Stephen’s final Scribbles
My final “DF”:
Over the years David and I have tried to make you think, to present the good news that there is a God who loves us: who has made Himself known in Jesus Christ, whose life, miracles, ministry, healings, teaching, death on the cross for all our sins, and subsequent bodily resurrection in a transformed body fitted for eternity opens up forgiveness for us: Who returned to His Father and one day is coming again in all His glory to judge the world, and to take to Himself all who have received Him as Saviour and Lord, but who will also destroy all who have rebelled against Him and His ways. (yep, gospel in one really long sentence!)
My own conversion – turning to Christ, being born anew, coming to faith – all these phrases used to describe the moment when we put our personal trust in Jesus Christ – took place on 14 February 1971, during a hymn not in our hymnbooks here: “Who is on the Lord’s Side, who will serve the King? Who will be his helpers, other lives to bring?”; since then I have tried to do just that – serve the King, and help others to realise their need of a relationship with Jesus Christ, so that they find the joy and hope of knowing God personally, having assurance of forgiveness and eternal life, and walking with Him daily.
God has not changed; His Word cannot be changed, and what He says applies to every human being – we are all equally loved by Him, invited into relationship with Him, and as we do so, we leave behind our sins, - actions, thoughts, and words - and demonstrate by the new way we live that Jesus Christ is living in us.
We live in a culture which is hell-bent on destroying the very basis on which it was built – on godly Christian virtues, truth and common sense – and where extremists appear to have taken over mainstream media, presenting only one point of view and treating with contempt any view which is contrary. The re-writing of history through warped and delusional worldviews and imposing a new tyranny, which seems to be led by mob rule through social media is an interesting moment in world history where The Truth – not “my” truth and “your” truth - is the biggest casualty – whether over marriage, biology of the human body, education, or a proper understanding of world faiths and politics.
Is this a cause for worry? Repeatedly Jesus said, “Do not worry, do not be afraid, do not fear.” Jesus warned that in the last days these things would happen: “love of many good men shall wax cold”, persecution of those who follow Christ would arise – as it is doing in many nations across the world.
1 Timothy speaks of many who will depart from the faith giving heed to lies, hypocrisy, and other things – we don’t have to go far in the House of Bishops of the Church of England to find those who do not tell or have rejected the truth (I have personal examples so I am not speaking from theory) and propound heresy and a rejection of basic Christian truth. But Jesus will build His Church – working through those who DO walk in His ways. These are wonderful times to be a Christian, because in an increasingly dark world the light of Christ in us shines even more brightly. Are you in His kingdom yet? Have you invited Him into your life and are you daily being filled with His Holy Spirit? Too many people settle for less – and some cases FAR less - than the best – why be a spiritual pauper when we are invited to be children of the One who owns everything and Whose Spirit will give us all we need and more?
One favourite hymn (amongst many!) says: “How good is the God we adore! Our faithful unchangeable Friend; His love is as great as His power, and knows neither measure nor end. ‘Tis Jesus the First and the Last, His Spirit will guide us safe home: we’ll praise Him for all that is past, and Trust Him for all that’s to come.”
I give Him praise for what has been achieved over the last decade as I have tried – imperfectly - to serve Him and you: what lasts is faith sown in lives that have encountered God’s love, and entered real faith, or have matured through engaging with Jesus in prayer and His Word. People are what the gospel is all about, not buildings.
And we’ll trust Him for what is to come – here for you, and for us - Julia and I and our family – Jo, Chloë, Jess and husband Jon, and grandsons William (5) and Arthur (5 months) – we will see what doors of opportunity He will open up for us in the next season of our lives.
I am sorry where I have offended or let others down; thank you for your support, encouragement, prayers and sometimes gentle disagreements: may God bless you all with His power to heal, save and encourage.
With love and prayers,
Stephen and Julia