"What is love" was the most searched phrase on Google in 2012, according to the company. In an attempt to get to the bottom of the question once and for all [not that they did], the Guardian has gathered writers from the fields of science, psychotherapy, literature, religion and philosophy to give their definition of the much-pondered word". Five people from five different professions or walks of life then went on to give five quite different views on what love is. That it was said to be the "most searched phrase on Google in 2012" suggests that a whole lot of people are "looking [out] for love", which quite apart from reminding me of a song by Fleetwood Mac, suggests that love is a much sought after commodity. Poets and songwriters have spent a great deal of time considering love (often there own). One guy, Toronto Mike, lists 1187 songs with love in the title - I think he's just talking about the stuff that he likes. The Beatles famously sang "All you need is love", Charles Wesley wrote: "Love devine all loves excelling...". We often love to sing: "I love you Lord and I lift my voice...", written by Laurie Klein. And then there's that folm/novel called "love is a many-splendored thing". The value of reading many songs and poems on the subject of love is that from the opinions of the many you might begin to distill a sense of the length, depth and breadth of this delightful ailment - the love disease! Shakespeare wrote extensively on love in his plays: From a Midsummer Nights Dream - The course of true love never did run smooth. There's another thought - what is true love, what is false? I once started reading a popularist book on psychology and, as I recall, the first subject was love and its where a lot of people get into [psychological] problems because what many take for love is actually little more than emotional need - "...don't leave me, I need you!". No mention of that needy person's love for their partner. Selfish love. I blogged earlier this week on "cupboard love", which is a common example of selfish love which is not real love at all. Smile God Loves You! That was the subject that I started todays blog with before drifting off pist. There's that ungraspable verse in Paul's letter to the Ephesians: "And I pray that you, being rooted and established [grounded] in love, may have power, together with all the lord's people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ...BUT THERE'S MORE...and to know this love that surpasses knowledge [our intellectual ability to understand it] - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3v17-19. This is another one of those big subjects about which I could finish with TO BE CONTINUED, 26 May 2017 StanH

I suppose I should feel really smugWhy's that Steve? Well in March this year I've been a born-again Christian for 44 years. Wow! Steve - that's amazing! That's what I thought Si. I am pretty amazing aren't I? Forty-four years and every year getting more and more saved, more and more forgiven. I suppose I should feel sorry for some of the Iranian lads at St James who've only been saved a couple of years. Yeah that's really sad for them Steve. Yeah Si - its a pity they're not as saved as you and me. NB. Steve and Simon are two of the older and more humble members of St James Doncaster.  Its a pity though that Simon and Steve don't know their Bibles a little better. You know the parable I'm talking about don't you? Yes! It's the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard: "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out in the morning to hire workers. He hires some right at the start of the day and agrees a wage with them. I'm cutting a long story short here, assuming you are familiar with the story. Throughout the day he continues to hire workers.Some have stood waiting for work all day as no-one had approached them with an offer of work. Right into the late afternoon up to around 5 pm the landowner is still hiring workers. Imagine that! It was a long day but in the end they all came up to the landowners office for their pay. Those who started first were at the front of the queue, came to him first and were paid in full.  As they stood around counting their money they were alarmed to notice that everyone from the first to the last were getting paid EXACTLY THE SAME AS THEM. Those who started at five o'clock in the afternoon got exactly the same amount as them. "Surely that can't be right", one of them grumbled and, aggrieved, he went back to the landowner to express his concern and to clarify what was going on. "I am not being unfair to you - you got what we agreed", said the Owner. You get the point don't you. In the Kingdom of God everyone is treated fairly, everyone is treated the same. And its exactly the same when it comes to salvation and when it comes to foregiveness. Everyone benefits the same. So there you have it. Its a kingdom principle. Everyone is fully saved right from the get go - and will never be "more saved" as the years roll by. Never more forgiven. I'd hate to have to be the one to break it to Steve and Simon. I think they'd be like those grumblers in the parable. Don't you ? 29 May 2017 StanH

Saint or Sinner ? What are you - a saint or a sinner? That's a good question. It's one we could have posed to our friends, Steve and Simon, in the last blog but since they're probably still smarting from all their hard work for unfair pay, I'd rather not trouble them any further this month. So let's get on. I am a sinner but I don't relish being constantly reminded of it - I don't suppose any of us does. But Christ came to save sinners. He illustrates that very clearly when he likens Himself to a doctor in Matthews Gospel 9v12. He had just overheard the Pharisees asking His disciples why Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners and so He said them: "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are ill"; likening sin to ill-health or sickness. This blog is not unlike the last in that we think we know what the Bible says on a given subject but our theology is sometimes confused and the truth is usually more amazing. It goes like this: We know that we are (or in our minds were) sinners and we would quite happily wear a label on our chests that says I'M A SINNER. Where it then gets a bit confusing is when we discover that having been saved we are now saints with all the saints in glory. So we want to tear off the old label of I'M A SINNER and replace it proudly with I'M A SAINT. I can imagine Christians proudly walking around in white tee shirts with bold statements colourfully printed on with this truth writ large - I'M A SAINT! I can just imagine Steve and Simon wearing that tee-shirt, can't you ? The truth in all this is that we are saints but still sinners. And we will continue to sin and be sinners this side of Eternity.Just changing the tee-shirt is not enough. There has to be a fundamental heart change and Jesus was trying to get this over to Nicodaemus in John 3 when He spoke of being born again.Paul labours this whole subject in his Letter to the Romans: "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this - while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Rom 5v6-8. What we need is one of those tee-shirts which have a provocative or curious label on the front and the counterpart to that statement on the back. Because nosey people do tend pass you and then turn round to have another look at you. So my tee-shirt says at the front I'M A SINNER ! but on the back it says BUT I'M ALSO A SAINT ! Saint or sinner - which one are you? I'm both ! 30 May 2017 StanH.