I’m not sure if I can accept the main premise of this person’s argument. Prisons should exist mainly to house the most dangerous in Society particularly those sentenced for violent crime. But should we send a person to prison because their only crime is that they are poor and they have committed a theft in order to put bread on the table.
The key test for any civilised Society is how we treat the most marginalised, the downtrodden and the dispossessed. Do we punish them because of the state that they are in or are they being punished enough just being in that state.
I never thought I would be in favour of prison reform but I guess thats comes with getting older and perhaps getting wiser. We do need serious dialogue about prison reform in this country.
To meet the demands of those with sometimes the loudest voices often take actions without thinking of the long-term consequences that taken those actions will have.
My dear friends I ask you this question what would be worse depriving a wealthy person of a little of their wealth or depriving a poor person of everything that they have.
I tell you the truth that for someone who is convicted of depriving a wealthy person all the little of their wealth then have no doubt that person would be incarcerated for a number of years whereas depriving a poor person that person may not receive a sentence of incarceration.
In the society we live in we pay scant regard to the wants, to the needs, to the hopes of the poor person but when it comes to the wealthy person our thought processes are entirely different. Whereas we don’t want to look after the poor when it comes to the wealthy we have to look after them. Maybe that is what is wrong with our Society.
Everyone has to think about ways they can help to transform attitudes so that women and girls who have survived rape in deadly conflict are treated with dignity and respect by society, like other war veterans
London is a city full of statues, statues to the great and the good in the end they fade into the landscape.
For something to have lasting effect it must have the ability to be passed down each generation that is why it is so important that we collate the stories of survivors of conflict related sexual violence so that they form a body of knowledge.
And with that body of knowledge a programme of learning can evole. A programme of learning that can challenge us in how we think about these issues.
First we take one story then we add to it another and then another then another thousands of stories from women and girls who have suffered in this awful manner.
Yes yes we may erect a statue but if we do that without doing anything else what will we have achieved ?
I tell you my friends for something to be a testament it must give rise to the truth and the truth is that as human beings we have often been inhumane to each other.
And women and girls who have suffered grievously as a result of conflict and war and being raped or subject to sexual violence, they have suffered the greatest inumanity. So for a testament to have purpose it must challenge us to change our ways of thinking because if it does not do that then it is not a testament.
I think more and more of those great metaphysical questions that we sometimes ask ourselves “Who am I” “Why am I here” ” Is there something I must do”. Being a person of faith I know that death is a transition from one state of existence to another, from a physical state to a spiritual state and a different dimension . I cannot say anything more for we must all experience it and we will. Each of us have our own allotted time, we cannot change it, it is the nature of things. All the honours that we have amassed during our lives are of little value when the physical cessation of our lives occur. Perhaps the words from scripture are most apt ” Vanity, vanity all is vanity. Some people seek fame and glory for themselves but that should never be, if we are to have it then it must be used to improve the lives of others.
Former Secretary of State James Baker once said, “Someone asked me what was the most important thing I had learned since being in Washington. I replied that it was the fact that temporal power is fleeting.” Baker went on to observe that once driving through the White House gates he saw a man walking alone on Pennsylvania Avenue and recognized him as having been Secretary of State in a previous administration. “There he was alone – no reporters, no security, no adoring public, no trappings of power. Just one solitary man alone with his thoughts. And that mental picture continually serves to remind me of the impermanence of power and the impermanence of place.”
My friends especially those in Parliament the word’s of James Baker should constantly ring in your ear’s. All the things I have read they are the most profound.
“Don’t get consumed in one thing so that everything and everyone around you becomes invisible”
We can be in roles which can be demanding, so much so that we put 100% of ourselves into them. And because there are times when we have not been able to finish our work at work we take it home with us and we try to finish it at home because we are either on tight deadlines or we are are trying to give quick answers to people’s questions (because everybody wants a quick answer).
We focus our attentions on trying to meet those tight deadlines or trying to to expedite things quickly so that people will get the answers when they want the answers.
And what tends to happens is that we often neglect the people around us whether they be our friends or our families and it is generally our families that are more affected by our disconnect.
I can speak about these things because I was there and I did exactly what I’m talking about. When I was a serving police officer investigating crime I would take the job home with me. I would become grumpy if I wasn’t meeting the deadlines or if I wasn’t able to provide the answers that people were looking for.
And there are those times when you become so frustrated that you just explode and it is generally those around you those whom you care for the most who get it in the neck is it any wonder why there is such a high divorce rate in certain professions..
I would just say to people now having learnt the lesson don’t become so consumed in your work that those around you become invisible, allow time for your families.
If your manager’s are pressurizing you to get it done, get it done, get it done I would advise you to just turn to your manager’s and politely tell them to back off because at the end your life outside work is far more important than your life inside work.
Those whom you love the most are more important than those whom you don’t not know.
Don’t allow the stranger’s needs to come before the needs of your family. because it can have fatal consequences.
My dear friends I have had two experiences of God one experience was an angelic experience and the other was when God spoke to me in a vision.
I want to today concentrate on the second experience. I have this friend I hope he is still my friend named Jeremy and it would be true to say that he is not a spring chicken indeed he is 70 years old.
I had become increasingly concerned about my friend particularly about his spiritual health so much so that I bought him a book call the imitation of Christ and presented it to him September last year.
But I had been in constant prayer worrying about his eternal soul and what would happen if he was to die outside God’s grace.
Now in December I was working at the local mail centre and I was sitting at my work station and had momentarily closed my eyes when I opened my eyes again I could not see anything it was like I was in a mist trapped in fog. A voice came through the Fog asking me to ask my question
I said which question, the one you’ve been asking for 6-months him The Voice replied. So I asked my question what happens to a man’s soul if he dies outside the grace of God. Now I was expecting a pretty straightforward answer but that is not the answer I got.
The answer I got was this ” a man must be laid down before he can be risen up” this answer totally confused me because it was not what I was expecting. I said what and the voice said a man must be laid down before he can be risen up. Then it all became clear we had just had a general election and my friend had been served to his enemies and had been laid down not in a physical sense but in a spiritual sense.
I believe the almighty has tasked me with bringing this person to a knowledge of him before it is too late. The question to be asked is will this person be receptive to my words which are indeed not my words but the words of the almighty spoken through me.
God Is Light 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; 7 but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Christ Our Advocate
2 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
In the message the author Eugene Peterson words it in this way.
Walk in the Light 5 This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in him. 6-7 If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth—we’re not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin. 8-10 If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God. 2 1-2 I write this, dear children, to guide you out of sin. But if anyone does sin, we have a Priest-Friend in the presence of the Father: Jesus Christ, righteous Jesus. When he served as a sacrifice for our sins, he solved the sin problem for good—not only ours, but the whole world’s.
This is a very interesting passage of scripture and it is very relevant considering that we have just celebrated the birth of the Christ Child, Jesus Christ the light of the world as we are reminded in that greart painting by William Holman Hunt. Jesus Christ the light of the World who came to deliver us from the darkness of sin.
Sin in its purest form is an act of wrongdoing which causes us to be disobedient to God’s precepts or commands which have been laid down God and revealed to us through his Word and that act of wrongdoing can be in thought or in deed.
However , the dichotomy for us Christians is that which may be considered sinful according to scripture the law of the land may not consider illegal. Now this was the conflict I faced as a Christian Police Officer. As Christians where do we draw our authority from ?. By the way that’s a question!
As Police officer my authority to enforce the law was taken from Acts of Parliament or from Common Law which had been handed down over a period of time. Indeed the basis of English and Scottish law is Christian in nature and is taken from tradition and practice. It could be said that an Act of Parliament is already flawed because those who put it together as just like us are flawed individuals with all the same weaknesses and facing all the same temptations that we all face as we travel along our journey of life or in an Act of Parliament can we see the prevenient grace of God.
It is true to say that those who govern over us are not without sin themselves and if any were to say that they were I guess I would have something to say about it and I often have.
Although some may find it easier to justify the commission of sin but the truth is there is no justification for sin no matter how small that act of wrongdoing may be.
Now when I was thinking about this portion of Scripture I happened to be in my local shopping centre and was looking through a shop window when something caught my eye and I thought to myself I must have that not that I needed it only that I wanted it and probably because I didn’t want anyone else to have it.
So not only was I being selfish I was also committing the sin of covetousness because there is a difference between need and want. Covetousness is a sin that we all guilty of more times than we care to admit and it is a sin that we must guard ourselves against because far too many of us are in the “I must” category.
Do you know when I was looking in that shop window coveting what I saw, this portion of scripture can and hit me on the head like a brick caused me to step back and to reflect on what I was thinking. At that moment I had allowed sinful thoughts to enter my mind.
But there is one sin that really comes between us and our relationship with God and probably between those whom we care for the most and that Sin is the Sin of Pride. The reason I know why the sin of pride is so bad is because I have been guilty of it.
The Sin of Pride rather than strengthening relationship destroys relationships because it destroyed mine. Pride can lead you to the cliff edge and push you over and that fall into the chasm of despair is very long and the landing is not a soft landing but the hardest of landings. The words in Proverbs 16:18 are deadly accurate and we should strive to take heed of them.
Pride strips you of everything, everything that you were, everything that you are but not everything you can be. There is only one word word that best describes everything you can be, and that word is humility. If you are humble in all things then one will be rewarded so it is important to banish all pride.
Remember pride and Humility are opposites pride is often as seductive as lust perhaps more so. Pride leads to conceit and conceit destroys the soul but humility leads to truthfulness and truthfulness puts life into a diseased soul because truthfulness is of God. So it is better to be humble that proud.
Finally my brothers and sisters we are told that Christ’s crucifixion was the forever sacrifice for sin so I just ask you all on bended knee not use the crucifixion of Christ as an excuse, do not use it as a way of appeasing our own conscience or as a crutch to continue behaving in a sinful way because if we do we make a mockery of Christ’s sacrifice and his Crucifixion a worthless act.
For a time will come when we will all stand before God and have to give account for all our actions throughout life and at that appointed time we won’t have to worry about legal aid because we will have our own defence barrister but I charge you to remember this what is given by God can be taken away by God.
Over the last few days God has laid a portion of scripture upon my heart and I would like to share it with you.
Ephesians 6:12-13 King James Version (KJV)
12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
21 But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:
22 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts”.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ this is such a powerful piece of scripture just the opening paragraph says enough we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
What is this darkness that is mentioned in this piece of scripture. Well the darkness is sinful behaviour so the rulers of Darkness are those who gives rise to sinful behaviour and each and every one of us.
Now what about spiritual wickedness is it always to be found in high places no it is not it is found in low places as well. It is even to be found in the house of God because those who may frequent the house of God may themselves be trapped in spiritual wickedness.
And when members of the church which are trapped in spiritual wickedness it destroys all spiritual growth in the church and the church becomes dead and moribund. Unless you take a disinfectant to the spiritual wickedness then the church will die.
Now there are those who come to church in fine clothing and appear to be so righteous but the truth of the matter is is that they have no righteousness , none of us do. But they pretend to have it but it is just a deception and it is a deception that is played on other people.
So many people in church who have not repented of their sins and if people do not repent of their sins they will find no redemption no renewal no restoration and they will no longer be sanctified by the Holy Spirit because what is given can be taken away. And for them who do not repent then the fiery furnace of Hell awaits them at the end of days.
Spiritual wickedness is all pervasive and it can spread like a contagion throughout the church congregation so that all are dragged into it.
For any church to grow in the spirit it needs to excise the spiritual wickedness that is killing the spirit within the church.
I spent many years in the police force I thought I had seen it all manner of spiritual wickedness all manner of sinful behaviour but I have to tell you you what I see in some churches frankly astounds me. Now I am no Paragon of virtue myself and I am not a good man but I am a man trying to live a good life trying to live according to scripture I wish some of my Christian brothers and sisters would do likewise because it is their souls that are at risk.