When will we escape?

July 31, 2020

Some of us might think we will never get away. It reminds me of an old gospel song made famous by a man called Jim Reeves – “One fine morning…I’ll fly away”.

He didn’t mean fly away to Majorca, or to the Azores, or to a summer cabin in Sweden, but to a life beyond this one. When this life is over, when the first wave, all the subsequent waves and peaks are ended, maybe we shall be able to travel wherever we please.

Not that the afterlife should be likened to one endless holiday. After all, we would get bored sooner or later. God, whoever he is, didn’t design us for nothingness.

What he did make us for is something beyond the mess we are in.

Now that sounds good to me. As the song went on, “When I die, Hallelujah by and by, I’ll fly away…”

You can come too.

James Henderson info@because.uk.com

Unmasked

July 24, 2020

Am I the only one to get confused when wearing a mask? Recently I had my face mask on when I went for a cup of coffee. I tried to pay by using my phone, but it would not process. What was the problem? My phone’s security works by facial recognition and the mask obscured my face! I felt flustered and peered intently at the phone, thinking it would click in. People in the socially distanced line behind me were sniggering as they watched, and I too began to laugh.

Masks have a fascinating history and were worn for all sorts of reasons, and they still are. I remember watching a movie which featured a masquerade, a party where people wore elaborate masks to conceal who they were. The idea goes back to the theatres of ancient Greece and elsewhere, where actors would don a mask to get into character. Typically, they’d use a mask that featured a recognisable attribute of the role they were playing.

A friend of mine, who knew I was a Christian, asked me about God. What is he like? Would he please come out from behind his mask and identify himself? My friend was being sarcastic, but I had an answer. Jesus came, I said to him, to show us who God is, to reveal how God is love.

It’s something worth noting. If we want to know what God is like, how he thinks and how he cares for us, we look to the life of Jesus.

Jesus is God unmasked.

James Henderson info@because.uk.com

And not a drop to drink

July 10, 2020

Water.

Drinking water. Around the world major fresh-water rivers are under threat from the salt content of rising sea levels, and natural underground reservoirs are being steadily depleted.

This week the news is that even in England’s green and pleasant land groundwater is being extracted at an unsustainable pace, and that a water crisis will hit its shores within 20 years. It seems impossible, unthinkable even, bearing in mind how much rainfall we have in the British Isles. The UK’s reputation as the umbrella nation might drizzle out!

 

Most religions see water as a gift from God. In fact, it is valued so much in the Christian tradition that it’s linked to eternal life. Drink the waters of Jesus and of his teachings and you’ll live forever, is the thought. He is the fountain of living waters.

Whatever our view, there’s no doubt that we need water. Fresh, vibrant, life-sustaining water.

Let’s value it and use it wisely.

James Henderson info@because.uk.com

Good news that lasts

July 3, 2020

Have you noticed how the news channels and newspapers get fixated on one topic at the expense of everything else that is going on in the world? Over the past year we’ve heard about nothing but Brexit, then everything centred on Harry and Megan ending their royal duties and fleeing to Canada, followed by weeks concentrating on the General Election and for the last few months everything has been about COVID-19. To hit the headlines most of the news presented has been negative in one form or another. Now Brexit, Harry and Megan and the General Election have become today’s ‘fish and chip paper’ and in time so will Coronavirus. The news will then be preoccupied with something else.

There is one piece of news though that has been around for 2,000 years and hasn’t become today’s ‘fish and chip paper.’ This news is just as relevant today as it was then. It’s the good news that Jesus Christ died – forgiving humanities wrong-doing and rose from the dead so we can all live with God forever.

No wonder the Bible tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). If you haven’t read this news why not take a look for yourself?

Barry Robinson info@because.uk.com

The Real Story

June 26, 2020

If things are not going the way we’d like them to go, should we change the story?

For example, what if the government intervened and changed the weather forecast? It sounds preposterous, but think about it: since so many are rushing to our beaches and thus possibly might be risking a second peak of coronavirus, what if the prediction was for really bad weather, meaning that fewer sun-seekers would flock to the seaside? Of course, we’d disagree with anyone changing the weather forecast to suit his or her own purposes!

What about people of faith? Should they change their story in order to adapt to current moods and trends? For example, there’s too much violence on the streets, so Christians say their message is all about being against violence. Or racism must go, and so the message is all about how true faith is against racism. Or sexism. Or whatever social injustice we may think of. Of course, Christianity stands up and is counted as being against all those things, but to say that’s the main message is a change to the story.

The Christian story is, quite simply, that Jesus Christ was crucified for us. Because of all the mistakes we’ve made, do make and will continue to make, all of which lead to the mess the world is in right now, Jesus died. The only way forward is to accept him and let him change us personally and collectively.

It may not be PC. It might not fit in with what people want to hear right now.

But we’re not going to change our story to make ourselves more popular or more in vogue with how things are.

We preach Christ crucified.

James Henderson info@because.uk.com

System overload

June 19, 2020

You may have seen in the news this week that the web giant Amazon fended off one of the largest cyber attacks in history. The attack in question was a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack and it works by flooding a website with a huge number of requests so that the system becomes overloaded and ceases to function.

As I was reading this story, I was struck that sometimes all the news and social media we are exposed to can have a similar affect on us. Life can seem like a continual bombardment of conflicting information that can leave us confused, anxious and even paralysed with self-doubt.

When you are experiencing your own DDoS attack, perhaps you will find comfort, as I do, in these words taken from the Bible: “God is good, a hiding place in tough times. He recognizes and welcomes anyone looking for help” (Nahum 1:7, MSG).

If your digital life has left you feeling overwhelmed, perhaps it is time to turn to God.

Gavin Henderson info@because.uk.com

Light in the darkness

June 4, 2020

‘I can’t breathe’ was not said by a Covid-19 patient urgently needing a ventilator but were the final words of George Floyd, a black man who died last week at the hands of a white policeman, sparking violent protests in the USA and demonstrations in the UK. There is no place for racism and the injustice it brings in its wake within our society.

Christian minister and civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King once said, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’ It’s a statement that reminded me of Christianity’s founder Jesus Christ who suffered excruciating pain and injustice when he was crucified on a Roman cross. The mechanism of death in crucifixion is asphyxiation, and as Jesus hung there struggling for breath, he uttered words of forgiveness for the humanity who was killing him.1 The ‘Light of the World’2 was driving out darkness, love was driving out hate. He included all human beings in that forgiveness because all lives matter to him.

If you have suffered the injustice of racism (or any other ism) why not check out the love, light, and inclusion Jesus Christ brings, and see just how much you matter to him.

Barry Robinson info@because.uk.com

1The Bible, Luke chapter 23 verse 34
2The Bible, John chapter 8 verse 12

Freedom plan

May 29, 2020

FREEDOM!!!

It’s beginning. Many of us can go out more often, see a few others, buy a little more, enjoy the fresh air and breathe a sigh of relief. But, responsibly so, of course. Without hurting people or breaking laws. With freedom always come responsibilities.

Oddly enough, this weekend many western Christians celebrate the Spirit of freedom. It’s a special festival called Pentecost and it’s about how God’s Spirit frees us from our past to live new and different lives.

Paul, a Christian writer, put it this way, “We have freedom now… the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things”.1

As lockdown unfolds, that could be our freedom plan.

What do you think?

James Henderson info@because.uk.com

1The Bible (Easy-to-Read Version) Galatians 5:1,22-23

Reach Out

May 22, 2020

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and taking care of ourselves and each other has never been more important. As new words have entered our vocabulary like ‘Covid-19,’ ‘lockdown,’ and ‘social-distancing,’ we are missing family, friends, and colleagues. The disruption to our daily lives and the uncertainty about the future raises anxiety and can be detrimental to our mental well-being. That’s why the theme of this week has been about kindness and looking out for each other.

In a recorded message to launch this week, the Duke of Cambridge said, “We’re all connected. And sometimes just talking about how you’re feeling can make a big difference. So right now, let’s join together across the UK and reach out to someone.”

In a week where the awareness of mental health issues is being highlighted why not take time to see if there is someone in your life that you could reach out to and provide some encouragement. Conversely, if you are feeling overwhelmed by this pandemic, talking about your feelings to someone you trust can help to relieve the tension.

It is a mark of the Christian community to be there for one another – reaching out can make a big difference, all it takes is the first step.

Barry Robinson info@because.uk.com

The handwriting on the wall?

May 15, 2020

There seems to be an App for everything these days. By downloading one, we can play online games with family and friends, check our own health, identify plants and chart the stars. And now, hopefully, an App will help us beat the coronavirus.

Another App helps us decipher our own handwriting. Sometimes I’ve come across a scribbled note of my own from years ago and I can’t work out what I had written. But now, thanks to the wonders of technology, an App may help me work it out!

It brings to mind a painting by Rembrandt called Belshazzar’s Feast. It depicts a scene from the biblical book of Daniel. The king, Belshazzar, thinks that he has all the answers, but then the hand of God writes a mystery statement on the wall. What did it mean? The handwriting told the king that no, he doesn’t have all the answers at all: in fact, things were about to get worse.

Is there a parallel here for our society? We think we can sort everything out ourselves, but, actually, the writing on the wall is against us.

The message for Belshazzar was, whether things go well or go badly, turn to God.

You don’t need an App for that: just talk to him.

James Henderson info@because.uk.com

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