“If one set of servants of God are not fulfilling their God appointed duty – what about the others? The church of Jesus Christ and especially those who profess to be leaders within it? Where have all the prophets gone? In the week that I read about all the above events I happened to be preaching on Hosea ch.4. It was an epiphany! Talk about the bible being relevant!”
Prophets, Prostitutes and Politicians
“How are you?” is the usual question. “Fine,” is the usual answer. Meaningless conversation no.1! I once asked Joe Novenson, minister of Lookout Mountain PCA this question. His answer ? “FINE – Frustrated, Insecure, Neurotic and Exhausted!” How am I? Both encouraged and FINE. On the one hand I have recently enjoyed an encouraging sense of the presence of God – on the other there has also been an increasing awareness of the needs of our society. I am not sure which came first. Is it this sense of need, frustration and helplessness that has driven me to my knees? Or is it the sense of God which makes me see the really helpless and hopeless state of our society? And any way what is all this ‘touchy feely’ stuff about feeling?! Does it matter? Yes! Emphatically!
Feel the Pain
A Christian without a felt Christ is lifeless and dead – like a marriage without any feeling. And anyone who can be aware of the need and pain all around us and not feel it, has become desensitised in a way which denies their basic humanity. No, feelings are not everything – but they are important. So what is causing the pain, frustration and sense of hopelessness in yours truly nowadays? I have thought about this for weeks and tried to take into account such factors as personal tiredness, bad hair days or eating too much cheese at night – but in all honesty my sense of hopelessness is not caused by personal circumstances. Of course there are the usual worries and strains of being a Free Church minister, living in Dundee and having three children. But – and I am sorry to disappoint all those internal angst seekers – I am very happy with my life. Each day I count my blessings and thank the Lord for my family, my health, His church and the opportunity to live and serve in this beautiful city. But along with that thankfulness there lives these conflicting emotions of pain, anger, sorrow and frustration. Why?
Weep for the City
Let me list some of the things that are going on. Take a glance at some of the stories that hit me in just one day. A Dundee based support group has logged 100 cases of children from Tayside being sexually exploited in the past 12 months. Some children, including pre-teens, have been sold to strangers for sex, by their parents. Children from all over the world are being sold for sex on the internet and then rated out of 10 by paedophiles. A mother who looked at her daughter’s diary was stunned to find out that the 15 year old had had an abortion. The diary entry for Tuesday the 13th stated poignantly “I had my termination (killed my baby)”. The family is distraught – as is the girl, who now says she would have had the child if her parents had known. Because, amazingly, the parents were not told about it. The girl had a 15 minute appointment with a GP before going to hospital – the first time for a scan and the second for an abortion. It is quite incredible – as I parent I am deemed to be responsible for my own 15 year old daughter to the extent that if she does not attend school, I am the one who will be fined. The school nurse is not allowed to examine my six year olds hair for head lice (because of the Child Protection Act) without my permission. But my child can have her own baby killed without my knowing anything!
A young immigrant from Morocco who came to London to improve his English and better his career prospects, was savagely beaten and now lies in severely brain damaged in hospital. The prognosis is that he will never recover. His attacker was caught and given a five year sentence!
An Anglican bishop, Rev. Dr Peter Foster, the Bishop of Chester was told that Chester police were considering a prosecution against him and that an article he had written was being passed to the Crown Prosecution service. What was his crime? He wrote this – “Some people who are primarily homosexual can reorientate themselves. I would encourage them to consider that as an option, but I would not set myself up as a medical specialist on the subject – that’s in the area of psychiatric health. We want to help them but I don’t offer it as a panacea. I am about giving honour to marriage.” Although the police decided not to prosecute the Chief Constable Peter Fahy gave the bishop a public row stating that “all public leaders in Cheshire need to give clear leadership on the issue of diversity”.
Meanwhile my six year old brought me home a glossy leaflet from the Scottish Executive. It informed me that it was illegal to punish children by shaking, hitting on the head and using a belt, wooden spoon or other implement. The law does not bother me too much but what did bother me was the irrational newspeak that came with the leaflet – which encouraged us not to smack at all. In their wisdom the Executive tell us that “discipline should not be about instilling obedience or inflicting physical punishment”. Young toddlers are too small to understand why they are being smacked ‘so that’s not the answer’. Furthermore smacking sets children the wrong example, can make children angry and resentful and damages their confidence and self-esteem.
What amazed me about this leaflet was its inconsistency. First of all I am sure that the teachers at the school actually want the children to obey them when they tell them to do something. Furthermore the leaflet, after telling us that punishment is bad, then instructs us that suitable punishments are grounding, withdrawing TV and pocket money. Yeah right – that won’t cause any resentment and will be accepted by the children as a necessary non punishment!
An indication of the confusion and conspicuous consumption of our society was demonstrated when a vet launched a new slimmers club. Not for human beings you understand – but rather for obese pets – a kind of Catkins diet! And this in the same week that we have received continual warnings about the level of obesity amongst humans in Britain. Meanwhile one billion people in the world do not have enough to eat.
As for the poor animals – it turns out that they are increasingly being treated as substitute children. Apparently our yuppies cannot be bothered with the hassle and responsibility of raising children and so they invest their shallow emotions and some of their money on raising pets whom they name and treat as surrogate children. Enough.
Thank the Lord for Politicians!
It is clear that we live in a shallow, confused and increasingly distorted society. Thankfully the Lord has given us politicians. Yes you read it right. We are to be thankful that the Lord has given us politicians – authorities that have been established by him (Romans ch. 13 v. 1) to enable us to ‘live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness’. (1 Timothy ch.2 v. 2). As Christians we must avoid the cynicism, couldn’t care less attitude and anarchy which is so prevalent amongst ‘ordinary’ people. And we do look to our politicians as leaders in our society and servants of God. So how are they doing?