Saturday 28 December 2013

Five Reasons why the Bible is the most important Book on Earth

The Bible is the single most important book ever written. It is an eyewitness account of historical events of such magnitude that they have literally shaped the world in which we live. Without this book the Western world and a good deal of the Eastern world would be completely different today than if the events of this book had never occurred.
It is not too much to say that the events recorded in this book are claimed by a significant percentage of people who have ever lived on this earth to be the most important events ever recorded in the history of the world. This book is foundational to just about everything mankind will ever know or accomplish. It has directly led to massive undertakings of good will and charity. Because of this book, great projects have been undertaken, hospitals have been built, multitudes fed and clothed and orphanages founded.
Here are five primary reasons why you need to read the Bible. This article was written by Dan Buttafuoco, president of the Historical Bible Society.

Reason #1:
The Bible has transformed the world

BibleIt would be impossible to claim to be an educated person in today's world without having at least some familiarity with the events contained in this book. Actually, all of the events contained in this book should be known by everyone.
  • A good number of people around the world read portions of this book every day. It is one of the most published and printed books in the history of the world. It has been printed in just about every known language (including braille) and each year, since it was first written, it has been the world's greatest bestseller year after year. As time marches on it is continually printed in yet more languages. Collectors of rare books treasure it in every form.
  • The Bible was the first book ever put to the printing press. The man who first printed it, Johannes Gutenberg, was recently voted the most important man to have ever lived within the past 1000 years!
  • A good number of museums exist today which are dedicated solely to this very book and the events contained therein.
  • The Bible is available in every corner of the globe, even where it is illegal to own or read this book. It is available in electronic format and on CD as well. You can find it on the internet for free. Famous actors and personages regularly quote it. It was quoted by William Shakespeare many times in his writings.
  • Worldwide organizations and associations have been formed because of this book and its message, many of them existing for centuries. Together they represent multiple hundreds of millions of members.

Reason #2:
People are willing to die for this book

Nails and ThornsPeople have died torturous deaths simply to gain access to this book. You may, even now, be in a country where this book is discouraged or even banned outright. In many countries it is a crime to distribute or even possess this book.
  • This book has been praised, cursed, restricted, banned, desecrated, burned and fought over. People swear on it and at it.
  • Some have tried to eliminate it. All who have tried have failed. People have suffered exquisite tortures and loss of freedom and even their lives for printing it. This has occurred recently and over many centuries past, as well. It is, in fact, a regular occurrence in this world.
  • This book is simultaneously hated and loved. Once read it would be impossible to be indifferent to it; for its claims are monumental and beyond exaggerating. It provokes a strong response in either a positive or negative direction; you will either love it or hate it. It was meant to be so by design. It is so controversial that wars have been fought over its interpretation. Governments have toppled on account of it and kings have been deposed because of it. Most importantly, lives have been dramatically changed for good because of this book.

Reason #3:
It’s the most accurate book of antiquity

Most Accurate Book of AntiquityThe Bible is the most copied book of antiquity. Written over a time period of some 1,500 years, it was completed approximately 2,000 years ago. Yet, in all the centuries that have passed, none of its contents have ever been found inaccurate.
  • It has been translated into its present form directly from the original languages from a vast supply of ancient manuscripts sifted by the best minds and most competent scholars of our day and of many prior generations. It has been translated into every known existing language.
  • It is surpassingly accurate to the smallest details. Its contents, as translated, are as close to the original words of the authors as humanly possible. Only a few words of the entire book (a tiny, insignificant percentage) are in any doubt as to the original words and none of the disputed text affects the message of the book. Additionally, new discoveries of previously unknown ancient manuscripts continue to provide ever greater accuracy to the contents of this book.
  • It has been sifted, studied, commentated upon and dissected more than any book in history. Volumes of books have been written about it and if they were stacked on top of one another they would reach to the sky.
  • Where this book can be verified by external events such as archeology, geography, custom, politics, culture, known world history and writings in other ancient texts it has been so verified as to be accurate in all respects. New discoveries always support it, never vice versa. It has never once been proven faulty on single detail or fact, although many have mightily tried and failed.

Reason #4:
It contains a life-changing message of freedom

Chains ReleasedThe Bible has liberated many from oppression by its clear teachings. It raises the dignity and rights of every human being ever born. It is truly an amazing and remarkable piece of writing. It contains clear teaching on the value and worth of every individual. It will astonish and surprise you and likely move you to tears.
  • It has freed minds and hearts throughout history. The events recorded in this book have generated more great works of art (and some not-so-great ones, as well) than any other subject matter in the history of the world. All the museums in the world, added together, could not possibly contain all of the artwork inspired by the events of this book.
  • This book itself represents true freedom. It has never been in the custody and control of a single group of people, unlike other important books. It belongs to everyone and it has been possessed by everyone, every culture and every tribe and race of people. Reading it will strike you directly in your heart. It has the "ring of truth" to all who love the same.
  • This book contains a message at its very core. It is a message to all people everywhere, in every time period, relevant to their everyday lives. It claims to be the very words of God... an audacious claim, for sure. It is for you to decide whether to believe the message of this book and apply it to your own life.
  • If you now know nothing about God, you will know a great deal about God after reading this book. If you believe you know much about God, you will know even more about him after you read this book. You may even decide to re-evaluate your knowledge of God after reading it.

Reason #5:
It connects you to history’s most important figure

Three CrossesYou may have heard of the "godman," Jesus of Nazareth, also called the "Christ" (i.e."Anointed One"). You may even think you know him. But if you have not read the account offered firsthand throughout this book, you will, in effect, know nothing definite about him. The entire Old Testament points to his coming, and the entire New Testament testifies to his teachings and actions.
  • His name has been used to bless people and it has been used as a curse word by those who despise him. People have been healed and set free in his name. One thing is for sure: when you meet Jesus in the pages of this book and understand who he claims to be it is impossible for you to remain indifferent to him.
  • This story is either the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on mankind or it describes Jesus as exactly who he claims to be: the Supreme Lord and Ruler over all of mankind and the very creator God of the Universe. Logically speaking, this is either a nice poetic story created from a fantasy with an intent to deceive you or a clear and accurate picture of God, who is our judge ( both mine and yours). You decide. If you think you know about God already, consider the source of that "knowledge" and examine if this book may, in fact, be a better source for true knowledge about the one true Creator God that made you and everything else, both known an unknown in this Universe.
  • People are free to reject this book and what it says. God made us "free moral agents" to choose as we desire. Yet, people violate the teachings and wisdom of this book at their own peril.
  • Because of the main person in this book, Jesus of Nazareth, time has been split into two main epochs (B.C. "before Christ" and A.D. "anno Domini" for "year of our Lord").
  • Each year, over a billion people celebrate his birth, his death and his bodily resurrection from the dead.
  • Jesus is the only religious leader ever to make the claim that he has risen from the dead. All others are dead and buried. Abraham is dead. Moses is dead. Mohammed has died and remains dead, Buddha is dead, Gandhi is dead. Only Jesus claims to be alive. Even Muslims revere Jesus as a holy man and a great prophet. All told, about half of the world today accepts that this Jesus was a great and remarkable personage.


Keep turning the pages of this remarkable book. Read it with an open mind and open heart. It contains pure truth about God, about life, the nature of mankind and our own hearts as human beings. The Gospel of John is a wonderful place to start, but read the whole thing — Old and New Testaments. You'll be amazed what you discover about God, and about yourself.
If this God is indeed your judge, before whom you will someday give an account of your life, it truly behooves you to be aware of who he is and the simple thing he asks of us before that solemn time comes. In essence, this book will help you to deal with that very event for which we are all destined. Be warned: you will not be the same after you read this book.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Maggie Thatcher “The Best Man Britain ever had” 1925 - 2013

Having been born in 1972 in London to immigrant parents, I am what some refer to as “a child of Thatcher”, coming to age during her premiership (1979 – 1990). So I have watched, read and listened to the media coverage of Baroness Thatcher’s recent death with keen interest.

As is customary when someone dies people reflect and eulogise. For some their memories of her are fond, for others who celebrated in Brixton, Liverpool and Glasgow they are bitter (though some celebrants seemed so young they were possibly not even born in 1990?).
A shop keeper’s daughter who rose to lead the male dominated Conservative party, winning three general elections, is itself worthy of historical significance. That she became known as the “Iron Lady” (two opposite terms conflated into one?) and has historical terms such as “Thatcherism”, “Thatcherite years” demonstrate the impact of her premiership.
To reflect on the ‘Thatcherism years’ is to reflect upon my own early life, because if leadership is anything, it is influence. Therefore by extension National leadership is also National influence (for good or for bad).
Several things her story has caused me to reflect on:
Leadership      - How true Leadership is divisive – We see people mourning her loss and others celebrating her loss.
Once you make a leadership decision you polarise people. Many will point to her leadership over the Miners strikes, the Falklands, the right to give council tenants’ rights to buy their own home as positives. Others will look to the devastation caused to Mining Communities, tough financial legislation, and stopping free milk for school children!

Maybe this is why many Leaders, political or otherwise shy away from decision making?
Longevity       - How long should a Leader stay in leadership? – Was Thatcher a victim of her own success?

Thatcher never actually lost a general election and her record of political demise has echoes of Tony
Blair being forced by his own cabinet to step down, who coincidently also won three elections.

Several dangers successful leaders face:

1).         They know better than anyone else – Thatcher appears to have ignored the advice of those closest
              to her and in so doing, isolated herself from the very people she needed the most.

2).         Treat people with indifference – Thatcher appears to have hurt and offended those most loyal to her and appears to have took their loyalty for granted (Geoffrey Howe, Nigel Lawson, et al).

3).         They believe their own pressThatcher was highly thought of both home and abroad. Is it possible that she thought herself invincible politically? She actually seemed surprised and hurt that she was forced out.
Legacy            - How will history remember you? -  Leadership legacy is often defined around the memorable events of your tenure. Whether it’s George Bush at a kinder garden school first being told of the 9/11 attacks, John Prescott punching a guy for throwing an egg at him or Gordon Brown calling a woman a ‘bigot’ with his lapel mike still on, these are the ‘things’ history remembers.
Loyalty           - How leaders need to be able to be influenced by the right people – You cannot take the loyalty of those who serve you faithfully, for granted. People can get hurt and offended and as a consequence change their minds about you. It seemed those who were the most loyal to Thatcher inflicted the most damage.
Whether you liked her or not, I think it is fair to pause and reflect upon her leadership in a balanced (if possible) manner. My own view having watched a number of her parliamentary debates is that “they don’t make them like that anymore”.
My prayers go out to her loved ones who may be grieving during this time, may God be merciful to all.

Friday 25 January 2013

Was Lance Armstrong’s confession on Oprah that he took performance-enhancing drugs, right or wrong?

Was Lance Armstrong’s confession on Oprah that he took performance-enhancing drugs, right or wrong?

The big media news story of the last few weeks has been about Lance Armstrong the seven times Tour de France winner confessing to Oprah Winfrey (the agony aunt of America) that for years he took performance enhancing drugs. Armstrong also admits that he could never have won his seven tour de France titles without the drugs, and that he had been lying to many people for the last ten plus years. He acknowledges that he has put his friends and loved ones through much pain and torture.

Armstrong says that at the time he did not feel like he was cheating and that it appeared to him to be a “level playing field” because everyone else was doing it. I find this argument weak at best and morally corrupt at worse. This argument is what I have (unfortunately) come to expect from a naive teenager who justify their sexual promiscuity with the statement “everyone’s doing it” and not from a 41 yr old world class, multi millionaire athlete, father and husband.

However what I find somewhat grating is the moral hypocrisy from those in the media towards Armstrong’s confession. Some put forth various views that cast suspicion upon the authenticity of his confession. Some say he wants to compete again in triathlons, maybe even cycling. Whilst others say his confession is only because he was caught and that his decision to confess on Oprah was because she would give him an easy ride (no pun intended). Firstly at the age of 41 and having been out of any real competitive sport for the last 5 years I don’t think it is possible for Lance Armstrong to compete at any real serious level (unless he uses performance enhancing drugs, sorry couldn’t resist that one). Secondly was he actually really caught? Armstrong went on record to say that he had been tested more than any other cyclist in history and never tested positive. The only evidence against him came from former team mates who themselves confessed to taking drugs (and therefore implicating Armstrong) in return for light (6 months) punishment. I always find these scenarios akin to liars accusing other people of lying (how do you believe them). Thirdly I don’t buy the idea that confessing on Oprah was an easy option, I mean wouldn’t you rather confess to a priest / pastor in a small booth / office than on one of the biggest talks shows in media? I mean can you confess to any bigger audience in the world than Oprah’s? I think I am right in saying more people watch Oprah than the Tour De France? Whilst I accept that Oprah may be a more genial person to confess to (though her first question went for the jugular), surely human nature would rather confess to a friendly rather than fierce person?

I actually want to commend Lance Armstrong for his confession, on such a very public platform, (maybe others will be inspired to do the same?). This could not have been an easy decision. Apart from the fact he must of known he was going to be castigated by many, he has also opened himself up to numerous litigation cases being filed against him (already to the tune of £10m and rising). Many in his position would of kept up the pretence of the past ten years and taken their lies with them to their grave, leaving many in the public sphere still unsure of his guilt or innocence. No I think his confession was a very difficult decision to come to and will haunt him emotionally and financially for the rest of his life.

Yes he could have and should have confessed a lot earlier, but are we now saying that there comes a time when it is too late to confess? Ask the loved ones of those who have been murdered who have begged the killer to confess the whereabouts of their victim’s body for years. (Ask the relatives of the victims of the Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley). Many in history have chosen in their dying moments that their ‘last words’ be a confession of a previous wrong. At least Armstrong did not wait that long (though I accept there maybe more to confess). Above all else I believe Armstrong proves that adage to be true and that is “confession is good for the soul”.

One of Jesus disciples wrote in 1 John 1:8-10 (NLT) If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

Armstrong still has a long way to go to repair the damage he has done and if truth be told, for some nothing he ever does will be acceptable penance for his crimes. But here a little perspective is called for; he cheated in a bike race and made lots of money from it. I can think of many in the public eye who have fallen from greater heights and managed to redeem themselves in the public eye. I think of Bill Clinton using his political leverage to help re elect President Obama. Many feel he has redeemed himself by his recent years of charitable work. Maybe Armstrong’s great work in fighting cancer will help him to redemption and ‘livestrong’ at least in the eyes of God.

Sunday 13 January 2013

Why You Should (Definitely) Want Your Church to Grow

Why You Should (Definitely) Want Your Church to Grow

The title of this post alone will be sufficient to send some into a fit.
Why don't I up the ante and say I want to see our church outgrow our current location again, launch new church plants, and start new campuses.
Uh-oh, I just sent somebody into overload.
“C’mon church growth isn’t important…you shouldn’t be all about the numbers!” Wrong.
Numbers represent people, and people are the reason God sent Jesus on His redemptive mission to our planet!

Why do I want to see our church grow?

Because it means that:
More people will turn their lives over to Jesus (as long as we’re not just stealing sheep from other churches, which I’m really not interested in). Depopulating Hell gets me excited! Not to mention giving people the hope, healing, meaning, and purpose found in Jesus!!
More people will grow in their faith (you cannot grow spiritually mature apart from a local body of believers).
More people will get on mission to make a dent in serving and reaching out to the people in our community with tangible expressions of the love of Christ.
More people means more opportunities for current church members to serve and step into expanded roles of leadership (thus continuing their discipleship).

You see, I just have these crazy beliefs…

I believe to my core that the entire world needs Jesus desperately.
I believe that our church is a good place for people to experience God because Jesus is magnified, the Bible is taught, and God is honored.
I believe that God has assembled an amazing group of people: our staff, our volunteers; everyone! So I know that a new Christian comes into a loving, supportive environment.
I believe that church growth honors God (the Bible teaches we are to be faithful AND fruitful).
Because of my beliefs, I let go of my career path over a decade ago and committed to serving God fulltime. Therefore, I pour my all into what I do every single week. So OF COURSE, I want to see that my family and my church family are all making a difference with what we’ve committed our lives to!

My Motives?

Some will question the motive of me or others who also want their churches to grow. “You just want bragging rights…”
God knows my heart, so I won’t bother defending that. But can’t we learn a lesson from Paul and rejoice wherever Christ is made known instead of being caught up in someone’s motive?
“It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. But what does it matter?…The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this, I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.” (Philippians 1:15, 18 NIV)
Lest I be too misunderstood, church growth has never been the measure of our success.
We look to “changed lives” as the metric for whether or not we are succeeding at our mission. This places us in dependence upon God’s Spirit because we’re not capable of changing anyone’s life.
However, the greater the number of people in your church, the greater opportunity there is for changed lives. So while church growth isn’t the measure of our success, it is a goal and something we desire and plan for without apology.

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