All Things Witness

Thoughts on the mission and power of Jesus Christ


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The Challenge to Stay Humble

Church of St Lawrence (2)

Church of St Lawrence, Warkworth, Northumberland

Although there are still a few weeks until the season of autumn officially arrives, with the children going back to school this week, in practice summer is now drawing to its close. And as I think back over the summer months, and our daytrips out, there is one in particular that comes to mind.

For our wedding anniversary, my wife and I spent the day wandering a few villages and towns of Northumberland, an hour or two from home. We finished in the small town of Warkworth, just a few miles from the coast, where we went to the old castle up on the hill for an evening performance of Much Ado About Nothing.

We arrived in Warkworth early and strolled through the town and along the river, spending a little time in the Church of St Lawrence. It is a beautiful small church, and had a lovely feeling in it. Parts of the current building have been there for close to 1,000 years, with evidence of an earlier structure several hundred years before that.

As we walked through its old interior I couldn’t help but think of the many thousands, or even tens of thousands, of people who have worshipped in this building over a millennium. I could see no evidence of pretention: there was some beautiful stained glass showing scenes of the Saviour’s life, but otherwise everything was simple, and gave a sense that those who had come here had done so because of nothing more than their faith. It is a relatively small building, and I couldn’t help but feel that a thousand years of humble and genuine worship for our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ had sanctified the place, making the stones holy. Continue reading


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Of Forest Walks and the Doctrine of Christ

The physical, emotional and spiritual copyI was asked to give a talk (sermon) in my local church today, and I’ve copied the text below.  Some of the themes could be further developed, and I probably will do in future posts.  I begin with a parable that in some ways reminds me of the famous lines from Alice in Wonderland:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

 

Only in this case, it really does matter which way we go…. Continue reading


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A Faithful Perspective on the Problem of Evil (part 3)

The Famished ChildSadly enough… it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.” (Elder Jeffrey R Holland, The Cost – and Blessings – of Discipleship)

This is the third (and final) post in a series on the Problem of Evil, specifically looking at three fallacies that are inherent within the problem (at least as it is usually described). Continue reading


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A Faithful Perspective on the Problem of Evil (Part 2)

Image from Flickr, by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

Image from Flickr, by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

Flash floods wreak havoc in a neighbourhood and a family’s home is made uninhabitable, with many precious items that hold priceless memories lost forever, and with months or even years of wrangling with insurers and living in inadequate temporary accommodation awaiting them. A young father, following years of depression and struggles with school, home and family, is diagnosed with a mental health disorder, shattering his hopes for a life being able to be the father he wishes to be. A child develops leukemia, and she and her parents face many years of expensive hospital visits and painful treatments until finally she passes from mortality, far too young. I could go on, and of course you could create your own list of tragedies that strike either in your own life, or in the lives of your family or friends.

Tragic? Yes, without any shadow of a doubt. Uncommon? No, not remotely. Pain and suffering are things we each experience during our mortal lives. And the questions that will touch each of us during such times will be variations on, “Why me?”, “How can I endure it?”, “Please, Heavenly Father, wilt thou take this pain away?”, and sometimes, “What am I supposed to learn from this?”

Ultimately, a question that touches most of us at some point will be, “What is the purpose of suffering?” Continue reading


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A Faithful Perspective on the Problem of Evil

WHERE'SI’ve started this post a couple of times, and then, unsatisfied with what I had written, discarded it. It’s been bobbling around in my head for several weeks now – hence no other recent posts as I’ve been thinking about how to write about something for which I don’t really have satisfactory answers.

A few months ago we had some young people from our local Church congregation come over to our home on a Sunday afternoon and we talked about science and religion. We had an enjoyable time, and we then asked them if they’d like to come back again, and if so what subject they’d like us to discuss. I’d prepared a few suggestions, and the very clear preferred topic was about the unfairness of life. This may go from the “everyday unfairnesses” of things we all experience, for example why maybe one person gets the job they love, and another doesn’t, or why one person gets serious illness and another doesn’t; through to the unfairnesses that appears so cruel: why do tsunami’s wreak such havoc and devastate countless innocent lives; why are some people born into kind and loving families, while others are born into horror? Continue reading


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The Journey – An Allegory

6261718098_48baf2fc8f_nThere once lived a young couple recently married. With their small baby daughter they lived in a temporary dwelling in a hot desert. There were many thousands of people who shared similar accommodation nearby, and over time it became apparent that food and other necessities would not continue to arrive to support the population.

When the people had arrived at the town they had been informed of a Kindly Man who had established this area as a temporary shelter, and that he would send a message when it was time to move on, with instructions as to what the people should do.

As time passed, and supplies dwindled, many began to believe that the story of the Kindly Man was nothing more than a myth. Consequently some individuals and families around them started to move out into the desert, following promises of sustenance, and even opulence, elsewhere. But the couple recognised such promises as nothing more than vague rumours, and the routes people were taking uncertain. They considered it would be foolish to follow such rumours into the desolate wilderness, and so they waited with little more than a hope that the Kindly Man was real, and that he would send the promised message before life’s necessities vanished and they, along with their precious baby, perished. Continue reading

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