Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Morning Prayer - September 2

The Martyrs of Papua New Guinea, 1901 and 1942

Psalm 87
His foundation is on the holy mountains. The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.

Glorious things are spoken of you, Zion, city of our God. I record Egypt and Babylon as those who know me; behold Philistia, Tyre and Ethiopia: in Zion were they born. And of Zion it shall be said, ‘Each one was born in her, and the Most High himself has established her.’

The Lord will record as he writes up the peoples, ‘This one also was born there.’ And as they dance they shall sing, ‘All my fresh springs are in you.’

Psalm 89.1-18
My song shall be always of the loving-kindness of the Lord: with my mouth will I proclaim your faithfulness throughout all generations. I will declare that your love is established for ever; you have set your faithfulness as firm as the heavens. For you said: ‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn an oath to David my servant: ‘ “Your seed will I establish for ever •
and build up your throne for all generations.” ’

The heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, and your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones; For who among the clouds can be compared to the Lord? Who is like the Lord among the host of heaven? A God feared in the council of the holy ones, great and terrible above all those round about him. Who is like you, Lord God of hosts? Mighty Lord, your faithfulness is all around you. You rule the raging of the sea; you still its waves when they arise. You crushed Rahab with a deadly wound and scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.

Yours are the heavens; the earth also is yours; you established the world and all that fills it. You created the north and the south; Tabor and Hermon rejoice in your name. You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand and high is your right hand. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before your face.

Happy are the people who know the shout of triumph: they walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance. In your name they rejoice all the day long and are exalted in your righteousness. For you are the glory of their strength, and in your favour you lift up our heads. Truly the Lord is our shield; the Holy One of Israel is our king.

2 Samuel 5.1-12
Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, ‘Look, we are your bone and flesh. For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The Lord said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.’ So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for forty years. At Hebron he reigned over Judah for seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years.
The king and his men marched to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, ‘You will not come in here, even the blind and the lame will turn you back’—thinking, ‘David cannot come in here.’ Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, which is now the city of David. David had said on that day, ‘Whoever wishes to strike down the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack the lame and the blind, those whom David hates.’ Therefore it is said, ‘The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.’ David occupied the stronghold, and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inwards. And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.

King Hiram of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with cedar trees, and carpenters and masons who built David a house. David then perceived that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.

Acts 7.1-16
Then the high priest asked him, ‘Are these things so?’ And Stephen replied:

‘Brothers and fathers, listen to me. The God of glory appeared to our ancestor Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, “Leave your country and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you.” Then he left the country of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After his father died, God had him move from there to this country in which you are now living. He did not give him any of it as a heritage, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as his possession and to his descendants after him, even though he had no child. And God spoke in these terms, that his descendants would be resident aliens in a country belonging to others, who would enslave them and maltreat them for four hundred years. “But I will judge the nation that they serve,” said God, “and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.” Then he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.

‘The patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him, and rescued him from all his afflictions, and enabled him to win favour and to show wisdom when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. Now there came a famine throughout Egypt and Canaan, and great suffering, and our ancestors could find no food. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our ancestors there on their first visit. On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. Then Joseph sent and invited his father Jacob and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five in all; so Jacob went down to Egypt. He himself died there as well as our ancestors, and their bodies were brought back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.

The Collect
O God, you declare your almighty power most chiefly in showing mercy and pity:
mercifully grant to us such a measure of your grace,
that we, running the way of your commandments,
may receive your gracious promises,
and be made partakers of your heavenly treasure;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Blue Sky Thinking - Almost Saved!

Now this is a totally accurate piece of thinking:

Yep - you're either in or out: The choice is yours and yours alone ;-)

Those who died on active service - 2013

Please spare a moment to pray for the families, friends and comrades of those whose names have been added and are today commemorated on the walls of the National Memorial Arboretum's  (NMA) 'Armed Force's Memorial' (AFM).

Having commended them to God's grace, love care and mercy we remember them with pride and, mourning their loss, look to the day when the words of Micah 4,

'God will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore,'

Come to pass.

Those who died on active service* commemorated today are:

Richard Walker 
David Shaw 
Nicholas Guya 
Jamie Webb 
Samuel Flint 
Robert Hetherington 
William Savage 
Lee Rigby 
Edward Maher 
Craig Roberts 
James Dunsby 
Michael Ihemere 
James Brynin 
Ian Fisher 
Richard Holloway 

Frances Capps 

Rimon Than

* the names are listed in order of the date that they died.

Israel - Not the best at marketing!

This morning BBC news reports are telling us that Israel are to take some 400 hectares (almost 1,000 acres) of Palestinian land near to Bethlehem. Having had a quick look I find the following:

The official statement
"On the instructions of the political echelon... 4,000 dunams at (the settlement of) Gevaot is declared as state land," the army department charged with administering civil affairs in occupied territory said, adding that concerned parties have 45 days to appeal."

The expansionist statement
The Etzion settlements council welcomed this expansion of the current Gevaot settlement as it:
"Paves the way for the new city of Gevaot."

The response from the US State Department:
 "Counterproductive to Israel's stated goal of a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians".

The response from Abbas:
This 'land grab' will “lead to more instability” and “inflame the situation after the war in Gaza."

Expected response from Palestinians:

The Bible assessment (Micah 2):
What sorrow awaits you who lie awake at night, thinking up evil plans.
You rise at dawn and hurry to carry them out, simply because you have the power to do so.
When you want a piece of land, you find a way to seize it.
When you want someone’s house, you take it by fraud and violence.
You cheat a man of his property, stealing his family’s inheritance.

But this is what the LORD says:
“I will reward your evil with evil; you won’t be able to pull your neck out of the noose.
  You will no longer walk around proudly, for it will be a terrible time.”

In that day your enemies will make fun of you by singing this song of despair about you:
“We are finished, completely ruined! God has confiscated our land, taking it from us.
  He has given our fields to those who betrayed us.”

Others will set your boundaries then, and the LORD’s people will have no say in how the land is divided.

For those of us who are Christians - pray for peace in Jerusalem and for right-thinking on the part of those who govern the nation state of Israel.


Morning Prayer - September 1

Giles of Provence, Hermit, c.710 

Psalm 80
Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, you that led Joseph like a flock; shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim, before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your mighty strength and come to our salvation.
Turn us again, O God; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry at your people’s prayer?
You feed them with the bread of tears; you give them abundance of tears to drink. You have made us the derision of our neighbours and our enemies laugh us to scorn.
Turn us again, O God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it. You made room around it, and when it had taken root, it filled the land. The hills were covered with its shadow and the cedars of God by its boughs. It stretched out its branches to the Sea and its tendrils to the River. Why then have you broken down its wall, so that all who pass by pluck off its grapes? The wild boar out of the wood tears it off, and all the insects of the field devour it.
Turn again, O God of hosts, look down from heaven and behold;

Cherish this vine which your right hand has planted, and the branch that you made so strong for yourself. Let those who burnt it with fire, who cut it down, perish at the rebuke of your countenance. Let your hand be upon the man at your right hand, the son of man you made so strong for yourself. And so will we not go back from you; give us life, and we shall call upon your name.
Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

Psalm 82
God has taken his stand in the council of heaven; in the midst of the gods he gives judgement:
‘How long will you judge unjustly and show such favour to the wicked?
‘You were to judge the weak and the orphan; defend the right of the humble and needy;
 ‘Rescue the weak and the poor; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
‘They have no knowledge or wisdom; they walk on still in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
‘Therefore I say that though you are gods and all of you children of the Most High,
‘Nevertheless, you shall die like mortals and fall like one of their princes.’
Arise, O God and judge the earth, for it is you that shall take all nations for your possession.

2 Samuel 3.12-end
Abner sent messengers to David at Hebron, saying, ‘To whom does the land belong? Make your covenant with me, and I will give you my support to bring all Israel over to you.’ He said, ‘Good; I will make a covenant with you. But one thing I require of you: you shall never appear in my presence unless you bring Saul’s daughter Michal when you come to see me.’ Then David sent messengers to Saul’s son Ishbaal, saying, ‘Give me my wife Michal, to whom I became engaged at the price of one hundred foreskins of the Philistines.’ Ishbaal sent and took her from her husband Paltiel the son of Laish. But her husband went with her, weeping as he walked behind her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, ‘Go back home!’ So he went back.

Abner sent word to the elders of Israel, saying, ‘For some time past you have been seeking David as king over you. Now then bring it about; for the Lord has promised David: Through my servant David I will save my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines, and from all their enemies.’ Abner also spoke directly to the Benjaminites; then Abner went to tell David at Hebron all that Israel and the whole house of Benjamin were ready to do.

When Abner came with twenty men to David at Hebron, David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him. Abner said to David, ‘Let me go and rally all Israel to my lord the king, in order that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may reign over all that your heart desires.’ So David dismissed Abner, and he went away in peace.

Just then the servants of David arrived with Joab from a raid, bringing much spoil with them. But Abner was not with David at Hebron, for David had dismissed him, and he had gone away in peace. When Joab and all the army that was with him came, it was told Joab, ‘Abner son of Ner came to the king, and he has dismissed him, and he has gone away in peace.’ Then Joab went to the king and said, ‘What have you done? Abner came to you; why did you dismiss him, so that he got away? You know that Abner son of Ner came to deceive you, and to learn your comings and goings and to learn all that you are doing.’

When Joab came out from David’s presence, he sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the cistern of Sirah; but David did not know about it. When Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gateway to speak with him privately, and there he stabbed him in the stomach. So he died for shedding the blood of Asahel, Joab’s brother. Afterwards, when David heard of it, he said, ‘I and my kingdom are for ever guiltless before the Lord for the blood of Abner son of Ner. May the guilt fall on the head of Joab, and on all his father’s house; and may the house of Joab never be without one who has a discharge, or who is leprous, or who holds a spindle, or who falls by the sword, or who lacks food!’ So Joab and his brother Abishai murdered Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.

Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, ‘Tear your clothes, and put on sackcloth, and mourn over Abner.’ And King David followed the bier. They buried Abner at Hebron. The king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept. The king lamented for Abner, saying,
‘Should Abner die as a fool dies?
 Your hands were not bound, your feet were not fettered; as one falls before the wicked you have fallen.’

And all the people wept over him again. Then all the people came to persuade David to eat something while it was still day; but David swore, saying, ‘So may God do to me, and more, if I taste bread or anything else before the sun goes down!’ All the people took notice of it, and it pleased them; just as everything the king did pleased all the people. So all the people and all Israel understood that day that the king had no part in the killing of Abner son of Ner. And the king said to his servants, ‘Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? Today I am powerless, even though anointed king; these men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too violent for me. The Lord pay back the one who does wickedly in accordance with his wickedness!’

Acts 6
Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait at tables. Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.’ What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they secretly instigated some men to say, ‘We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.’ They stirred up the people as well as the elders and the scribes; then they suddenly confronted him, seized him, and brought him before the council. They set up false witnesses who said, ‘This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses handed on to us.’ And all who sat in the council looked intently at him, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

The Collect
O God, you declare your almighty power most chiefly in showing mercy and pity: mercifully grant to us such a measure of your grace,
that we, running the way of your commandments,
may receive your gracious promises,
and be made partakers of your heavenly treasure;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Caption Contest - Magic Spray

We've seen Santi Cazorla sprayed, whatever next with the magic spray being used by the referees in the premier League? Here's a 'could happen?' moment for you to engage your humour with:

Can't make it to church - August 31

Today's Gospel reading takes us to a place we often talk about and yet rarely, like Peter, really want to go. Jesus is talking about His death and, as is often the case, the minute we start looking at the cost, we being to look elsewhere. Rather than look at the cost we merely focus on the benefits and claiming the benefits look to our rights whilst glancing anywhere other than at our responsibilities; and Jesus points to the fact that we really do live in a world where unless there is pain there is definitely no (eternal) gain!

Now this doesn't mean that being a Christian is something whereby pain is volunteered for, but when the need is before us, neither do we run away. When battle is engaged, we are resolute in our faith and the defence of it. Jesus sums it up rather nicely (but He would, wouldn't He?) when He says:
‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’

I recently met someone who was under the impression that they were 'God's gift to the Church' because they 'did stuff' and yet, although they did indeed 'do stuff' they were working on a human level and when it came to things of a spiritual nature had about as much understanding as the rubber ducks that grace my bookshelves (don't ask me why they're there - they were something people bought me a few years back) and that's a big problem with Church:

People are under the impression that 'doing = good Christian' and whilst we find (in the book of James - chapter two) the following cautionary words:

"What good is saying you have faith if it's not seen in your actions - do you think anyone is saved by it? You see someone with no food or clothing and say, 'Go well, be blessed,' but don't feed or clothe them. What use if your faith? The answer is, "None at all," because faith, without good works, it is impotent, dead and useless.

Some say, "You have faith and I have works." My response to that is: "But if you don't do good stuff how can you show your faith - I have faith and from this comes good stuff. Some say I believe in one God, which is great, but so too do the demons!" 

Faith and works are one and the same - they are inseparable; for from one comes the other and together we demonstrate the reality of our Christian belief. Then comes the coup de main as Jesus tells us:

"If you want to be a follower then you need to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me - Those who wish to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what profit is there if you gain EVERYTHING but lose your life? 

And this brings us rather conveniently back to the Gospel passage where the same words are to be found with the challenge it puts before us to put aside the things we want to do to please ourselves and to be willing to pay the price (as Jesus did on the cross) and follow Him (Jesus) on the path that may cost us everything in this life. Human things or divine things - It's our choice - nothing is forced upon us - and we are free to choose (I just wish sin was less attractive, don't you?).

The Collect for today is a great blessing:

God of glory, the end of our searching, help us to lay aside all that prevents us from seeking your kingdom, and to give all that we have to gain the pearl beyond all price, through our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Father God, come to us today and aid us in our daily life.
May we give without counting the cost,
Receive without feeling the shame of need,
Love without demanding reward
And bless because our faith demands that we act.
Be with us, heal, strengthen and bless us as we seek to take up our cross and follow Jesus, the Christ.

Matthew 16.21-28
From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’

Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

‘For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.’

Exodus 3.1-15
Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ He said further, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord said, ‘I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ He said, ‘I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.’

But Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you”, and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “I am has sent me to you.” ’ God also said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you”:
This is my name for ever, and this my title for all generations.

Psalm 105.1-6,23-26,45b
O give thanks to the Lord and call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him, sing praises, and tell of all his marvellous works. Rejoice in the praise of his holy name; let the hearts of them rejoice who seek the Lord. Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his face continually. Remember the marvels he has done, his wonders and the judgements of his mouth, O seed of Abraham his servant, O children of Jacob his chosen.

Then Israel came into Egypt; Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham. And the Lord made his people exceedingly fruitful; he made them too many for their adversaries, whose heart he turned, so that they hated his people and dealt craftily with his servants. Then sent he Moses his servant and Aaron whom he had chosen. That they might keep his statutes and faithfully observe his laws. Alleluia.

Romans 12.9-21
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Post Communion
Lord of all mercy,
we your faithful people have celebrated that one true sacrifice which takes away our sins and brings pardon and peace: by our communion keep us firm on the foundation of the gospel and preserve us from all sin; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

I'm confused Vic; they seem to think they're Christian

The title of this entry relates to something I've said regarding the Jehovah's Witnesses and the fact that I said I didn't think they were Christian, I received this challenging (and most excellent) comment:

'I'm confused Vic; they seem to think they are?'

Indeed they do, or at least they want others to think that they are, but using the name Jesus in a different context to that which is considered to be orthodox doesn't make you Christian and more than using Man U as a focus for ridicule makes you their supporter. But the 'Christian' claim adds, or at least attempts to add, some integrity and implicit value to a bunch of (albeit nice) people who are not, as I understand it actually Christian.

I used to have a number of friends who talked of the bloke who started the thing off some 150 years hence and was quite impressed by some of their stuff, it all started to go wrong when I read about him flooding 'miracle wheat' what wasn't- in fact it was a bit of a scam and, if I recall correctly, he was found guilty of being just a bit dodgy!

But let's no dwell in ad hominem but look at what they believe - and here it might help if we had a look at the Creed, for this is surely a benchmark document. Here we find that the Witnesses focus entirely on Jehovah (the name sort of gives it away) - just one God (without the other two persons of the Trinity) and I have a recollection somewhere that Jesus and the archangel Michael are viewed as being one and he same. I also recall a quite interesting conversation with a friend over the lack of a cross with Jesus (my witness friend called it a 'torture stake') because they deny it was the way Jesus died (so no crosses either).

Mind you, Christian bits aside, there is a great belief that the first 144,000 faithful Witnesses make it into heaven with Jesus (useful to include Him, helps to confirm the 'Christian' label) and after that, the rest end up on Earth doing the gardening (so that's a religion that would work for my Wife's Dad - Tony's Grandad)!

They tend to use The New World Translation (NWT) because it's a version that they translated from all the original texts; and yet oddly it is apparently at odd with the versions I have on my shelf in a number of places. I have always been most taken up with John 1 which tells me: 'In beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the God, and God was the Word.' But I find the NWT leads me to think that 'the Word was a god' and that's a big difference that supports the non-Trinitarian stance.

There's much that others point to regarding them (the Witnesses) but this (on both sides, the claims and the ridicule), stuff that is subsidiary and resides in the shadows behind the major errors - mind you they do think Jesus returned some hundred years back and this is why it's all gone Pete Tong since (was told that by a lovely bloke peddling magazines in Lichfield just after Easter - good to have no dogcollar some days!).

I guess I'll leave this short explanation as to the reasons I don't see Jehovah's Witnesses as Christian with a 'word from my sponsor' - remaining in John, this time in chapter 14:

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”
Jesus said to him,  “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.  How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves."

I hope this provides some explanation to your question.