Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Gospel we preach

What is a Christian?

That is a good question! You might feel bewildered by the answers these days. Britain is supposed to be a “Christian country.” A “Christian Democratic Party” exists in continental Europe. In addition, many people claim to be Christians: perhaps you are one of them. “I’m a Roman Catholic...” “I’ve been confirmed in Church and gone all my life.” “I was brought up Chapel, and I never do anybody any harm.”


It’s strange how we want to be our own authority concerning religion. With any other subject, we feel out of our depth and need some recognised authority to tell us. But with religious belief, “what I think” seems to be enough. I cannot imagine us doing the same with, say, a worrying pain in our left side. “What I think” is no safe guide to whether its indigestion or heart pain or cancer. Therefore, we consult the doctor — if anyone can sort it out, he can, or a specialist to whom he may refer me.

Why, then, be any different when it comes to what real Christianity is? “So, you reckon I have to trust a church minister to tell me?” Not necessarily. There is an authority higher than any of us, and that is the Bible. Any Christian minister who bases his answer on that Book can be trusted. But we can read the Bible for ourselves.


The Bible tells us that a Christian is someone who has felt a real need. He has been “convinced of sin” (John 16:8). Christianity is not a hobby or just a way of life. It is rescue, salvation. It stems from a God-given realisation that we have been life-long rebels against God, broken His laws and have offended His holy majesty. It does not begin by being good enough, but by realising that we are very bad. Then we are prepared for the provision of God’s forgiveness and new life through Jesus Christ. Without this sense of need, there is no concern to receive Christ and be saved.

You may read this as someone indifferent and unconcerned. And you may think this disproves Christianity. Quite the reverse. Your lack of any felt need simply confirms what the Bible teaches: that we are all like this until God awakens us to see ourselves as we really are. Then we are ready to appreciate the saving power of Jesus Christ. “They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick” (Matthew 9:12).


A Christian is also one who has a new understanding. He realises why Jesus Christ came into the world, died on the Cross and rose again from the dead. It was to save — to rescue — guilty, hell-deserving sinners. He “died for the ungodly” ... “died for our sins” ... “suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (Romans 5:9; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 Peter 3:18). To those who understand their need, this Gospel message is good news: it means that Jesus has taken all our obligations and failures, all our sins and their punishment, upon Himself. He accepted the full consequences of them. That meant the horrific agonies of crucifixion and the wrath of a holy, sin-hating God, suffering a penal death and hell in our place. Such a person exclaims: “Jesus died for me!

This is the way a righteous and yet merciful God has provided salvation: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Do you see this? It is the heart of the Christian gospel, and the only way to peace with God and the peace of God. This is what a Christian understands and knows.


“But how do I benefit from what Christ has done for sinners?” you may ask. That, too, is a good question. After all, the provision of something is not the same as the possession of it. We possess God’s free salvation by simply asking for it: committing our guilty souls to Jesus Christ by personal trust. Then, what He did in His life and death becomes ours. We become reconciled to God and enter the Christian life — a real, living relationship with God. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Notice that nothing else is called for but prayerful trust in the Christ of God. This is because He has done all that is necessary to save sinners: His work is finished. To try to add our contribution, in any form, is to insult the free grace of God and put ourselves outside of salvation. Come to Jesus Christ, then, just as you are, confess your sin, ask Him to save you, put yourself entirely in His hands and He will. He will not turn you away; He says, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).


Becoming a Christian means personally knowing Jesus Christ. But it is not a friendship of equals. At conversion, we “receive Christ Jesus the Lord” (Colossians 2:6). That means a real Christian is someone whole lifestyle is under new management. Those whom Jesus saves He also progressively makes holy and prepared for heaven. Christians obey Jesus Christ, He says: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” (John 8:31). Obedience to what Jesus says in the Bible is the mark of a Christian. Yet, how many people claim to be Christians and never even read the Bible! Be sure of this — Jesus Christ does not own you as one of His saved ones if your life is not under government of Holy Scripture.

In the light of these things: ARE YOU REALLY A CHRISTIAN?

Rev. John Thackway, Pastor of Holywell Evangelical Church

Used with kind permission of the author

Monday, 10 March 2014

Invest in ME - Karina Hansen

There is a Danish proverb -

He who is afraid of asking is ashamed of learning

With healthcare where better to learn than from patients?

As with much of the research that is and has been funded, under the subterfuge of research into Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), it seems a persistent theme of those entrusted with the future of people with ME and their families that they do not listen to patients.

Dr Clare Gerada, former chair of the Royal College of GPs, said at the last IiME international conference in 2013 that GPs know very little about ME.

She also said that patients know their illness better than doctors.

Common sense - something that is obvious one would think.

The obvious.

It would seem obvious that the UK Medical Research Council should not spend more on psychological research after the farcical and flawed PACE trial squandered £5 million and showed no objective improvements in patient outcomes and is clouded in controversy about methods used and claims being made [1]. Yet it goes on.

It would seem obvious and self-evident that children should not be coerced into graded exercise when they are ill and unable to attend school. Yet the SMILE study is funded -funding given to the vice-chair of the MRC/SMC collaborative of charities and organisations. in our opinion an appalling and dangerous waste of funding to flawed theories. [2]

It would seem obvious that after being taken to a Judicial Review, by patients, that an organisation such as the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) would show some humility toward a patient community that for a generation has been denied proper treatment, proper research or any form of respect. Yet NICE have again not listened and ignored calls for a review of their previously unacceptable guidelines for ME. [3]


Karina Hansen is 24 years old who has been seriously ill for some years and was cared for by her parents in Jylland, Denmark. On 12 February 2013 she was removed by force,  under police supervision, by doctors and the local authority who seemingly gained access to Karina's residence without prior notice. Later, the parents informed that Karina had been admitted to Hammel Neuro Centre for assessment, treatment and rehabilitation. Karina's lawyer has now taken over the case. [4]

It would seem obvious that locking up a young adult, stopping her family from regularly seeing her, forcing psychiatric theories and practices on her would all qualify for an investigation into human rights.

Yet one year on from this situation Karina Hansen is still locked up, with sparse information about her condition, with rumours that a UK psychiatrist is "advising" the Danish psychiatrists on treatment, and uncertainty about her condition or her prognosis.

We cannot be sure what is the current status of Karina Hansen's health.

Despite Danish national ME organisations attempting to assist no help seems to have been accepted by those currently treating Karina and no information seems to be forthcoming - either from the Hammel Neurocenter or from the Danish Health Ministry.

Yet one thing is clear - patients are not being listened to.

And lessons are not learnt from past misfortunes.

This must change.

In an attempt to break this impasse IiME last year invited the physicians at the Hammel Neurocenter to the 8th Invest in ME International ME Conference. We followed up this invitation by contacting the Danish health minister Ms Astrid Krag and inviting her. [5]

We received no reply.

"He who is afraid of asking is ashamed of learning"

In order to support a fresh attempt at helping Karina Hansen the charity has offered the new minister of health, Nick Hækkerup, an invitation to meet with clinicians and researchers at the BRMEC4 research colloquium [6] and IIMEC9 [7] events in London in May.

We have sent the invitation also to the physicians at the Hammel Neurocenter, again. IiME have offered to arrange confidential meetings with ME experts with a view to helping get the best attention for Karina Hansen. And we have offered a place at the research colloquium and at the conference.

We await a reply.

We know from too many stories of how severely affected ME patients suffer in silence and are often misunderstood by social workers, by doctors and by the healthcare system. [8]

We have written in the past that we feel it is impossible to marry the views of those who believe in the deconditioning/behavioural and wrong illness belief model of ME with those from the biomedical side.

Yet what we can agree on is that we need to exhaust all possibilities when a patient such as Karina is in such an awful situation.

This charity has never bothered with egos or status - what matters is progress.

But we recognise that to accept this invitation will be difficult for anyone whose professional authority is questioned. We understand this.

Yet it takes a greater degree of courage to accept an invitation such as this - to accept that learning never stops.

This invitation will cost everyone very little - yet it might help save a life.

Our letter to the Danish Health Minister is here - 

There is another Danish proverb -

It is too late to learn to swim when the water is up to your lips

Status Update 7th March 2014

No reply from the Danish Health Ministry, the Danish Health Minister or from Hammel Neurocenter.

Related Links

1.            Dansk ME Forening
2.            Hammel Neurocenter Denmark

Further Reading

1.            PACE Trial Observations
2.            Diane's Story - Lili
3.            NICE - A Poverty of Reason
4.            Dansk ME Forening
5.            The Right Stuff

Support ME Awareness - Invest in ME

Although now dead, the Cholesterolosaurus will march on

By Dr Malcolm Kendrick

A meta-analysis including 530,525 people, partly funded by the British Heart Foundation, and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine has just come to this conclusion:
Conclusion: Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats.

To read the full article, click here.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

My Grace Is Sufficient For Thee


C H Spurgeon’s Morning Devotional for 4th March

"My grace is sufficient for thee."

2 Corinthians 12:9

If none of God's saints were poor and tried, we should not know half so well the consolations of divine grace. When we find the wanderer who has not where to lay his head, who yet can say, "Still will I trust in the Lord," or when we see the pauper starving on bread and water, who still glories in Jesus; when we see the bereaved widow overwhelmed in affliction, and yet having faith in Christ, oh! what honour it reflects on the gospel. God's grace is illustrated and magnified in the poverty and trials of believers. Saints bear up under every discouragement, believing that all things work together for their good, and that out of apparent evils a real blessing shall ultimately spring-that their God will either work a deliverance for them speedily, or most assuredly support them in the trouble, as long as He is pleased to keep them in it. This patience of the saints proves the power of divine grace. There is a lighthouse out at sea: it is a calm night-I cannot tell whether the edifice is firm; the tempest must rage about it, and then I shall know whether it will stand. So with the Spirit's work: if it were not on many occasions surrounded with tempestuous waters, we should not know that it was true and strong; if the winds did not blow upon it, we should not know how firm and secure it was. The master-works of God are those men who stand in the midst of difficulties, stedfast, unmoveable,-

"Calm mid the bewildering cry,
Confident of victory."

He who would glorify his God must set his account upon meeting with many trials. No man can be illustrious before the Lord unless his conflicts be many. If then, yours be a much-tried path, rejoice in it, because you will the better show forth the all-sufficient grace of God. As for His failing you, never dream of it-hate the thought. The God who has been sufficient until now, should be trusted to the end.

Video’s of the Bristol ME/CFS evening held on the 5th February are now available to watch online -

Prof Mark VanNess – “A Realistic Approach to Exercise and Rehabilitation in ME/CFS” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_cnva7zyKM 

Dr Nigel Speight – “Paediatric ME/CFS” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=208JacsB5kM

Erina Bowman – “Establishing a Biobank for Biomedical Research on ME/CFS: The UK ME/CFS Biobank" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIQpBDgFZNw

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Is ME fatal? A different perspective

As someone currently receiving hospice care due solely to the effects of ME, it irks me when people claim ME is not a fatal disease. Many, many ME-related deaths have shown that, at the very least, this disease can be fatal. I’ve seen people throw around a statistic which claims the death rate for this disease is 3%. What they don’t realize is most ME experts agree this number is grossly underestimated. Let me explain why.

ME is most similar in nature to another neurological illness, Multiple Sclerosis. Like MS, most ME experts agree there are certain subtypes which exist within the same illness name. The most commonly suggested categories (and those I personally see) are stable (illness remains the same or improves slightly with careful energy planning), relapsing/remitting (illness cycles through better and worse phases), and progressive/deteriorating (illness consistently deteriorates over time, regardless of planning and treatment). Of these three, the second category, relapsing/remitting, seems most common, while the last, progressive/deteriorating, is least frequently seen. Short of a miracle, no one ever fully recovers from ME.If you hear someone who claims to have had ME and is now functioning at 100% normal again, chances are extremely high they never had ME to begin with. Unfortunately, due to the high level of mis-education about this disease, thousands and thousands of people diagnosed with CFS believe they have ME when what they truly have is something completely different. Read my post on ME vs CFS for more on that.  

That said, anyone who spends any significant amount of time studying the true nature of this illness will see the tremendous amount of damage it does to multiple body systems. It makes sense that this damage would have a shortening effect on most ME patients’ lives. For example, Dr. Elizabeth Dowsett says of ME patients, “20% have progressive and frequently undiagnosed degeneration of cardiac muscle which has led to sudden death following exercise.” Dr. Dowsett goes on to explain that the vast majority of these deaths are recorded as general heart failure rather than being officially linked to ME.

Herein lies the problem. Education and general knowledge of ME are so uncommon that for most of us, cause of death will be recorded as a secondary condition, even if that condition wouldn’t have developed without ME. This brings to mind another illness where sufferers nearly always die of secondary conditions: AIDS. People with AIDS generally die of secondary infections which their bodies are unable to fight off due to the effect of the AIDS virus on their system. Yet everyone knows AIDS is a terminal condition. We don’t deny its severity or its life-ending effect just because the final straw is nearly always a secondary condition. The same should be understood about ME.

ME is extremely hard on the body. One survey found people with ME most often die of heart failure, but we die from it on average over 20 years earlier than people without ME who die of heart failure. Cancer is another frequent killer of ME patients, but again, we tend to die from it decades earlier than non-ME cancer patients. Again, this makes sense, taking into account the strain ME places on nearly every body system, including our organs. It’s time for the world to wake up and realize the seriousness of this disease, but how can we expect others to recognize these facts if we ourselves refuse to face up to them?

Not everyone with this disease will die as a direct result of it. Other things can happen. But it is unrealistic and goes against what information we do have to believe that the tremendous strain placed on our bodies by this level of ongoing illness will have no effect whatsoever on the length of life we are allowed. Smoking shortens life. Overeating shortens life. Cancer and AIDS and kidney failure shorten life, despite allowing a much higher overall quality of life than ME. It only makes sense that ME shortens life as well, for some more than others. As someone whom doctors agree is currently dying from this disease, I beg you, don’t minimize its effects when speaking to the public. Don’t ignore people like me. Don’t let our deaths be in vain. Spread the word – ME does kill.