The Torch - Issue 1 2012

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From:-
TORCH TRUST, Torch House, Torch Way, Market Harborough, Leicestershire, LE16 9HL, U.K.
Telephone: +44(0)1858 438260, Fax: +44(0)1858 438275, email: info@torchtrust.org
The Torch Trust for the Blind, registered charity number 1095904.

Contents

Greetings!

It is wonderful to have the opportunity, through this magazine, to greet so many of you in so many countries! The Torch is produced five times a year and each issue goes to over 9,000 people, a large proportion of which goes overseas to around 100 countries. So the global aspect of the magazine is wonderful, and it is great to hear from many overseas readers of the blessing the magazine is to them.

Writing this at the beginning of January, I started to think about "prospects". What sort of prospects - or expectations - does 2012 hold? The answer to that question is potentially somewhat daunting isn't it! Looked at from a human viewpoint, the prospects in the material world are not good: financial collapse ... food shortage ... famine ... starvation ... drought ... floods ... uncertainty ... insecurity, and even corrupt national leadership in many countries. Grim isn't it!

And then my mind turned to a completely different set of prospects: those found in Jesus Christ himself. Radiant prospects that are completely unrelated to worldly prospects and in no way dependent on them. What a wonderful thing this is. The glory of these prospects shines ever brighter against the ever-darkening worldly type - like the colours of a rainbow becoming brighter as the sky behind it gets darker.

So what are these prospects? Well, they are enumerated in God's Word, and all based on his promises which are diverse and numerous. What about these for a start?

What a prospect! And what about the best prospect ever: the glorious inheritance of the saints (Ephesians 1:18) and the hope of the glory to come. Do you know that prospect in your own life? It's yours for the taking. Yours by faith, through Christ's sacrificial death.

So as we launch into this year, let's ask ourselves if our expectation is in God himself. Like the psalmist, let's say to our innermost being: "My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from him." (Psalm 62:5 KJV).

You can reflect further on this in an article later on: The Kingdom of Heaven, and in Let the Scriptures speak, following the article.

God bless you all.

Jill Ferraby and the editors

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Old Testament Characters

by Michael Stafford

10. Moses (continued)

In issue no 4 of 2011 we left Moses and the Israelites in a terrible predicament - hemmed in on all sides, with the Red Sea in front of them, mountains to each side, and Pharaoh's army coming up behind them.

An impossible situation

The Israelites complained to Moses: "As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, 'Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn't we say to you in Egypt, "Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians?" It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!'" (Exodus 14:10-12).

Can you imagine how Moses felt? He was in an impossible situation, being blamed for it by his people. Yet Moses told them not to fear because the Lord was going to deliver them. What faith! He told them, "The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you ..." (Exodus 14:13-14).

The Lord commanded Moses to raise his staff over the sea, and the sea divided so the Israelites could go over without even getting their feet wet! The Egyptians followed and the water returned and drowned them all. God had delivered his people, and Moses and his sister Miriam sang a song of thanksgiving to the Lord.

Obedience and disobedience

There were many adventures ahead, and Moses faced many more challenges, yet the great thing was that the Lord went before them, providing them with food each day which they called "manna". When there was no water the people complained to Moses who cried out to God. He was instructed to do something which looks ridiculous. Had it failed, Moses would have simply looked like a fool. But again in faith he obeyed the Lord's instruction and struck the rock at Horeb with his staff. Water flowed out in abundance.

In this instance he obeyed exactly what the Lord told him, but on a later occasion, in similar circumstances, he was told by God to "speak" to the rock. He thought he knew better, and struck the rock with his staff. The water came out, but Moses was judged by God for having altered what God had said, and being angry with the people. The result of the judgment was that Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land, and died after viewing it from afar. This reminds us that we should be careful not to try and change what God says to us in the Bible. It is easy to try and alter his commands in order to make them easier to obey.

Moses became weighed down by the demands upon him as the leader. He had to advise and judge the people when they came with their problems. His father-in-law advised him to share his responsibilities with trustworthy men who could lift some of the burden off his shoulders. This was good advice and Moses took it on board. This is the principle of delegation, which every leader should adopt - learning to trust others and share his or her duties.

God's Law broken

But the highlight of Moses' leadership was at Mount Sinai, where Moses climbed up to the top in order to meet with God in solitude and hear what God had to say to him concerning his task of leading the people to the promised land. It is an essential part of the Christian life to spend time listening to God and reading his Word. It is good if we can set aside time each day to spend in God's presence. Only in this way will we grow and mature in our faith.

At Sinai, God gave Moses the ten commandments, written on stone tablets, which would be the standard that God expected of his people. It was an extremely high standard, which in fact is impossible to obey 100%. Because of sin which is in all of us, we cannot reach perfection. That is why Jesus had to come and die for us, to pay the price for our sins, and redeem us.

No sooner had Moses been given God's law on the tablets than the Israelites sinned. They got tired of waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain and decided they needed an alternative god to worship. Moses' own brother Aaron gave them what they wanted in the shape of a golden calf to worship. When Moses came down the mountain and saw what had happened he threw the tablets to the ground and broke them. The Law was broken both physically and spiritually. God was ready to destroy the people and make Moses' family into his special people instead, but Moses declined this offer and pleaded for the Israelites. God relented and gave Moses more tablets.

Moses meets with God

Moses felt the need to have support as he continued to lead the people, and God made him a wonderful promise: "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest". Moses' response was to say to God, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here". One of the most precious promises that God gives us is enshrined in the name "Emmanuel", which we were reminded of at Christmas time. It simply means "God is with us". We are not alone, he will never leave us or forsake us when we know and love him.

Moses longed to see the Lord's glory, but he was told that no-one can see the Lord's face. He was only allowed to see his back. We are told in John's Gospel chapter one that "no-one has ever seen God, but God the one and only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known." This is referring to Jesus, who we are told in Hebrews chapter one, is "the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being". Jesus shows us what God's character is like, so the more we study Jesus' life and words the more we will understand the nature of God.

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Wise words (7)

Authority

Umulilo wa mfumu taucepa. (Bemba language). This proverb means: The fire of the chief is never too small.

Wisdom

Traffic becomes dangerous when the traffic lights are not working. A football match without a referee often degenerates into a fight. A school without a head ends up in confusion. When a number of people have to work together, they must have some kind of organisation and order. For this, someone must be given authority to draw up rules that are binding. These are not meant to be a nuisance but a help to smooth co-ordinated operation of the group.

The same thing applied in traditional society, as seen in the Bemba proverb, which says that the slightest command of the chief is to be obeyed. All societies need to act this way because they are human. The Church of Christ must also have authority in it because it is a human as well as a divine society.

Scripture

[Jesus said] I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go then to all peoples everywhere and make them to be my disciples: baptise them in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey all that I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, until the end of the world.

When he lived in Palestine, Jesus respected the authority of the rulers. He accepted that human societies had to have authority for their smooth running. Before he ascended to his Father, he gave his disciples a very solemn command to baptise, teach and govern the Church he had founded. He had the authority because in his own person he was the truth and the unique, final coming of God's Lordship and revelation.

Because he is still with his Church today, we ought to respect its teaching authority and believe that it is God's way to help and guide us on our pilgrim way. We must learn to discern the Spirit as he touches each of us personally, reaching us through the Church as it discerns the signs of the times in the world of men and women.

Prayer

Lord God, you have called your people to become your Church. Grant that all who are gathered together in your name may fear you and love you, may follow you and, under your guidance, attain to your promises in heaven.

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My story

by Robert Bryce

Retired or Working?

I was brought up in a Christian home and became a Christian when still very young. I remember discussing with my mother what I wanted to be when I grew up and, on one occasion, said I wanted to be a missionary. I remember my mother's idea of a good job was to be an accountant.

As it happened, I worked in the insurance industry for over 28 years but always wanted to do "something different", some sort of Christian work.

I realised that with a good pension scheme in place, early retirement would be a possibility and had been thinking about the implications of this for some years before it became a reality. In the end a company merger and office relocation gave me the opportunity to take a redundancy package which effectively allowed me to retire even earlier than I had hoped.

A few months before I left work, I was chatting to Gordon Temple, Chief Executive of Torch Trust, and he told me that Torch needed some help in the area of finance. I replied, "I wish I could help you." By the time I actually left the insurance industry I had visited Torch a few times and had started to work out how I could help.

That was in 2004, shortly after the move to the new Torch House in Market Harborough. Since then I have helped mainly in three areas of finance.

My wife Heather decided to leave her job shortly after I retired so she also has been working for Torch. She visits Torch House most weeks and helps with IT support as well as preparing books for printing in giant print format.

We are both involved in other voluntary work with both Christian and secular charities. Our main work is with Wycliffe Associates (soon to be known as Mission Assist) who provide opportunities for Christians to support missionary work in a number of different ways from their own homes. Heather fulfils several administrative and organisational type roles and I provide financial assistance to language development workers in Asia, communicating with them by email and Skype. Although the work is done at home in the UK, I have had the privilege of making several overseas trips to USA and Asia over the last few years to meet the people I serve, and Heather has been able to accompany me on some of those trips.

So, what do I answer when asked, "What do you do?" Well, it depends on who is asking, but usually I say that I provide accountancy help to several charities. I consider myself to be still working - it's just that I don't need to get paid for it. The Lord has provided more than sufficiently so that I feel I have a second career which is paid for by my first career.

So, although I don't consider myself a missionary and I have no accountancy qualifications, in some way I am achieving both the careers my mother and I discussed all those years ago.

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Penfriends bulletin

Here is someone who would like to correspond with others. If you would like to correspond with this person, introduce yourself by giving your name, your correct postal address, your age, and some information about yourself, your family and your country.

Anybody reading this who would like us to include their name and information in our next bulletin, send in your full name, postal address, age, and tell us about the things you enjoy doing. The aim of having a penfriend is to develop a friendship and exchange information and ideas.

IBRAHIM UMAR ABDULKARIM, PO Box 5426, Kano, Kano State 700001, Nigeria. I am a 41-year-old blind person. Four years ago, I completed my Master's Degree in Inclusive Education at the University of Manchester in England. I have been teaching in a special school in Kano State for the past 14 years. I look forward to working as a lecturer in the Department of Special Education in any of the tertiary institutions either in Nigeria or abroad. Those interested in corresponding with me should either write me in contracted English braille, on 2-track audio cassette tape, via my email address (ibrahimua2002@yahoo.com) or call any of the following four numbers: 00234-802-680-9763, 00234-803-657-1820, 00234-805-573-4321 and 00234-809-903-6504.

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The Kingdom of Heaven

by Rev Dyson Chitekwe

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3).

Jesus Christ preached the kingdom of heaven, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matthew 4:17).

To be "poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3) we must not look only at ourselves, but rather we must look especially at the Lord Jesus Christ. The more we look at him, the more hopeless we shall feel in and of ourselves, and the more we shall become "poor in spirit". And then we have that blessedness that Christ spoke of and the assurance that the kingdom of heaven is ours.

Whereas the word "are" in "Blessed are the poor in spirit" has been added by the translators, the word "is" in "theirs is the kingdom of heaven" is the present tense of the verb "to be". The Greek present tense indicates a continual action. Therefore, we can say that the kingdom of heaven is ours this morning, this afternoon, this evening, and at midnight etc. There is no time when the kingdom is not ours. Thus the kingdom of heaven has a present aspect.

The kingdom of heaven also involves the Messianic rule of the Lord Jesus Christ and that is the future aspect of the kingdom. When we pray in the Lord's prayer, "Thy kingdom come", we pray first of all for the present aspect of the kingdom, that the kingdom of heaven may be found in the hearts of men. That is, that men may be saved and have the assurance that one day they see God in heaven.

But there is also the future aspect of the prayer: "Thy kingdom come". When the Lord Jesus Christ comes again, he will set up his kingdom upon earth. He, the King of kings and Lord of lords, rules a kingdom of grace and glory, the full glory which has not yet been revealed (1 John 3:2).

Poor in spirit we are, but rich in God, carrying with us the wealth of all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ to that place of divine appointment which awaits our presence with him who loved us and gave himself for us all.

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our saviour Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13)

[Dyson Chitekwe was a pastor with the Zambezi Evangelical Church in Malawi for many years. He became a trustee of Torch in Malawi from its beginning, and in recent years was its chairman. He died in 2009.]

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Let the Scriptures speak

Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7

The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "no" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

When the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

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Presents and gifts

by Jenny Edwards

(taken from Vital Link - the magazine of Through the Roof - Autumn 2011)

I have just wrapped up a present for my great niece Emily on her birthday. I love wrapping presents and anticipating the day when they are opened. I particularly think that at three years old, birthday presents are quite special, so I hope Emily likes the present I have got for her.

But what if she simply accepts the present, says thank you but never opens it? Highly unlikely for a three-year old, but let's just imagine that is what happens. Her present remains all brightly wrapped, completely hiding the contents, but safe. Her mother will probably put it away on a shelf or in a cupboard, and although it can still be looked at, no-one knows what is inside, and more than that, Emily will never enjoy her present unless she opens it.

In John 3:16, that very well known verse, we are told God has sent us a gift in the form of his one and only son. Such a precious gift and a free one, yet so many of us accept that gift but never unwrap it to discover all that God has for us in our new life with him. It is exciting finding out all that God wants for us when we have accepted him, so please do not just leave your gift wrapped up and on the shelf; open it and discover daily its contents.

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