The beauty of the earth

Earth from Space

In a world full of so much suffering, it is easy to lose sight of the beauty all around us in this world we live in. Yes, there is the ugliness of poverty and injustice, but there is so much beauty to be thankful for as well.

Last week, Christine and I went to Yorkshire and visited the beautiful village of West Burton where I had lived, but only as a baby. My parents had moved north to a safe place, far away from the bombs and noise of the second world war, and I had been born there. Travelling in the Yorkshire Dales, the beauty of the hills and the valleys in between took our breath away.

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Dreaming of a new kingdom

harvestAs we look around us at the world, we see so much suffering, poverty, disease and violence. Our leaders, politicians and governments have made such a mess of things. Selfishness, greed and corruption seem to rule everything. We threaten our very existence with nuclear weapons and contempt for our environment. Billions live in poverty and millions of children die every day of preventable diseases.

And yet we see so much beauty all around us. Our natural world is full of beauty and wonders. People have created fantastic music, art and literature. Our scientists are eliminating some diseases such as leprosy, polio and smallpox and there is hope for cures from the killer diseases: malaria, aids and cancer.

When God created us, in his image, he also gave us free wills. But mankind has gone its own way and refused to acknowledge the plan God had for us. But God’s plan has always been one of restoration and reconciliation. Jesus came to institute a new kingdom which would radically change the world we live in. In the Gospels, this is known as the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven.

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Generosity

generosityThere are no rules to generosity. We can express financial giving by a value in pounds or dollars. We can define giving as a percentage of income. But we cannot measure a generous heart.

Eugene Cho wrote a book ‘Overrated, Are we more in love with the idea of changing the world than actually changing to world‘. He makes this amazing statement:

“Generosity is what keeps the things I own from owning me. In other words, the point of my generosity isn’t just to bless others; it’s also to liberate me.”

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Jesus: Giving to the needy

cashWe cannot read the words of Jesus without seeing the importance he gives to giving to the poor or to those in need. It is God’s nature to give to all men unconditionally. So, we are encouraged to be givers to those in need. We are not to parade our giving but to give in secret. The true value of our gift is not measured in pounds or dollars but according to what the gift cost us. But if we give joyfully and unreservedly then we cannot help benefitting ourselves by giving. It is a win-win situation!
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Destroying Childhood?

African BoysIn the United Kingdom there is a lot of fuss being made about the new school curriculum. Apparently, 198 academics have signed a letter which says that the new curriculum “abolishes childhood”. Now, I do not have qualifications to judge the curriculum educationally. But really, “abolishing childhood” or “destroying childhood”?

Let me take you to the real world.

  • A little girl of 7 in Mumbai, India is forced into child prostitution. That is destroying childhood.
  • A small boy in Asia is made to work long hours in a brick factory.  That is destroying childhood.

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Jesus: Responding to Violence

NONVIOLENCEWas Jesus a pacifist? Does he expect his followers to be pacifists? Is it right to defend ourselves, or our loved ones, from violent attack? Is non-violent protest the only way to change the world? Should we use military means to prevent the excesses of violent dictators in the world. These are difficult questions, but if we want to follow Jesus we must take his teaching seriously.

As I look at this world, I am convinced that the only way evil will ever be overcome is by love and forgiveness. Non-violence is proactive and not cowardice. Turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, involves bravery and being convinced that in the end, love wins.

Jesus very plainly said that we were not to resist an evil person using force. There are no qualifiers to his statement, no get-out clauses and no exceptions. [Read more...]

Dignity and respect for Humanity

The Golden RuleHow we treat other people is vitality important. Jesus told us to ‘love our neighbour’. Love includes dignity and respect. Love in a marriage would quickly die if both partners did not respect each other and treat the other with dignity.

Jesus’ teaching addresses how we should respond to people who make us angry, people who we could despise, people who are violent towards us, people who are in need and people who make us their enemy. He taught us to keep short accounts with others and not to judge. [Read more...]

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