A Godly legacy

Sometimes I wake up with a deep and clear line of thinking going on in my subconscious. It’s funny what can trigger it off. A few weeks ago I was browsing on Twitter and came across a photo of an old friend of mine from our church youth days, Paul Counsell. He was pictured with his 6mth old grandson and in the caption he was called Grandad. It made me smile and brought back many happy memories of what was a truly superb youth group back in the late 70’s at the Full Gospel Church on Pasture St in Grimsby.

As I woke up the following morning I found myself going over the memories from the church and youth group, and just feeling so appreciative of the Godly input I had received in those early days as a believer. The pastor of the church, Glyn Thomas, and the secretary, Bill Counsell, were two wonderful men of God from whom I learned so much.

Glyn had a very down to earth approach to Christian living and a great sense of humour. I remember one time there was a visitor in the meeting and they had brought a rather unsound ‘message in tongues’. It actually sounded like a chicken rather than a distinctive tongue. There was quite a bit of smothered merriment as we tried not to laugh out loud during the prayer meeting. Pastor Thomas handled it brilliantly by concluding saying (as I remember), “Well friends, all I can say is, as a hen gathers her chicks, so the Lord gathers us!” Of course we all burst out laughing, but that was indicative of his easy and witty style. I learned so much from him.

And I can still hear Mr Counsell relating stories from his own youth under the ministry of his old pastor from Blackburn assembly. Many a time he would say, “As old Fred Watson used to say…..”. Bill took the time to run a Bible class for us youngsters after the main Sunday morning service, and over a coffee we would raise our questions and he would lead an in-depth discussion of the subject matter. His intention was to pass on his experiences and learning and imbue us with the same solid Biblical background he had received himself.

The legacy of these two men of God in those first few months and years of my Christian life has been tremendous. I often thank God for the godly grounding I received from them, and how much it has helped me in my walk with the Lord these past 38 years. I didn’t really realise it at the time but they left a heritage in my life which I believe is still bearing fruit all these years later.

Of course there were others who contributed greatly to my early growth as a young believer. Alan and Chris Leeman used to host the young people at their house after many a Sunday night service. We loved the fellowship and food, and Alan and others would share from the Word a thought or a message to help us.

Also, in the year before I left my hometown for Manchester Polytechnic I was also greatly mentored by Jo Hall and Linda Cawkwell (now Ng), in particular with regard to youth work and Youth for Christ activities in the area.

And only last week, I was reminded of how important is the legacy we all leave behind by attending the funeral of Phil and Jean Wooffindin. The testimonies of the input they had into the lives of many people were wonderful to hear. They are a precious couple who will be sadly missed by many.

So what of the legacy we will leave behind? Are we building a Godly legacy of encouraging people in their walk with God? Are we setting Godly examples? Are we sowing the Word of Life into peoples’ lives around us? It’s a challenge, and one that bears serious reflection. I thank God for the Godly legacy I received, and I pray I can be used of God to pass on to others what I have received. By His grace 🙂

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BBC documentary’s uncanny echo of Seventy Weeks

I’ve just finished watching a BBC documentary called ‘Could We Survive A Mega-Tsunami?’ It’s a chilling drama-documentary examining the possibility of a massive volcanic landslide in the Canary Islands and the effects of the resulting mega-tsunami, especially on New York.

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It’s as if the makers of the film have read my novel Seventy Weeks and dramatised one of its main events! In an uncanny echo of the book’s storyline, it demonstrates the enormity of such an event and alludes to some of the global implications that would follow, again as featured in the novel!

If you’re able, catch it on the BBC iPlayer in the next few days before it expires.

If you haven’t yet got Seventy Weeks you can order it in paperback here, or download the ebook here or on Kindle, Kobo, iPad/iPhone or Nook.

Steps towards the goal of Islamic domination

The rise of an Islamic Caliphate, a union of Islamic states, features prominently in the storyline of Seventy Weeks. I based this on an ominous trend I saw developing within the Islamic world, and recently this is something which appears to be gathering pace. Iran’s long-term efforts to build a nuclear capability and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East are, I believe, part of this process.

Last year in Austria there was a conference calling for just such a Caliphate to be created, and efforts to accomplish this continue. Such moves seem to be encouraged by the stance and actions taken by Barak Hussein Obama, the US president, and his administration. These include the US support for the Istanbul Process (and here), an effort to make criticism of Islam illegal.

And the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East on the back of the so-called “Arab Spring”, is putting more power and influence in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists who support jihad. Jihad is an Arabic word whose root meaning is struggle or strive, but today “Jihad” is usually defined as a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty.

In Cairo last year, the Egyptian presidential candidate Mohammed Morsi said during his election campaign: “The Koran is our constitution, the prophet is our leader, jihad is our path and death in the name of Allah is our goal.” This same Mohammed Morsi is now the president of Egypt, the same nation that Obama is currently arming with advanced tanks and fighter jets.

The Bible however, states such efforts will ultimately prove futile and unsuccessful. Psalm 2 states:

Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: “Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.”

However, the reports above are just more writing on the wall, for those who will read it, for the times in which we live.

Resurrection Day – the Feast of Firstfruits!

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The cross is empty! The tomb is empty! And Yeshua is alive forevermore!

Yeshua (Jesus’ name in Hebrew, meaning salvation) fulfils all the Scriptures and prophecies. He died on the cross as the Passover lamb (1Corinthians 5:7) and so became the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). He was buried in the tomb of a rich man (Isaiah 53:9). Yeshua Himself said he would be in the “heart of the earth” for three days and three nights, the “sign of Jonah”, Matthew 12:39-40. And on the third day He rose from the dead (Matthew 16:21, 28:5-6), the greatest day in all of human history!

Notice in John 20:17, when Mary had gone to the tomb very early on the Sunday morning, she saw the tomb was already empty. She was distraught, not knowing what to think. The resurrected Jesus appeared to her there at the tomb, and when she realised who he was, he told her not to cling to him for he had not yet ascended to his Father. Yet later, he told Thomas in particular to touch him and see that he was real, not a ghost (John 20:27).

Why the difference? Because, when Jesus appeared to Mary on the Sunday, he had “not yet ascended to his Father”. That Sunday, the first day of the week, was the Feast of Firstfruits. During every Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread season, the first day of the week following the Sabbath was the Feast of Firstfruits, traditionally the day when the priest would take the first portion of the early harvest and wave it before the LORD so that it would be accepted on behalf of the people (Leviticus 23:11).

Jesus is the fulfilment of Firstfruits! He is the “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”, (1Corinthians 15:20). As such, after he appeared to Mary at the tomb, he ascended to his Father in heaven and presented himself as the firstfruits offering, in fulfilment of the Feast of Firstfruits in Scripture. That’s why Mary couldn’t touch him yet, because he hadn’t presented himself to the Father as the Firstfruits offering.

Yeshua is the Resurrection and the Life, (John 11:25). And the implication of “first fruits” is that there will be “other fruits” to be resurrected also, later, when He returns (1Cor.15:23)! His resurrection is the guarantee of our resurrection, that is if we belong to Him!

So, happy Resurrection Day! Celebrate Jesus, risen from the dead, the fulfilment of the Feast of Firstfruits!

Don’t call it Easter – get Biblical!

Jesus death, burial and resurrection all took place at God’s appointed times, the set times. Jesus died in fulfillment of the Passover Lamb, was buried at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and rose again on First Fruits. These are Biblical feasts, instituted by the LORD Himself as shadows, pictures if you like, of the reality which was to come. ALL THE BIBLICAL FEASTS ARE FULFILLED IN JESUS.

Today is the 14th Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, the day the Israelites in Egypt had to slay a lamb and apply the blood to the doorposts of their homes, so that they wouldn’t die when the destroying angel “passed over”. This actual historical event from Israel’s history is a picture of Jesus, the Lamb of God, whose blood was shed on the cross at the Passover feast. He died as our substitute, so that if we will apply His blood, so to speak, on the doorposts of our own lives, that is, if we will repent and trust Him for our salvation (Jesus name in Hebrew, Yeshua, means Salvation), we too will be saved.

Did you know Easter was actually a pagan fertility festival that was given a so-called Christian makeover by the Romans to make it acceptable to those who wanted to keep their already-existing pagan celebrations? The easter bunnies, eggs and rabbits are entirely pagan symbols and have nothing to do with Yeshua’s death and resurrection. (See these articles here and here for more details into all this.)

So, knowing all the above, why would we want to use pagan festivals to celebrate the central events of our faith? Tradition? What we’ve always done? Maybe. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We’re not ignorant of these things anymore and so there is a responsibility to make changes. So, celebrate the Lord’s death and resurrection, just don’t call it Easter. Call it what God calls it – Passover and First Fruits! Get Biblical!