Saturday, 17 September 2016

Meditations on The Sound of Music

Just saw "The Sound of Music" stageshow in Perth. Great show! Such a wonderful script. Beautiful music.
And it really is a wonderful story - interestingly, Captain Von Trapp and Maria, the two characters in the show who are willing to sacrifice their own happiness for the sake of others and for duty (duty towards God, in Maria's case, and towards country, in Captain Von Trapp's case) are the characters who find happiness in the end.
It's very profound and reminds me of Jesus' saying, "Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." (Matt 16:25)
Maria in particular goes through several small 'deaths' in the show, in each one she must endure a complete crushing of her hopes, first when the Mother Superior tells her she must leave the abbey, then later when she realises she is in love with Captain Von Trapp and makes the choice to leave, then even more excruciatingly when she returns to him and discovers that he is already engaged.
Then Captain Von Trapp must decide whether to become a Captain in the German Nazi navy, an offer that would bring material security to him and his family, but would necessitate a terrible compromise with his conscience if he accepted.
These sorts of moral decisions are the sort that really test our resolve - they are the sorts of decisions that make or break marriages, that form the foundation of a good career, or the start of a corrupt careers. And these sort of moral decisions make great stories, incidentally. Often such a decision is at the heart of every good story.
Most adults have had to face choices like this - it's the nature of life - it may not be as clear-cut as the choice between obeying the Nazi tyrants or resisting them - but we are still faced with the choice between compromising for the sake of material security or public opinion, or doing what is right and risking public disapproval or financial insecurity.
God have mercy on us all! The future promises only to bring more such difficult choices our way, particularly for Christians.
How can we be ready?
Repent of our past compromises and receive God's forgiveness.
And practice faithfulness to God in small things - for "He who is faithful in a little thing will be faithful in much."



Thursday, 15 September 2016

Post being revised!

That last post seemed a bit too incoherent, trying to cover too much ground perhaps? I'm revising it. Here's the Bible verse anyway: 

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
Ezekiel 36:25-27 

& this one....

You have come to God the judge of all men, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. 
Hebrews 12:23-24

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The greatest gift Wisdom can give

One of the greatest gifts divine wisdom can bestow is the understanding of where the limits of our understanding and our ability to control are.

There are many mysteries human understanding cannot penetrate. Death is one of them. No one can see past that veil (and though some claim to do so, there are very good reasons for believing they are either being tricked, fooled, or deceived, whether by a talented human manipulator or a spiritual agency.)

One of the most refreshing realisations comes when we begin to understand what we can control and what we cannot control. 

I suppose it is natural when young - i.e. in teens, early twenties - to believe that we should be able to run things much better than those older than we are, and this by controlling things better. But it is a refreshing moment, a moment of grace, really, when a person comes to the realisation that so many things really are out of our control. Nearly everything, really. Even our own selves, for who can guarantee they will feel the same about everything, even in half a day? People say one thing, then take it back, then say another.

I really believe this moment of understanding is a moment of divine opportunity, because while we still attempt to control others, ourselves, the world, even at a distance, we are shutting God out of the picture. But allowing freedom allows grace.

Trusting God means understanding that He is the one who is running things - trusting that He knows best, that He is in control, particularly of those things that we cannot see, which really is everything beyond what is immediately with us and around us.

And when Christians think of Jesus, we see a picture of God's character, what God is like, as a human being - the person most worthy of our trust, who ever lived.

Death, God, Tragedy and Life

The world is so full of sadness - that such tragedies can happen - people dying younger than we feel they should - cancer, illness, accidents - life is so short anyway - and that people end up in wheelchairs or unable to fulfil their dreams for so many other reasons - and the tragedy of unrequited love - one of the great inequities of this life, that someone should love another so tenderly and yet not find that love returned - a kind of death, a death of hope - every grief is a small death - yet even to die in old age is tragic, at every stage death seems like an interloper. Why should this be, that the world is like this?

Thinking of Christ on the cross - such a tragedy in its own way - that such a gentle, good, loving, kind man should end up dying like this - a man who preached a loving God, who did so much good in the world, a man who respected both rich and poor, who stood up for the downtrodden, a man who always lifted women up, brought them forwards, treated women like people, not like sex objects, in a patriarchal, male-dominated time.

That God should have to come and die like this - seems to fit in so well to this strange, sad world we live in. It seems an appropriate level of tragedy, in a strange, bent way, among all the tragedies, the greatest tragedy of them all, that God should have to become a human being and die as though he was one of his creatures, to save them all.

And the claim of resurrection - even stranger. But here's what the resurrection of Jesus suggests - that we should never despair - things might not be as bad as we think. There might even be a little light around the corner, a little hope. (Signs of hope already there - the light of a candle, the light of the stars in the darkest of nights. Light itself is such a potent symbol for hope.)

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Strange Thought about an apparent Non-Miracle

Here's the thing - I asked God for a sign that a certain person would marry me. He gave the sign, no doubt of it, it was an impossibility I asked for, an absolute absurdity that I couldn't have anticipated or predicted, certain words that this person said that were unprecedented. (In a certain way, shape or form it is all there in my last novel Steam Submarine, if you'd care to read it, though it all has its own disguise in that book.)

Now, at this moment in time, it seems completely impossible that this person would ever marry me, there is no communication, no relationship at all, complete hostility even, and the thought came to me, what better proof for the non-existence of God could anyone come up with? That someone would get a completely impossible sign, but then the anticipated event not materialise - i.e. looking at it rationally you would have to say either chance rules the Cosmos and the sign was simply a coincidence (very unlikely things do happen from time to time), or if there is a God who gave the sign, He can't see the future, i.e. God is not omniscient, in other words, the sign was a mistake on His part.

The thing is, though, even as this thought came to me I realised, I still believe in Jesus. I still believe in God. 

And the addendum to that fact is that I am sure He can do anything, even the impossible. And I still believe He is omniscient - God sees everything, the whole future included.

...the other possibility that God changed that destiny because of my sin...Seems scriptural

Stumbling Stone

"See, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and a rock of offense, and no one who believes in him will be disappointed." Romans 9:33, quoting Isaiah 28:16

This stone that causes people to stumble is Jesus - as Paul's letter to the Romans explains, when people try to save themselves in God's sight by following a whole lot of rules and regulations, they fail - but when we trust him instead - no one who puts their trust in Jesus will be disappointed.


Monday, 29 August 2016

Lyrics

I still love you just the same
My heart will always be true
Wherever you may be
Whether near or far from me
Can't stop my heart from still loving you

Like the sun and like the rain
An image of a truth more true
Love like this will still remain
Whether I lose or if I gain
Can't stop my heart from still loving you

There's nothing I can do to make you stay
There's nothing I can do to stop you going away
Whether you bring me pleasure or bring me pain
This promise that I've made will still remain
Will still be true
Can't stop my heart from still loving you

Whatever consequences come what may
This will still be true
You can push me away
I will still want you to stay
I'll still want you to come back one day
Can't stop my heart from still loving you

A love song like they used to write in the 1930s perhaps. 

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Koran vs Bible

A fantastic debate between a Christian scholar and a Moslem scholar about the respective merits of the two books:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWHV9VnOJtc

The Christian scholar is Jay Smith. He is one of a group of scholars who have been examining Islamic claims about the Koran and Islamic claims about history, from an archeological and text-critical point of view (much as has been done to the Bible in the last 300 years, questions which have now been answered). There are apparently six early manuscripts available of the Koran, none of them from before 700AD (Mohammed died in 632). They all disagree (i.e. the claim that the Koran is historically unchanging is false). Also, no evidence of Mohammed's existence before 692, in any Arabic writings at all, nor in any foreign writings.

His website examining these issues:

http://www.pfander.uk

A great podcast interview:

http://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Episodes/Unbelievable-Challenging-Muslims-with-the-Gospel-Jay-Smith-Beth-Grove

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Scientific method, the appeal to authority, global warming

The important thing is to look at evidence - to believe that consensus among scientists is important or that qualifications matter at all - is irrelevant - these are just an appeal to authority - a well known logical fallacy. (In the past scientific consensus believed Phrenology, that humans have 24 pairs of chromosomes, that stomach ulcers were caused by stress not bacteria, and plenty of other non facts)

What is very clear is that none of the people in the following excerpt except for One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts have actually looked at the evidence against the global warming hypothesis, which is damning actually, if you ever bother to look into it yourself.

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/08/16/climate-clash-aussie-senator-malcolm-roberts-owns-tv-physicist-brian-cox/

Again, all the people except Malcolm Roberts are arguing ad hominem, consensus, appeal to authority - Brian Cox places computer models above the scientific method, which he clearly does not understand.  This is a summary if anyone wants to look into it:

Make a hypothesis - make a prediction that can be tested using real data - if the prediction is accurate you have a theory - if it is not you have nothing so go back to the drawing board. 

The IPCC models have all failed by the test of the scientific method.

Below is a link to Brian Cox's hero Richard Feynman on the scientific method. Everyone should watch this! So much junk science would be ridiculed by third graders if the scientific method was general knowledge, and if people stopped appealing to authority, consensus, and started looking at data and facts and whether a hypothesis has been proven to be correct, via an accurate prediction:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYPapE-3FRw

And BTW some of the very Astronauts who went to the moon are the most critical of NASA's data record with respect to global warming.

http://joannenova.com.au/2016/08/brian-cox-thinks-17000-employees-at-nasa-always-produce-perfect-graphs-nasa-employees-disagree-who-to-believe/

http://www.cfact.org/2013/08/07/walt-cunningham-restore-climate-science-integrity-please/

"For want of understanding my people perish." Hosea 4:6



Risen - the Movie, on iTunes now

Been away from blogging for a while, other things have taken me away. But back again now, although I don't think I'll be blogging so frequently.

Just watched "Risen" the Joseph Fiennes movie about Jesus' resurrection, being investigated by a Roman Tribune. Really wonderful movie! Really captured what it must have been like.

It's on iTunes, DVD, etc etc. Here's the iTunes link:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/risen/id1079613281

Whether or not you believe in Jesus I think you would enjoy it.


Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Ancient Law Codes, the Bible, and Hillary Clinton.

FBI director James Corney said that he would not recommend criminal charges to the Department of Justice in the case because “no reasonable prosecutor” would take up the case, despite finding that Clinton and her aides were “extremely careless” by sending hundreds of classified messages over multiple, unsecured private email servers. Now it might seem that being careless could not be a crime but it actually is under US law: one of the laws that Hillary Clinton has clearly broken is 18 U.S. Code § 793 section f - Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information, and it is interesting to note that in this legislation gross negligence is grounds for a jail sentence of up to ten years, something the ABC reporter who reported on this press conference this morning clearly had no clue about, and hadn't researched.

It seems to me that this claim by James Corney that "no reasonable prosecutor" would take up the Clinton case stinks of the kind of unfairness often practised by the global elite these days in the US, the Princeton, Harvard, Yale graduates. If you're "one of us" then obviously you're a good person and shouldn't therefore be hauled into court or (god forbid!) go to prison, no matter what you've done.

This brings to mind an interesting fact: in the ancient law codes of the Near East there were at least two (see the Hittite code) and often three sets of penalties for many crimes (see the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi), including such crimes as murder and theft. In the code of Hammurabi, if you were one of the elite, you would be fined a certain amount of money. If you were a free person, but not one of the elite, you would be fined more. If you were a slave and convicted of such a crime, the penalty was death. They practised this kind of unfairness quite shamelessly, writing it into their law codes without any sense that it was wrong or unjust - I think this shows how human nature is corrupt, without divine guidance - and people tended towards corruption, the further they got from God.

The distinct thing about the legal code of Israel, in the Bible in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, is that there was only one legal code and it applied to everyone from the least slave to the king. Unlike many nations' legal systems, the king was not outside of the law, but subject to it. The utter distinctness of this legal system among all the nations of the world in that ancient time really does bear witness to the divine origin of the Old Testament.

From an Australian point of view everyone here would prefer to see Hillary Clinton in the US President's office, rather than Trump. But this excusing of Clinton's misdeeds (which even if unintentional, which is hard to believe, were still criminal) simply reminds me of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 when all the main agents of that disaster, big bankers and investors, were not charged with anything, only one or two were imprisoned, and the big global banks were also allowed to keep worthless derivatives on their books, a fact which still distorts valuations of the banks' assets. If you are "one of us" then you're not a criminal, no matter what you've done, no matter how many millions or billions you've embezzled, defrauded, wasted. Meanwhile someone who shoplifts a can of beans can go to prison for years.

The political class in Australia is getting more distant from the common person - this was one of the messages of the voters in our recent election (the outcome of which still hasn't been resolved) - indeed, the same disease of the unaccountability of the elite is seen here at times as well, though it is perhaps less developed than in the US, perhaps because of the Australian character, which tends to want to chop down tall poppies. But this unaccountability of the elite is becoming one of the diseases of the Western World and I think explains Brexit quite well.

Of course, this response by the FBI director plays right into Trump's hands, as the one thing Donald Trump is counting on to get elected is the perception that he himself is not one of the 'elite' - he is an outsider - a maverick - despite the fact that he is clearly entrenched in money and power and privilege. Strangely, James Corney's attempts to excuse Hillary Clinton might well be very bad for her and for America and the world, far worse than a prosecution might have been, from which she might have escaped unscathed.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

There is a way back to God- even for such a person as this.

There is a way back to God...! 

It would be easy to think one of the worst things a person could ever do would be to abandon Christ and accept a different gospel, a non-gospel, and in doing so, accept a different spirit from the Holy Spirit. It would be easy to think that such a person could never be saved.

But in 2 Corinthians 11v4 St Paul is appealing to the Corinthians to return to the gospel he preached and says this:

"For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough."

The reason Paul wrote this letter is to appeal to the Corinthians to return to God and the true gospel. 

It is very interesting to reflect that even after receiving a different gospel, there is a way back to God. Even after receiving a different spirit from the Holy Spirit, there is a way back!

Here is the passage (2 Corinth 13:8-9) where Paul tells the Corinthians why he wrote the letter:

"...our prayer is that you may be fully restored. This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down. Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you."

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

A Message

To my estranged Christian sister,

You and your family are always welcome at my table and in my home. You may think I would hold a grudge against you for what you did to me or tried to do to me, but that is not the case. All you have to do is reach out to me and I would accept you again.

You have to realise my friendship was never conditional on anything you did, anything you were or are, or anything you thought or believed about yourself. You never had to marry me or even love me in that way in the least, I never made any such thing a condition of my friendship. Whatever wishes or dreams or crazy thoughts I had, I submitted them to your needs completely then and would do so again at the drop of a hat.

My hand is held out to you and your family. You can always contact me if you want to. It's up to you.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~




Monday, 13 June 2016

Pulse Nightclub shooting

The Pulse nightclub shooting is terrible.

Our sympathy needs to go to the families of the people killed, and we should pray for those wounded in hospital.

Some surrounding facts - if this casts any light on this terrible act, I do not know. At the least it was an outrageous act of hypocrisy, or perhaps misdirected anger by the gunman at former abuse.

For it seems Seddique Mateen, the father of the Orlando nightclub gunman, Omar Mateen, runs a TV show on a Californian TV channel called Payam-e-Afghan that supports the Afghan Taliban, who are ruled by the Pashtun ethnic group. Callers into the show regularly espouse support for Pashtun domination over the other ethnic minorities in Afghanistan. Payam-e-Afghan espouses sympathy for the Taliban and criticizes US actions in Afghanistan too. The name of the show references the disputed border with Pakistan. Seddique Mateen, it seems, was a dedicated cultural Pashtun.

And amongst the Pashtun, child abuse of boys by older men is a rampant cultural custom, here is an article - the US Military when they moved in were horrified by this behaviour once they discovered what was going on. Apparently for these strict Taliban men women are so unapproachable (they have the full body burqa in Afghanistan) that their culture has developed an institutionalised form of child abuse of boys instead.

Members of the army wondered why they were protecting a group that practiced such an abhorrent custom.

http://allyourwavesandbreakers.blogspot.com.au/2016/06/pulse-nightclub-shooting-context.html

Addendum: Apparently Seddique told NBC news on Sunday that religion had nothing to do with the shooting, and offered another possible motive: in Miami a few months before his son had become enraged when two men kissed in front of his own young son.  (same link) All these facts together suggest a possible interpretation of his motives, and one hopes journalists and investigators in the US look further into the background here. Some of my questions - surely a TV show supporting the enemies of US shouldn't be allowed? It is treachery and used to be an offence punishable by death in most Western countries. And did the Pashtun bring their abhorrent customs with them to the US?

Also - Apparently when the Taliban came to power they put a stop to the practice of child abuseSuch is the complexity of real events... Seddique supports the Taliban, who tried to enforce a ban on homosexuality in Afghanistan including the rampant abuse of boys, something clearly wrong. His son then goes and shoots up a gay night-club - was he influenced by Seddique's views? You can imagine what he grew up hearing his father saying about the West...

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Why God loves us

God loves us, not for any attribute we possess, but for no reason except for the fact that He is love (agapé, Greek word, meaning God's love).

He does not love me because I possess goodness (without Him I have no goodness), or because I am good looking or stylish (what need does God have for style or appreciation for good looks, apart from the fact that all outward features come from Him and glorify Him?) or because I have made the right religious sacrifices (what need does God have for us to do anything for Him, when everything we have comes from Him?).

He does not love me because I am male or female or an author or a musician or a policeman or a charitable person or a schoolteacher or a labourer or a poor person or rich or kindhearted or honest or sober or congenial and sociable or practice tough love or look after stray cats or look after stray people or have any other attribute.

If God loved us for any attribute of ours, he would not be loving us, but the attribute. But the glory of God's grace is that he loved us while we were still far off and sent His son to bring us home. While we were still sinners, Jesus died for us, while we were still enemies of God, he reconciled us to the Father, with the whole of creation.

This kind of love is what he wants us to love our sisters and brothers with.

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."...John 4:10

  "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
  We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen." John 4:16-20








Pensive Thoughts

The Christian church has two venerable traditions of theology:

1) God is love but I'll be able to get away with it even though I know I'm doing the wrong thing.
2) You're all sinners but I'm not because I'm doing the right thing but the rest of you are going to roast in hell.

But the real aim of life is to come to know God as He is in Himself.

~~~~

I once thought you could only "see" the Kingdom of God when you die. But the Kingdom of God can be seen now and operates in this world.

~~~

Everyone wants others to do the same vices as they do. Thieves want others to be thieves. Drug addicts or users want others to take drugs. Drunkards want everyone to drink. Corrupt officials try to corrupt others. People who use prostitutes want their friends to come along with them. Christians are not the only ones who evangelise.

~~~

We all feel incomplete, broken, messed up. Everyone hides it, so everyone thinks everyone else has it together much more than they do. This brokenness is the effect of the fall, the effect of human sin, we all share in it, we are in the same boat. Like a sect, the LGBT* movement want to convince people that they feel this way because they are not expressing their (supposedly latent) sexuality - but in the end, sexual 'freedom' only enslaves people more certainly in their messed up, broken lives.

*I don't include Intersex here because it is a different issue

~~~

The brokenness of humans is convenient for psychologists because it gives them an income.

source:
http://allyourwavesandbreakers.blogspot.com.au

Friday, 10 June 2016

Joy in heaven

...there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.Luke 15:7

Thursday, 2 June 2016

The Song of Wisdom

Yahweh acquired me
Beginning of his way
First of all his works

In Eternity
He anointed me
First before the earth
Abyss had not been born
Nor deep the water springs

Before mountains were set
Not quite when hills were born
When earth had not been made
Beyond the world’s dust

When he established skies, I was inscribing
A circle on the face of the deep
The mighty clouds above the sky
The mighty deep’s eye
The statute set to limit the sea
And when the earth was founded, I
Mouthed the decree

I was beside the Maker
Delighting, in that day,
That day I was at play
Before all time, at play

Before world, earth,

Delighting in the sons of men*!

Proverbs 8:22-31

*I had Son of Man originally. Elementary translation mistake. Problem with trying to translate/paraphrase from Hebrew - my Greek is okay, Hebrew not so. I will be perhaps revising this some more...! 

**BTW - wisdom, in Proverbs, is personified as female. 

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Jesus is the Answer

I was walking the dog just now, thinking about my life. I know a few things about myself: I'm not that stable in myself. I'm prone to flights of imagination, capable of deluding myself into thinking I'm experiencing things I'm not really, sometimes paranoid about other people, can get obsessively worried about things that don't matter, make stupid decisions, generally make mistakes quite often, forget God, forget myself, do things to try to impress people, my faith is small and fails often, and that's just for starters.

Then I was thinking about relationships. I'm not married.

Possibly I could find someone, get married, and start a new life - except it wouldn't be a new life really. Perhaps that person might truly be an enviably beautiful woman, gentle, kind, with every virtue (like someone I just met, who apparently appears to be single, but I'm sure she would certainly never be interested in me) but if I'm the person I often am, I wouldn't find fulfilment in that. You see, it would be like having everything right on the outside - comfort, security, apparent fulfilment, but nothing would be right on the inside. Who could even enjoy comfort if they know they're wrong on the inside? 

And I was wondering, what if I get it wrong and marry the wrong one? Even if I married a perfectly beautiful wonderful woman, if she wasn't the one God wanted me to marry, where would I be? Even if she was a true Christian, fully devoted to the Lord, if that particular marriage was something God didn't want, it would turn out wrong...

And what if she is really the right one, i.e. estranged Christian sister, and then I marry someone else? Yes, if it's the one God wants me to marry, whoever that might be, then it would be better, surely. But even if it's the most wonderful and perfect match, but if I'm all wrong on the inside, who can help me? Even with the one God wants me to marry I will be unable to find satisfaction. I would not be able to find peace.

I thought to myself, "I know my life is a mess, my head is a mess, I can barely get my head around any of this."

Then I started praying inwardly, "Jesus, save me!" But then the thought came to me,  Jesus has already saved me by dying on the cross. It's already accomplished, complete, sealed, done. What comfort filled me then. It's not something I need to worry about - the satisfaction I'm looking for is not found in any place external except for there. In Jesus. All peace is found in Him.

Women's Revenge Fantasies

I have something to do with an amateur production of "Bad Girls" at the moment, which is a musical about women in prison, and is essentially a revenge fantasy (a common form in drama - Hamlet is a good example). In terms of what is depicted on stage, it's no worse than "Wicked" (which I thought was actually a pretty good show) but there are other elements of "Bad Girls" that are quite disturbing actually.

It's essentially a story about a group of prisoners in a women's prison who take revenge on a male prison guard, an extremely creepy character who rapes the prisoners quite routinely, so his death is certainly deserved. The raping is not depicted onstage, but as the show goes on it becomes clear through what he says and sings that this is the case (all euphemistically) At the end of Act One, one of the girls he has raped commits suicide and the women riot. In Act Two, they take their revenge on him in a fairly dramatic way.

I was laying awake tonight thinking about the show, should I have become involved? Many of the characters have very few redeeming qualities, and the basic plotline is about revenge, overall it is quite disturbing.

Anyway, I was reading my Bible thinking about it all and looking for some guidance and stumbled across the victory song of Deborah. It is about the victory over Sisera.

Sisera's demise was rather bloody (a woman, Jael, hammers a tent peg into his temple) and certainly more dramatic and gruesome than the demise of the prison guard in "Bad Girls."

Sisera was a pagan enemy of Israel mentioned in Judges 4-5, who troubled Israel for 20 years in a very determined way, so his death was certainly deserved too. The prophetess Deborah was leading Israel at that time, and convinced the commander Barak that Yahweh wanted him to lead the army against Sisera. With Yahweh's help they routed Sisera's army and he fled on foot to the family of Heber the Kenite. Jael was Heber's wife, and she gave him milk to drink then hammered the tent peg into his temple while he slept, exhausted.

The song of Deborah contains the memorable line, "From the heavens the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera", which some people say is referring to astrology, which (they say) failed Sisera at this point, but the line really isn't explained in the text and could also simply mean the angels were on the side of Israel, or the weather.

And there is also a very memorable image at the end of Deborah's song, "Through the window peered Sisera's mother, behind the lattice she cried out, 'Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why is the clatter of his chariots delayed?'" Sisera's mother's wisest servant tells her, "Are they not finding and dividing the spoils?"

And there is such a strange and sad resonance in this little Bible verse, for me, at the moment, because I just found out last week that a friend's son died, after a road rage incident he was involved in a few weeks before. My friend (in her mid-eighties) was in just that situation of Sisera's mother, waiting for her son's car to return home, for a week, before she finally found that he had died when the police found his body and came and told her. He was fifty, and quite a troubled soul. The road rage incident was in the news, not widely reported, however, but involved the police because of a high degree of violence.

I cooked my friend breakfast on Sunday and her daughter tells me I managed to cheer her up, which is good, and we prayed together. She is a Jewish lady who believes in Jesus as Messiah, and over the years has been one of my best friends and someone I've worked with. But when her son moved into her house after his divorce, he cut her off from friends and family and basically lived off her resources, and for the past four years I have only seen her three or four times because of his hostility, not only towards me, but towards everyone.

Perhaps it is a relief for her in some ways that he is gone - but his mother grieves for him greatly and only hopes he is in a better place. Reminds me of King David when Absalom was killed in the midst of his rebellion - "But what of the young man Absalom - is he alright? Did he survive?" There was Absalom who had troubled him greatly, and yet he was all David could think of.

So many things in life are more complex than we would like to think. Sometimes it is hard to divide between good and evil, and we have to be content believing in the mercy and compassion of God in the middle of the mess.

And I'm still not sure about this show - how confronting will the director make it? Is it going to be something I'm not happy being part of? How bad is it really? (Hard to tell from the music alone)

Pray for my friend, dear readers, who is grieving her lost son, and her family, and pray for everyone involved in this show, "Bad Girls," including me.

& I wonder, perhaps, if I'm not worthy of your prayers. But who among us is? Please pray for me, that Jesus shows himself to me, and through me, and that I can be faithful to His word.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

11-22-63

The TV series based on the Stephen King book, 11-22-63, about the Kennedy Assassination 22nd November 1963, is, strangely enough, a beautifully romantic tale about what love really means, as well as a great adventure/thriller about trying to prevent one of the more horrible events of the 20th century.

The premise of the story is stated in the first five minutes or so. Al Templeton, owner of a local diner, tells history teacher Jake Epping to go into the wardrobe in his diner. Jake resists at first, but Al's friendship is enough to convince him to go in.

Jake discovers that there is a time portal inside the wardrobe that goes back in time to 1960. He returns and Al tells him that he has been trying to prevent the Kennedy Assassination, but that he's out of time and he needs Jake to take over.

Armed with a book full of sporting stats that in 1960 haven't happened yet, a fake identity, and a few other objects that are going to prove useful as well as a list of facts about the Kennedy Assassination, Jake goes back in time to prevent it from happening.

In order not to spoil the story for you I won't tell you what happened after that! But it is a brilliant, logical story in so many ways.

But the 1960s are realised really wonderfully, the scenery I presume with the aid of computer graphics and some live sets, but it is all very seamless. And the acting and the dialogue combine to give what seemed to me to be a very realistic portrait of that era in America.

As you may already know, the 22nd of November 1963 was not only the day Kennedy was assassinated, but the day CS Lewis and Aldous Huxley died as well, strangely enough. And so I thought it was interesting that Stephen King had his character go backwards in time through what was essentially a wardrobe, although perhaps it's identified as a broom cupboard in the story. Is this a small homage to CS Lewis? Who knows; it really doesn't matter anyhow. Just thought it was interesting, that's all.



Monday, 23 May 2016

Jesus shall save his people from their sins

This great sermon by the African American preacher D J Ward, mentioned in John Yates' article (link at the bottom):
https://vimeo.com/163252033 

The description of the video: "The death of Christ was an accomplishment, and our works cannot add to Christ's death. In this video, Elder D.J. Ward, the late pastor of Main Street Baptist Church in Lexington, K.Y., powerfully reminds us of the sufficiency of Christ's death for all who turn to him in repentance and faith."



And John Yates' recent reflections on it: 
Promise

I read somewhere that there is little difference between the pagan clutching at idols and people who rely on religion or conscience or good deeds to save them - Jesus' salvation is on a different order, it is not something we have to do, it is complete, He has done everything for us, we can rest in what He has accomplished. 

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Your own Bible verse, the name God gave you

I listened to a talk yesterday by a Christian man who works in Mongolia, helping people who are getting out of prison. There is no social security there, so when people get out of prison they have nowhere to go, no job, no accomodation. His organisation helps them with these things.

He happened to mention something interesting - that we should pay attention to how we became Christians.

For me, it was largely via reading. I read a vast number of books when I was at University, read my way through the library, in fact. Authors that helped me accept God in Christ - Corrie Ten Boom, C S Lewis, Plato (in some ways, though puzzling in others), St Augustine, Charles Dickens (even though he was a unitarian), G K Chesterton, William Barclay, Carl Sandburg's biography of Lincoln also was truly inspiring, Betty Pulkingham (Mustard seeds) and many other authors also. These are just the ones that come to mind immediately.

In his talk the man said we should pay attention to how we became Christians because it might tell us what our mission is, what the job is that God has for us to do. So for me it's books, partially - maybe for you it's the internet? Or friends? Or something else entirely. He found Chinese people were instrumental in bringing him to Christ, and realised God had something for him to do in China.

He also said, each of us has a bible verse that tells us something about ourselves. For me that would be the first few verses of Psalm 108. Anyone who knows me apart from this blog will understand what this bible verse tells about my life.

I would add to those two things: our names. Sometimes people are given their Christian names by their parents for a particular reason, and every name has a meaning. My real name is not Robert as you know - Robert Denethon is actually a name I dreamed was the author of books I was writing - so when I wished to avoid mixing up my writing and my teaching I used Robert Denethon. But my real name, not this pseudonym, tells me a lot about myself - it tells me that I am a real man (despite never particularly being into sports or fighting or any of the other trappings of masculinity).

What does your name mean? What is your Bible verse? How did you become a Christian - does that indicate your ministry?

I would add one more note. It is only with God's strength and grace that we can live out the destiny God has in store for us. Human effort alone, without Christ's salvation and help, will not be able to do it. It is only when we lay our lives down for Jesus, that we receive them back the way they are meant to be.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Born that way. Or not?

A thought - if gay people were 'born that way', how come transgender people weren't?

C.S.Lewis once said, 'just because someone sincerely thinks of themselves and deeply believes they are a poached egg, doesn’t make them a poached egg.'

So what does make a poached egg? A cook, usually. But that has absolutely nothing to do with our present digestion.

Intersex people, whose physical/genetic identity is neither gender exclusively, need to choose which gender to identify with. But for the rest of us, how can gender be optional, when it's written into our genes and our physical bodies? (This is a rhetorical question?) To me it is kind of a comforting thought, to think that God wants the inner and the outer person to line up - anything else is an act.

Mind you, here I am writing this under a pseudonym...! So that makes a complete mockery of everything I'm saying about the inner and the outer lining up, because this whole identity is an act. Hmmm. Thought provoked. Stop thinking now before one becomes honest.

(Actually I'm in good company. C.S.Lewis once wrote a book too, under a pseudonym)

(Oh. And Kierkegaarde did much of his writing under pseudonyms. A lot of them.)

LIST OF KIERKEGAARDE'S PSEUDONYMS, at least, the most important, from Wikipedia: 
Victor Eremita, editor of Either/Or
A, writer of many articles in Either/Or
Judge William, author of rebuttals to A in Either/Or
Johannes de silentio, author of Fear and Trembling
Constantine Constantius, author of the first half of Repetition
Young Man, author of the second half of Repetition
Vigilius Haufniensis, author of The Concept of Anxiety
Nicolaus Notabene, author of Prefaces
Hilarius Bookbinder, editor of Stages on Life's Way
Johannes Climacus, author of Philosophical Fragments and Concluding Unscientific Postscript
Inter et Inter, author of The Crisis and a Crisis in the Life of an Actress
H.H., author of Two Minor Ethical-Religious Essays
Anti-Climacus, author of The Sickness Unto Death and Practice in Christianity

Kierkegaarde called this, 'indirect communication.'

These discussions about gender and identity remind me strangely of something quoted in the Wikipedia article that I just read that Kierkegaarde said:

A useless and perhaps futile conflict goes on often enough in the world, when the poor person says to the wealthy person, "Sure, it’s easy for you-you are free from worry about making a living." Would to God that the poor person would really understand how the Gospel is much more kindly disposed to him, is treating him equally and more lovingly. Truly, the Gospel does not let itself be deceived into taking sides with anyone against someone else, with someone who is wealthy against someone who is poor, or with someone who is poor against someone who is wealthy. Among individuals in the world, the conflict of disconnected comparison is frequently carried on about dependence and independence, about the happiness of being independent and the difficulty of being dependent. And yet, yet human language has not ever, and thought has not ever, invented a more beautiful symbol of independence than the poor bird of the air. And yet, yet no speech can be more curious than to say that it must be very bad and very heavy to be-light as the bird! To be dependent on one’s treasure-that is dependence and hard and heavy slavery; to be dependent on God, completely dependent-that is independence. Søren Kierkegaard, 1847 Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong p. 180-181

Thankyou Søren you are wise beyond your years. One might as well have a woman saying to a man, "Sure, it’s easy for you-you are free from worry, being one of the androcentric supremacist persecutors of innocent disadvantaged female perdaughters." She continues, "Well why worry about being in an inferiorist position - I think I'll just become a man, in fact I choose to be one now." And from that moment on he is happy and superior as all of us males are (not).

But life is not easy for any of us, for no one is quite truly independent, unless of course life becomes so difficult we have to start depending on God. As per quoth that Danish Kierkegaarde in that quote I just quoted, considering one's treasure is the gender one identifies with, or happens to be perchance:
To be dependent on one’s treasure-that is dependence and hard and heavy slavery; to be dependent on God, completely dependent-that is independence. 

By the way, an interesting discussion by Ben Witherington, whose post reminded me of that CS Lewis quote which I pilfered because it was in it:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2016/05/13/gender-identity-vs-personal-identity-what-is-it-and-who-decides

Postscript: Someone once said to me, "you shouldn't be dependent on medication. Be totally dependent on God." Well, I think sometimes dependence on God requires dependence on medication the Doctor provides, too. But to a much larger degree one should not really depend on one's identity - only one's identity in Christ. For we are who we are in Him, and we find who we are by being found by God, in Jesus.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Stronger and Greater.

As I was thinking about all this, the rise of Donald Trump (something most Australians find at least unsettling), the state of politics in my own country, and the lies being told in the name of environmentalism, etc, I started thinking about John F. Kennedy.
There's someone who was popular in Australia. My parents both remember what they were doing and  where they were the day he was shot, just as many Americans who lived through that era do.
There's a politician not afraid to say he was a Christian, or at least a Catholic, but whose Christianity was more about love and acknowledging Jesus than a whole lot of other considerations that seem to have clouded political expressions of Christianity today. And I thought about Jesus' words about the end times, "Such will be the spread of evil that many people's love will grow cold." I don't suppose we're quite at that point yet.
But the thought that came to mind was this - God's love is stronger and greater than all of these concerns of mine.

Trump & expediency

Trump is apparently not stable on any issue. Trump is clearly prepared to say whatever is expedient.

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/01/24/is-donald-trump-conservative-heres-the-rundown/

Looking back at history - it's one thing to have a politician like Churchill, who was also clearly a big liar, but whose career was in the military and public service, run a country - at least he was practiced at achieving things that have little to do with self-advancement.

One wonders with trepidation what Donald Trump might be like as President? Here is someone whose real opinions no one knows, whose real god up till now appears to have been personal advancement and money-making, someone who is clearly prepared to say nearly anything to get people's vote.

One wishes rationality was in evidence in political debate these days. It certainly isn't in Australia. Our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull appears to be just as willing to sacrifice truth and principles to political expediency as any politician. Meanwhile we've got Bill Shorten on the other side whose opinions on many issues are virtually indistinguishable from Turnbull's.

Re the environment - one wishes the sceptical side on climate change had a decent hearing in the media because it is very clear that dodgy things have been going on in climate science when one really looks into it. Which might actually be why the CSIRO has been cutting their climate measurement division, before it all comes out in public. But the real environmental issues - preservation of habitats - the massive cutting down of forests in places like Indonesia - poaching in Africa - do not rate a mention. The problem in Australia is that ill-thought-out pro-environmental measures have been raising the power prices, meanwhile in places like China and India they're building a new coal fired power station every day. But now, with Turnbull head of liberal we've got the same views on environment and gay marriage as Bill Shorten, so really, anyone who disagrees with their positions on these issues (which over 52% of the populace do) has no one to vote for.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Dry Bones

You may have noticed I have removed some posts recently - a few poems, etc. That is because all those hopes are like the dry bones of Ezekiel 37, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.'
+

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Buy your computer gear now. Before Trump trumps Hilary.

Trump has trumped Cruz in the US primaries, and in his acceptance speech he talked about protecting US industries, making jobs for people. I've thought for a long while that the economic pendulum is going to have to swing back to protectionism - in Australia we've had the same thing happening over the last twenty five years that's been happening in the US - nearly every manufacturing job has moved to China or India. 

The thing is, if he manages to step out of America's free trade agreements, etc, it will hurt a lot of American companies as well, because other countries will also step out of theirs. There's no one talking about protectionism in Australia at the political level at the moment. 

Labor, the left wing party, believes in globalisation and supposedly protecting the environment by limiting CO2 emissions - globalisation being directly opposed to creating jobs and protecting the environment making life less affordable generally because it always has a negative effect on power prices. Something companies in that left-wing capitalist bastion China don't have to worry about. 

Liberal, the right wing party,  is generally trying to make life easier for companies by cutting company tax. But the problem is, the GST is on local products but not on many products people get from overseas. So local companies are immediately disadvantaged by having to sell at a higher price to locals than overseas companies can manage. And the trickle-down effect isn't going to happen - even if the rich people have more money, they are just going to spend it on the internet overseas. Mostly in the US probably, on Amazon, Apple, buying clothes, buying just about anything, etc etc. You have to make them spend the money in your own country if you're going to make the trickle-down effect work. (Actually the logical thing to do would be to do what Canada does - make it obligatory for any company selling to Canadians to pay the Canadian VAT tax. This is what Australia should do, really) 

If Trump acts in a protectionist way (which I think is inevitable for Western Countries - but it takes someone to have the cahoonas to start doing it first) it will cause the international trade treaties to fall over like a pack of cards. Other countries that start protecting their own industries will start adding import taxes on to make it more difficult to buy things on the internet from overseas, and this will actually have the effect of hampering those US businesses that are successful today, the ones that sell overseas via the internet, but it also means that Amazon, Apple and so forth may well be forced to set up manufacturing bases in Australia and other countries that at present have to buy from overseas. 

What this is going to do is raise computer, tablet, mobile phone prices - if protectionist measures prevent Apple from manufacturing in China and paying proper taxes elsewhere (for instance they pay less than 1% tax in Australia, when they earn billions) then inevitably Apple will have to pass the price increase onto consumers. 

SO - buy your computer gear now! Before the big price hike, in the next three or four years. 

Of course I'm assuming Trump will win the US election, which I think will happen. I think the commentators are massively underestimating how unpopular political correctness has become all around the world. People can't live under the shadow of guilt and fear for years - being told their work, cars, lives, very existence is responsible for a coming environmental catastrophe - and then see those dire predictions unfulfilled again and again - without eventually rebelling against the people who say these things. It's hard not to see the stupidity of climate science over the last twenty years as partially responsible for Trump's nomination. 

Trump in his speech today pointed out that Hilary Clinton talked about the mines in Nebraska never opening again - Trump said he's going to make sure the mines do open and that people have jobs. 

It is strange to hear right wing candidate is talking like this. But it shows where the left has got to - they have disenfranchised the workers and the people who want to work, by espousing all the ideals of political correctness and giving in to environmental extremists. To those who agree with these points of view these things have become the simple, reasonable facts that no one reasonable would deny, so they can't imagine that anyone would disagree. And most people, after all, are reasonable. 

But when the reasonable point of view is unreasonable, and unreasoned, then who will the populace listen to? 



Sunday, 1 May 2016

Who put the Foxes in charge of the Henhouse?

Who put the foxes in charge of the henhouse?

If you read the reuters version you would just think it was a nice G20 meeting in 2014 when they decided a new method for helping big banks not to fail in future. How sweet and agreeable the news is:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-g20-banks-exclusive-idUSKBN0GZ20F20140905

Here is what actually happened. In a big international agreement between the leaders of the G20 in that meeting of November of 2014, bank deposits were redefined as investments. That means the bank does not owe you your deposit if it goes bust. Instead, you are redefined as an unlucky investor who happened to buy the wrong shares, and who now loses them, whose investment must be used to repay the debts the bank has racked up.

How did this rather large change get past the ignorant punter, trusting that her money still belongs to her when it is in the bank? Obviously the mainstream media hasn't been following this issue. I suppose they either didn't know what was happening, or were too responsible to cause a panic.

Thank goodness for the bloggers:

http://www.thecommonsenseshow.com/2014/11/16/the-money-in-your-bank-account-was-stolen-this-morning/

http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2014/11/warning-bank-deposits-will-soon-no.html

You see the real problem is that in the 2008 financial crash the authorities didn't force banks to redefine second order derivatives as zero worth. In fact, all the big international banks still own these worthless, meaningless pieces of air, intellectual double-speak, and they continue to count their 'value' towards their bottom line. It is as if Dutch banks continued to own tulips and count them as worth something, long after the tulip price crashed in 1637.

In fact the whole thing is like a morass of cross-ownership, because second-order derivatives are actually a collection of derivatives each of which is a collection of random debts, many of which might actually be worthless, and the debts themselves are spread around among the different banks.

The fox in charge of the henhouse? It's more like the inmates are in charge of the asylum.

Still, it shouldn't surprise us if the world is run by thieves. Ultimately, though, it is run by One who will eventually return, like a thief in the night. Will you be ready when He comes?

Give your life to Jesus. Accept His offer, which means exactly what it says: forgiveness of sins because of His death in our place on the cross.

Postscript: John Yates' latest offering.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Anzac Day

It is Anzac Day today in Australia and New Zealand. There were dawn ceremonies at the cenotaphs and memorials and soldiers and family members are marching through all the big cities to remember those who have fallen in battle since World War I. There are still some World War I soldiers alive 100 years later, some who still march, amazingly, others on wheelchairs.

An Anzac Prayer.


Monday, 18 April 2016

Bart Ehrman and Richard Bauckham

An interesting debate on the origin of the gospels:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dw1T5AEhk9E#t=76

Bart Ehrman doesn't think someone 'lower class' can learn a language other than their mother tongue and write decent prose in it, viz the author of Mark's gospel (if indeed John Mark mentioned in Acts of the Apostles and St Paul's epistles. )

I know plenty of people for whom English is not their mother tongue, who can write very well in English, many from a humble background...

As far as humble people who wrote what anyone might account fairly decent prose, Shakespeare comes to mind, whose parents were illiterate.

And some famous writers who wrote in English for whom it was not their mother tongue:

Chinua Achebe (His mother tongue is Igbo, he came from an Igbo village)
Raja Rao (Kannada, an Indian dialect)
Vladimir Nabokov (Russian)
Junot Diaz (Spanish)
And probably the greatest, one of the greatest novelists in English - Joseph Conrad (Polish)

In the debate Bauckham shows a more sensible and nuanced understanding of the first century Palestine - and  the gospels and the epistles of the New Testament certainly hold up well, when compared with the historical background Josephus describes*.

Addendum - *in my opinion. Far better than any of the competing documents Ehrman holds up as equivalents.