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

Plastic choices

January 12, 2018

Sometimes what seems like a good idea turns out to be a bad one. Take plastic, for example. Since it was first patented in 1856 in Birmingham, UK, it has revolutionized the world.

It was cheap, flexible, light-weight, durable, water-resistant, and just the answer for the mass production of household utensils, bottles, bags, containers, etc. It’s used in spacecraft and in hospital equipment. It’s in cars, trains, and planes. You name it, and probably plastic is in there somewhere.

Using plastic materials meant that we could preserve the planet a little longer because we wouldn’t need to use materials such as wood, stone, leather and glass. But look what’s happened now. Plastic degrades so slowly that it’s led to an environmental crisis. No one saw the consequences at the time. If only we had known!

There is, of course, a spiritual analogy. What we think is good for us morally or spiritually might in the end not be. This is why Christians point to Jesus and his words as the best path to take when it comes to how to live our lives and to how we relate to others. Plastic alternatives to what Jesus teaches might seem attractive, but resist them, follow Jesus and avoid a spiritual crisis.

Therefore, as well as being environmentally responsible, let’s be spiritually responsive, and accept Jesus Christ.

james.henderson@gracecom.church

Beyond the rainbow

September 15, 2017

It’s been ideal conditions for rainbows this week. Did you see one?

Rainbows signify hope. According to the Bible, God sent the first rainbow as a sign of his intervention when all seemed hopeless. Everyone was doing his or her own thing without any regard to consequences, and, on the international front, there was a build-up of tension and intrigue. Does this sound familiar? And then came the weather, lots of it, 40 days of rain and storms, and a great flood destroyed the known world.

Thankfully, God came to the rescue and sent the gift of a rainbow to proclaim that the chaos was over. This points to the idea that God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to save us and to proclaim the end of hopelessness.

As we listen to or read the news today, we fear what tomorrow may bring. The world seems more unstable with each passing day. Where is it all leading us? Is there global chaos and upheaval ahead? Perhaps. But, even if there is, there is still the rainbow, that splendid colourful refraction of light. For us, it can be like a sign that reminds us of Jesus, who is the Light of the world.

Therefore, when I see a rainbow, I think that, no matter how bad things get, both personally and for humanity in general, God does and will save us.

james.henderson@gracecom.org.uk

Hope for the hungry

March 17, 2017

In the midst of all the hoo-hah and hullaballoo about Brexit and another Scottish independence referendum, there was an arguably much more important story in the news this week.

On Wednesday, the Disasters Emergency Committee broadcast an emergency appeal for the millions of people in East Africa who are slowly, inexorably starving to death. It has been called the largest humanitarian crisis since 1945. Around 16 million people in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan are on the brink of starvation and urgently need food, water and medical treatment.

The problem is largely our own doing. As Dr. Alex Awiti, director of the East African Institute in Kenya puts it, “This shameful scale of starvation, disease and death, especially of children, women and the elderly, is unconscionable because it is man-made.”*

At times like this, in situations like this, it often seems as if there is no hope. But there is.

Mankind may be the problem, but we also have the solution in our hands. We produce enough food to feed 10 billion people, 30% more than the global population. And there is more than enough money to get it to the point of need.

But there’s a missing piece in the jigsaw and Jesus knew what it was. In his famous sermon on the Mount, he said, “Blessed are those who hunger…for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Jesus understood that it takes one kind of hunger to satisfy another. Unless humankind desires to put things right, it just won’t happen.

However, in this instance it seems we do. And it has.

First of all, the Queen announced she was making a personal donation to the fund. Then the government said it would match the first £5m donated by the public. And this morning I turned on the television and was greeted by the encouraging news that in just 24 hours the concerned and generous British public have already given £7m.

It is encouraging to know there are still many in the UK who have the right kind of hunger.

All the very best,

Peter Mill

*http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2017/03/14/africas-famine-is-mostly-man-made_c1523730

Care in 2017

December 30, 2016

Do you have a second?

The answer is yes. In fact, this year all of us have an extra second before the new year begins. Maybe it’s more time to reflect on the year we’ve had.

As we end 2016 with a fragile truce in Syria and with the spectre of another Cold War in politics, one wonders what 2017 will bring. There is so much uncertainty at a time when the world need re-assurance.

Can we do anything about it?

One of the biblical writers was a man called James, and he was the half-brother of Jesus Christ. He had something to say to Christians who lived in a society where faith was rejected as being an empty irrelevance. In referring to helping the needy in practical and encouraging ways, he said that Christians, both personally and collectively, should demonstrate their faith by their works. In other words, why claim to believe in God and yet lead a life that does not show love in action?

In 2017 let’s re-assure others that Christians are among them as people who care.

Take extra time to proclaim Jesus, not just in words, but also in all that we do.

Have a caring New Year!

james.henderson@gracecom.org.uk

We’re all saints!

September 2, 2016

ID 42488125 © Meunierd | Dreamstime.comThis week there has much discussion about Mother Theresa, who is due to be recognised as a Roman Catholic saint by Pope Francis this coming Sunday. She is described as a tortured soul who, during her many years of devoted service to the poor, felt abandoned by God and was often unable to pray. Her smile, it is said, masked her feelings of rejection and uncertainty.

Biblically speaking, a saint does not have to be perfect. Nor is there a particular ceremony that confers sainthood. In fact in God’s eyes all believers are saints despite their internal doubts and imperfections. It’s not that we must be perfect, but that Jesus Christ is perfect. And, because Jesus is perfect, there is hope for us all.

Perhaps, like Mother Theresa, at times we suffer bouts of spiritual anxiety and wonder where God is in our distress. And, because of this we feel unworthy and rejected. Christ explains that, even in our darkest moments, he remains with us. He never leaves our side. His presence is continuous.

The news this weekend may cover Mother Theresa’s canonisation. If you read about it or see on television, let’s remember that God calls all his believers saints, and that he delights in them, viewing them always through his perfect son, Jesus Christ.

Let’s celebrate being a saint, and give God the glory.

james.henderson@gracecom.church

On the edge because of debt?

July 3, 2015

© BawegPhotos | Dreamstime.com - Euro Rolls Along The Edge Of The Table PhotoOne of the biggest problems that many of us have is debt. We end up borrowing more than we can pay back realistically.

This is not just a problem for people but also for nations, as has been in the news now for weeks on end. Creditors are all too willing to lend money at extortionate rates and with heavy late penalties. And so the whole debt crisis spirals out of control.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just begin again please? If the debts were cancelled worldwide and everybody could have a fresh start?

The Bible likens salvation in Christ to a universal cancellation of debt. It’s an analogy used by many of its authors. It’s an encouraging concept. Sin attracts us more and more into storing up problems for ourselves, and soon we become overloaded and the burden is almost too great to bear. It’s like a pile of debt that is impossible for us to clear. There’s no way we can do it by ourselves, and this is where Jesus comes in. Jesus died to clear the debt of our sin. Through him the debt is cancelled, its burden is released, and we have that fresh spiritual start.

It’s incredible when you think of it, and maybe the world’s politicians and bankers could learn something from what Jesus has done for us.

We are no longer indebted to sin.

Jesus has paid the price and set us free!

james.henderson@gracecom.org.uk

Calming the Storm

April 24, 2015

Migrants boatIn the news this week we heard of yet another tragedy in the Mediterranean.

As many as 800 migrants drowned on Sunday after the boat they were travelling in capsized in Libyan waters south of the Italian island of Lampedusa. Bringing the total of deaths in similar incidents to more than 1,700 so far this year. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) believes the number of migrants dying in Mediterranean Sea crossings could hit 30,000 this year, if the current rate continues.

Opinions on what should be done about this situation are divided.  UKIP leaders came under fire for suggesting Britain should offer asylum to Christian migrants, but turn others away. Meanwhile, a columnist in a popular British newspaper suggested using gun boats, saying,  “these migrants are like cockroaches.”

How are we, as Christians, meant to react to these disturbing events? What are we supposed to say, or do? At times like this, I confess to feeling helpless. But what does Jesus expect us to do, or say?

The answer is that to Jesus the migrants are not Muslims or Christians and certainly not cockroaches, they are all human beings, they are all people that he loves. Before they love him, or even know him.

As it says in Romans 5:8 (NIV), “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

For this reason, we should do whatever we can. Pull a migrant to safety, if you can. Even if you think there is nothing you can do, there is: pray for these people. After all, James 5:16 tells us, “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

And without a doubt, something powerful and effective is just what these people need right now.

By Pete Mill

Our Rags to His Riches

April 3, 2015

This Easter teenagers and children of all ages are excited about the release of a new movie about Cinderella, the rags-to-riches story of a young servant girl.

Co-incidentally, the Bible discusses the sacrifice of Jesus in terms of a rag-to-riches story: our rags to his riches. In a spiritual sense every one of us was like Cinderella, wearing clothes that have been stained by our sins, thus causing us to be excluded from the party that is heaven.

What Jesus did on the cross was to change all that. Jesus died that we might receive “the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7 KJ21). You could say that the blood of Jesus washed our sins away. The Bible even goes on to tell us that God gives us new clothes to wear!

Of course, what happened to Jesus on our behalf was no fairy tale. It was a harsh and cruel reality that involved all of us. Jesus explained that he did it for the joy of living happily ever after with us.

It is because of the cross that we go from our rags to his riches.

So we do get to go the ball.

Accept Jesus, and let’s dance together forever.

james.henderson@gracecom.org.uk

Be a Good Samaritan

June 20, 2014

The Good Samaritan was in the news this week.

It concerned reports of distraction tactics being used by thieves on European roads.  Criminals distract drivers in order to make them stop, and then they rob them along with any passengers. Initially motorists may think that they are being helped by some sort of “Good Samaritan”, but in fact the opposite is the case.

This happened to my wife and me when we worked in South Africa. As we drove along a lonely road, some young men appeared from behind a tree and pointed to our nearside front tyre. Was something wrong? Did we have a flat? Five minutes later a woman, who was standing by a bus stop, tried to wave us down, again pointing to the tyre. We had heard of this ploy before, but what if there was a real problem with the car? Were they trying to help us?

The original story of the Good Samaritan is in the Christian Bible. It’s about helping one another without hidden agendas. A Jew is robbed, beaten up and left for dead. None of those who could and should help him come to his aid, and then a Samaritan comes along.

Culturally the Samaritans and Jews were hostile to each other. The Samaritan, however, helps his traditional enemy, even at risk to himself. In helping the Jew, this Good Samaritan had nothing to gain but everything to lose.

Don’t let the idea of the Good Samaritan turn into tricks used by thieves.

Every one of us should be a real Good Samaritan.

Help somebody.

james.henderson@gracecom.org.uk 

 

 

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