Nutshell

Christianity in a Nutshell



Who God is

Designer and Creator


The Bible starts with the words "In the beginning God created the universe" (Good News Bible). Science too describes the universe as having a beginning. Galaxies are observed to be moving away from us at velocities which can be measured so it is possible to calculate when this process started. The answer is that it began about 13.8 billion years ago. This is commonly referred to as the "Big Bang", though there wouldn't have been a bang.

In the beginning, when science tells us the "Big Bang" took place, the laws of science had already been precisely defined. If the laws of gravity, of nuclear physics, of relativity, of thermodynamics, of chemistry, and so on, had not been in place at that moment, the universe as we know it would not exist.

At the "Big Bang" too, the matter that would become stars, planets, and, ultimately, human beings was created. It was God's plan that human beings would evolve when the time was right.



When the Ancient Hebrew language of the Old Testament was first translated into Greek and Latin and later into modern languages occasionally the full meaning of the Hebrew wasn't fully appreciated. The most troublesome example of this, which has caused a huge amount of misunderstanding and unnecessary arguments over many years is the Hebrew word "yom" which occurs right at the beginning of the Bible.



The beginning of Genesis in Ancient Hebrew



Usually the word "yom" simply means "day" in the ordinary sense of the word. Just as in English, "day" can have more than one meaning. If I say "It was different in my day" I would be referring to a period of time. The same shade of meaning existed in Hebrew. "Yom" doesn't have to refer to 24 hours - it can also mean an undefined period of time. Once this is appreciated, the development of the universe and the earth in six stages doesn't conflict with science. The Bible says that matter and light were created at the beginning, before a world covered with waters came about, that barren dry land came before vegetation, which came before waters teeming with living creatures, which came before land animals and that mankind came last. Science agrees with this sequence. No problem.


Loving Father


We are part of God's Creation, part of nature, part of His masterplan. Because He created us, God is our Father. That is why the most important prayer in Christianity starts with the words "Our Father". By this definition, God is the Father of everyone on this planet, whether Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, or people of any other faith. He is the Father of atheists, who cling to their belief that He doesn't exist.


The Lord's Prayer - Our Father

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen


Because we are God's children, He loves us in the way you'd expect a perfect father to love his children. Just as a child is expected to respect their earthly father, so God likes us to respect Him. In return, He will answer our sincere prayers to Him. Like a loving father, He sometimes expects us to show a little patience. Above all, He wants us to trust Him. This is called Faith.


It is interesting to reflect that every Easter Sunday this prayer is prayed by two billion people world-wide.



The Lord who is only a prayer away


God created us and He loves us. He is happy when things are going well for us and He is troubled when things go badly, just as a human father would be. Like most good human fathers, He lets us get on with our lives without undue interference. He does, however, have a habit of troubling our God-given consciences if we behave badly. Sadly, some people master the art of ignoring their consciences.

God doesn't usually influence, or control the day to day events of the world unless asked to (otherwise He would be interfering with our free will and with the laws of nature and with probability - and things could then get chaotic), but we can always ask for His help through prayer. Then He will intervene on our behalf, or on behalf of someone else. We shouldn't ask for a miracle (breaking His laws of nature), or for something at someone else's expense. When we show our faith by praying to Him, He will help us to deal with whatever is troubling us. God is waiting for us to ask - it demonstrates that we believe in Him. It is in His power to make events go our way. He wants what's best for us, just like a good father.

When things have gone well and we feel grateful, it is good to say thank you to Him, again through prayer. And if we feel guilty or ashamed about something, if we say sorry He will forgive us. God is always ready to forgive, though He does expect us to try to put right any wrongs we have done to other people.

Some people like to say that Christians walk around burdened with guilt, constantly feeling ashamed. Nothing could be further from the truth. God is always ready to forgive us completely and He wants us to lead better, more considerate lives. That can't be bad, can it?

Other people say the opposite, that Christians consider themselves to be better than everyone else, looking down on others as "sinners". It's sad when critics don't check their facts before rushing to judgment. What Jesus actually said was that His followers should always avoid being judgmental and that humility was a good thing.


Who Jesus is


An early picture of Jesus


The Son of God


Before our universe was created God and His only son, Jesus, existed. Just as a fish can't comprehend the world of humans who live outside the fish tank, so we have difficulty grasping the concept of God before He created our universe. Just because we don't understand something, though, doesn't mean it doesn't exist, or couldn't have happened.

During the time of the Roman Empire God sent His son to live amongst us. Jesus experienced His 33 year life on earth as a human being, though He was still the son of God.

Some people have a problem with the fact that Jesus is said to have performed miracles. Anything that breaks the laws of science or flies in the face of statistical probability simply can't be true, they say. The miracles which He became so well known for were intended as a powerful way of demonstrating that He actually was the son of God, able to do things only the Creator could do. Of course, given His compassionate nature, the miracles usually helped people in need at the same time. Should we really be surprised that the God who designed the universe and defined the laws of physics and chemistry was able to perform the occasional miracle through His son? Just because 21st Century science can't begin to explain miracles doesn't prove they didn't happen. There is a tendency in science to assume that our current understanding of nature is pretty close to the truth. But they thought that way 200 years ago before radio waves were discovered, or electricity was understood. Science is still in its infancy.


God in Human Form


Although He was the son of God, Jesus was miraculously conceived within an ordinary woman, the Virgin Mary. He was born a human baby, grew up as a child in a normal family environment, probably learnt carpentry from His dad, Joseph, and was about 30 years old when He started His mission to bring salvation to the world.

The crowds thought Jesus was wonderful, though some of the politicians / religious leaders of the time perceived Him as a threat, so much so that they contrived to have Him executed.

Jesus was a good public speaker, a quick thinker, intelligent, kind, compassionate and honest. He knew when people were trying to trap Him with words and He responded with a skill that left His enemies dumbfounded. He experienced our emotions of happiness, misery, love, disappointment, wonder, fear and frustration. His close followers consisted of men, and, unusually for those times, women. There is no record in the Bible of Him ever being married.


Our Role Model


Jesus treated His fellow human beings with the kindness and respect they deserved, regardless of their status. He even forgave His deadly enemies. His golden rule was to do to others what you'd like them to do to you. He expects His followers to do their best to do the same. He urges us to be forgiving when we ourselves are treated badly, but to strive for justice when other people are wronged. He says that when we die and are judged, He will treat us the way we treated others during our lifetime. People who went through life being helpful, giving others the benefit of the doubt and being understanding can expect a different kind of judgment compared with those who were bullies, were selfish and were cruel. That's fair, isn't it?


The Way to Heaven


The verse in the Bible which many consider to be at the heart of Christianity is "For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3,16). It's not too hard to grasp the idea that this life isn't the best there is. God wants us one day to have an ideal life in heaven, the free gift He gives to everyone who chooses Jesus.

When we die, as everyone must, we are all judged by Jesus. He decides who goes to heaven and who perishes. During His time on earth He described this as being like a farmer separating the wheat grains from the chaff. The valuable wheat is kept and the chaff is destroyed.

People of whatever religion are all judged by Jesus. As promised in the John 3,16 verse, all true believers automatically go to heaven because Jesus is their Saviour. People of other religions are a "law unto themselves" and are judged by how they behaved towards other people and whether they followed their God-given consciences. Jesus said that only one sin could not be forgiven and that was "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit". The Holy Spirit is the force here on earth which helps us to behave like good Christians. Perhaps blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would include trying to wreck Christianity, or the act of trying to destroy the faith of a believer, luring them away from the promise of heaven.


Jesus said that hell exists. He also said that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was the unforgivable sin. Putting these two facts together spells very bad news for militant atheists and jihadists.


The One who showed that Death Is Not the End


If we really live in a Godless world, or if Jesus were a deceitful liar, then we could discount the idea that there is a better life ahead of us. The alternative idea is that we humans are no more than machines which break down completely when we die. It's an obvious fact that when someone has breathed their last, all that is left is a lifeless corpse. But is a human being more than just flesh and bones? Isn't it fairly obvious that every person has a spirit, a personality, a soul? When the physical body has gone, what is left? Are we saying that a person who is trapped inside a severely disabled body has no spirit? It is relatively easy to kill the body, but what about the soul? How could we set about killing that? Perhaps we are not simply machines that cease to function when we die.

If someone returned from death and confirmed that eternal life really does exist, would we believe them? Obviously a cynical person wouldn't, but what about an open-minded person, or a trusting person? If we saw a dear friend die, we would be dismayed and grief-stricken. But how would we feel about death if a couple of days after they'd been buried they came, large as life, into the room where we were eating? Suppose they then had a long conversation with us and asked if they might share our meal? According to various people who knew Jesus, in His case this is what happened.

When Jesus, who three days earlier had been crucified and buried, met with some of His disciples they were simultaneously astonished and overjoyed. When they told the other disciples what had happened, not surprisingly they were met with ridicule. This incredulity steadily vanished as more and more of them met Him during the following days. "Doubting" Thomas was the last to see Him, but after he saw the recent gaping wounds in Jesus' hands and feet, he too believed.

As would be expected, the people who had seen the risen Christ became transformed characters. After having been given such a visual proof that death isn't the end, their timidity and fear were replaced by great confidence and the enthusiatic desire to share the "Good News" (the Gospel) with the rest of the world. The New Testament is the result of this new-found purpose.


What the Bible is



A History of the Israelites and the early Jews and
the Coming of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the World


The Bible is in two parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is longer and was originally written mainly in Hebrew, the language of the Israelites. The New Testament was written in Greek. The Old Testament describes, in poetic words, the creation of the universe, the arrival of mankind on the scene, the origin of the Jewish nation, rules to live by, especially the Ten Commandments (see below), and prophesies of a future Messiah, or Christ. He would be sent by God as saviour of the Jewish people, which is the Jewish view, or as Saviour of the world, the Christian interpretation. Modern-day Jews are still waiting for the Messiah, while Christians believe that Jesus Christ from Nazareth fulfilled all the ancient prophesies.

Life in the times of the Ancient Egyptians, the Babylonians and the early Israelites was incredibly cruel and unjust by modern standards. Each nation seemed intent on conquering and enslaving its neighbours. The God-given Ten Commandments (shown below) must have seemed extraordinary to the rest of the people in those far off times. The idea of worshipping an unseen God who had created the entire universe must have seemed laughable to people used to praying to local metal, wooden, or stone idols which they themselves had made.

People sometimes ask, If God created us, then who created God? The answer is that unlike a stone idol or a metal god, nobody created Him. God is eternal.


The Bible is divided into sections called "books" and each book has its own author, inspired by the Holy Spirit, God in action on earth.

The New Testament consists of four special books called The Four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). They describe the extraordinary events of Jesus' birth, life, execution and Resurrection. The authors are four people who were close to Jesus, or to His family and friends, and so can give us a detailed picture of what happened.

Matthew was one of Jesus' disciples. Mark was a close friend of the disciple Peter. Luke was a doctor who was a friend of Jesus' mother, Mary, and of the disciples, and of Paul, who founded the early churches. John was the disciple who knew Jesus' way of thinking particularly well.

In addition to the Gospels, the New Testament also contains the Acts Of The Apostles in which Luke describes how Christianity rapidly spread from Israel to other parts of the Roman Empire and how the first churches were established. Most of the rest of the New Testament contains copies of letters to these early churches from Saint Paul, and others, explaining what Christianity is about.

Finally there is the rather mysterious Book Of Revelation giving a vivid impression of future events concerning the return of the Lord Jesus. Many people have attempted to use "clues" in this book to calculate the date of the promised return of Jesus. In doing so they ignore the fact that Jesus stated clearly, "No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows."


The Saviour Of The World


  • God created heaven and the universe
  • God lives with His son Jesus in heaven, a place of happiness, beauty, love, health and goodness
  • We are created in God's image, so heaven will seem natural to us
  • For heaven to remain perfect there cannot be sin there
  • Everyone on earth is a sinner in one way or another
  • If we were to enter heaven as sinners we would spoil it
  • God loves everyone in the world (though He doesn't always love their deeds)
  • God sent His son Jesus to earth to take away the sins of the world
  • Jesus accepted the ultimate punishment, crucifixion, to take our sins onto Himself
  • If we are willing to believe in God and that His son Jesus cleansed us of our sins on the Cross, we are counted as citizens of heaven
  • As citizens of heaven, when our time comes to die, we go to heaven where we are promised a great reward for our good deeds. Our sins are "written off" because Jesus, being our Saviour, took them onto Himself and was punished for them
  • Alternatively, we can reject Jesus, not believe in God and hope upon hope that we are right and that death is endless sleep
  • If we are wrong (it happens) we could face an eternity of watching other people in the distance enjoying the joys of heaven while we are excluded in a miserable Godless existence
  • Jesus is the Saviour Of The World because anyone in the world can be saved from their sins simply by accepting Jesus into their life
  • Belief in Jesus is all it takes to be saved, but if we want to show our love for Him we will try to do our best to please Him by the lives we lead and the way we treat other people.
Militant atheists are fond of saying things like "Oh yeah, so god created heaven at the beginning of time. So where did he live before that?" (snigger, snigger). Proud as we are of our intelligence and our intellect, human beings are relative newcomers to life on earth and our brains are still under-developed. Asking what God was doing before our concept of time began is like asking a goldfish what its owner was doing before buying it at the pet-shop and putting it in its fish-tank. Goldfish are incapable of understanding the world outside the fish-tank and we are incapable of understanding many aspects of God. The goldfish trusts its owner to feed it and we should trust God to know what is best for us, even though events in our lives may be hard to understand. We're much cleverer than goldfish, but not as clever as God!!

Thinking whether heaven exists brings to mind the imaginary conversation between a pair of twins, as yet unborn. One says to the other, "Do you believe in life after birth?" and the other one laughs and says "Don't be so stupid! Life after birth is just a fairy tale. I only believe in the here-and-now."


The Nature Of God


Some people today say they could never believe in "the God of the Old Testament" because He seems to have been cruel and so different from the God Of Love that Jesus and Saint Paul tell us about in the New Testament. For example, in the New Testament God heals a lot of sick people through the actions of His son Jesus. It was in the New Testament that today's concept of organised charity was born.

On the other hand, in the Old Testament God is sometimes directly responsible for the death of innocent people and at first sight this seems unjust. When the Israelites escaped from slavery in Egypt God used a fierce wind to part the waters of a shallow region of the Red Sea (known in Hebrew as the sea of reeds) to enable His people to cross to the other side. When the pursuing Egyptian troops followed in their chariots God caused the wind to stop, the sea closed in and all the Egyptians drowned. People may ask how God can be loving and caring when He was directly responsible for the deaths of so many Egyptians.

What we sometimes forget is that God loves everyone on a personal, individual basis, including each Egyptian soldier. God is fair and just. Each one of those soldiers would one day have died, been judged and either have perished or gone to paradise. On this occasion their judgment day was brought forward so that God's Chosen People could reach their Promised Land, become a great nation and in due time produce the Saviour Of The World.

The Old Testament part of the Bible is about 2.8 times as long as the New Testament by number of pages, but the Old Testament is almost totally the story of a small, but great, nation who at their largest only numbered about two million people. The New Testament, on the other hand, focuses its message on more than 7 billion people, the population of the world. Everybody deserves the opportunity to go to heaven when they die. Because the focus is on a much smaller stage in the Old Testament, we get a more limited view of God.

During most of the Old Testament times the Israelites were the only people who knew of the existence God and on many occasions they were in mortal danger from their cruel enemies. God was not going to allow the bearers of the new religion to be snuffed out and forgotten. He dealt strongly and decisively with their enemies. He was determined to set the stage for sending His son Jesus Christ to live amongst us here on earth to help show us the Way.

Because of the drastic circumstances of the Israelites in Old Testament times God often appears to have been harsh, by Christian standards. People comparing the God of the Old Testament with the God of the New Testament can easily get an impression of two different Gods.

In the Old Testament we often see God helping the Israelites in their struggle for survival. This is God in a war situation. In the New Testament, through the words and deeds of His son Jesus, we get a much more complete picture of a loving, caring God reaching out to the whole world.


Standards to Live By


People who have never read the Bible are fond of saying that it is boring and full of old-fashioned rules which are of no relevance to the 21st century. They say that Jesus, if He ever existed (!) (hardly any reputable historians doubt that He existed), can have nothing of any interest to say to the people of today. So what was Jesus' first miracle and where did He perform it? Jesus first demonstrated that He was no ordinary man when He was at a party and they ran out of drink. Jesus asked that some large stone jars be filled with water. He then said the guests should get their drinks from the jars. When they dipped their cups and withdrew them, each cup was full of vintage wine. As usual His miracle was beneficial and amazing. He made it beneficial because He always wanted to help people and He made it amazing because He wanted to back up His claim that He actually was the son of God. Some might say that what He did was just as relevant now as it was then.

Scattered throughout the Bible there is guidance on how to live life so that you bring happiness and pleasure to yourself and to other people. Christianity encourages you to have fun and be happy as long as it is not at anyone else's expense, or at the expense of your health. Drinking alcohol is OK - Jesus did it, but brawling with people when under the influence is not. If two people enjoy teasing each other, that's fine, but if one of them doesn't like to be teased, then it's not fine. It's a question of being considerate and trying not to be selfish.

Many people don't like living by rules. They cherish their freedom. Perhaps a world where everyone lived according to their own standards would be ideal. Imagine three people in a work place. They work together all day. One is a bully, but is prone to making mistakes which seriously affect the other members of the team. The second person is a thinker and can solve most of the team's problems, but is shy. The third is a schemer, looking for chances to benefit at everyone else's expense. Left to their own devices, would they make a happy team? Probably not. Two of them wouldn't trust the schemer, two would loathe the bully and the bully would despise the other two. Would they be an efficient team? With them each thinking about themselves all the time, obviously not. Would they be a successful team? Definitely not. The bully's ideas would always win and because they were wrong, the team would keep failing.

Suppose a few simple rules were laid down:- 1. Do your best for the Team, 2. Be considerate to each other, 3. Be honest, but tactful. The arrival of rules obviously means the loss of a bit of freedom. But is this such a bad thing if 1. everyone trusts each other, 2. everyone is considerate to each other, 3. everyone benefits as the team goes from success to success?

The "commandments" of Christianity work in a very similar way. Sure, we lose a little bit of personal freedom, but living the Christian way doesn't make many demands on us!




The Ten Commandments

In contemporary English:
  1. Make God important in your life.

  2. Don't worship man-made objects by letting them rule your life.

  3. Always use Jesus' or God's name respectfully.

  4. Remember that Sunday is special. Enjoy it, but don't spoil it.

  5. Respect your parents.

  6. Don't commit murder.

  7. Don't be unfaithful.

  8. Don't steal.

  9. Don't tell lies.

  10. Don't envy other people's possessions.


My Favourite Bible Quotations

The Bible is in two parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament deals with events from the beginning of time, up to a point shortly before the birth of Jesus. The New Testament tells about the life and death of Jesus and how He was raised from death and will return at a time in the future known only to God.

The Old and New Testaments are divided into books, such as Genesis, Exodus, Matthew, or Mark. Each book consists of numbered chapters and each chapter is further divided into short verses. In this way any statement in the Bible can be quickly located. For example, John 3,16 refers to The Book of John, chapter 3, verse 16.

Here are some of my favourite words from the Bible.



In the beginning God created the universe.
Genesis 1,1
As a scientist myself I find it immensely satisfying that the first verse
of the Bible is in harmony with science. The Big Bang Theory fits
neatly here.

Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.
Exodus 23,2
God gives everyone a conscience. We shouldn't
ignore ours, even if other people ignore theirs.

"I, the Lord, am a God who is full of compassion and pity, who is not easily angered
and who shows great love and faithfulness."

Exodus 34,6
Through the process of evolution God created us and so He loves us as a devoted father
loves his children. That's why we call Him "Our Father" in the Lord's Prayer. He believes
in us, even if we don't believe in Him.

[God said] "Do not steal or cheat or lie."
Leviticus 19,11
Try to imagine a world where everyone,
including all politicians, car manufacturers,
and bank executives willingly obeyed
this simple commandment.

Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good.
Deuteronomy 8,5
Being a Christian isn't always easy, but just as a loving parent hugs a child who says sorry,
in the same way God forgives us when we are sorry for doing wrong.

He [God] sent hardships on you to test you, so that in the end he could bless you with good things.
Deuteronomy 8,16
A teacher tests a child to understand them better and God tests us for the same reason. We also
begin to understand ourselves better when life is hard. God promises not to test anyone beyond
their limit. The really nasty, cruel things in life don't come from God. Jesus said that Satan is a
reality and is the malevolent being who constantly tries to tempt people into being evil. Sometimes
he succeeds, but this isn't a foregone conclusion.

[God said,] "Today I am giving you the
choice between a blessing and a curse."

Deuteronomy 11,26
Choose Christianity today and a hundred years
from now you'll be so happy you did.

[God said,] "You know it and can quote it, so now obey it."
Deuteronomy 30,14
God wants Christians to make the world a better place. The
instructions are in the Bible. It's no good reading how to do it
and then doing nothing.

[God said,] "Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1,9
Often, when I'm going somewhere I'd rather not be going, or I'm about to meet someone I'd rather
not be meeting, I remind myself that God is with me. This gives me confidence and then I can cope.

The Lord answered, "You can do it because I will help you."
Judges 6,16
Next time you're up against something you feel is too difficult for
you, pray. Suddenly it's not just you against the problem, but you
and God together.

The priest answered,"You have nothing to worry about. The Lord is taking care of you."
Judges 18,6
If you're about to do something difficult, there's no harm in asking God to bless your plans
(provided it's not illegal, or could hurt someone !)

[A woman called Hannah said,] "I have been praying, pouring out my troubles to the Lord."
1 Samuel (1st Book of Samuel) 1,15
God talks to us from the pages of the Bible. We talk to God through prayer. When we pray it's
God's turn to listen. No prayer, however small, goes unnoticed. He may not answer it as quickly
as we'd like - sometimes He tests our faith by making us wait. Remember, God will alter events
in our favour if we trust Him. Remember too that God doesn't see the situation in the narrow way
we do. He sees the bigger picture so our prayers may be answered in an unexpected manner.

The Lord keeps close watch over the whole world, to give
strength to those whose hearts are loyal to him.

2 Chronicles 16,9
Wherever you are in the world God is only a prayer away.

The Lord your God is kind and merciful, and if you return to him, he will accept you.
2 Chronicles 30,9
Children brought up in a religious home sometimes reject their faith during their rebellious
years. When the time of rebellion has passed, God always welcomes back anyone who
wants to return to Him. No hard feelings.

In his home in heaven God heard their prayers and accepted them.
2 Chronicles 30,27
Science is in its infancy so naturally it struggles with the concept of other
dimensions and meta-universes. Because of this, it is arrogant of any
scientist to tell you there is no such thing as heaven. Challenge him or
her to prove it !

No one helped God spread out the heavens.
Job 9,8
Astronomy helps us understand how the
universe developed, starting with the Big
Bang of about 13.8 billion years ago.
Scientists depend on the laws of nature
being fixed, or science would be next to
impossible. These laws were defined
precisely at the outset. Why does the
concept of God's laws of nature upset
some scientists so much? Science helps
us to understand God's universe. Where's
the problem?

God offers you comfort; why still reject it?
Job 15,11
Many people reject God because they
were brought up in another religion, so
that's fair enough. Other people of no faith
may reject God because they are
suspicious of anything "religious". It's like
someone saying they don't like exotic food,
even though they haven't tried it. I've been
guilty of that, though when I have been
persuaded to try it, I've liked it a lot. When
people reject "religion" out of hand they can
also be rejecting God's offer of a place in
heaven.

[While praying to God] "When I was in trouble, you helped me. Be kind to me now and hear my prayer."
Psalms 4,1
To be comfortable with praying, talking to God as to a loving father, takes a little practice. You don't have to
be in church to do it, though it can be nice to share time with people who believe the same things as you. If
you are shy about going to a church service, take a friend and sit at the back. You can pray anywhere, but
somewhere quiet is best.

Find out for yourself how good the Lord is.
Psalms 34,8
It only takes about an hour to read the whole of Matthew's
Gospel, the first book of the New Testament. If you live to
be 80 you'll have a life time of just about 700,000 hours. By
spending just one of those hours reading this Gospel you'll
get to know the personality of Jesus and some of His teachings.
Then you'll be much better placed to judge whether Christianity
is religious nonsense or not. If you decide it's not for you, at
least it will be an informed decision.

Be patient and wait for the Lord to act.
Psalms 37,7
God is happy to answer prayers as long
as they're reasonable and not at anyone
else's expense. All He asks is that we trust
Him. For a prayer such as "God help me,
the brakes don't work!" the answer is
immediate, but for others He may test our
faith a bit by making us wait. Trust Him.

Leave your troubles with the Lord.
Psalms 55,22
When you can't see any answer to a
problem ask God to help you. He can
control circumstances. Events that you're
not even aware of can be managed by
God. When you pray God wants you to
trust Him even though He may test your
faith by making you wait.

Heaven belongs to the Lord alone, but he gave the earth to man.
Psalms 115,16
People sometimes ask how a loving, caring God can allow crime,
injustice and war to bring misery to so many people. The problem
is, we want freedom to do things our own way. We don't want to
behave like robots, programmed to do the decent thing all the time.
If we then make a mess of the world, is it fair to blame God?

Children are a gift from God; they are a real blessing.
Psalms 127,3
In the New Testament Jesus warns people who
abuse innocent children of the terrible punishment
that awaits them. When Jesus was on earth He
used to gather children round him and keep them
enthralled with His stories. They had nothing to fear
from Him.

Whenever you possibly can, do good to those who need it.
Proverbs 3,27
Try to imagine 24 hours of being homeless, or starving, or in
prison for your politics, or fleeing from your village which has
been flattened by warfare. Then reflect on the people who are
suffering these things every day. If you were in their position
would you like some help?

If you correct a wise man, he will respect you. Anything
you say to a wise man will make him wiser.

Proverbs 9,8-9
The Bible encourages the gaining of knowledge.

A good man takes care of his animals.
Proverbs 12,10
God created all living beings, human
and animal. We should never be cruel
to any of them.

When a fool is annoyed he quickly lets it be known.
Proverbs 12,16
No comment needed.

It is a sin to despise anyone.
Proverbs 14,21
Everyone is better than me at
something so I learn from everyone.

A cheerful heart is good medicine.
Proverbs 17,22
Our attitude to misfortune can make all the
difference to how much we suffer.

Patient persuasion can break down the strongest resistance.
Proverbs 25,15
Kindness, respect and intelligent discussion can achieve far more
than pressure, threats and bullying. It is better to get there slowly
than not to get there at all.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Proverbs 31,8
If we don't try to help the forgotten people, it's possible
nobody will.

If you wander off the road to the right or the left, you will hear
his voice behind you saying, "Here is the road. Follow it."

Isaiah 30,21
God sometimes speaks to us through the pages of the Bible and
sometimes we know deep in our hearts what is wanted. Perhaps
this is what is meant by God's voice.

[God said,] "Turn to me now and be saved, people all over
the world! I am the only God there is."

Isaiah 45,22
Obviously all religions claim to be the only true religion. They
would, wouldn't they? To find out which one it is, compare them
on their merits. Also, think of the religions from the True God's
point of view. After having created mankind, would He want one
section of it to terrorise another section in His name, or would
He rather encourage love and charity amongst His people?
Would He consider some of His people to be inferior, and others
superior, depending on what category they had been born into?
Finally, is it an option to believe that suddenly, during infinite time,
the universe suddenly created itself, along with the laws of
nature? (Atheism is a religion because it too is based on faith,
the belief, without any proof, that there is no God.)

[Describing Jesus]
"He endured the suffering that should
have been ours."

Isaiah 53,4
Are any of us good enough for heaven, the perfect paradise? Have we all
got(ten) away with things we should be ashamed of? Could people with
faults like ours spoil heaven for everybody else? So that we can enter
heaven sinless, really we deserve to be punished for the sins of a lifetime.
That's horrible. So what did Jesus do? He volunteered to be punished in our
place (redeeming us), the only condition being that we believe in Him. In that
way Jesus became our Saviour/Savior. People who follow Jesus leave their
sins with Him when they die and go straight to heaven. Despite being the Son
of God He endured a barbaric and dreadful execution as a human being.
This appalling punishment is worse than most of us deserve, but Jesus took it
on our behalf anyway.

The Lord said,"I was ready to answer my people's prayers, but they did not pray."
Isaiah 65,1
If we have a problem with anything and want help, or if we feel grateful for
something and want to say thanks, or if we feel guilty about something and
want to say sorry, remember that God loves us, His children. We can talk to
Him about these things in a prayer. The act of praying demonstrates our faith,
that we believe in Him.

[God said] "Does a young woman forget her jewellery, or a bride her wedding-dress?
But my people have forgotten me."

Jeremiah 2,32
Observing a society where few people have any time for God must make Him very sad.

[God said] "I would no more reject my people than I would change my laws that
govern night and day, earth and sky."

Jeremiah 33,25
God loves us and cares for us deeply, even though many people go about their
daily lives without sparing Him a thought. "I'm not religious" is the standard answer.

Tell your children about it; they will tell their children, who in turn will tell the next generation.
Joel 1,3
Christianity has been passed on generation by generation for 2,000 years. Sometimes it
is cool to be a Christian, sometimes it isn't, but the fact is Christianity has never gone away.


Beginning of Luke Chapter 2 in Greek

[Luke, a doctor and amateur historian, originally wrote his Gospel for someone called Theophilus.]
Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among
us. They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. Having
carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write a careful
account for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can be certain of the truth of everything
you were taught.

Luke 1,1-4
The four Gospels are the first four books of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
They describe the ministry of Jesus from their four points of view. Matthew, Mark and Luke also
appear to have had access to an early collection of Jesus' sayings, which they all quote from.

Matthew was one of Jesus' Disciples, a tax collector who was a member of the group from the
very start.

Mark was an associate of the fisherman Peter, one of the Disciples closest to Jesus. Mark wrote
down Peter's recollections.

Luke was the only one of the Gospel writers who never met Jesus, though Jesus' mother Mary
seems to have been one of his informants.

John was the deep thinker of the group. Jesus used to discuss with him the meaning behind
His actions.

[John the Baptist said] "Whover has two shirts must give one to the man
who has none, and whoever has food must share it."

Luke 3,11
With the world in the state it is in today, this is just as relevant now as it
was 2,000 years ago. Maybe we should thank God that we're not starving,
or homeless, or living in a war zone, and show our gratitude by giving what
we can spare to those who are.

Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing
the Good News about the Kingdom. He healed every kind of disease and illness. News about
him spread as far as Syria.

Matthew 4, 23-24
Some people find it difficult to believe in a God we can't see, so God sent His son Jesus
to earth as a man. Jesus did miracles, not just out of compassion for people, but also to
show He was the son of God. He taught about God, about the Kingdom of Heaven and
about treating each other with loving kindness and forgiveness. Despite all His good works,
people nailed Him to a cross and left Him to die. End of story, or so they thought . . . .

There was a woman who had suffered terribly from severe bleeding for twelve years. ... She
had heard about Jesus, so she came in the crowd behind him, saying to herself, "If I just touch
his clothes, I will get well." She touched his cloak, and her bleeding stopped at once; and she
had the feeling inside herself that she was healed of her trouble.

Mark 5,25 & 27-29
This describes what a miracle feels like.

"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him.
"Teacher," the blind man answered,"I want to see again."
"Go," Jesus told him,"your faith has made you well."
At once he was able to see again.

Exodus 23,2
This is Jesus showing his love to those in distress and showing
his power as Son of God.

[Jesus said] "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
Matthew 5,4
Writing as someone who has lost both parents and a daughter, and as someone
who believes that death is merely a glitch in the continuing story of life, I am
indeed comforted by the conviction that when I die and go to heaven those
loved-ones will be there waiting for me with open arms.

[Jesus said] "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."
Matthew 5,7
Parents, teachers, bosses, and others, are all people in authority.
They can choose how to assert their control. They can be harsh
and unfeeling, or they can inspire and motivate. They can criticize
and ridicule, or they can praise, reward, reassure, encourage and
discuss. Which type do you think Jesus will show mercy and
forgiveness to when He sits in judgment?

[Jesus said] "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against
you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven."

Matthew 5,11-12
If you want to see foul language and bad spelling, go to a typical blog where non-believers discuss Christians.
Far, far worse, of course, is the situation where families who refuse to renounce Jesus Christ as their Lord
and Savior/Saviour are mercilessly beheaded by evil terrorists. [See "Blessed are the merciful" above.]

[Jesus said] "When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing."
Matthew 6,3
Jesus said that we shouldn't boast about our charitable deeds; they are very private and personal. The
word "charity" comes through Old French "charite" from "caritas", one of the Latin words for "love".
Charity is one of the ways we can show love for our fellow human beings.

Jesus told him,"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can
come to the Father except through me."

John 14,6
At the end of their time on earth everybody gets to meet Jesus.

"Sir," replied the official,"come with me before my child dies."

Jesus said to him,"Go, your son will live!"

The man believed Jesus' words and went. On his way home his servants met
him with the news,"Your boy is going to live!"

He asked them what time it was when his son got better, and they answered,
"It was one o'clock yesterday afternoon when the fever left him."

Then the father remembered that it was at that very hour when Jesus had told
him,"Your son will live." So he and all his family believed.

Exodus 23,2
Jesus is alive. We can take our troubles to Him, or to the Father, in prayer. Have faith.

[Jesus said] "Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard
you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged."

Matthew 7,1-2
If we go through life being harshly critical of other people, when we die and meet our Maker, should we be surprised
if He is harshly critical of us? On the other hand, if we go through life looking for the best in people, trying to
understand their problems and making allowances for their behaviour, when we come face to face with Jesus, He will
do the same for us. If we feel we must judge people (which is the Lord's job, not ours), let's judge kindly.

Of course, judges in law courts are a different matter. They have the Lord's blessing, as long as they act correctly.

[Jesus said] "Keep on asking and you will receive."
Matthew 7,7
If a prayer isn't answered as quickly as you'd like, don't
imagine God hasn't heard it. Maybe He is testing your
faith, seeing if you give up easily. Maybe other events
have to be arranged behind the scenes before your
prayer can be answered. Keep on praying, keep on
trusting that God knows what He is doing and keep on
being patient. When your prayer is answered, it is good
to say a quick prayer of thanks.

  
[Jesus said] "You parents - if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if
they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give
good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him."

Matthew 7,9-11
God is our father and He behaves as a good father would. He doesn't let us have our own way all the time, but He listens
to us and responds in His own good time. He is loving, not spiteful!

[Jesus said] "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you."
Matthew 7,12
Jesus explained that this command summed up neatly how Christians should behave
to everyone they meet.

The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

"Teacher", they said to Jesus,"this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?"

They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.
They kept on demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said,"All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!" Then
he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away, one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with
the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman,"Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?"

"No, Lord," she said.

And Jesus said,"Neither do I. Go and sin no more."

John 8,3-11
This is so typical of Jesus - absolutely correct, yet so calm, so intelligent, so forgiving and so kind. When we pray to Jesus, this is who is
listening to us.

The poor man died and was carried by the angels to sit beside Abraham
at the feast in heaven.

Luke 16,22
When Christians die they go straight to heaven. No time to "Rest In Peace"!

[Jesus said] "If anyone declares publicly that he belongs to me, I will do the same for him before my Father in heaven.
But if anyone rejects me publicly, I will reject him before my Father in heaven."

Matthew 10,32-33
Options:-

1. Accept the love Jesus offers and you become a citizen of the Kingdom Of Heaven.

2. Reject Jesus and you throw away your invitation to everlasting life in heaven.

3. Tell people that there is no heaven (on what evidence?) and find out at the end of your life that you were wrong.

Decisions, decisions! I know which option I've chosen!!

[Jesus said] "Whoever believes in the Son is not judged."
Exodus 23,2
Believers are redeemed by Jesus' sacrifice for us on
the Cross. Everyone else in the world faces judgment.
Jesus said judgment was like a farmer separating good
wheat grains from chaff, or sheep from goats. Sounds
a bit like an exam where you don't know how high the
pass mark is. Following Jesus and leading a Christian
lifestyle is really not difficult!

[Jesus said] "Be glad because your names are written in heaven."
Luke 10,20
Anyone who decides that Jesus is the Truth gets their name written in
heaven. If they then act like good Christians they build up treasure in
heaven. By becoming a citizen of the Kingdom Of Heaven they get a
passport to paradise which they can use when their time comes. That way
they don't get judged because Jesus took any punishment they might
deserve.

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them
and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. But Jesus said,
"Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those
who are like these children." And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.

Matthew 19,13-15
Young children are often innocent, keen to learn, willing to listen, fun-loving and open-minded.
Jesus was saying that in these ways children are better than adults.

To be child-like is not the same as being childish.

[Jesus said] "I will never turn away anyone who comes to me."
John 6,37
Whatever your circumstances, remember that Jesus loves you.

[Jesus said that in the Kingdom of Heaven] "Many who are the greatest now will be the least important then, and those who
seem the least important now will be the greatest then."

Matthew 19,30
Life's not fair - we all know that, but it would be more accurate to say this life's not fair. In the next life the injustices that we
suffer and the misfortunes which happen to us will all be things of the past. All wrongs will be righted. Those people who
didn't reject heaven will have an eternity without illness, injustice, or misfortune. Sir Winston Churchill found art relaxing.
"When I get to heaven", he said,"I mean to spend a considerable portion of my first million years in painting."

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law [religious leaders] started grumbling "This man welcomes outcasts
and even eats with them!"

Luke 15,2
Where Christianity is concerned EVERYONE IS WELCOME. God loves us and welcomes us whatever our sexuality,
previous religion, or former life-style. God created each one of us so why wouldn't He love us?

    
[On being asked what the greatest commandment was]
Jesus answered," 'Love the Lord your God with all
your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'
This is the greatest and most important commandment.
The second most important commandment is like it:
'Love your neighbour as you love yourself.' "

Matthew 22,37-39
Just as it is natural to love your earthly father, so it is
natural to love your Father in heaven. If everyone loved
their fellow human beings, this world would be much
more like heaven. And yes, Christianity does allow you
to love yourself too, despite what uninformed critics say
about Christians being killjoys!

[Jesus said] "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Acts of the Apostles 20,35
Let's be generous whenever possible.

[Jesus said] "Satan has received permission to test all of you, to separate the good from the bad,
just as a farmer separates the wheat from the chaff."

Luke 22,31
A battery has a positive and a negative, a magnet has a north and a south, and the Bible says
there is a force for good and a force for evil at work in the world. The good force is called the
Holy Spirit. The evil force prefers to keep out of sight. It likes seeing God getting the blame when
a disaster strikes. It puts us through hell and then watches to see if we turn against God. It tests us.
It is true that God may sometimes test us with hardships, but Satan tests us with catastrophes. Of
course, God is on our side and if we pray He will help us to defeat hardships and the (d)evil. Some
people don't pray.

[Jesus said] "Give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven."
Luke 18,22
This life is short, but heaven is forever.

[Jesus said] "Not one sparrow is forgotten by God."
Luke 12,6
As a scientist I have no problem with the idea that God
created all the many life forms through the process of
evolution. To a large extent the fossil evidence supports
it. An objection to evolution is that it appears to contradict
the concept of entropy, the phenomenon of things getting
more and more disordered with the passing of time.
Evolution displays life getting more and more sophisticated
with the passing of time. The reason is because of the
survival of the fittest. For every evolutionary success there
are thousands of failures, but it is the successes who pass
their genes on to future generations. The process of evolution
goes on and on, generation by generation over millions of years.

The wonderful thing that God did was to define the laws and
processes of nature at the beginning of time as we know it
.
He set the process going at the "Big Bang" but doesn't interfere
with it, even when it turns cruel. Seeing animals suffer can give
Him no pleasure as they are part of His Creation. God has given
us humans the compassion and ability to make the world a
better place for animals as well as for our fellow human beings.


[Jesus said] "Now I give you a new commandment: love one another."
John 13,34
If everyone loved everyone else, there would be no crime, no hatred, no
loneliness, no war. It would be heaven on earth! Yet so many people sneer
at Jesus. Why? What harm has He done?

The chief priests and the whole Council tried
to find some evidence against Jesus in order
to put him to death, but they could not find any.

Mark 14,55
If we are treated unfairly we can feel miserable or angry about it. However unjustly we've been treated,
though, it can't be as bad as being sentenced to death without any evidence and then nailed to a large
wooden cross and left to die. All Jesus needed to have done was to say, "Ok, I admit it. I have been
lying about being the Son of God and my miracles were just tricks." The fact that He didn't take His
chance to avoid death by torture suggests strongly to me that Jesus was exactly who He claimed to be
and He knew exactly what He was doing.

[Jesus was on trial for His life in open court in front of the mob and Pontius Pilate was representing the Roman emperor.]
"What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked.
They all answered,"Crucify him!"
"Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder,"Crucify him!"

Matthew 27,22-23
The verdict at Jesus' trial was decided by a shouting mob and the Roman official, who gave in to them, despite the terrible
injustice of crucifying an innocent man.

When they came to the place called "The Skull" [Calvary] they crucified Jesus there, and the two
criminals, one on his right and the other on his left. Jesus said,"Forgive them, Father! They don't
know what they are doing."

Luke 23,33-34
Jesus forgave His executioners. Isn't that just typical !

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't
you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"

But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said,
"since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly,
for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done
nothing wrong."

Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your
kingdom."

Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with
me in paradise."

Luke 23,39-43
Jesus was crucified along with two criminals. The criminal who
defended Jesus against the other man went straight to paradise
(heaven) that day. He didn't belong to any particular church
because there weren't any at that time. He simply accepted
Jesus as his Savior/Saviour (faith) and was sorry for his sins
(repentance). This is Salvation in its simplest form. Why not
accept Jesus as your Saviour/Savior TODAY?

With a loud cry Jesus died.
Mark 15,37
One of the soldiers, however, plunged his spear into Jesus' side, and at once blood and water poured out.
John 19,34
Joseph [of Arimathea] brought a linen sheet, took the body down, wrapped it in the sheet, and placed it in a
tomb which had been dug out of solid rock. Then he rolled a large stone across the entrance to the tomb.

Mark 15,46
When Jesus' corpse was shut away in the tomb He was clearly dead. He wasn't going to simply wake up
a few hours later. Because a large stone blocked the entrance it would not have been possible for Him to
get out or for His disciples to steal His body and then claim He had risen from the dead.

The word 'Easter' comes from the name of a pagan Anglo-Saxon goddess called Eostre. The month of
April, at that time called Eosturmonath, was dedicated to her. The early church took her festival and made
it into 'Easter'.

  
Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices to go and anoint the body of
Jesus. Very early on Sunday morning, at sunrise, they went to the tomb. On the way they said to one
another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb? (It was a very large stone).
Then they looked up and saw that the stone had already been rolled back.

So they entered the tomb, where they saw a young man sitting on the right, wearing a white robe - and
they were alarmed. "Don't be alarmed," he said. "I know you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was
crucified. He is not here - he has been raised!"

Mark 16,1-6
What happened inside the tomb that first Easter weekend is something only God knows. What is certain is
that if the risen Christ had not been seen by so many witnesses on eleven occasions over 40 days, the
Christian faith could never have been born. If the early disciples had not been inspired to travel far and wide
risking execution for proclaiming their Risen Lord, there would have been no Christian Church. How could a
religion that places so high a value on honesty have been founded on such a colossal lie?

If the story of Jesus had ended at His execution, it wouldn't be talked about today. We would probably never
have heard of Him. If the witnesses to Christ's crucifixion and His return from death had been deluded fools,
how could their rantings have spread rapidly thoughout the Roman Empire and then become the state religion?
The Christian Church now has over two billion members world wide. It would be hard to fool that many people!

The disciples were so sure that they had met the risen Lord, the person they had known so well over the previous
three years, that people who listened to them were convinced they were telling the truth. The four men who
wrote the Gospels were sure that they were writing what actually happened. Three of them had physically been
there at the time. If the Jewish leaders and the Romans, who had placed a guard on the tomb, had been able to
produce Jesus' corpse, they would surely have done so. The idea that Jesus had returned to life was highly
inconvenient, to say the least. To bring someone back from death is truly amazing - only a God who could create
a universe out of nothing would be able to do that!

Suddenly the Lord himself stood among them and said to them,"Peace be with you." They were terrified,
thinking that they were seeing a ghost. But he said to them,"Why are you alarmed? Why are these doubts
coming up in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet, and see that it is I myself. Feel me, and you will
know, for a ghost doesn't have flesh and bones, as you see I have." He said this and showed them his
hands and his feet. They still could not believe, they were so full of joy and wonder; so he asked them,
"Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of cooked fish, which he took and ate in their
presence.

Luke 24,36-43
He looked real enough, but obviously His disciples were utterly astonished. They didn't know what to
think. They had seen Him nailed to the Cross and they'd seen Him die. They'd seen his body shut in
the tomb. So Jesus showed them the gaping wounds in His hands and feet and then, to prove He was
real, He ate a piece of fish. The disciples were convinced, apart from Thomas, who was out at the time.
When Jesus asked,"Why are you alarmed?" I wonder if He was grinning. I suspect He had a sense of
humour. After all, He enjoyed feasts and He enjoyed His wine, so He must have had a sense of fun.

One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with
the others when Jesus came. They told him,"We have seen the Lord!"

But he replied,"I won't believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands,
put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side."

Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas
was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was
standing among them. "Peace be with you," he said. Then he said to Thomas,
"Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in
my side. Don't be faithless any longer. Believe!"

"My Lord and my God!" Thomas exclaimed.

Then Jesus told him,"You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are
those who believe without seeing me."

John 20,24-29
Jesus proved to even the most doubting of His disciples that He had returned
from death. He said that for us to believe, as they did, but without actually having
been there, is much better and deserves His blessing.

[Jesus said] "For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who
believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."

John 3,16
[Jesus said to His followers] "Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples."
Matthew 28,19
People are often rightly suspicious of free gifts, but the gift of everlasting life is too good to be ignored.
Doesn't deciding whether to believe in Jesus rank as one of life's BIG DECISIONS? This gift is worth
sharing!

[Saint Paul wrote] "If we share Christ's suffering, we will also share his glory."
Romans 8,17
If you ever have a hard time because you are a Christian, this won't have gone
unnoticed by God. He will put it right in the next life.

[Saint Paul wrote] "How can they call to him for help if they have not believed?
And how can they believe if they have not heard the message?"

Romans 10,14
When you accept Jesus into your life and get the power of prayer and you
receive the promise of a place in heaven, don't keep it to yourself. Share it
with your friends, share it with your family. Give them the opportunity to
accept (or reject) the gift of everlasting life. Wouldn't you like your friends
and family to be with you in heaven one day?

[Saint Paul wrote] "Do not let evil defeat you; instead, conquer evil with good."
Romans 12,21
This attitude brings good results.

[Saint Paul wrote] "When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we
endure; when we are insulted, we answer with kind words."

1 Corinthians 4,12-13
Jesus did.

[Saint Paul wrote] "Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud;

love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable;

love does not keep a record of wrongs;

love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth.

Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.

Love is eternal."

1 Corinthians 13,4-8
As well as being a beautiful description of love, Paul's words also paint a portrait
of Jesus. Jesus is patient and kind . . . Jesus is eternal.

[Saint Paul wrote] "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"
1 Corinthians 15,55
Naturally enough, death is feared. This is part of our survival instinct and helps keep
us safe. But fear of death is different from worrying about it.

Everyone has to die eventually, but for a Christian it is nothing to fear. Heaven awaits.

[Saint Paul wrote] "Today is the day to be saved!"
2 Corinthians 6,2
If you like the look of Christianity, then become
a Christian yourself. What's stopping you? If you
put off making the decision, it might never happen
and then you'll have lost everything. To slightly
mis-quote John Lennon "Imagine there's a heaven;
it's easy if you try."

[Saint Paul wrote] "Help to carry one another's burdens, and in this way
you will obey the law of Christ."

Galatians 6,2
We can help people we know, friends and family, and people we don't
know, people in need who can be helped through charity.

[Saint Paul wrote] "You must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness,
humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with one another and forgive
one another."

Colossians 3,12-13
It makes sense.

[Saint Paul wrote] "God was merciful to me because I did not yet have faith
and so did not know what I was doing."

1 Timothy 1,13
When you become a Christian God forgives you everything you may have
done wrong in the past. Spiritually you are born again.

"Here I am, O God, to do your will."
Hebrews 10,9
A nine word prayer.

[James wrote] "He who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."
James 1,6
Focus on Jesus, read about Jesus, copy Jesus, trust Jesus. You could find the
experience very rewarding.

[James wrote] "Faith is dead without good works."
James 2,26
Some people are "religious", but have they made
the world a better place? Are they cheerful, or
irritable? Some people go to church every Sunday
and sing hymns, but are they only concerned about
their own group? Being a Christian means being an
active follower of Christ. He spent His life gladly
helping others.

[James wrote] "Come near to God and he will come near to you."
James 4,8
You may be satisfied with your life. You may not be looking for
answers, but it is still good to know that God is on your side and
is only a prayer away.

[John wrote] "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, he
[God] is faithful and just and will forgive our sins."
1st Letter of John 1,8-9
If you've got something on your conscience, tell God about it. This requires faith. Then do
your best to put matters right with the person or people involved. This requires action.
Christianity is a combination of faith and action. If you are scared to approach someone you
have wronged, ask God for courage and for Him to be with you. With God backing you up it'll
be easier.

[Jesus said] "I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door,
I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends."

Revelation 3,20
Jesus is holding out the hand of friendship to you. How disappointed would He be if you
answer,"I'm not religious. Go away"? Do you think that would be wise? Wouldn't it be
better to get to know Him better before making your decision? You can read about Him in
the New Testament.


I have a large note book full of my favo(u)rite Bible quotations. These are just some of them.
I used 3 different translations of the Bible for this collection. They all tell the same message
but they have slightly different styles. If you choose to check up on any of these quotations
in a Bible, there's no need to be suspicious if the wording is slightly different. I was just
varying the style a bit to make them easier to understand.



With acknowledgements to The New International Version of the Bible and The Good News Bible and The Holy Bible - New Living Translation without which this page would not have been possible. Also, with deepest thanks to Jesus Christ, without whose sacrifice on the Cross on my behalf, I would not have had His promise of eternal life.


Becoming a Christian


JESUS IS LORD


Now that you know a bit more about God and His son Jesus Christ, you might like to become a follower of Jesus yourself. This could be one of the most important steps you take in your life, on a level with falling in love, or becoming a parent. Very few people who become true believers ever regret it. Just the opposite!

Can you tick most or all of the following statements?


* I believe in God.

* I believe Jesus existed.

* I believe that Jesus was not a deluded fool.

* I believe that Jesus told the truth at all times.

* I believe that if I pray to God while trusting in Him, He will hear me and, in His own time, He will answer my prayers.

* I believe that Jesus was without sin.

* I know that I sin from time to time and I am sorry.

* I know that if I take my sins to God and say sorry He will forgive me.

* I know that because I'm not perfect I don't deserve to go to heaven, but because I believe in Jesus He took my sins on Himself and so I can go there when the time is right.

* I am prepared to trust that God knows the bigger picture even when I don't fully understand things that happen in life.

* I believe that there is an evil force at work in the world, so it is unfair to blame God when bad things happen.

* I believe that Jesus died on the cross, but God brought Him back to life on the third day.

* I believe that my eternal life starts the day I accept Jesus into my heart.

* I believe that in heaven there is no illness, no pain and no injustice.

* I am prepared to love God, to love my fellow human beings and to love myself, in that order.

* I believe that if I declare in the presence of two or more people that I belong to Jesus, He in turn will acknowledge me as a Christian before God.



If you could tick most of these you could be a Christian to be proud of. Why not tick the final declaration and let Jesus into your life? You won't regret it.

You might ask if it is necessary to go to church to be a Christian. Strictly speaking, the answer is no. Faith in Jesus and a desire to treat others in a Christian way is all that is needed. However, if there is a church near you, why not go along to a service one Sunday? You can sit at the back. People are sure to be welcoming. If you don't like the first church you go to, you can always try another one. It's nice to mix socially with people who believe in the same things as you. You're no longer in a minority and there will be a minister who'll be able to help you grow your faith.

If you can buy a modern translation of the Bible you will have direct access to the words of God (Old Testament) and Jesus (the Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the New Testament).



When God Betrays Your Trust

My Personal Story


For nearly 9 months after finding that my wife was expecting a baby, every day I prayed, "Father, please keep Mother and Baby safe and healthy." We were so excited.

For several months Baby would kick and sometimes it would have hiccups. There was a real living person in there and we couldn't wait to meet him or her.

When my wife's contractions started I drove her to the hospital. A heart monitor was applied. Baby had hiccups again. Then the strong, regular contractions at 6 minute intervals began. "Not long now!" we thought.

Then, to everyone's surprise, Baby's heart rate dropped from 140-150 down to about 70, but after a couple of minutes it went back to normal again. "Nothing to worry about, I hope" went through my mind. The medical staff went back to their normal routine preparations.

Then the contractions suddenly ceased and Baby's heart activity began to fade away. "Oh God! What's happening?" I thought. "Father, please let everything be all right." I remembered the words of Jesus "Keep on asking and you will receive." I felt sure my wife and the baby would be ok. I had prayed sincerely and Jesus isn't a liar. He wouldn't break a promise.




Two doctors and a midwife had an urgent discussion and then they rushed my wife to the operating theatre for an emergency caesarian operation. I waited in the corridor outside, pacing back and forth, praying for a good result. The baby mustn't die and the thought of my wife dying was too terrible to contemplate.

25 minutes later a surgeon came out. He asked me to come into his office with him. He said in a quiet voice that I should sit down and he offered me a cup of tea, but all I wanted was to know whether my wife and the baby were alive. He then said "I'm afraid there's bad news."
"Is my wife alive?" I asked in blind panic.
"Yes, she's doing well," he assured me "but your baby isn't alive. Your wife had a girl. We spent 15 minutes trying to revive her, but it wasn't possible."
I felt devastated, yet relieved that the news wasn't as bad as it might have been. They left me alone in the office. I sobbed.




The next day the hospital staff took me to the chapel where they left me to be alone. I was able to hold my daughter. She had weighed 7 pounds 15 ounces at birth. My heart was aching and my tears kept on flowing. Her tiny hands were perfect, her eyes were tightly shut and she had dark brown hair. Her skin was cold, she was silent and she was motionless. The daughter I'd prayed so hard for was dead.



My thoughts turned once again to God, but in the place of trust and hope I now felt utter betrayal and anger. I still believed in His existence, but my attitude was very different. How could this so-called all-loving God treat my wife, my daughter and me this way? It was so unfair. God is supposed to be our Father in heaven. What normal loving father would treat his child so dreadfully? Couldn't this all-powerful God simply have prevented this unnecessary tragedy? It was all so pointless. It didn't have to happen like this. Who did this death help? Nobody.

I prayed. "Why, God, why?" I expected some sort of comfort to come upon me, but there was nothing. I knew from my experience, from the experiences of other people and from observing the marvels of nature that God existed, but He seemed to have deserted me just when I needed Him most. What sort of God was this? How could He be so cruel? "Where are You?" I prayed. "Do You care at all? Can I ever trust You again?" No answer of any kind. He had turned His back on me.

Though I never hated God, I felt that the love I'd had for Him in happier times had gone forever. The future looked very bleak.

When my wife was well enough I took her home. We looked with intense sadness at the empty pram waiting expectantly in the hallway. We gazed at the stack of unwanted baby clothes. All this grief could have been avoided if God had only answered my prayers.

Now we were home I continued to pray. "Why? Why? Why?" I felt He'd been cruel to my wife and me and I couldn't imagine what we'd done to deserve it. I looked at the world around me and became more aware than before of tragedies that were occurring every day. It seemed so wrong. Evil people, natural disasters and horrible diseases were causing misery in the beautiful world God had created. Why, if He's all-powerful, didn't He stop these dreadful things from happening?



Although my faith in God wasn't completely shattered, I felt it was very badly damaged, perhaps beyond repair.

I was in my 30s then. I'm in my 60s now. As the years passed, one by one, I noticed things and events which have gradually altered my opinions. I could have stubbornly remained at war with God, but I slowly came to the conclusion that the wiser thing to do would be to see if I could make any sense of the loss of my daughter and of the injustices so evident in the world around me. I would give God a chance. It's only fair, even if He hadn't been fair to me.


? ? ? ? ? ! ? ! ? ? ? ! ! ? ? ! ? ? ! ? ! ! ? ! ? ! ! ! ! !




Here is how my mind-set gradually changed over thirty years, step by step: