Let’s change now

January 25, 2019

Perhaps it’s not too late. We may all have played a part in wrecking the natural world, but let’s do something about it.

This week Sir David Attenborough addressed the 49th summit of the World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland, and his major concern is that we act now to protect the Earth. Things are getting worse, not better, and it is high time that national leaders and their citizens make meaningful changes. “The Garden of Eden is no more” (*) , he explained, and we’re in a new age, the age of humans.

The reference to the Garden of Eden is taken from the beginning of the Christian Bible. It refers to the pristine state of the world, uncontaminated by humanity’s unrestrained greed and selfish ambition. The Bible presents our natural environment as God’s creative gift to us, and calls for us to care for it, to nurture it, and to maintain its God-given diversity and beauty.

“We need a plan” Attenborough said.

It’s never too late to change, is one of the underlying messages of Jesus Christ. It’s not only a spiritual message, but it also applies to lifestyle changes that celebrate the gift of our precious planet.

Let’s make some changes.

james.henderson@gracecom.church

*https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/01/david-attenborough-transcript-from-crystal-award-speech

 

Flip the pancake!

December 7, 2018

I’m writing this from a coffee shop where I’ve ordered toast and marmalade. I came here at 7.45am, and am looking forward to the crispy, toasted bread. The problem is that often they serve it toasted just on one side, meaning, in my view, that it’s only half-done, and so I ask for it to be toasted on both sides. Am I being too fussy?

It reminds me of a description from the Christian Bible. It refers to an indecisive nation as a half-turned cake. Imagine making a flatbread or a pancake and not turning it over so that it cooks thoroughly. The result would not be good because it’s neither one thing nor the other. Just unfinished. Does this describe the UK right now? Not just the UK, but so many countries are in turmoil, and don’t know where to turn or on which side their bread is buttered!

On a personal basis I realize sometimes I’m like a half-turned cake. So many things incomplete, stopped halfway, betwixt and between, stuck in the middle. Maybe, what I’ve got to do is get help so that I can finish and let myself become like a cake that’s baked, fully risen, and that tastes good, so to speak.

That’s what Jesus offers us…to help complete who we are, to become the best we can be.

If each of us lets Jesus help, hopefully the knock-on effect would be that our nations would cease to be like half-turned cakes stuck on the griddle of life.

james.henderson@gracecom.church

Jesus remembers lest we forget

November 9, 2018

Lest we forget, Jesus remembers.

This the Christian message.

Jesus, who remembers unknown soldiers everywhere and knows their names and their life stories, sacrificed himself for them and for all of us. Irrespective of our background, race or faith, Jesus died and rose for us; for every soldier slain in some foreign field, no matter which side he or she was on; for all civilians caught up in known or unknown conflicts; for everyone, whether we live in war or in peace.

Let’s be thankful and remember this weekend.

Above all, let’s not forget that Jesus remembers.

Therein is our hope.

james.henderson@gracecom.church

 

Will it end?

September 28, 2018

November of this year is the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War — the war some hoped would be “the war to end all wars”. It would have been great had it been so, but it was too idealistic a dream.

Since H G Wells coined the phrase, there have been well over 120 conflicts which we could call wars, including the Second “World” War. Only this week news has come out about the civil war in the Sudan, which has been ongoing since 2013. It’s estimated that approximately 400,000 have been killed so far, and chances are the number is higher.

I wonder that we think when we hear of news like this. It’s far away, and it doesn’t really affect us. Do we shake our head in disbelief, and then don’t give it a second thought? What about the victims involved? Will they be missed? Have they become just statistics that will soon be forgotten by most of us? Is the essence of who these people were lost forever?

How can we respond to such questions? Christianity proclaims that the only hope for the dead is Jesus Christ. In other words, there is hope for everyone who has died and will die, be it in warfare or not. Jesus himself was crucified for us, and he rose from the dead three days later so that all of us might live again. No one is forgotten by him.

That’s the Christian message. And it is his life that will end all wars.

Turn to Jesus and live.

james.henderson@gracecom.church

Hope beyond the grave

September 21, 2018

The news of celebrity deaths has hit the headlines over the past month or so. At the same time people close to you may have passed away, and this has left you with feelings of sadness and loss. On a personal note, someone whom I held in high regard died this week.

Is there hope that somehow our loved ones will live again?

Depending on your perspective, there are different points of view in this. Some say no, there cannot possibly be life after life. Others say perhaps but we just don’t know. Some religions offer more definitive ideas.

As for Christians like me, we proclaim the certainty of God’s love for all of us who live and who have ever lived. God demonstrated this love by sending his Son, Jesus Christ, who died and rose again for us, and, because of that, there is a resurrection to come. Jesus, in referring to himself, said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25, the NIV Bible).

In Jesus there is hope for the dead.

james.henderson@gracecom.org.uk

No vengeance?

September 7, 2018

Vengeance seems to be on the mind of international leaders this week.

But should it really be payback time? The UK and its allies against Russia for the alleged deployment of nerve gas on UK soil? Russia against the UK for making what its leaders view as unfounded allegations? And, the more we look into the news, the more examples we come across.

Some have thought that God has vengeance on his mind, and that he plans to bring the world to an end in a fit of wrath. Typically, that’s what many of the Judgment Day pundits claim. That a disillusioned God will satisfy his anger by destroying the earth and sinners like you and me. As society appears to go from bad to worse, the more religious zealots preach that view.

But, is this true? Actually, the Bible proposes something different. It’s not that God is intent on revenge, but that he offers outgoing love to a resistant humanity. God prefers to return evil with good. Vengeance is subsumed in grace. Jesus returns in power as the Prince of Peace, and not like some charging, vengeful warrior king.

How will all this play out? I don’t know.

What I do know is that God is the God of amazing grace, not of spiteful vengeance, and, because of that, there is hope for all of us.

Accept his grace.

james.henderson@gracecom.org.uk

The best light source

August 31, 2018

Sometimes things, which we regarded as helpful and innovative, become outdated and of questionable value. For example, halogen bulbs, which were heralded once as affordable and durable light sources, are being phased out in Europe because they are regarded now as costly to us and as unfriendly to the environment.

Similarly, the Bible tells us that belief systems, which we might have valued once as being sources of spiritual light, have been upstaged in favour of something uniquely better. All those religious ideas, claiming that somehow through our own actions or by our own state of mind we might achieve enlightenment, are obsolete. They are not relevant anymore.

This is because the only true source of life-giving light is neither a code of behaviour nor a meditation technique. Rather it is a person, and his name is Jesus Christ. Any other lights fade away in the glory of his brightness.

Jesus is the Light of the World.

Accept Jesus. Let his light shine through you.

james.henderson@gracecom.church

Give it some soul

August 17, 2018

Aretha Franklin, who died on the 16th August, was a magnificent singer and a remarkable human being. She had this to say about singing, “if a song’s about something I’ve experienced or that could’ve happened to me, it’s good. But if it’s alien to me, I couldn’t lend anything to it. Because that’s what soul is all about” .

When she put her heart and soul into a song, the song came to life. Who can forget her legendary performances of Respect and I Say a Little Prayer?

Putting your heart and soul into something worthwhile changes not only those around us but it also changes who we are. This is a spiritual idea that’s worth holding onto. If we claim, for example, to be a Christian, then we put our whole body, mind and spirit into it. We commit to it emotionally as well as mentally. We walk the talk. It makes it all come alive.

Whatever we do, let’s give it some soul.

Make your song live.

james.henderson@gracecom.church

(Quote taken from http://uk.businessinsider.com/aretha-franklin-inspirational-quotes-2018-8?r=US&IR=T/#on-respect-2)

What’s ahead for you?

August 10, 2018

Are your joints a bit stiff today? Feeling the effects of ageing in some way?

According to a recent study by British scientists, we can no longer blame the symptoms of ageing on the simple wear and tear of our body, but it’s in our genes. In other words, getting old and even death itself are more genetically driven than was once thought. Some of the benefits of this research may be reflected in future breakthroughs in medical science and in cosmetics. We might live longer and look better to carry on carrying on.

Most of us like the idea of living longer, and everlasting life is regarded by many religions as a reward of the faithful. But, what would they do? It can be a scary idea in one way. Just more of the same forever and ever, world without end, amen? Personally, I’m not quite so sure.

Christianity explains that eternal life is not limited to life as we know it. It’s not going to be the same old life, rather a new life, the like of which we can’t even imagine. No one, the Bible tells us, has seen or heard of what God has prepared for us in the eternal life to come. All we know is that’s better than this one, and, let’s face it, despite all its ups and downs, this life can be pretty good.

With Jesus, we get a new life, and living forever becomes a new adventure, something indescribable and wonderful.

Get Jesus, get a life.

james.henderson@gracecom.church

What’s your credit?

August 3, 2018

Money has been in the news this week, from the naming of the first company worth one-trillion US dollars, to the rise in UK interest rates which might lead to more people being in debt.

Spiritually speaking, some religions see us as beginning life in a kind of spiritual debt. It’s as if we owe a huge amount, and we need to do something, sometimes quite a lot, to work our way into credit. Other ideas include that we begin with a clean slate, neither in credit or in debt, and in that way it’s fair to all.

Christianity takes an entirely different view. All of us are born into grace, with any debts we owed paid up in full through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This is not a blank balance sheet because everything is for us. Everything is a plus, a yes for us in Christ. You could call it the credit of abundant grace, and we use this credit to enrich everyone and everything around us.

In fact, to God, we’re worth more than a trillion dollars!

Why not accept the grace of Jesus and realize your worth?

james.henderson@gracecom.church

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