When Tony Blair became British Prime Minister his popularity and reputation grew rapidly thanks to the efforts of one man – Alister Campbell – who became known as his ‘spin doctor’. Mr Campbell made sure that the press and media were kept fully informed about all that would enhance the standing of Mr Blair with the citizens of the United Kingdom and even further afield.
Well, if the Dalai Lama ever needs his own ‘spin doctor’ then he should seriously consider Alf McCreary, ‘Religion Correspondent’ with the Belfast Telegraph. In November 2005 the Dalai Lama paid a return visit to Northern Ireland and any reader of the Belfast Telegraph would be entirely without excuse if they claimed to be unaware of his visit.
Each Saturday in the Belfast Telegraph Mr McCreary authors a page entitled ‘This Life’ and it is usually made up of a lead article and perhaps one or two smaller items. On consecutive Saturdays [19th and 26th November] the lead article for each ‘This Life’ page was devoted to the Dalai Lama. One article was called ‘A welcome visitor’ and the other ‘The Dalai Lama and an Ulster “Blackman”’ [the term ‘Blackman’ refers to a member of a particular fraternal organisation and has nothing to do with race or colour].
On 2 separate occasions in early December my attention was drawn to the incident in the life of Matthew Henry some 300+ years ago when the gifted Bible Commentator was robbed and in his diary at the close of that day he wrote ‘Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed’. That story was fresh in my mind when on 15th December whilst moving boxes in our roof space I, through my own negligence, fell out the opening up into our roof space and landed some 7 feet below on the broad of my back on our landing. I managed to get myself up onto our bed and as I lay there I thought of Matthew Henry and I simply prayed something along these lines ‘Let me be thankful first, because I have never fallen out of a roof space before; second, because although I am battered and bruised I’m not paralysed or killed; third, because although it was a big fall, the least possible has happened; and fourth, because it was I who fell and not Margaret’. To all who so regularly pray for the well being of Margaret and myself I say ‘thank you’ and I supremely thank the Lord that He cared when I was careless. As you will see from the enclosed schedule of meetings, Bob Liichow has not been able, due to family commitments, to come in April so I’m delighted to welcome back Alan Morrison to address the topic of ‘God [channel] TV’. Your prayers and attendance where possible will be welcomed.
Well, after all the hype surrounding the arrival of a new millennium [a debatable point by the way] things are continuing pretty much as before. There is still “a time to be born and a time to die…a time to love and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace” [Ecclesiastes 4:2&8]. Nothing has changed because the heart of the natural, unregenerate man has not changed.
The only hope for a change of heart in man is still as it has been for the past 2000 years namely the true “gospel of Christ” [Romans 1:16]. With every passing day the darkness of error that would seek to snuff out “the light of the glorious gospel of Christ” [2 Corinthians 4:4] seems to intensify and gain even more ground in the professing church that is supposed to be “the pillar and ground of the truth” [1 Timothy 3:15]. Despite the advances and acceptance of the cults, new age, ‘prosperity peddlers’, non-Christian faiths and especially Roman Catholicism together with false ecumenism the Lord’s promise still remains “I will build MY church” [Matthew 16:18]. Margaret and I want to thank you for all your past encouragement and support and covet your prayers as we seek to encourage people to “take heed that no man deceive you” [Matthew 24:4]