Monday, 14 March 2011

Another Seismic Shift

We have all watched with horror the events that have unfolded in Japan. The sheer scale of the devastation, the power of nature and the incalculable suffering as a result, is beyond our experience. Watching ships, carrying people, just being turned into matchwood in a few seconds and watching a dark tide engulf whole areas, is something that we have never seen before, since 2004 when the word tsunami first entered the common language. The power of nature seems wholly indiscriminate and unstoppable. The phrase 'seismic shift' takes on a whole new meaning when we see its outworking so dramatically and tragically.

But it occurred to me a few moments before beginning to write this blog, that there is another seismic shift taking place: One that will have dire consequences in the days to come. We are seeing a shift away from Christian values and, like that invidious wall of water that invaded, so ruthlessly, large areas of the east coast of Japan, its steady progress will see the erosion of many of the values that have anchored Western civilization. In the courts and in the media we are seeing a growing number of cases of Christians being vilified, prosecuted and disciplined, in a way that only a few years ago would have seemed unthinkable. There is a different kind of earthquake taking place in the West. It is extending over a longer period of time; there is no Richter scale to measure its force; yet it will bring about the fall of Western civilization as we know it.

Recently I watched the historian David Starkey speaking on television. I disagree with a lot of what he says, but I defend his right to have an opinion. He said this: "We are seeing the appearance of a new form of tyranny. An intolerance every bit as powerful as that which it seeks to replace." He is right. So-called tolerance has an invidious and prejudiced flipside and what we have been told would be the benefits of multiculturalism, has turned people who hold Christian beliefs into intolerant criminals. Moral and social confusion is following in its wake and the 1984 Orwellian thought police are on the trail of anyone who holds beliefs contrary to what society in general holds. It is a new form of inquisition and the tsunami is growing taller and more powerful. We have been warned, in God's Word, by Jesus Himself, that these days would come.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Everyone Needs a Break (Brake?)

I can always remember the first and thankfully, only time it happened. Coming down a hill and putting my foot on the brake, only to find that the pedal went straight down on the floor. A quick change down the gears avoided disaster and, thankfully, the car in front was way in front! Then it was a case of nursing the car slowly home, anxiously pumping the pedal from time to time to get pressure. A car without brakes is a lethal machine. Apparently it was air bubbles in the fluid; the car had been serviced, but not well enough, it seems.

I thought of it rather as a metaphor for what we are trying to do in the Company: Getting people to put the brakes on, before they head for eternal disaster. Putting the brakes on the direction of their lives and heading in another direction. I suppose if I had the time and inclination, it would be an interesting study to see how many times I applied the brakes on a journey to central London. We do it instinctively of course - brake, I mean. It becomes second nature. We drive with the security of knowing that our brakes will work - until they don't, and then our whole mind set changes.

This weekend we spent time presenting the 'Yeshua Messiah!' musical, urging people to 'put the brakes on.' Anyone living without Christ is living in a state of false security. They will only find out when the brakes don't work!

This blog was inspired, if that is the right word, by the experience of Ian, who heads up the technical team: Brake failure on a hired van carrying equipment back. It brought back memories! Perhaps that's one way of looking at the Gospel: Make sure your brakes are working!