Why Are So Many Christians Being Killed?

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We’ve had some glorious weather recently here in Buckie. I’ve enjoyed it. I hope you have too. I’ve had a chance to take some long walks, soak up some rays, and get some work done for my garden. I want to talk to you a minute about that. I have set up a polytunnel, right between Lidles and the Coop. I’m using it to grow some veggies and flowers. I’ll start putting out plants next week. Then you’ll be able to come by and visit. I’ll also be teaching some classes on growing edibles. I’ll also offer some info on the benefits of eating Scottish Meat. In fact, I’ll just say right now, that our two Butchers in town, offer some of the best meat you can get. It’s local. It’s hand cut. It’s so good. Stop by either shop. I’m a fan of both. But I digress. I know this sounds weird since I’m overweight, but eating right is so important to us. And we have so much good stuff in this country, we’d be foolish not to take advantage of it. So, watch the Radio Free Buckie website, or Facebook page for more information. I want RFB, to become the go to place for great information for your life. So bookmark the page, like the FB page, or look for my Sam Burton page on Instagram and follow. Ok, end of commercials…For now.

A 52-year-old Buddhist factory worker Anoma Damayanthi weeps as she talks about her 25-year-old daughter, married into a Christian family, who was seriously injured in the blast at St. Anthony's Church on Easter Sunday, at her residence in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, April 25, 2019. Liyanage herself was at St. Anthony’s, and escaped the bomb only because she left a few minutes earlier with her Christian son-in-law when her 1 and a half-year-old granddaughter began crying too loudly. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)Have you seen all the news about the tragic murder of Christians in Sri Lanka? Nearly 300 people were killed. Some in hotels, but many in Churches. I saw a photo of dead young people who were celebration their baptisms and first communions. It made my heart hurt. Then I got a message on FB from a Church Planter I know in India, who was talking about one of the Churches he’s been involved with. 29 people in that congregation were killed.

Since New Year, many hundreds of Christians have also been killed in Nigeria. The number keeps growing, but it gets little media attention. For many news agency it’s not newsworthy, its tribal warfare in a difficult part of the world. But it’s more than that. It’s an actual attack on these villages because they worship Jesus.

When you add in North Korea, China, and the Middle East, there are more Christians being killed for their faith, than at any time in history. What’s going on? It’s especially hard to get our head around it, in Scotland, where worship is so easy, and free, and pretty much church buildings are empty. Most people I know, don’t give a single thought to Christianity for or against. Why is it so hated?

That’s a great question. It pretty much always has been. From the time of Jesus Christ himself, people have wanted to kill the Faith and wipe it from existence. See, Christianity, offers more freedom and hope than any political system ever invented. For many governments, Christianity is seen as a threat, because it offers people something unachievable or uncontrollable. Most governments, most ways of thinking, want to control the way people think. The Gospel teaches that in Jesus we can have a new beginning. We can think for ourselves. We can make our own path. Choose our own future. One of the examples I like to use, is that when the Gospel came to India, it changed the lives of people dramatically. For example, women in many castes, and in many parts of the country were forced to burn themselves to death on the funeral pyre of their dead husbands. When the Gospel came, women were valued like never before. The Christian message gave people hope. But the change was unwelcome to the traditional elders of villages, and they hated Christians and persecuted them. That is still true. In many parts of India, Christians are being killed, and churches are being burned.

In the 1960s, many missionaries were killed in what was known as the New Hebrides. Countries like Papua New Guinea, and islands of Indonesia. I know it’s hard to believe, but in the year before men walked on the moon, there were still practicing canibals. I know of missionaries who were killed

But what about here? There is no outright persecution here, but the name calling and finger pointing is considerable. And some of it is pretty funny. There were some people who were concerned that I might join a local bowling club, and ruin everyone’s fun, because they were afraid I would curtail their language and alcohol consumption. Like I had that kind of power. But to me, I heard, “I’m behaving badly. I know I’m behaving badly. If that preacher comes here, I might not be able to do that. So I don’t know if I want him.”

Many people, won’t attack a christian, but they will look the other way. They will avoid church, or the Bible, and offer pat, but unsubstantiated answers to faith based issues.

I am grateful that we live in a country with the freedom to worship, or not worship, as we like. But it makes me really sad, when people deliberately avoid thinking about Jesus. As if, as long as we don’t think about it, we ‘ll be ok.

Think about those people who are willing to sacrifice their very lives, or the lives of their families for Jesus. What makes a person willing to do that? Why not investigate that for yourself? Come to Church. Read the Bible for yourself. Listen to the stories people tell about how Jesus has changed them. Listen to some of the recent Christian Songs on YouTube or Spotify. Try and figure out for yourself what is so gripping about this Jesus, that would make people want to kill someone who follows Him, or would be willing to die for Him. You’ll spend good money and stand in line for Avengers End Game. What about learning about some people’s real endgame.

Just think about it. We just celebrated Easter. The whole story is so amazing. Jesus is killed by the Jews and Romans. But he chose to die. It’s not just a true crime adventure. He voluntarily gave up his life. Why? Because he was paying for our crimes, our sin. You know, the sins you commit that make you not want me to come to your club. I’m nobody. But Jesus died for all of us. But it only meant anything at all because 3 days later he Rose from the dead. That’s Easter. That’s the resurrection. That’s the event that made sense of the crucifixion. That’s the event that established Him as different than any other religious leader. And he says, “come to Me.” He will take your baggage, your shattered dreams, your broken life, and let you start over, brand new. Some people have been willing to pay a great price for a chance like that. What about you.

Next week, we’re going to get back to the Gospel of John. We’ll look at the first part of Chapter 10. I hope you have a great week. I’d love to see you in Church. But I’ll talk to you next time. But for now…I’m out…

Are You A Prepper? A What?

Old Cemetery

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2019. I’m having trouble getting my head around that one. It seems like only yesterday, My wife and I were watching the fireworks as 1999 became 2000. I remember being so worried for about 4 months that the world was going to go haywire, because of computers not being able to cope with the New Millennium. We called it Y2K. Remember. People all over the world were storing up food, and water, and cash in case the modern world went off grid. In the States people stored up everything from guns and ammo to toilet paper. In a way, the fears over Y2K started the whole prepper movement.

Preppers are people who want to be ready for any emergency that hits us from a major problem with the grid to a zombie apocalypse. I was a prepper. I confess it freely. In my heart, I still am. I got to thinking about how easy it would be for something to go haywire. How would we get food, water, emergency supplies. I thought about it a lot and eventually came up with a plan. My wife and I made up a list and we went all out in getting it filled. We learned to grow our own food and eventually we became small farmers, like shareholders. We raised cows and goats, chickens, turkeys, rabbits and pigs. We stockpiled batteries and candles, soap, spices and toilet paper. We even bought 6 months supply of freeze dried food in case things got really bad. That stuff has a 25 year shelf life. I learned how to raise fish to eat. My wife learned to make soap. She turned that skill into a very profitable business. In the end, we had enough food stored up to last 2 years and I had enough seeds in storage to take care of us pretty much forever. We had a back up generator in case of long term power failure. I even had both a propane gas grill with 5 spare tanks of propane and a charcoal grill with several bags of spare charcoal in case we needed it for emergency cooking. I had spare fishing line and hooks, compasses, extra knives and knife sharpeners. We had a greenhouse. I could go on, but you get the point.

I my mind I was ready for anything. When I lost my job, and was unemployed for a long time, we had plenty of food and supplies. It turned an emergency into an inconvenience.

Why did we do it? Was I paranoid? Worried? Panicked? No, No and No. When you’re prepared you don’t have to worry. We had to eat anyway. We used soap and toilet paper anyway. By preparing, we were just being safe. I helped many people to also become preppers. I wrote articles for prepping websites. I had loads of fun. Like I said, Brittan turned her soap making into a profitable home based business.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because someday, all of us are going to die. We can’t avoid it. So far, death is pretty universal. Sometimes people live a very long time. Sometimes they die young. But I wonder how many of us look ahead and prepare.

For example, do you have a will? I know I need a new one. My life has changed a lot. I need to make some arrangements. I’m going to start on that tomorrow. Have you prepared your funeral arrangements? You could save your family a great deal of trouble, and heartache, that they don’t need, by making your arrangements in advance. You know, do you want songs? Which ones? Do you want certain people to offer eulogies? You know the drill.

What if you leave young children? What will happen to them? Have you made arrangements with someone for that likelihood?

Now, what about yourself? What arrangements have you made for your eternal destiny? Have you even given that any thought? When I look through history, and archaeological discoveries, I see very clearly that throughout the history of the human race, people have tried to make arrangements. From the ancient Egyptians to the Chinese emperors, we’ve found exquisite burial sites in their honor, with all kinds of things buried with people to assist them in their journey.

Oddly, many modern people don’t give it a single thought. We believe we’ve gone way beyond that kind of thinking. Yet, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, the one thing that most people wonder about, and frankly are afraid of, is what happens after death? Do humans have a soul? Do we go somewhere? Thousands of books have been written about it. Movies galore. Every time someone has a near death experience and writes about it, the book becomes a best seller. We know that mediums and psychics make loads of money from people asking questions. Heck, even palm readers and travelers can set up a caravan and make a packet off of people who are unsure of their future.

Oddly, people rarely ask the Church about it anymore. Sometimes that’s because the answers people are given sound so trite or religious, that we’ve assumed Christians know less or have less viable information than anyone on the subject of life after death. Or, it’s presented in such a “repent or perish” kind of a style that we’re either scared or bored off.

That makes me sad. Because the Bible has a lot to say on the subject, yet most of us never ask. For example, the Bible does talk about an eternal place called Hell that’s pretty much not on anyone’s destination list. It really is a place, where the worms never dies and the fire is not quenched. Or outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Lovely. But did you know that the Bible says God doesn’t want anyone to go there. Yep, both Paul and Peter say it in those terms.

But God is perfect. Holy. And He can only have that around him. And all of us know that that leaves us out. We know we’re not perfect. All Of Us Know That’s a Fact. There’s no surprise there. But that’s why Jesus came. He wasn’t just another religious fanatic. He wasn’t some Green tree hugging hippie spouting for us to love one another and putting flowers down the barrel of tanks and cannons.

I know that’s how a lot of people think of him. But, for example, in the Gospel of John, when John the baptist saw him, He called Jesus, “the lamb of God.” We think of lams as cute little animals playing and frolicking in the fields all over Scotland. We even worry about them when one of them is sick or injured on the Yorkshire Vet television show. But lambs were also, sacrifices. Animals that were killed, with their blood spilled out, to ask God forgiveness. It’s gory and horrific to think about. But when John the Baptist said, “Look there’s the lamb of God.” He’s not calling Jesus a little cutie. He’s pointing out the Jesus was the one who would die for us. He would eventually be beaten savagely and nailed to a cross with his blood running everywhere so that we could be sure of a home with God in Heaven forever. And he proved who he was by rising from the dead three days later. Hundreds of people saw him. Not just one or two. I don’t know about you, but when a guy shows up three days after a public execution, I’m going to listen to what he has to say.

He says, I know you’ve messed up. I know all the dark things you done, all the thoughts that run through your mind, all the places you think no one knows you’ve gone. I know about your broken heart and your family. I know about your illness, physical and mental. I know everything there is to know about you. The good, the bad and the ugly. And I love you. See here are my hands and feet. I have the scars to prove how much I love you. I want you to live forever with me.

He wants to prepare you for what’s coming after you die. See, we can all prepare for what’s could happen here, while we’re still alive. I can tell you all about it. But as for what happens after you die, Jesus has already prepared a plan. He says, Come to me all you who are weary and burdened. But for some reason, we don’t. I think that’s so weird. I want you to think about it this New Year time. Who is this Jesus guy. Why does he say the things he says. Why did he do the things he did. Over the next several weeks we’re going to investigate several of the things Jesus did and said. I hope you’ll come back each week to see how this story ends. It’s really rather remarkable. If you have any questions or thoughts on what I have to say, send them to me. You can email, me radiofreebuckie@gmail.com, you can use the comments on the website at www,radiofreebuckie.com, or you can send them via the radiofreebuckie FB page. I’d love to hear from you. I hope you’ll think very hard about these things. Until next week, Happy New Year. That’s all I’ve got for now. Talk to you soon. I’m out.

Your Best Christmas Ever

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I’m recording this on Thursday, the 20th of December. That means, tomorrow is the Winter Solstice. The shortest day and longest night of the year. Then starting Saturday, the days start getting longer. Man, that’s an exciting day for me. Then I get excited on the Spring Equinox, because that means the days are longer than the nights. Yes, I’m easily pleased. But tomorrow night will be especially cool, because it’s also a full moon. Sadly, here in Buckie, it will be cloudy, so we might miss it. But in other places, the full moon on the Winter Solstice is just plain cool.

I hope you’ve got your Christmas shopping done. I have to go to Liddle’s or Tesco before Christmas. I’m not looking forward to it. The crowds will be insane. Everyone who has waited until the last minute to buy a turkey, or a Christmas pudding will be there rummaging through, in search of a bargain.

Aberdeen, Elgin and Inverness will be absolute pandemonium, as people look for last minute bargains. Oddly, one of my favorite memories of Glasgow, is going to the Barra’s on Christmas Eve at midnight. The crowds were crazy, and the deals phenomenal. It really was a magical place. I don’t know whether or not it’s still the place to be on Christmas eve, but I cherish those memories.

What are your favorite Christmas memories? Do you have some? I know some people don’t. Their memories of the Holiday, are bathed in thoughts of abusive parents, or of alcohol, or drugs, or poverty. Christmas has always been a day of dread, or even fear. I totally understand. I won’t go into detail, but one of the darkest days of my life was a Christmas, many years ago. The hurt, the pain, the discomfort that came with it, haunted the season for years. If I allowed myself, I could still feel the agony of those dark days.

Fortunately, that dark time is long ago for me. And, I promise, those memories, those fears, can become distant and faded. I’m not trying to sound like your counselor or like I’m just preaching like I do on Sundays. I just want to share with you something I know. Something that used to be prominent during the Christmas Season. And it Changes everything.

The Apostle John, says in Chapter 1 verse 14, The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us. The Good News Bible, one of my favorite translations, says it this way, The Word became a human being, and live among us.

I want to kind of stop and think about that for a minute. If you remember last week, John started his Gospel with the words, In the Beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word Was God. That sounds kind of high brow and churchy to us in the 21st century, but basically, John says, Jesus, The Word, is God. You can’t deny he says that. He’s going to use his whole book to prove it, but he makes the claim. He says it directly, and boldly. I dare you to read the book of John and try to prove that Jesus and his followers believed anything different that that.

It’s a bold statement. Especially in our 21 century politically correct world. But it’s only part of the story. He completes his thought in verse 14. The word became a human being and lived for a while among us.

John is saying, that God became a human being. He didn’t disguise himself. He didn’t just look human. He was human. St. Paul says the same thing later in the Book of Philippians, chapter 2. He says that Jesus, although being in form, God, didn’t consider that something to be clung to, but he emptied himself, and became a human. That’s incredible.

I bet, when you think of God. Yo u think of Him as far off, as some kind of unknowable, maybe even judgemental person, who has know real idea of what your life is like. After all, He’s God. He lives in heaven, surrounded by angels. He can’t possible understand what it’s like to be you.

But the heart of the Gospel is something completely different. God became a man. He experienced the need to have his nappy changed. He knew what it was to be cold, or hungry, he knew what hard work was. He experienced the desire for friends. He knew what being rejected by people felt like. He actually understood what it felt like to lose people you love. He can tell you exactly what being arrested and kept in prison is like. He knows all about how fickle local government can be. He knows what it’s like when you’ve been beaten until you can’t stand up under your own power. And he knows what it’s like to be falsely accused and laughed at. All of the dark things you’ve felt throughout your life. All of the rejection, all of the unfulfilled hopes and dreams.

That’s the Christmas message. It’s a beautiful, romantic story of a baby born in a stable. Of a group of shepherds who came to visit and worship. Of Angels, and wise men, and an evil king. It has all the characteristics of a great movie. But is is much more that that.

Its the story of God becoming a man. To demonstrate his love for us. To show us how to live. How to have hope in a crazy, sometimes dark world.

I can’t speak for you. I can tell you, that my pain took a long time to heal. And that only happened because I surrendered it to Him, to Jesus. I realized that He understood, that He could give me a new start. That the God who became a man, could take my pain and build something new, and marvellous.

Christmas time, is so amazing. It’s a new beginning, at the very heart of the darkness of winter. It’s bright lights in the middle of December. How cool is that. What a metaphor. There is hope in Christmas. At just the right time, a hero arrived. He can, and wants to, give you a new life. The Bible calls it being born again. How appropriate is that?

I’m not going to spend all our times together trying to sound like a TV preacher. But sometimes I’ve got to. God loves you. He loves you so much that he became a human, just like you. And he want’s to make your Christmas, and all your Christmases to come, just like they are in the movies. Full of hope, and joy, and love.

Think about it. Next week, we’ll have some fun thinking about the year end and looking forward to what 2019 has in store. I can’t wait. I hope your Christmas is everything you dream it will be. Don’t eat too much. Or drink too much. Remember to leave some mince pies out for Santa. If you want, stop by the Church of the 23rd at 6:30 p.m. And join us in our Christmas Carol celebration. You’re invited, wanted and welcome. Merry Christmas to you. That’s it from me this week. I’m out.