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Holidays and holy days

3 August, 2020

The holiday season this year is different. For some months many people have not been going to their place work either because they were on furlough or were working at home. Schools and universities have been closed. Until recently, travel restrictions have made it difficult to book a holiday. As restrictions have been eased there has been a rush to book self-catering in the UK. Some have travelled to Europe on holiday, but now face an unexpected period of quarantine when they return.

The word holiday comes from an Old English word meaning “holy day”. Many holidays were linked to special religious days. This is still true of Christmas and Easter. In the Old Testament the great annual feasts were times to remember great events in the spiritual history of the nation. The Feast of Passover remembered the Exodus from Egypt when God delivered his people from slavery. The Feast of Tabernacles remembered God’s provision for and protection of his people during the 40 years in the wilderness.

In our increasingly secular society, our essentially spiritual nature as human beings has been marginalised. During the Covid-19 pandemic church buildings have been closed and spiritual leaders have been all but invisible. A notice on the locked door of a rural church in England informed people that the church building was closed and that they could pray to God anywhere “but not here.” People dying in hospital have often had no visits from a chaplain and funeral services have been attended by only a handful of family members and the funeral director and his staff.

We all need times for rest and reflection that holidays provide. From the beginning of time God provided a weekly day of rest for all people and commanded us “to keep the sabbath day holy.” Sadly, in the Western world Sunday is now “just another day.” When our children were growing up Sunday was their favourite day because we all went to church together and enjoyed a different kind of day with time to be together and to rest.

At a time when every day we are told about our fellow human beings who have died it’s also important to take time to reflect on eternity. The Bible describes heaven as a place of rest in the presence of God. In the book of Revelation John writes, “Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labour, for their deeds will follow them.’”

This article is brought to you from Thought for the Week. To read more about this ministry, click here.

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The faith of Napoleon Bonaparte

27 July, 2020

By Peter Milsom

Napoleon Bonaparte was a great French military general and statesman. He played a key role in the French Revolution and became the first emperor of France. His armies conquered much of Europe in the early 19th century. After a disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812, Napoleon abdicated and was exiled to the small Mediterranean island of Elba. In 1815 he briefly returned to power but suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of Waterloo and was exiled to the remote South Atlantic island of Saint Helena, where he died at the age of 51.

Near the end of his life, the exiled Napoleon expressed his convictions about Jesus. He wrote, “I know men, and I tell you Jesus Christ was not a mere man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and other religions the distance of infinity.”

Napoleon knew the difference between the empire he had established, and all other human empires, and the Kingdom of God which Jesus inaugurated. He wrote, “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and myself founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon sheer force. Jesus Christ alone founded his empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men will die for him. In every other existence but that of Christ how many imperfections! From the first day to the last he is the same; majestic and simple; infinitely firm and infinitely gentle. He proposes to our faith a series of mysteries and commands with authority that we should believe them, giving no other reason than those tremendous words, ‘I am God.’”

As he read the Bible, Napoleon, who had himself exercised great authority over men, recognised its divine authority and entrusted his own eternal destiny to Jesus Christ. He wrote, “The Bible contains a complete series of acts and of historical men to explain time and eternity, such as no other religion has to offer. If it is not the true religion, one is very excusable in being deceived; for everything in it is grand and worthy of God. The more I consider the Gospel, the more I am assured that there is nothing there which is not beyond the march of events and above the human mind. Even the impious themselves have never dared to deny the sublimity of the Gospel, which inspires them with a sort of compulsory veneration. What happiness that Book procures for those who believe it!”

This article is brought to you from Thought for the Week. To read more about this ministry, click here.

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The Hope Mars probe

20 July, 2020

By Peter Milsom

This week the Arab world’s first mission to Mars was launched. An H-2A rocket carrying the unmanned Al-Amal, or Hope, probe lifted off from the launching pad at Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan. This UAE project is one of three racing to Mars, including Tianwen-1 from China and Mars 2020 from the United States, taking advantage of a period when the Earth and Mars are nearest. Hope is expected to reach Mars’ orbit by February 2021. The launch was met with great excitement in Dubai. The UAE Mars mission’s deputy project manager Sarah al-Amiri said it was “an indescribable feeling” to see the probe blasting off and added, “This is the future of the UAE.”

The Bible presents us with a big view of God. The opening words of the book of Genesis are, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The majestic account goes on to describe God’s creating activity including the sun and the moon and then adds the simple, but staggering, statement, “He also made the stars.” Recent exploration of the universe has discovered that there are more stars than there are grains of sand on the seashores of earth.

In Psalm 8 David expresses his sense of awe at the greatness of God, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.” People all over the world can gaze in wonder at the heavens God has created. In Psalm 19 David wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”

David was also amazed that he could know this great God personally. He was just one small man on a tiny planet in a vast universe, but God knew him and he knew God. In Psalm 8 he wrote, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honour.” The UAE probe, Hope, is well-named. When we know the God, who knows us, we have a sure hope and a future that is secure.

This article is brought to you from Thought for the Week. To read more about this ministry, click here.

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Remembering the Battle of Britain

13 July, 2020

This year we celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain which began on 10 July 1940 and continued until 31 October 1940. It was the first major military campaign in history to be fought entirely in the air. Prime Minister Winston Churchill described it as the RAF’s finest hour. France had fallen to the forces of Nazi Germany who now dominated Western Europe. British troops had been evacuated from Dunkirk in late May and early June 1940. Despite being in a seemingly hopeless military situation, Britain refused to surrender.

Britain was the last bastion against what Churchill called “the menace of tyranny.” The Luftwaffe, the German air force, was mounting destructive bombing air raids against Britain, the Blitz, in preparation for an invasion by the German army. In July 1940 the Luftwaffe had 2800 aircraft, mostly bombers. They were experienced and confident and anticipated taking only a few days to defeat the RAF. At the start of the Battle of Britain the RAF had 650 aircraft and 1300 pilots, some of whom came from Commonwealth countries, Nazi-occupied countries and the USA. Britain ramped up factory production of aircraft, especially Spitfire and Hurricane fighters, and by October 1940 had more planes that the Luftwaffe.

During the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe lost 1887 aircraft and 2600 pilots. The RAF lost 1023 aircraft and 544 pilots. The outstanding courage and skill of the RAF pilots led to success in the Battle of Britain and saved many lives. It was a decisive turning point in the course of World War II and the history of the world. In a speech on 20 August 1940 Winston Churchill said, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

The death of Jesus Christ on a Roman cross outside Jerusalem was the decisive moment in human history. He had come from heaven to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The self-sacrifice of God’s eternal Son has brought new life and hope to countless people around the world. Horatius Bonar’s hymn explains it well: “Upon a life I have not lived, upon a death I did not die, another’s life, another’s death, I stake my whole eternity. Not on the tears which I have shed: not on the sorrows I have known, another’s tears, another’s griefs, on them I rest, on them alone. Jesus, O Son of God, I build on what thy cross has done for me; there both my death and life I read, my guilt, my pardon there I see.”

This article is brought to you from Thought for the Week. To read more about this ministry, click here.

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A precious gift from God

6 July, 2020

We have had an addition to our family. Our youngest daughter gave birth three weeks ago to her first child, a little boy. My wife and I are thankful to God that they are both safe and well. This baby is a precious gift from God. We have seen him but have not yet held him because of the present restrictions. We are thankful for the excellent care our daughter received from the consultant and midwife during her pregnancy and, especially, their skills during a difficult delivery.

During our daughter’s pregnancy it was lovely to see the scan photos of the baby in the womb and to see him growing and developing. Those photos reminded us of King David’s words in Psalm 139, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Every human life is precious and little babies are vulnerable and dependent. We are praying for our daughter and son-in-law to have wisdom as they bring up their son. We do not know what the future holds for them or for this world. But whatever the future holds we know that God is faithful and that he is the One who guides both the history of the world and our personal histories. A Christian song says, “I know who holds the future and he’ll guide me with his hand. With God things don’t just happen everything by him is planned. So as I face tomorrow, with its problems large and small, I’ll trust the God of miracles, give to him my all.”

The birth of a little boy in Bethlehem, more than 2000 years ago, brought light to this dark world. His birth was the dawn of hope and a revelation of God’s love for the peoples of the world. One of the best-known verses in the Bible says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” We pray that our new grandson will one day realise God’s love for him in Jesus and receive the gift of eternal life.

This article is brought to you from Thought for the Week. To read more about this ministry, click here.

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The life and faith of Fanny Crosby

29 June, 2020

By Peter Milsom

Fanny Crosby was a prolific hymn writer who wrote more than 9000 hymns. Remarkably, she did this despite being blind from a very early age. When she was 6 weeks old, Fanny caught a cold and a quack doctor prescribed hot mustard poultices for her inflamed eyes which resulted in her becoming totally blind. Her father died when she was 10 months old and her mother, Mercy, was forced to work as a maid to support the family. Fanny was mostly raised by Eunice, her Christian grandmother.

When Eunice heard that nothing could be done about Fanny’s blindness she said, “Then I will be her eyes.” She taught Fanny about the wonderful colours in nature and all the things she could not see. She also encouraged her to memorise Bible passages. Fanny memorised 5 chapters a week and, when still a child, had memorised whole books from the Bible. In 1835, when she was 15 years old, Fanny was sent to the recently founded New York Institute for the Blind. She lived there for 23 years: 12 as a student and 11 as a teacher.

Fanny accepted her blindness without bitterness against the doctor or against God. When she was 8 years old, she wrote a poem: “Oh, what a happy soul am I! Although I cannot see, I am resolved that in this world contented I will be. How many blessings I enjoy, that other people don’t; to weep and sigh because I’m blind, I cannot, and I won’t!” Her love for Jesus gave her great inner strength. She said, “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I was born blind? Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Saviour.”

Fanny expressed her faith in Jesus in her hymns so that others, too, might know her Saviour. Here are some memorable lines from her hymns. “O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood, to every believer the promise of God; the vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.” “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine: O what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.” “All the way my Saviour leads me: what have I to ask beside? Can I doubt his tender mercy, who through life has been my guide? Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, here by faith in him to dwell! For I know whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.”

This article is brought to you from Thought for the Week. To read more about this ministry, click here.

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Why are we Moral?

26 June, 2020

By William Christofides

In this brief discourse I shall explore the question, does Atheism provide an adequate basis for morality? 

In his book on Humanism, Jim Herrick writes, ‘For humanists, morality is a human construct underpinned by our biological development’. To say morality is a human construct is to say that it has no objective value. To be objective a thing must, by definition, be independent of human thought. For instance, the planet Jupiter is objective as it continues to exist whether humanity recognises it nor not, as are the stars and the cosmos. By Herrick’s definition, right and wrong do not ultimately exist, as they are simply what a society collectively decides is acceptable or not. For instance: rape, murder, torture, lying, slavery, and genocide appear wrong to us; but that is only because we decided it. If a society decided these things were acceptable, there would be no objective standard to refute them. Since morality is a human construct, different groups of humans can decide for themselves what is right and wrong. In some societies, human sacrifice is acceptable. If morality is a human construct, who are we to criticise their ideas? 

This moral dilemma is illustrated by David Rose, who relates a true story of a Catholic missionary who attempted to convert a tribe who practiced human sacrifice. The Catholic missionary ‘compared the pure and simple rite of the Catholic Mass with the hideous practice of human sacrifice’. However, the tribe leader responded, ‘It was much less revolting to him […] to sacrifice human beings than it was to eat the flesh and blood of God himself.’ From this Rose concludes, ‘Simply stated, intuitions are not universal, but expressions of our individual, social and historical characters and are – as such – arbitrary, true merely by luck’. In our own time it is clear that a society’s understanding of morality is never static. What was once considered acceptable (and even commendable) is later repudiated and condemned. This is powerfully illustrated in the #metoo movement. The French author Gabriel Matzneff made his literary career out of the sexual exploitation of underage girls. In 1974 he wrote, “To sleep with a child, it’s a holy experience, a baptismal event, a sacred adventure.” Matzneff was not unique in his views. In 1977 a group of French authors, intellectuals, and philosophers (including Roland Barthes, Jacque Derrida, and Michel Foucault) signed a petition which called for the ‘decriminalization of all

consensual relations between adults and minors below the age of fifteen’. It is clear from these examples that it is not always safe to base one’s morality on what is socially acceptable.

Some Atheists and Humanists have tried to get around this moral relativism by appealing to human progress. They accept that our society has held abhorrent views in the past, and that other cultures today continue to hold them, but we have progressed beyond that! By using science and reason, they say, humanity can gradually discover what is correct and put aside backward and archaic values. Steven Pinker writes, ‘With our understanding of the world advanced by science and our circle of sympathy expanded through reason and cosmopolitanism, humanity could make intellectual and moral progress.’ Such views of human progress were widely held by Humanists and liberal theologians in the 19th Century. In a Christmas sermon in 1867 the liberal Anglican Benjamin Jowett said:  

[There] seem to be very real improvements which we have ourselves witnessed. And they show that the world is not always getting worse and worse, but is upon the whole in some degree better than formerly, whatever we may be as individuals. There may be some temporary distress during the present year, but upon the whole we are all better off, both in material and moral well-being. 

[…] I think that we certainly gather from the past, the lesson of confidence and hope of good upon the whole increased, and evils likely to be diminished, because they begin to be more realized. And although there are some dark spots on the horizon at present, yet there is no reason to think that any dangers are coming upon us which may not be averted by firmness and prudence; especially if we do not allow ourselves to be diverted from the plain duties by panic fears and unreasoning prejudices.

Here the same values of reason, science, and progress were espoused. However, these optimistic views of human progress were severely tried by the devastating events of the 20th Century. Again, Jim Herrick writes, ‘As a century of war, genocide and totalitarianism it was an appalling period’. The atrocities of the 20th Century do not seem to fit into the 19th Century’s optimistic narrative of ‘confidence and hope of good upon the whole increased, and evils likely to be diminished’. If people in the 19th Century were wrong to think human society would gradually improve with the advances of science and reason, what makes us think we are right today? 

The fact of history is that scientific advances do not necessarily result in moral improvements, and “reason” has often been championed to justify the most bizarre, counterintuitive, and abhorrent actions. The cause of “reason” was perhaps at its height during the Enlightenment in 18th Century Europe. Whereas thinkers like Steven Pinker praise Enlightenment thinkers as those who applied ‘the standard of reason to understand our world, and [did] not fall back on generators of delusion like faith, dogma, revelation, authority, charisma, mysticism, divination, visions, gut feelings, or the hermeneutic parsing of sacred texts,’ cultural historians have shown that these thinkers entertained many strange and irrational notions. Alister McGrath observes:

the eighteenth century [was not] consistently rational in every aspect. In fact, the Enlightenment is now recognized to be intellectually heterogeneous, including a remarkable variety of anti-rational movements such as Mesmerism and Masonic rituals. Mesmerism is of particular interest. The movement takes its name from Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815), a German physician who achieved considerable success in Paris. Mesmerism was grounded in astrology and the occult, and laid particular emphasis upon the therapeutic powers of animal magnetism and the potential of hypnotic séances. The strongly irrational character of this movement, which gained a considerable following within the Paris social élite on the eve of the French Revolution, is a reminder that the ‘Age of Reason’ had its decidedly less reasonable aspects. 

One particularly odd Enlightenment thinker was Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). An accomplished scientist and philosopher, with an encyclopaedic knowledge which ‘embraced mathematics, physics, mechanics, astronomy, metallurgy, chemistry, geology, magnetism, and anatomy’, Swedenborg was an epitome of Enlightened man: he boasted of a detailed knowledge of many fields and an unswerving dedication to reason as the source of all human knowledge. However, his encyclopaedic learning also included esotericism and mesmerism. He later claimed to receive special revelations from spirits who inhabited heaven, hell, earth, and other planets. All this he justified with reason. His visions were revered by Immanuel Kant, that arche of the Enlightenment. This demonstrates that, contrary to Pinker’s assertion, “reason” for the Enlightenment thinkers did not exclude the so-called ‘generators of delusion like faith, dogma, revelation, authority, charisma, mysticism, divination, visions, gut feelings, or the hermeneutic parsing of sacred texts’. If reason has so many faces, how can it be a reliable foundation for morality?

If morality cannot be clearly discerned from societal norms, science, or reason, then where else can we look? Are we left in in agnosticism and scepticism when it comes to moral issues? Such was the conclusion of the Existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Starting from the premise ‘Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself,’ (thereby excluding the external authorities of society, science, and reason) Sartre concludes, ‘If I regard a certain course of action as good, it is only I who choose to say that it is good and not bad’. Elsewhere he states, ‘If values are uncertain, if they are still too abstract to determine the particular, concrete case under consideration, nothing remains but to trust in our instincts.’ Such then is the position the Atheists find themselves. There is no moral imperative beyond themselves to which they appeal. They may choose to largely subscribe to a Christian ethic, a Marxist ethic, or a Hedonistic ethic. The choice is theirs! 

From what has been said so far, an objective source for morality needs to be: 1) independent of human thought, 2) transcend societal norms, and 3) transcend the limits of autonomous human reason. Christian theism meets all these requirements.  

Firstly, Christianity holds that God is not bound by our subjective impressions and thoughts of Him. He is not, as liberal theologians like Feuerbach suggest, an embodiment of our ideals and aspirations, as this would make him merely a human invention. The Bible says, As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. This tells us that God is beyond our thoughts and is therefore objective. It is from such a source that an objective ground for morals can be found. 

Being objective and high beyond us, God’s moral character and requirements transcends all societal norms, thus meeting the second criteria needed for objective morality. The Bible says, Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. God’s goodness and love endures forever, and are an eternal objective standard by which we measure our morality against. Again, the Bible says, Be holy, because I am holy, and Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect. When God defines goodness and perfection, He always points to Himself, since God is good and perfect.

Finally, being high beyond us, His standard of what is right for us necessarily transcends our limited scope of reason. The Medieval poet and theologian Dante wrote, “Reason has short wings”. Dante demonstrates how human reason is capable of incredible feats: it could search out the ways of Earth and Nature and could understanding the workings of the human mind. However, when it came to the great questions of purpose and meaning, reason had to stop. In these matters he had to submit to Revelation (symbolised in his poetry as the Divine Beatrice). This is what the Bible says, The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law. There are certain things we cannot comprehend which only God knows. Only God knows what is good, as no-one is good except God alone. Goodness would always remain secret to us if God had not revealed it to us in the Bible, and ultimately in His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd, and when we look to Him, we see what goodness looks like in practice! 

1  Jim Herrick, Humanism: An Introduction (London: Rationalist Press Association, 2009), p. 34.

2 David Rose, Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: A Reader’s Guide (London: Continuum, 2007), p. 17.





5 Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now (London: Penguin Books, 2019), p. 11.

6 Benjamin Jowett, Sermons: Biographical and Miscellaneous (London: John Murray, 1899), pp. 361, 367.

7  Jim Herrick, Humanism: An Introduction (London: Rationalist Press Association, 2009), p. 115.

8 Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now (London: Penguin Books, 2019), p. 8.

9 Alister McGrath, The Making of Modern German Christology, 1750-1990 (Leicester: APOLLOS, 1994), p. 15.

 10 G. Trobridge, Swedenborg: Life and Teaching (London: Swedenborg Society, 1935), p. 46.

11 Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism & Humanism, trans. Philip Mairet (York: Methuen, 2008), pp. 30, 35, 41. Emphasis added.

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The story of Ricky Valance

22 June, 2020

By Peter Milsom

Ricky Valance has died at the age of 84. In 1960, he had one big hit, the song “Tell Laura I love her.” He was the first Welshman to have a Number One hit song. The song was controversial because it told the story of Tommy, a teenager who was desperately in love with a girl called Laura. Tommy entered a stock car race so he could use the prize money to buy Laura a wedding ring. His car crashed and Tommy was fatally injured. As he lay dying, he said, “Tell Laura I love her … my love for her will never die.” The BBC banned it, which only increased the sales, reaching more than a million copies and topping the charts. Ricky never had another hit song.

Ricky was born David Spencer, the eldest of 7 children, and grew up in Ynysddu, in the Gwent Valleys, where he was the lead soprano in St Theodore’s Church. His father worked in the mines and when he was 15 Ricky, too, went to work in a mine. When he was 17, he joined the RAF serving as a leading aircraftsman in Tripoli during the Suez crisis. After his one hit song Ricky sang in clubs and on cruise ships. He also experienced a number of crises.

By the 1990s he was clinically depressed and suffered a nervous breakdown. He said, “I experienced fear, loneliness and desolation in a way that I wouldn’t wish on any other person.” During this time Ricky visited his local golf club and played with Brian, whom he’d never met before. Brian encouraged Ricky to rediscover his Christian faith. Ricky went to Brian’s church and attended an Alpha course, a programme designed to introduce people to the Christian faith. Ricky said, “It was following that course that I asked Jesus to take full control of my life.”

After becoming a Christian Ricky said, “I’ve started to understand myself more and found that I don’t need to be so hard on myself. If God forgives me for the things I do, then I need to be able to do the same. And I guess it’s made me see others in a different light too. I don’t understand why so many Christians don’t tell others the Good News about what Jesus did for us all on the Cross.” In his last years Ricky suffered from dementia. He is now at peace in heaven with his Saviour, who loved him and died that he might have eternal life.

This article is brought to you from Thought for the Week. To read more about this ministry, click here.

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Finding forgiveness

15 June, 2020

The lives of some well-known people are coming under critical scrutiny. In the past statues have been erected to men who did notable things that benefited the societies in which they lived. Now, however, attention is being drawn to the bad things they did, including being involved in or supporting the evil slave trade.

William Gladstone was a 19th century Liberal politician who is the only person to have been British prime minister on four separate occasions. After slavery was abolished in Britain, Gladstone campaigned for slave owners, such as his father, to be compensated. Later he called slavery the “foulest crime” in British history. His family, who are not opposing the removal of his statute in Hawarden, have said, “By 1850, he was a changed man and cited the abolition of slavery as one of the great political issues in which the masses had been right and the classes had been wrong.”

The lives of us all are a mixture of both good and bad things. Some of the things we have done are very seriously wrong, but should we be forever defined by these bad things or is it possible to really change and become a different person?

When we critically judging the actions of others, we also need to look at ourselves. Jesus warned against hypocritical judgement saying, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Final judgement belongs to God who judges justly. Our sins matter and no-one will escape his righteous judgement. Yet, in Jesus, God also reveals his mercy and grace. Every sin can be forgiven, and the experience of God’s forgiveness is life changing. In Psalm 130 the psalmist is in the depths of despair because of his sinful failures and cries out to God for mercy. He says, “If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.”

This article is brought to you from Thought for the Week. To read more about this ministry, click here.

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