Revenge

Revenge

WHENEVER I look at the shelves of bestsellers I always wonder what the secret ingredient is—what makes these books fly off the shelves? I have to admit, I’ve given this rather a lot of thought over the years, and I think there is an answer. Whether you agree with me or not, it doesn’t matter, just tuck this one away in the back of your mind, and if you are someone who likes to read a novel test it out and see if your book has this magic ingredient. The magic ingredient of all successful novels is revenge. It is the protagonist’s need for revenge that absorbs you and keeps you turning the pages. Think of a book or story you know well, and see whether I’m right! Revenge is something we can’t normally undertake in our everyday lives and it seems to me that this creates a great thirst

Why did Jesus have to Die?

Why did Jesus have to Die?

IF JESUS is the son of God, why did God let him be killed? In fact, why is the death of Jesus central to the Bible’s message? This is a hugely important question, and throughout the Bible there are statements which provide answers to it. Here is one such statement: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19 NASB).* Now this might leave you with more questions! What do those words mean—‘reconciling’ and ‘trespasses’? Why did the world need to be reconciled to God? How did it involve Jesus Christ? These questions are well worth exploring, as the answers contain the essence of the Gospel message itself. Reconciliation with God First let’s look at the word ‘reconciling’. To be reconciled means to be brought together, for there to be no separation. For example in 1 Corinthians 7:11 the word is

Introduction to the Acts

Introduction to the Acts

This is the first in a series in which we examine this fascinating Bible book. Each article in the series will be printed over the centre pages—you might like to pull them out and keep them together. THE ACTS of the Apostles is the book in the New Testament which tells us what the followers of Jesus did for the next three decades after he was raised from the dead. During this period the Christian community grew from a small group of disciples in Jerusalem to a worldwide movement with congregations in Africa, Asia and Europe. The Mission of the Apostles The small group of Jesus’ closest disciples were called ‘apostles’. After Jesus was raised from the dead there was a period of 40 days in which he taught the apostles and other disciples. At the end of this period he ascended to heaven before their eyes. Shortly before his

Job

Job

JOB (pronounced ‘Jobe’) is thought to have lived around the time of the book of Genesis. The theme of the book is the age-old ‘problem of suffering’. God allowed intense suffering to afflict Job—a ‘good’ man who was well respected by all. But Job’s friends,Eliphaz, Bildad and Zopharwrongly assumed that his sufferings were punishments for hidden sins. “Miserable comforters are you all” (16:2) is Job’s assessment of his friends! A fourth ‘friend’, the younger man Elihu, is introduced in chapter 32. He was angry with Job “because he justified himself rather than God” and with the three friends “because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job”. Many times Job says how he would like to argue, reason or plead with God about his situation. He wishes there was a mediator “who may lay his hand on us both” (9:33). God’s Answer But finally, in chapters 38–41, we

Lists

Lists

ARE YOU a list person? Do you organise yourself with the help of a list? Many of us are, and because we like to plan, we may think about the day ahead and then write a list of jobs to be done, places to visit, people to contact, and so on. If I didn’t have a list I might waste half the day wandering around, wondering what to do and when to do it. It’s just the way some of us are programmed. In this way, we ‘list writers’ can keep control of our lives and the things we need to do and the things we want to do (which may not always be the same thing). I’m sure, if you take a moment to think about it, we all keep a list of some sort or another. For example, you would not go food shopping without first having thought

Message to the Modern World

Message to the Modern World

Message to the Modern World THE FRONT COVER shows a ruined temple, which many people believe to be the most perfect building in the world. It’s the Parthenon in Athens. It’s not very big and it looks quite simple. But one of the secrets of its extraordinary beauty is the highly sophisticated system of ‘optical correction’ which is built into its every part. It’s said that there are no straight lines in the Parthenon. The columns bulge very slightly in the middle, because if they didn’t they’d look too thin. All the 69 columns are leaning very slightly inwards, because if they were absolutely vertical they’d look as though they’re leaning out; the base and the lintels are very slightly bowed, so they look straight. The design of this simple building shows astonishing geometrical expertise. Not to mention the technical brilliance of the stone carving throughout, which matches in quality

Why So Many Different Churches?

Why So Many Different Churches?

IN THE ACTS of the Apostles we read of the beginning of the early church when 3,000 people were baptised on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41). The next verse says “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” This is a simple and clear statement that the apostles’ doctrine (‘doctrine’ means ‘teaching’) was the foundation of the faith of these new believers, and they had a ‘fellowship’ that drew them together as a body of people with a common purpose. Thus the church started (the Greek word which our Bibles translate as ‘church’ is ecclesia, and it does not mean a building, it simply means an assembly). And what a ‘fellowship’ they experienced! What a spirit of dedication possessed them. We read how ‘all who believed were together, and had all things in common’ (v. 44). So continuing daily

The Unity of God

The Unity of God

THERE IS one God, and He is supreme. This is stressed throughout the Bible.  Moses said: “To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD Himself is God; there is none other besides Him” (Deuteronomy 4:35). King David said: “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours” (1 Chronicles 29:11). Jesus Christ said: “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one’” (Mark 12:29). You could also look at Isaiah 42:8, 45:5; John 17:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:5, and many other passages. God Is Love Something else that is stressed throughout the Bible is the love of God. God’s love for those who seek Him is far, far above our ability to love—but He wants

Strangers and Citizens

Strangers and Citizens

THE MAN looked disorientated. “You’re not from these parts, are you?” asked the kindly shopper. “No,” the man replied hesitantly. “Not from this country.” He sighed. “I don’t have a country. I am seeking asylum here. I had to flee from my country because I believe in Jesus Christ. In my country I would die.” We all like to feel that we ‘belong’ somewhere – but there are some people who have nowhere they can call home. They feel like aliens, unwanted, often vulnerable. And they are not always treated with compassion, even in affluent societies. Strangers ‘Strangers’ are a theme in the Bible. They are sometimes described as ‘sojourners’—temporary dwellers with no inherited rights. In this way they are very similar to modern-day refugees. In the Bible the concept is first used of Abraham (Genesis 17:8). God told him to leave his own country and go to a land

Frank’s Story

Frank’s Story

Frank was a highly qualified accountant. He was on his way to start a new job, in Eastern Europe far from home. He sat in the corner of the train carriage well out of the way. He was aware that people were looking at him, and sometimes looks developed into uncomfortable stares. It was unusual to see a black African travelling on a train in that country. Frank settled into the warmth of his corner seat and nodded sleepily as the train clattered along with its steady rhythmic beat. Suddenly two burly men appeared out of nowhere, grabbed him by his coat and in what seemed like one swift movement pulled him out of his seat, feet not touching the ground, and propelled him to the carriage door. The next thing he was aware of was that he was being hurled out of the moving train, tumbling into the darkness.