altogether and enter straight into Heaven after death. This, for example, gave the motivation for the Crusaders to fight to the death both the Jews and the Muslims while invading the Middle East during the 11th and 12th Centuries to bring the land under the Vatican's control.
The Vatican - one time seller of Indulgences.
Therefore, it is not too surprising that many have turned against God, believing that his fickleness to save fully and completely, with many shaking their fists in the air, even metaphorically, rather than to commit themselves to the faith. I should know, I once was one of them, and I have personally known others who had discredited God's love or even his existence.
Therefore knowledge of God's love, I feel is crucial to some. Certainly I have benefited from such truths after becoming acquainted with the Bible, particularly with the Gospel of John.

But there is the other side of the picture, and that is God is also a consuming fire. And one of his commands to all mankind is not to put God to the test of defiance, although I believe that God would answer favourably the thoughts or questioning of a sincere inquirer. I write this as a result of a post which appeared on Facebook, and perhaps many of you readers might have come across it already, as the posting was set to public.
The Case of the Titanic
The man who built the largest ocean liner at the time said that not even God was able to sink it. Although neither the Facebook posting nor Google revealed who this man was, I assume he was most likely Thomas Andrews, the Architect who designed the Titanic, one of the three Olympic ships constructed in the early 1900s, with the Titanic being the largest of the three.  When the ship went down in August 1912, he remained on board and perished with it along with over a thousand other passengers. All by being struck and its hull torn by a solid lump of frozen water.

But what I have found most striking was that some fourteen years before the tragedy, in 1898 a novelist named Morgan Robertson wrote a novella called Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan - a fiction story of a ship, Titan, which was struck by an iceberg at the calm Atlantic waters during a cold August evening. The incredible similarity between this story, which was published even before the Titanic was thought of, and the real life tragedy, seemed prophetic. The only difference was that Robertson placed his disaster at a slightly different location of the Atlantic to the actual event.
Apart from this detail, it is worth asking: Was this novella a supernatural prophecy? If so, was it from God? I'm left only to speculate on this, but Andrews' defiance was a good reflection of the British Empire at the height of it glory. And not surprising, that much of the Empire's prowess was based on its naval strength, especially since the victory gotten from the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, when the British won the battle against both the French and Spanish naval forces. Since then, The British pride in its own seamanship swelled and the nation believed that they were beyond the Judgement of God. Furthermore, it wasn't long before one English biologist, Charles Darwin, began to write his book which will gradually draw the nation away from the truthfulness of God's revelation while continuing to revel in its pride; On the Origin of Species, a classic which was also the inspiration behind Britain's racial, cultural and national superiority, along with its naval prowess. 
The ship Titanic was the very embodiment of the British Empire, with its rigid class structure and opulence for the First Class passengers, in contrast to the dreadful living conditions of the boiler stoking firemen who kept the ship sailing. By contrast to the engine deck, the Grand Stairway was worthy of use by any king or V.I P. and is featured to this day in many Titanic literature. The Grand Stairway was the very epitome of the British upper class, a way of an opulent lifestyle out of reach of the commoner, just as the Grand Stairway was inaccessible to the firemen, as well as the third and second class passengers. Yet it's defiance of God and naval pride had brought its downfall, as the Empire itself became financially unmanageable and was dismantled in the 1960s.

The Case with Celebrities

Marilyn Monroe, an American actress was an icon in the 1950s. Throughout her career starting in the late 1940s and her death in 1962, she had starred in 28 movies, sung 35 songs connected with these movies, appeared in five TV programs between 1953 and 1962, was nominated for 16 awards, including the BAFTA in 1956 and 1958. Her fame spread right across the western world, and she was sixth among the world's greatest female stars.
Then, at the end of July 1962 the Holy Spirit inspired the evangelist Billy Graham to appear on one of her TV shows. After preaching to her about her need for Jesus Christ as her saviour, she replied,
I don't need your Jesus Christ!
A week later, on 6th August, she was found dead in her apartment of a drug overdose. There was speculation whether she committed suicide or whether it was an accident or miscalculation. Apparently, despite her stardom, she did feel bouts of depression, therefore making suicide a distinct possibility.

The case with Marilyn Monroe has always troubled my heart. She indeed was a beautiful woman and an icon of a celebrity. Yet in my mind I can conjure up her as a newborn, cosseting in her mother's arms, and being breastfed, then laid in her cot to sleep soundly. I imagine her sitting at her baby chair, being spoon fed, with her mother's love flowing from her heart. Marilyn crawling on the floor, perhaps chasing a ball or occupied with some other toy, was so happy in her childhood innocence. It makes me wonder how pursuing a life of celebrity can not only be so detrimental to a person, but be the swelling of pride and self-reliance to the point of shaking the fist of defiance before God, who gave her life in the first place.

Then, there was the case with British band AC/DC rock singer Bon Scott. One of his albums Down the Highway to Hell was released in 1979 after a song he sung which contained these lyrics:
Don't stop me; I'm going down all the way, down the highway to Hell.
In February 19th 1980, Bon Scott was found dead, choked in his own vomit after a heavy drinking session.
Then there was ex-Beatle John Lennon. Writer of many songs recorded by the Beatles, his hostility towards Jesus Christ and the Bible was well known. In March 1966, he remarked in an interview:
Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink...We're more popular than Jesus now. I don't know which will go first, rock and roll or Christianity."

Many of his songs were about free sex and rebellion against authority. He also had a particular hatred towards the middle classes who he thought were more aligned with church-goers. One of Paul McCartney's songs, Elena Rigby, released in August 1966 and dedicated to John Lennon, described the pathetic state of a typical English parish church, with the vicar, Father McKensey, burying the body of his very last parishioner, Elena Rigby, and nobody will ever come to hear his sermons again.  In May 1969 Lennon's song The Ballad of John and Yoko used the word "Christ" several times in vain when released, and this might have led to his pre-mature death on the 8th December 1980, when he was shot outside a hotel by Mark Chapman in New York City.

Indeed, our God is a consuming fire, and anyone shaking his fist in defiance has not only placed himself in real danger, but brought in the possibility of sealing his own doom.

The future of Britain?

In one of last week's newspapers, there was a report that the top notch at the Meteorological Office are about to hold a conference in the coming days about our apparent climate change. They want to know the bottom cause of the apparent lack of summers and extreme weather we have been experiencing here in the UK. As with last year, months of summer downpours and torrential rain had not only spoiled the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations but have caused widespread flooding, destroying many homes and businesses, as well as causing havoc in our crop production. And this year a particularly cold March, with daily temperatures hovering at only two degree Celsius, had reduced wheat production by a third, one of our key items of consumption. The result of all this will be rising food prices, as we need to depend more on foreign imports to sustain us. So food prices rise while the national economy remains stagnant, with wages and salaries remaining pegged. Meanwhile, the insurance companies have to keep on doling out coverage to restore property damaged by frequent flooding.

I have my own views, looking at the scientific perspective, but I by no means push these views as dogma. My guess is as good as the guy's next door and I could be way out wrong. But one thing we can be sure of: our lousy summers are caused by an area of atmospheric high pressure sitting over the Artic circle, pushing the Jet stream south of the UK. Normally, during the summer, the Jet stream flows north of the UK, bringing warm, dry sunshine weather. If the stream flows south, as in the case of winter, then we are to experience cooler, wetter weather and unsettled conditions.

I have wondered whether the volcanic heat emission over Iceland might have a connection with the erratic flow of the Jet stream. If such a heat emission is the bottom cause of our miserable summers, who knows, the Icelandic volcanic system may well be the instrument God may use to judge or discipline Britain.

With Iceland strategically placed to the north west of the UK, our nation is in line to become a victim of a major volcanic eruption. Like the one which took place during Spring of 2010, which grounded every UK flight. Because of our lousy climate, holiday trips to the sunshine is a major priority to the average Brit. When a small Icelandic crater blew, thousands, if not millions of trippers had their cherished time ruined. And it could happen again. This time a larger, neighbouring crater could blow. If so, not only would the resulting ash cloud lower the temperature, but devastate all food production, service industries, business and life as a whole. It is a judgement not to be taken lightly!

Our God is a consuming fire, in this case, literally. Although God has made aware of his presence in the heart of every child born, our culture, our academics, our form of education had turned the nation away from him. Darwinism is constantly being plodded out to our kids in school. On the BBC and other TV channels, evolution and uniformitarianism are constantly being promoted. At present, a series, Rise of the Continents, with Iain Stewart presenting a world beginning without the need for a God to interfere. This followed Simon Reece's similar presentation of Australia, and earlier, Brian Cox on the origin of the Universe. Then not to mention Richard Dawkins' famous book, The God Delusion.

Celebrities, and these include academics who make it on to the media, are held with a reverential respect and god-like esteem by the average Briton. Let's face it, worship of the celebrity is the real national religion, a religion which denies Jesus Christ as Lord and instead leaving us to bow our heads, even falling on our knees when a man in a suit walks by. As we push away God from our lives, let us refrain from sticking our two fingers in defiance and maybe God's patience and eternal love may spare this country from judgement.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

...You Have Done It Unto Me

Hebrews 6:4-6 is perhaps one of the most controversial passages of Scriptures found in the entire Bible. These mere three verses reads as this:

For it is impossible for those who have been enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
If  they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

Such words can cause such controversy within the Christian faith: One group says "Oh, these words mean that one can be convicted by the Holy Spirit and then reject the Gospel without ever being born again." While the other group says that these were true believers who had departed from the faith to such an extent, that they had crossed the point of no return, and they are lost forever, unable to repent.

And so the debate rages on. If you were to go to the Internet, and simply type in Hebrews 6:4-6, a whole list of websites would appear listed, all to do with these verses. And You Tube also, has countless videos of individuals talking to the camera, debating if one can lose his salvation after conversion, or not.
I have watched and listened to those who believe that these verses teach that salvation can be lost. They tend to look sad, as if apologetic, and none of these speakers had any edifying power. Rather, time and time again, they pull my spirit down whenever their videos of their speeches come across. And I'm not alone. Many years ago we as a Baptist Church in Bracknell had a visiting speaker from a Pentecostal church at another town a few miles down the road. This was in the mid 1970s, possibly 1975 or -6. Apparently our congregation was rather shocked as this preacher threw out any assurance of eternal salvation by using, among other Scriptures, Hebrews 6:4-6. The attitude of this guest speaker was one of smugness, as if delivering a basic truth which was meant to free each one of us from the shackles of deception, namely that we believed in eternal security of the saint. A few of us, including myself, complained to one of our deacons, which was passed on to the senior pastor, who himself was away preaching at another church that particular Sunday. Apparently, our guest speaker was barred from further preaching at our fellowship, as he was never seen again.
Hebrews 6:4-6 was also used by the leader of a small Pentecostal church which met at his home roughly about the same time, maybe up to two years later. He used it to prove that our salvation this side of death is not eternal and can be lost. But the biggest affray, leading to a near riot, took place at Minehead, Somerset in Spring 1994. There in front of a large auditorium, a Methodist minister used the same text of Scripture to explode the "myth" of Once Saved Always Saved, which he had abbreviated to OSAS as a further means to discredit its truthfulness. In all these cases, when a preacher delivers a message that salvation can be lost, it has always brought my spirit down and shackled me into bondage of fear, a direct opposite of edifying faith, and I found this to be universal among those who believe in salvation being eternally secure. The near riot in Minehead said it all. Had the message been edifying, the closing worship which followed would have resulted in adoration and rejoicing, with hands lifted up to a holy God. Instead a song was sung which was centred around Romans 8:39 where it says that nothing can separate us from the love of God, followed by a mass counselling session to allay fears. It goes to show how devastating such misapplied Scripture can bring!
Recently I read an article posted by a blogger who I follow on this site. What he wrote not only edified me, but confirmed what I believed for a very long time. That is, the letter in question is called To Hebrews - or Pros Ebraious in Greek. In other words, the letter was written to Jews, Jews, Jews! In every English Bible or New Testament, Hebrews, or To the Hebrews were adequate titles. What was the object of the whole letter? It was to contrast the finished work of Jesus Christ as the final fulfilment of all the Old Testament ordinances along with Temple furniture and regular rituals. The writer explains that these Temple ordinances had only a temporary effect in covering sin, and had to be repeated over and over again. But the Atonement which Jesus had accomplished succeeded in putting sin away forever, for all time, therefore making the Temple, its ordinations and rituals obsolete.

Before the Temple was flattened by the Romans in 70 AD, there were a number of Jews who were familiar with the teachings and fellowship of the churches, especially in Jerusalem, where on Pentecost and soon after, thousands became believers in Jesus Christ. But some of these Jews were not satisfied with doing away with the regular animal sacrifices, and after experiencing the new life among believers, decided to return to the Temple ordinances in order to be saved. To return to animal sacrifice meant that the crucifixion had failed to atone, and because of this, the death of Jesus was treated as of no effect, and something which could be trodden into the ground as a non-event. To them, Jesus was just a condemned criminal who bore his own shame. These Jews felt much happier in keeping with their sacrifices and Temple ordinances. Even in Judaism today, without the Temple and without sacrifices, rituals in synagogues are held, denying the effect of any Atonement Christ had made on the cross.
Have you ever sacrificed a bull on the Altar in Jerusalem? If so, then you have trodden underfoot the cross of Christ, putting him into open shame, because by doing you have denied his atoning effect. On the other hand, as a true believer, did you depart from the faith for a few hours, several days, months, or even years? Have you returned to the faith after decades in the desert? (I knew some who did.) If so then you have not trodden underfoot the Son of God. And will stick my neck out to declare that during your exile in the desert, you had never lost your salvation, as salvation is God's doing, not yours.
Yet there are scores of such well-educated teachers and preachers who claim they know the Bible inside out. They are often upheld by their supporters. The Methodist minister at Minehead was actually exalted by his followers to the status of a prophet, equal in authority to Isaiah, Jeremiah or Micah, an idea I have thoroughly opposed. Most, including myself, have tossed to and fro which of the two sides is right, for surely, both cannot be right. Years of one's Christian life can be wasted on such a debate, when he could have been spending his time serving God in a way that would have brought him the greatest honour. Instead, books were written, websites created, and videos shot, throwing theories and debates to and fro, and leaving me spiritually exhausted and often crestfallen.
Yet there are simple, straightforward principles the Bible outlines which is indeed pleasing to God. These are not debating doctrine but in actual doing of God's word. Doing - something which someone else will benefit, both physically and spiritually. For example, someone with an income sponsoring a child growing up in poverty in the Third World, particularly in Africa. This was something I began doing in 1997, after returning home from Australia, and receiving scores of leaflets from the Christian organisation, Tear Fund (now Compassion.) It took me weeks, even months of persuading, but eventually I got round to sponsoring. The first child had abandoned the project, the second child died soon after he was assigned to me, but the third I stuck with until he became of age. A beautiful relationship blossomed between us. By sponsoring him, he was delivered from poverty, went to school, received qualifications and, I believe, gone to university. Thus fulfilling what Jesus Christ had taught:

Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40.
What I write here, I'm not trying to give myself credit, as at first I was unwilling to help. It took months of persuasion to change my mind, simply because by nature, I hate junk mail, and such leaflets tend to end up straight into the bin. But this goes to show the patient grace of God, who did not give up on me when I refused to respond, but in a way, kept on knocking, because at the end of the day he wanted to bless me. It was the patient enduring of God's part that had brought the blessing.
Only the day before I attended a Compassion conference in central London. Believe me, it was a real eye-opener! Here I learnt about the dreadful poverty such families grow up in. One was about a single mother of several children, each with a different father. I thought, "Oooooh!"
Then the speaker asked us all,
"Hands up if any of you felt judgement against this single mother."
Nobody raised their hands, but I knew that I should have done. The mental "Oooooh!" was a glint of mental judgement. Then the speaker went on:
"The only way that this mother could bring food into her house was by prostitution. She had no job, no income and often no food at all in her house. During those times she would boil some water in a pan just to give the impression of cooking. But she had nothing to cook. Prostitution was the only glimmer of hope for survival."
We were told that along with poverty, there was desperation, loss of hope and prone to illness, particularly AIDS. When one of her children received a sponsor, life for the whole family changed dramatically. Not only food and a chance of education arrived, but love and hope - and conversion to Jesus Christ as Saviour. The boy who grew up under my sponsorship also grew up spiritually, enough to send me encouraging Scripture, often when I needed to be encouraged. I'm looking forward to meet him one day in Glory.

Sponsoring a child is one of many of doing God's will. For me personally, learning to be patient, especially in checkout lines, is something I needed to put into practise, and believe me, it was not easy, and even at present, I'm prone to relapse. One of the more testing times is when a customer in front uses a lot of our time trying to redeem a few pennies from a voucher which the till does not accept, and talking continues on between client and teller. Or as a domestic window cleaner, a customer taking a long time to pay his fee, often days or even weeks, and we have a household budget to see to. In all these cases, I have discovered that patience is an oil which makes good relationships and does not put the client under duress. But patience is a virtue I can only acquire by being filled with the Holy Spirit. I believe that having good relationship with an unbelieving client not only avoids unnecessary conflict, but has a greater likelihood of bringing him to the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
The blogger who I follow had put out this test - if what you have read has edified you, then it's likely to be the true Gospel. In turn, anything which brings you down is most certainly a false gospel. I can see the wisdom in his words. After all, Jesus did say:
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10.
Now one can't argue over that, far less cause a riot.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

What If...Crude Oil Runs Out...

I was wondering what to write on this week's blog when I picked up today's Daily Mail newspaper, after arriving home from a gym workout and sauna session, only to come across an article, The Real Life Shameless, written by journalist Joanna Moorhead. It was about an unemployed family living in the Westcliff district of an English city Scunthorpe, in North Lincolnshire. This particular household had featured in a Channel 4 documentary, Skint, which tells of this guy whose steelworks factory where he used to work now stands derelict. His live-in girlfriend has five children from three previous partners, he himself has fathered a toddler and another baby is on the way. When born, the house will have seven children altogether, the entire family living on State benefits.
Westcliff Estate, Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire
The article goes on about feral youths who has little hope for being optimistic of their future, one has been thrown out of school several times and has a fierce temper. They tend to end up embroiled in the drug culture, prostitution and crime to support their drug habits, along with gang violence. As the article states, their poverty isn't just financial, but also due to lacking any form of aspiration. It is also a frightening fact that if any of the youths wants out of this way of life, then there is always Her Majesty's Pleasure, so the article says, a fact that so many of these unfortunates will be sentenced to prison as a result of fighting for survival.
There are many districts and estates like this in Britain. The main culprit is unemployment, a life of worthlessness due to a lack of serving a useful purpose.  Their offspring are usually failures at school, although I personally don't think it's due to the child's stupidity or a learning block, rather it is more likely due to the teaching staff deciding not to show much or any enthusiasm for these kids to learn something, due to their background. In other words, if the student senses prejudice against him among the teachers, he would not have the motivation to study and learn.
There was also a brief note that the estate lacked schools, social clubs and churches. Oh yes, churches. How would a middle class congregation fit into such an environment? I'm fully aware of the average English local church, as I live in the prosperous South. Then again, I wonder how these feral youths and their unemployed parents and relatives would react at the sight of gentlemen wearing suits and ties - and driving fast, expensive cars - impressing their wives and girlfriends, as they congregate inside a building specifically set aside for the purpose?
Indeed, if any of these youths would dare take a peek inside, they just might catch a snippet of a sermon about loving each other as God loves them, I think, at best would bring out raucous laughter, at worst, having a brick thrown through a window or damaging the paintwork of one of their posh cars, if not actually breaking into the vehicle and driving off; a great source for income to feed their drug habit for a good while, perhaps. Then it would be worth considering how committed, even brave enough, to share the Gospel of God's love to them. Then again, it's the matter of putting myself in their position. How would I share the Gospel with such people?
Unless there is within me a fiery love for them, stirred up by the Holy Spirit, to connect would otherwise be impossible, as my natural instincts would be of fearful cautiousness. As a result, these youths would, I'm sure, tear me to shreds as if thrown into a den of lions. But on the other hand, if they sense genuine love and concern, they would begin to trust me and see my faith as something genuine, and to be desired.
As already mentioned, where I live is much safer than estates like that in Scunthorpe. Here in the South of England, prosperity reigns. Most people here own their homes, have two or three cars, and their children prepare for university. As a window cleaner, some of the biggest houses I deal with on a regular basis are homes of regular church-goers.
Clearly there are two Britains, each co-existing side by side with each other yet the two cannot be more different. Each day, I often pass a fast two-seater, the driver looking very self satisfied and confident as he shows the world that he has a very successful, highly paid career, a result of good schooling and academic achievement. And this is by no means restricted to males. I have seen a growing number of females driving such cars, normally on their own.
Good schooling - a successful career - prosperity, the trinity of material success which brings out the envy in me and no doubt, more so from the feral youths up in Scunthorpe, if they would be daft enough to drive their fast cars up there. I'll be honest to you and to myself here, when I see a fast car careering down the road, I do feel a twitch of envy. Normally at such circumstances, I remind myself that life is short, "like a wisp of smoke" and we will eventually all die, followed by the Judgement. This is a way I can reassure myself as I lick my emotional sores which has arisen due by failing at school.
Then, on top of driving fast cars, the same sort of people take exotic holidays (vacations) to far-flung parts of the world, often going for more than just once a year. Now on this area of my life, God has blessed me richly with the experience of world travel, taking in Western Europe, the Middle East, Singapore, Australia and North America. However, they were no five-star hotels, no waiter wearing a bow tie, no posh dinner table with brilliant white table cloth, no crystal wine decanter or silver cutlery.
Rather, travel was on a shoestring, sleeping in hostel dormitories with a profound snorer in a bed nearby, buying and cooking my own meals, and sometimes having to wait a while before the communal washroom was free, particularly at the disused army hut at Santa Barbara in California. Also at a Banana Bungalow hostel at Hollywood, I found myself bedding down with a few others in a converted car port with a sheet of plastic covering its mouth where the door would have been. Then not forgetting New York City, where I spent a night in a squalid room shared with cockroaches scuttling across the floor at this seedy hotel at 8th Avenue, among brawling Afro-Caribbeans out in the streets. Then to add to this, there were a large number of UK hostels I stayed in, from John O'Groats at the northern tip of Scotland, to Penzance in West Cornwall, along with the beautiful Jurassic Coast of Dorset and Devon, the Lake District in Cumbria, even in Central London itself in preparation for take-off from Heathrow Airport. And not one British hostel was less exhilarating than those overseas. Certainly, backpacking was an adventure in itself, a great and wonderful experience with which no five-star holiday could hold a candle to. And yes, if I could, I'll do it all over again.

But travel, both long-haul and short, requires a constant supply of fuel, as do all cars and freight vehicles. When I see a fast car speed by, or a traffic jam including heavy goods vehicles stuck on a motorway (freeway) or even as we prepare to fly to Greece for a short break, I often wonder - what would happen if all the crude oil reserves were to run dry? After all, oil is not a renewable fuel and sooner or later the rocks beneath us would no longer yield.

Unless scientists can resolve the problem using equally effective alternatives, I believe there would be worldwide pandemonium! Just think about it. At least at first, before global shipping is disrupted, posh people, used to jetting off to anywhere around the world, even for a long weekend at Bangladesh, would have to holiday here in the UK and put up with our lousy wet climate. The guy with the two-seater Ferrari can only gaze at it in anguish as it sits in the car port with no functional purpose. At least with me I could cycle to the coast and spend time at one of its hostels. As for trains, maybe the electric powered locomotives may still run providing all power stations are nuclear and in addition, all our fields and off-shore waters are turned into ugly forests of wind turbines. Woe to be on a calm day! And furthermore, I doubt very much if the feral youth up in Scunthorpe would have any sympathy towards the unfortunate posh guy whose fast car is stuck in the garage and all airlines  grounded.

With the airlines around the northern hemisphere, it could happen. Only a couple of years ago a volcano in Iceland erupted, causing a cloud of ash dust to drift across the UK. For a period of time, every flight from all UK airports were cancelled, ruining the holidays of multiple thousands. Now we are told that an even bigger volcano in Iceland could blow, not only closing all airports but could even give us a year without a summer. According to the vulcanologist, the time of this eruption is already overdue.

Well, if this thing decides to blow just before we are due to fly to Crete later this year, we would lose everything, as our travel insurance policy does not cover volcanic eruptions. If there is such a test for believing the validity of Romans 8:28, this would be it.

For all things works for the good of those who love God, and are called according to his purpose.

All things. And I guess this would include crude oil supplies running dry. Imagine the catastrophe. Not just in the world of travel but the shipping and transport of all freight. Our store shelves will soon be empty. In fact, I would not put it past the idea that there may eventually be global starvation. In such a situation, the well educated professional living in Surrey, the English equivalent of Beverly Hills, would be no better off than the youth in Scunthorpe.

And this is the whole point behind this blog. Both the feral youth in Scunthorpe and the professional in Surrey depend on crude oil for their daily living. And I sincerely believe that crude oil is one of the most important acts of God's mercy and goodness outside salvation. And yet the academic and the professional will still insist that the source of crude oil was an evolutionary accident rather than a means of God's goodness. As a Creationist, I sincerely believe that crude oil is the result of billions of fish which perished suddenly in some horrific catastrophe. No other known disaster can kill off so many fish in such a short time. The one exception is the Noachian Deluge, described in Genesis 7-8.

The Flood was a judgement passed on to the antediluvian world for its universal wickedness. Yet, while that world was still underwater, new coal and oil reserves were being created from antediluvian trees and fish respectively. I once read an article about the construction of a bridge a few decades ago. The builders had discovered that the base of the wooden pylons supporting the structure had metamorphosed into coal within days of their placement. This evidence seems to be a rebuke to the uniformitarian geologist's insistence that such metamorphism can only take multiple millions of years. Yet during Biblical times and thereafter, nobody were aware of such abundant resources until into the 18th Century, when the discovery of "stones which can burn" eventually launched the Industrial Revolution.

From the time of the Deluge, God fully knew about the human world during the last couple of centuries and the commodities required to sustain life. It was an act of mercy and goodness right in the midst of judgement. But so ironic is the human heart. The feral youth of Scunthorpe would ridicule the existence of God, assigning him to the religion of the well off, well educated professional, who in turn gives the glory to Darwin instead of to God.

Most certainly a new "commodity" is desparately needed, the regeneration of the soul and the infilling of the Holy Spirit to the extent that a fervant love of God, eclipsing everything this world have to offer, would shine into the hearts of not only these families in Scunthorpe but to all the poor and benefit-dependant households right across the UK.