Wednesday, 1 November 2017

~ ~ ~ How to Choose a Wife ~ ~ ~

I have been praying about my marital status. It feels as though it is (almost past) time to get married.

And here's the thing. The person who is my first preference is not talking to me, no maybe worse, is actively hostile towards me, no maybe worse, would probably shoot me if she had a gun and I came anywhere near her, in fact anyone in her family.

I prayed yesterday that if God wanted me to keep waiting for her, which I have for (-however-long-it-is) then he would give me a sign (I'd see her driving, or she would contact me, or I would have a dream)

Anyhow, I did have a dream which had a clear application to this problem.

It was of a Christian minister whom I respect doing a translation of part of St Paul on a blackboard, which I was also translating into a song.

It went, "If I have an obsession, then if you share my obsession then..."

Well I woke up from the dream and immediately thought, "That's my criterion for choosing a wife!" i..e choose someone who shares my obsessions (with writing fiction for the purpose of reaching people for God, writing hymns from scripture)

Then I thought, "I wonder if there is a Bible verse like this."

I typed, "St Paul, if I have an obsession" into google and came up with a whole bunch of disconnected sites.

But then I typed "St Paul If I have..."

And this came up:

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge

I immediately recognised (as you probably would also)  I Corinthians 13:


If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues,they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
So here it is - in an oblique way my dream pointed me towards the perfect criterion for choosing a wife. Choose someone I love, someone who loves me, with this kind of love.

Clearly that is a gift.

Addendum: I know in myself I still love this person I was talking about before, in this way. But it's no use, is it, if she does not love me, no, not even enough to say "Hi" or "I'm sorry" or "I forgive you"?


Sunday, 22 October 2017

A Strange Conundrum, Of Chance & Statistics.

In my latest book (a book I am thinking I might not publish as Robert Denethon as it is a thriller and not fantasy or sci-fi) there is a running theme of chance, coincidence, statistics, these sorts of themes, running through it.

For instance the hero plays professional blackjack, which, believe it or not, is not really a game of chance but of statistical probability (in which the likelihood is of winning, providing the player counts the cards and bets correctly according to statistics).

There are other references to statistics as well in this book, such as the use of large sample sizes to manipulate people online and the power of computers and artificial intelligence to make this kind of manipulation possible. Such power that could make all sorts of false truth claims credible in the future.

But in keeping with this theme of chance, in the story a chance happening drives two characters apart - causes a misunderstanding - which they must resolve by forgiving and trusting the other, despite appearances. (I am not sure of the details of this yet, but it must be, for it fits the theme like a glove) Later, their trust despite appearances results in a resolution where it is clear that the problem really was an unlikely chance occurrence.

Here's the thing - coincidence, statistically unlikely events, chance - can result in things happening to us that appear to defy God's existence as well. Chance happenings may well cause us to doubt God's kindness.  

I am not even sure that the (true) story I am about to tell is an example of this. But it might be. 

At a stage in my life, I asked God for a sign that a particular person was the one for me. 

The thing about it is, that at this stage I asked for a sign for quite a bad reason really: I was not confident in God's guidance apart from that. I felt at times uncertain of my sense of God's will. I was not confident enough that God would guide me through His Holy Spirit's operation in my life. It was lack of faith, I confess to you dear reader, that made me ask for this sign. I have since repented of this and will never again ask for a sign: God's guidance through His Word and Holy Spirit will be enough for me, may God help me in this! 

Nonetheless, God really did give me the sign I asked Him for, at that time, and I rejoiced, not so much that this person was the one for me, but that God would communicate to me! 

The thing is, subsequent events all but disproved this. As far as I can see now, it is totally impossible in human terms that I will ever marry this person.

So what do I believe about this now? 

On the one hand, God gave the sign. There was no doubt about it - it was exactly the sign I asked for, and this being an improbability greater than winning the Lotto (I even calculated the odds at one time, a vain exercise I admit). 

What was it then?

As far as I can see I have three choices of how to view this event. 

1) I can believe that the sign was a meaningless chance event that misled me into believing that this person was for me, despite the fact that God could have prevented that misunderstanding. 

2) Or I can believe that the sign was real, a true sign from God, and it will be fulfilled in time despite the apparent impossibility of that ever happening. 

3) Or I can believe that the sign was real, but that I stuffed up God's plan through my sin and lack of faith and that it won't now be fulfilled. In which case I must leave this whole episode behind and seek my wife elsewhere, if indeed I am meant to be married. 

Which do I believe? 

Well, I believe the one that I believe of these three, and I believe that I believe that through God's guidance. And I also believe that I have to keep that result to myself for the moment. So I apologise dear reader, for I cannot share that with you, apparently I am not allowed to. 

But God knows which one I believe, and He knows which one is true. By His grace may they be one and the same! 

In any case, looking at the first option, perhaps the most discouraging one, or perhaps even the most realistic, the fact is even if this sign was a meaningless chance event where I was manipulated into believing something that wasn't true, I would still believe in God, for He will show His justice in the end, His goodness, despite chance events that might make us think he is not trustworthy. 

Think of Job, whose entire fortune was wiped out in a day - the epitome of chance events, unjustly harsh on someone whom the Bible says was innocent, a statistically unlikely event.  

Now on the day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, and the Sabeans attacked and took them. They also slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three bands and made a raid on the camels and took them and slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” (Job 1: 13-19) 

Of course, in Job's case, Satan (whom I think can be identified as the Leviathan at the end of the book of Job) is the one who actively causes such chance events to happen and who must ask God's permission to harm Job. But at the end of the book of Job, I think it is very clear from God's speech to Job that Satan is to be identified with the mighty dragon Leviathan - and God indicates that this dragon no more able ultimately to accomplish anything than a pet which is enchained by a ring through its nose, i.e. a house pet that God controls completely. 

In other words, ultimately God's speech at the end of the book of Job tells us that God is sovereign over all.

And I think the real message of Job, the reason why he repents in dust and ashes, is that in the end, knowing God and having that assurance that He knows us and wants us to know Him and trust Him, is wonderful, this knowledge of God in a personal way is vastly more wonderful to have than any earthly blessing, even marriage, even children and properties and health and dreams fulfilled and riches and a wonderful life and fame and musical performances and books published and acclaimed and anything else on earth that we might possess or desire. 

And such is the wonder of Jesus' coming on earth. Here in Jesus is God, coming to us, wanting to know each one of us, offering Himself for us and to us. And what a wonderful thing - that the Jewish Messiah came for us Gentiles as well, He came to give the gospel to all the nations, though in the end the scripture tells us that once the complete number of Gentiles has come into God's kingdom the whole Jewish nation will recognise Jesus also for who He is and will be saved as well (Romans 11:26).

And such a communication Jesus was to us, even dying to accomplish this: for Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins - the most awesome divine communication, a deed that will be praised even in heaven for eternity - praise Him! 


Enubiant

Enubiant - (adj.) cloudy, covered as with clouds - from Latin nubes “cloud”. Example: The sky was enubiant with witches cascading through the clouds.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Dreams are peculiar. I sometimes get strange dreams, with peculiar, unknown words in them. Last night I dreamt of this word, "enubiant", which I am blogging about because (like the word dithingstump, meaning dishing stump, which I also dreamed and turned out to be probably a real Anglo Saxon word) "enubiant" turned out to have a credible etymology, at least, if it is certainly not a real word.

You see I dreamed I was writing the following phrase down on a piece of paper:

"The sky was enubiant with witches cascading through the clouds"

It kept going over and over in my head in the dream. In the dream I was sure 'enubiant' was a real word, that meant something like 'filled' only more intense, but when I woke up from the dream I wasn't sure any more that the word was real, so I wrote the phrase down so I could check in the morning.

Googling enubiant did not find that word, but with a few etymological searches of similar words I found the latin root, 'nubes'. Perhaps I read it somewhere, but I certainly don't remember doing so.

Interestingly, 'nebulous' is I believe from the same latin root.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

My friend Lord Jesus


All my sins would drag me down to Hades      
I know that I cannot earn God’s favour   
No achievement could lift me to heaven,
Except the cross, the cross of Christ my Saviour
I’ll praise you, hooray! my friend Lord Jesus
You’ve given me brand new hope, hooray! 
I’ll praise you, hooray! my risen Jesus 
Let me sing your praise all through the day. 

Jesus Christ alone is all I have, now, 
All my righteousness is Christ alone! 
All my sins are washed out in His blood now, 
All my wickedness, the cross atones.
I’ll praise you, hooray! my friend Lord Jesus
You’ve given me brand new hope, hooray! 
I’ll praise you, hooray! my risen Jesus 
Let me sing your praise all through the day.

Let the world accuse me, hate, and curse me! 
In my Lord I know I have my home.
I will praise the One whose death has loosed me 
From the bonds of sin and death and tomb.
I’ll praise you, hooray! my friend Lord Jesus
You’ve given me brand new hope, hooray! 
I’ll praise you, hooray! my risen Jesus 
Let me sing your praise all through the day.

How wonderful the Gospel is!

I've said a lot of rubbish in this blog, possibly, but here's something I could never resile from saying: how wonderful the gospel of Jesus Christ is! 

It really is good news. That we don't have to be good, to achieve anything, to do anything, to earn favour with God. That we don't have to come before God lying to ourselves, saying, "Well that thing I did beforehand, that wasn't really me, it was because I was tired or tempted or whatever other excuse I can think of," no, because all our sins are forgiven, we are completely forgiven. That we don't have to achieve anything or to be Biblically all knowing or achieve anything by doing good works or composing or playing music or writing or helping people or (etc etc insert own temptations to self-manufactured righteousness) because Jesus has already done it all for me on the cross. 

How we Christians ought to read the Bible ~!  It would cure so many of our spiritual ills. How we ought to spend more time in prayer! It would bring us closer to Christ. But only when we realise that these aren't 'good' things to do in terms of earning any of God's favour - we're not achieving anything in terms of righteousness by doing them because it's all been done by Jesus on the cross. 

It's such a wonderful mystery really - that God gave undeserved righteousness for us through Jesus' suffering - we don't have our own righteousness - only can have Jesus' righteousness - Jesus' goodness... 



Monday, 16 October 2017

Left Wing, Right Wing or neither?

Right wing or Left wing? Or Neither?

A sensible political philosophy would recognise that human beings tend to exploit one another, and that people will take advantage of weaknesses in the system to exploit one another.

Like the Jewish Torah which explicitly tells judges not to show favouritism to the rich or the poor, a sensible set of laws would regulate both employers and employees, men and women, the rich and the poor, etc etc.

For, quite often the perceived victim in any situation can become the persecutor if the balance of power is redressed too greatly. There is not one set of human beings that is by nature more wicked than any other, there is no group that is by nature an exploiter of others; rather, everyone has this tendency to exploit and take advantage. Good laws would stop evil behaviour from any quarter.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Lack of Forgiveness

What I always feared
Was the lack of forgiveness
So I did something to push her away
Perhaps I thought, if she can forgive me,
Then I will know
That later, when I stuff up, she will still stay.
I fumbled it all and I stuffed it all up, my dear cupid,
So she left me behind.
In my stupid is sense, in my sense is my stupid, I think you will find.

What you love

At the end you never love the pride,
The adequacies, the perfections, the abilities,
Or the greatness, completeness or the beauty,
The handsomeness, the incredible virilities.
(Well you might at the start.)
But the faults, the foibles, the blind spots,
The disabilities, the fumbles, the problems,
The little habits, those annoying silly things, these
Are what you miss,
The very things that rend your heart
When that one is gone.
That kind of love goes on and on and on.

Intensity and Sacrifice

Like the sun emerging through a cloud
She is a light in my cosmos, perfectly lovely,
As pure (she appears) as the sun in a shroud
Showing the light beyond what we see
Beauty and gentleness combined in one
Loveliest sunbeam, sublime as the sun.

But like a wandering traveller at night
Who sees in the distance a tavern at rest
I wonder, should I walk on to that light?
For every welcome is also a test.
When I show my faults, will the portrait be marred?
Will she find in me reasons for her face to go hard?

I once knew a girl perfect as starlight
Moments with her were like Eden again
I danced with her, for she danced me, a far light
Of hope burning brightly, but then, but then,
I in my moments of stress and tension
Pushed her away with grand apprehension.

She also had problems. But if she returned
I would love her and cherish, forever and still,
Oh, how my heart within my chest burned.
But now she is gone and with her, my will.
Intensity clangs like a wedding bell ringing
Peace is the sound of the one you love singing.

And love is the silence between every moment
While I dive in your eyes and you dive in mine
Sacrifice, burning, like a bright comet
Is the one true crossing, the surest love sign,
I waited for you, for that was my cross.
If you don't come, it will be your loss.

Dragon Den! My new book available soon.

Marwe Dragon Den will be available soon on Amazon. Here is the cover:

An excerpt from the beginning of the book... 

Marwe hid in the shadows of a huge pillar-shaped stalagmite that stood beside her like a gnarled, watchful sentry. A jutting cliff curled over her, its reflection a disturbing shape in the pool of water beside her.
She didn’t look up.
What if the dragon looked back at her?
She moved her head and could see her reflection in the pool from a certain angle. A ragged looking, tall-for-her-age ten-or-eleven-or-twelve year old brown-skinned girl with large eyes, wearing a warm coat over pants and a shirt that were little more than rags, and no shoes looked back at her. She wiggled her toe and watched the ripples spread. The ground beneath her feet was hard, uneven stone, but she had never owned shoes, so her calloused soles hardly even noticed it - not like rich folk with their soft, sensitive feet - but she was just wasting time thinking about this stuff.
She peered into the cavern tentatively.
Was the dragon home?
No way of knowing. She couldn’t see any further than ten or fifteen feet.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Reunion (Flash fiction)

"No. I'm married now."
"I thought you said you'd wait for me? That when you died, all the dust of your bones would still love me?"
"Oh, you actually heard that, did you? Well, I did wait for you, for three years. But you made it abundantly clear you didn't want any kind of connection with me."
"Well, that was what my friends and relatives were all telling me to do."
"Well you certainly went along with it well enough didn't you?"
"They convinced me..."
"But you told me it was what you thought as well. Waiting any longer for you seemed like flogging a dead horse."
"You could always leave... the one you're with."
"Why?"
"Because I love you. I realise that now. I didn't realise that then."
"Yes, but you were quite happy to let me languish for all that time, with me not even knowing that you were slightly interested, not even knowing you cared at all."
"I read your blog every day. That's how much I love you. Every single day. I saw all your secret messages to me, read every one of them."
"But you never let me know that you loved me when it might have counted for something."
"If you really loved me, you would leave your partner and come to me." (sobbing)
"No, I'm committed now. Divorce is not an option. If you had really loved me, you would not have left me waiting for you, for so long, without even a single 'hello' or even any acknowledgement of my existence. You had your chance. It's over now.This relationship will never, ever be. Don't even waste your time fantasizing about it." (Exit)

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Passengers - What is love?

Many reviewers didn't like it. I liked it - it's a neat philosophical exploration of what real love is. In a way it's Beauty and the Beast in space.
Here's the thing - his hibernation pod has failed and he is lonely, so he wakes her up from hibernation, ending her chances of reaching the colony planet and fulfilling her ambitions of staying for a year then returning to Earth. The first third of the movie, after he wakes her up, waiting for the inevitable moment when it must be revealed to her that he woke her up and she didn't wake up by accident is excruciating. I found this part hard to bear, as their happiness at this stage was all based on a lie.
But the plot is very neat actually. Strangely enough the real love story follows in the last third of the movie. '
Spoiler alert - don't read on if you don't want to have a fairly broad idea of what the movie's about.
 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
But at that point we find out what Passengers is really about: real love is demonstrated by sacrifice. How much someone sacrifices for another shows how much they love that person.
But then again, perhaps the plot is too neat - perhaps the opportunity to make the ultimate sacrifice is too available for both characters. It might imply love can only exist where both have made the ultimate sacrifice.
(The situation in real life is perhaps more complex, where one partner sometimes sacrifices more for the other.) (But this is what grace is from the human point of view - accepting the sacrifice another makes on your behalf graciously.) (From the divine point of view grace is making that sacrifice.) 
Thus the husband's role in a marriage in Ephesians 5:22-33 is to make that sacrifice, a more demanding role, in the image of the divine, and the wive's role is to submit graciously - i.e. to accept the sacrifices the husband makes for her, graciously, as the whole Christian community must accept Christ's sacrifice on our behalf.
But then again - maybe I'm wrong. In the movie Aurora makes the sacrifice of all her own dreams, her own self-willed future, for the sake of his company and companionship. This is precisely the sacrifice each individual Christian must make - of our own self-will - in order to enjoy the companionship of God in Jesus.
Even his waking her up might be seen as allegorical of God's creation - God wakes each of us up in this world without presumably giving us any choice about the matter.
All in all a thought provoking movie, that I think is better than many of the professional reviewers have said.



Passengers - and following the rules, or not.

I am watching Passengers, a movie about a man who wakes up from cryogenic sleep accidentally on an interstellar journey to colonize a new planet, half way through a journey that is taking 180 years. They are 90 years from their destination.
It is quite a philosophical movie, actually, and I'm a little more than half way through.
What is impressive about it is the perceptiveness of the film's depiction of AIs. There is an android barman who talks to him, telling him, "No one ever wakes up early in cryo sleep." But he says, "Then how come I'm here talking to you?" "You're right. It is impossible that you are here." Then continues talking to him, serving him, as if that's perfectly fine.
It is a perfectly accurate depiction of the way an AI would behave, for it is precisely this type of paradox that an automatic system is incapable of noticing.
This was Kurt Gödel's perception, actually, when he critiqued Russell's Principia Mathematica in the early 20th century (an attempt to define all mathematics completely); Gödel produced the Incompleteness Theorem, which points out that the paradoxical type of statement, "This statement is not true", cannot be excluded from any complete logical system.
This has a bearing on morals, actually. No system of logic or laws could ever totally describe moral human behaviour in every circumstance.
After a long time of living alone, with only machines for company and pointless activities to do, but no one to share them with, the space man in Passengers finds his loneliness crippling. It is then he has an agonizing decision to make - will he wake up someone else?
For at the end of the day, it is the fact that there is someone there, that makes all the difference. i.e. a machine loving you is not enough, because you know that it has been programmed to do this. A person's love is infinitely more valuable, because there is actually a person in there, making that decision, choosing to love.
Following the rules is never enough, because someone who followed all the rules would still just be a machine. It is love, eventually, that transcends rules, and is ultimately the only proof that we are human beings and not automata.
~~~an afterthought - this is why "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is the most powerful summary of morals - it puts at the centre the personhood of both people.


Thursday, 28 September 2017

The Red Pill, & Wonder Woman

Watched two movies today. First, let me say Wonder Woman was brilliant, really enjoyed it. It was a great realisation of the DC comics legend, complete with the god Aries being a character in the story.

Then I couldn't sleep tonight so I watched "The Red Pill - a Feminist's Journey Into The Men's Rights Movement", on Amazon where it is free. I was going to watch half of it then go to bed, but it was so gripping and moving that I kept watching till 2:30am!

Here it is on iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/au/movie/the-red-pill/id1195401070

It was also a brilliant movie, one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. The film-maker, Cassie Jaye, a feminist, decided to do a documentary on the Men's Rights Movement to see what makes these men (and women!) tick. She begins believing these activists to be misogynist, patriarchal, misguided, hate-filled. (Previously she had done movies about feminist issues, gay rights, etc etc)

But as the film progresses she changes her mind. How refreshing, actually, to see someone turn from outrage into compassion, to see someone open-minded enough to allow their own assumptions to be challenged! What is commendable is that she is simply concerned about truth, and willing to go where the truth leads. She checks all the statistics and puts the criticisms into context, it is really a very good documentary.

I think everyone should watch this movie. I would challenge anyone who thinks they are an unshakeable feminist to watch it and not find that it changes their views.

It really questions many of the assumptions our society holds. One excellent point the activists made was about language - a fireman has to be called a firefighter to prevent little girls from being daunted by the unjustly gendered label. But in feminism, the source of all good is called "feminism" (a word that basically means, female) and the source of all evil is "patriarchy" (a word that basically means, male) - so how come there are no gender implications for this type of language?

Unfortunately its not available on netflix which many people have: 


Here is where it is available: 


It’s a 2014 movie so may also be available in local video store. 



Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Sunday, 24 September 2017

I was wrong you're not a goddess

My enculturation was complete, I was a man of my time
I saw you as an image of the heavenly, a planetary body on high!
But here's the thing: it is not you who images the divine. It is I.

Man is an icon of Christ, Woman an image of the Church, His Bride.
I must be ready to love you as He loved the church, to be her cure,
Christ gave his life, to make the bride clean and spotless and pure.




Saturday, 23 September 2017

Venus, rising.

I worshipped you, Venus, in your rising glory
The perfect image of everything I had longed for, the same,
Dreams and songs told in advance the fabulous story
Of your coming, your image and even your name.

God told me in visions and signs you'd be mine
But I knew all I must do was keep the secret
But I longed to tell you of God's grand design
And I spoke when I knew that I should have been silent.

A fragile house of cards, my life came tumbling down
God sent me warnings, of snakes who would gossip
But I did not heed those dreams, my life turned around
And before I knew it, I had totally lost it

I lost you, I lost you, but in all this anguish
Jesus turned me to Him even more, than before
Never again will I worship you, my "Elish"
None will I worship but Jesus, even more.

God used my anguish to seat me on high
God cast me down, but when lives go awry
He lifts up again those he cast down to die.
Perhaps he will bring you to me, by and by.

Constructing characters existentially.

Thinking about writing. 
A model of character that uses existential crises / the paradoxes of faith/ guilt/ forgiveness/ angst as a means of defining character. 
I'm thinking about this whole guilt/neurosis thing. It is of course fundamental to certain superhero stories. Batman, Spiderman for instance.  
Perhaps this would make very realistic characters, with believable flaws? 
Thinking on the page here - how to construct characters this way. 

Someone who is not aware their sins are forgiven by God, through Jesus' blood: 

1) What is their hidden guilt/shame?
2) In what way do they attempt to hide it from themselves, to push it away? i.e. what neurosis does it cause? What self-defeating irrational action/reaction do they practice in life/relationships that is a result of pushing away that shame and trying not to think about it?
3) What do they turn to to dull the pain or to divert themselves from thinking about it?
4) How do they try to make up for this shame/guilt? What is their righteousness, in other words, their self-works-idol, i.e. their means of proving to themselves that they really are a good person? Their way of trying to rebalance the scales of good and evil? The thing they worship instead of God, that they might well give their lives for? (family? children? work? the Greens party? the liberal party? Truth? Climate belief? Climate skepticism?)
5) What do they tend to lie to other people about?
6) Into what other guilt/shame does their diversion tactics lead them?
7) What do they do about death? (not think about it? rationalise it? delude themselves with false hopes?)
8) In what way is God working in their life to try to bring them to Christ? (Generally this is a whole plan on God's part.)
9) In what way are they resisting God and the gospel?
10) What sort of crisis will be enough to put them on the horns of the dilemma, i.e. in a situation where they are forced to either choose Jesus to save them out of desperation, or choose to turn away from him completely and choose the world?
11) How does God help them (graciously, though perhaps they dont' see it,its true) (Where God cannot help a person inside by forgiving their sins he helps them outside, by relieving their burdens, giving rain where needed, sunshine when needed, answering their prayers to help them see He is there. But to even see that this is so, requires God's grace to be operating in them...)
12) What might God take away from them, to force them - perhaps - to turn to Him?

For a character who believes in God/Jesus might be a slightly different take, similar externally but quite different things going on inside. Someone whose sins are forgiven, by / through faith in Jesus Christ, washed in His blood: 

1) Their guilt has been taken away. What is their shame? The thing that makes them inferior in other people's eyes? Their cross? Their (inevitable) socially unacceptable quality/burden?
2) In what ways do they try to avoid their cross, run away from it? What irrational actions does this cause? In what ways do they try to be strong, rather than letting Christ work in their weakness?
3) How does this character try to dull the pain? What temptation is in their life? Recurring, besetting sin that they must fight against daily? Sin that they keep repenting of but that keeps coming back? Their ongoing battle? The ground Satan keeps trying to take back?
4) What ground/parts of their lives are they trying to keep for themselves? i.e. what have they not yielded to Christ yet?
5) What is their righteousness - their false god - their idol - the thing of pride that Satan uses to come between them and Jesus? The thing that threatens to make them think they are good enough on their own without Jesus? i.e. the central plank of their (potential) self-righteousness.
6) In what ways is this character tempted to compromise with the world and/or despair of God? In other words, what worldly promise/false dream would be enough to take away their shame in the eyes of the world? What failure of a worldly promise would be enough to make them doubt God's goodness?
7) Where does their self-righteousness threaten to lead them ?
8) How do they deal with inevitability of death and inevitability of problems because they are Christian? Do they brush this part of the gospels under the carpet? Try to delude themselves with false promises (prosperity gospel)? Divert themselves with art and works of public righteousness ? (theologically liberal gospel)
9) In what way is God working in their life to carry them forwards following Jesus, and to help them yield the unyielded parts of their lives? (Generally this is a whole plan on God's part.)
9) In what way are they resisting God and the gospel? (Everyone does)
10) What sort of crisis will be enough to put them on the horns of a dilemma, i.e. in complete moral agony, i.e. in a situation where they must either deepen their faith and turn even more deeply to Jesus and yield their whole lives to him, or start doubting and possibly turn to the world?
11) How does God graciously bring them back to himself, even though they have failed utterly and done the very thing they knew they shouldn't do, the very thing that would separate them from God, even though they have utterly yielded the ground that was in question and despaired? (Tolkien's Eucatastrophe - Frodo putting on the ring. Irony that it is Gollum who saves him.)
12) How is God helping them? What is God saying to them? How is God working in their life?
13) What disaster might God bring on them, to turn them again towards Jesus, to deepen their faith?
14) What blessing might God bring through the pain? What blessing might he bless them with through and because of and subsequent to the disaster? (Luther - he whom God would exalt he first casts down.)




On the relationship between anger, forgiveness and righteousness.

The context is this: Jesus came to heal and forgive and save, not to condemn.
People's anger against others, their unforgiveness towards others, often has its roots in their anger against their own failure to be good enough, their own lack of forgiveness of themselves.
Sometimes people will try to forgive themselves. But the problem is, you cannot forgive your own sins. The way the world operates is by gradually eroding the definition of sin, until hardly anything is considered a sin, thereby trying to convince people that they are not guilty, and at least in society's eyes they are not.
But this simply doesn't work. Deep down inside, people know that they have failed deeply in their lives, they know they need forgiveness, they find they are ashamed (sometimes for things done to them and not what they have done), but they bury this shame and guilt deep inside, far away, they push it away, but it's not far enough away because it's still part of them, perhaps the more it's pushed away the more fundamental it becomes. This is the origin of people's nueroses - they feel responsible - they are trying not to commit the same sin again, or be shamed in the same way - and they must avoid at all costs any reminders of their weakness. Nueroses are often symbolic of this weakness.
But the only cure for guilt and shame is knowing Jesus' forgiveness, knowing that Jesus bore it all on the cross for you. Nobody and nothing else can cure guilt, except for one thing: knowing that Jesus has forgiven you. Everything else that people try to get rid of guilt and shame is a pathetic bandaid solution on a gaping wound, a mere shifting of the burden to somewhere else in life. (Although the offered forgiveness of others can help in some ways, but most of all as an earthly imaging of Jesus' ascended attitude towards us. Thus the body of Christ is His hands and feet in this age.)
But, if the church were to go along with the world, eroding the list of sins until everything is allowable, until effectively nothing is a sin, or only the socially unacceptable things (being a climate skeptic, say), then the church will begin to offer nothing but a bandaid solution, pushing guilt away, pushing it into the unconscious, and Christian love will be diluted to a pretence of love which does not reach the roots of anguish, guilt, and fear borne of failure, deep in our hearts and our lives. If the salt loses its saltiness, what can make it salty again?
Which is why standing by Jesus' words and the literal words of the Bible is far more important for Christians to do than they realise. 
Jesus offered a vision of morality more strict by far than the Pharisees - his morality sets the highest standards, not only for outward behaviour, but for the inner attitude of the heart. Not only should someone not commit adultery, they should not even look at a woman lustfully. No one should get divorced (an easy thing for men to do under the law in Jesus' time). Forgive others as God has forgiven you. Love your enemies. Forgive everyone. (Need I add - & marriage is between a man and a woman?)
And this morality seems terribly harsh, for people who are not in God's kingdom, for those who have not received Christ's forgiveness, it is like a terrible light amplified through the lens of a microscope is to a bacteria, a cleansing light that focusses on it and threatens to destroy it.
But to get the cure (forgiveness) we need the correct diagnosis (which is: we are all sinners, every one of us) and that is why Jesus' commandments are so important. The word of God, the words Jesus spoke, and the Bible in its entirety, is what the Holy Spirit uses to diagnose the fallen human condition, and this word of God animated by the Spirit is what turns great sinners towards Jesus' forgiveness.
The anguish of our condition, stuck, damned if you do, damned if you don't, is the very thing that can drive us to Jesus, who bore that anguish for us on the cross.
All Christians have to do is stand by the Bible, not compromise, stand on this word, guard it, keep it whole and undefiled.

The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Ecclesiastes 12:11-12

Mother-in-law (a piece of flash fiction)

"Well, you see, she hates me."
"How do you know?"
"I married her favourite daughter, you see, and she resents me."
"You're just imagining it. She's actually very kind to you. I've seen it."
"No. Say we... get together for lunch. She'll give me a time fifteen minutes later than everybody else and by the time I get there, there won't be any left for me, so I'll have to go hungry. It's very subtle. Or... she'll purposely tell me the wrong day for a concert, so that I miss it, but she tells the rest of the family the right day. Or... you know, I'll be helping in the garden, and when I go to have a shower, there won't be any soap or shampoo or towels in there. Little things."
"I'm still not convinced. What does...?"
"...the wife think about it? I haven't told her. She loves her mother, she doesn't need to know. Every time it happens I just pretend it didn't. I don't want to upset her relationship with her mother. They're very close."

Yes, he died. (A piece of flash fiction)

~"What? He died?"
"Yes. Four or five months ago. He got sick, cancer or something, I don't know what it was. It was quick. He died. Didn't anybody tell you?"
~"But I didn't get to see him. I didn't get to say goodbye. It's not fair - I didn't get a chance to tell him... I love him."
"I think he would have liked to have known that. He talked about you in the last days before he went. He blamed himself for it all, you know."
~"Really? It wasn't his fault. It was all my fault. I was very stubborn."
"But there's nothing you can do now, is there? He's gone."
~"But... but... It's not fair. Why didn't anybody tell me he was sick?"
"But you said you never wanted to see him again. You told him to go away, not to contact you. Basically, you threatened him."
~"That's the last time I saw him. The last memory he has of me."
<an uncomfortable pause>
~"I was awful. I treated him terribly."
"Well, yes, you did, I'm not going to pretend that you didn't. But you know, I'm sorry but I don't feel any sympathy for you at all. He still loved you, you know. He really cared about you. I told him to forget about you, but he still blamed himself. But he came to a kind of peace at the end..."
~"But why didn't anybody tell me? Didn't they know I cared about him?"
"Well... no, no one knew that. You said you never wanted to see him again."
~"That's what he took into eternity. That memory of me."
"You claim to be a Christian, don't you? I don't believe in God, but I value my friends and family, so I think I'm a better Christian than you. You obviously don't even have the grace to forgive do you? Doesn't it say somewhere in the Bible, make friends with your worldly wealth, so you have people to welcome you into heaven?"
~"Yes, something like that, somewhere in the gospels..."
"Well, your time, your presence, your friendship, isn't that your true wealth? And you squandered it, didn't you? When the person you really loved never even knew that you loved him. I've got no sympathy for you at all."
~"."

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Gay Basher

What a weird day.
Today I posted a story on Facebook about a barrister in the UK who has acted in over 100 cases of Christians being prosecuted for things like mentioning God in a conversation, or supposedly being anti-gay, or losing their jobs because of their Christian views. In 100% of the cases they have had acquittals, but this barrister said, make sure you don't make the same mistake in Australia of legalising gay marriage, and encouraged Christians to stand up for their views.
A gay friend of mine posted a 'laughing at you' emoji - I know he's a supporter of same sex marriage, so in the comments I thanked him for his restraint in sharing his views (I wasn't being sarcastic).
After this messaged me privately with a whole lot of vitriol against Christians. I answered as kindly as I could and tried to reassure him that I care about him, and the online conversation got quite deep fairly quickly - he's someone I've known for years - he questioned whether I saw him as a worthy person, he claimed I saw him as unworthy - I said I saw him as someone infinitely precious for whom Christ died - he said Christians are all hypocrites and I said well most people are and remarked that I didn't regard a person's sexuality as defining who that person is - he said that his being gay was who he was - and said Christians cause gay people to suicide - I said he should never do that it would be a great loss to the world as he's a wonderful person - he commented on the anguish of having a God who gave him such desires then wouldn't allow him to satisfy them - I said that everyone suffers anguish of one sort or another and yes it is God who causes this anguish (I mean, who else can we ascribe it to? It is dishonest not to ascribe that anguish to God.) He replied by telling me I was a gay basher.
I felt terrible. The conversation brought up the anguish of my love life, which has been incredibly anguished at times, you just have to read Steam Submarine which in places tells the story of that anguish, in a philosophical/allegorical way, to see what i mean.
It also reminded me of conversations I have had with another friend of mine, a recovering drug addict, when she's down on herself with shame and stuck in her own anguish; she was terribly abused as a child.
After thinking about it for quite a few hours I responded with my final message, that I really cared about him and that I believe Jesus came to show compassion and not to judge anyone, and that He died to take our shame and anguish, and he responded with a sarcastic comment.
Then later on, that same friend I mentioned, the recovering drug addict contacted me to say she had had a relapse and had used drugs. I prayed for her and she now (at last) was willing and desirous to pray and read the Bible. She even flushed the remainder of the drugs down the toilet, and had a friend with her, another troubled Christian who lives in the same block of units. She promised to pray with her friend and read the Bible.
& In between all of this, I was working, doing my normal tasks.
It's been a strange day of contrasts, deep sorrows, real anguish. I am glad I have this blog to talk about it quite frankly on because I certainly can't in any normal social media forums, and alone at home tonight I have no one to talk about it with, except the dog, and God.
I feel anguished myself right now, thinking about all this, but strangely I feel the comfort of God's presence at the same time.
No one painted Christ's anguish more poignantly than the Renaissance German painter Grünewald.
How strangely comforting it is, all that Jesus went through for us. 

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Thoughts on Righteousness.

Some thoughts:

If our identity is tied up in what we do, if our sense of righteousness/success comes from what we achieve, we will never know peace or a true sense of success, whether or not we succeed or fail. Our lives will be tied to a kind a self-willed hell, where everything relies on us. (The great risk of life is that this self-willed hell continue into the afterlife, where - who knows - it may well end up being our eternal state.)

But if our identity - if our righteousness/ sense of success is in Christ - then success or failure in anything we do are no longer an issue. Having Christ as our righteousness frees us to do whatever God is asking us to do, without having to feel that anything - success -failure -depends on us. For Jesus has already succeeded, on the cross. If our identity and our sense of success and righteousness is in Christ then we need not ever fear anything coming between us and our destiny. Praise the Lord!

BTW the whole book of Romans in the Bible is on this theme, and is most useful for understanding how we might have our righteousness in Christ, not in ourselves.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Ceaseless Love.

God could no more stop loving you
Than the sun could cease to shine
God could no more stop loving you
Than the stars could choose themselves to realign

There is no place where God's grace
Cannot reach to shine His light
Turn to Him, you'll see His face
Hide in Him, you'll know His might
Live in Him, you'll know His power
Let this be, this very hour.



Friday, 8 September 2017

What is missing.

A piece of my life is missing: the wife I'm supposed to marry. 
Every day I hope, but the day to come seems to tarry 

The fact that the blessing that is missing, is missing, 
Can also be a blessing. 
But the blessing that is missing, can also be a blessing 
When it is no longer missing. 

Your absence is a cross i bear 
Like a man carrying a hole 
Where a whole is meant to be. 

This absence is a blessing that I share
with others, who carry burdens, I help them bear. 

But your presence would also be a cross for me to bear
For I would be Christ to you, 
Carrying your burdens, loving you, and this would be 
To others also
A blessing too
And you would be 
A blessing, in so many ways, to me. 

God in his riches fills up the empty and fulfils the full. 
God in his grace is present in every time and every sort of place. 
God in his kindness is the Father whose presence is there 
Even when a tiny bird falls out of the sky. 
How much more, for you and I? 

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Gotham

Brilliant TV show! They have done Batman really well. There is a dimension of depth to Bruce Wayne and Alfred's relationship.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Thoughts on God's intentions.

Gandalf: BILBO BAGGINS! DO NOT TAKE ME FOR SOME CONJURER OF CHEAP TRICKS! I AM NOT TRYING TO ROB YOU! [gently] I'm trying to help you. [Bilbo, frightened, hugs Gandalf] All your long years, we have been friends. Trust me, as you once did. Let it go.

This may be one of my last posts here - I have a feeling the end of the usefulness of this blog may be approaching - but who knows?

But my thought is this: like Gandalf's speech to Bilbo in Lord of the Rings, God's word is intended to help us. Not to harm us.

Today people often use as a rule of thumb, 'do what you want as long as you don't hurt yourself or anybody else.'

But the question then becomes - whose authority will you believe when it comes to what is harmful to self or others?

God's definition of harmful should surely be believed because only He knows all the facts.

Where scripture defines something as harmful, not allowable, or as not helpful, or as not what God intended, or as something to be left behind once a person decides to follow Jesus, surely we deny that definition of what is harmful at our own peril. You or I cannot know everything. We need to be humble before God about what He says in the Bible and accept His definition of what is helpful and what is harmful.

And what is most harmful? Our own habitual sins. Not anybody else's.

& by the way probably the most helpful thing we can all do is realise we are all sinners, and forgive others, and be forgiven ourselves...

Matthew 6:14
    "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, you Father will not forgive your sins."

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Poem - Dead to Thee.

With one stroke of the pen, you wrote me out of your story,
As simply and completely as closing the door of a tomb.
I, with a tome of 800 pages, I praised your hidden glory!
Should I take back a single word, into the artistic womb?
Change what I had written, make a clean sweep with the broom?

I would still praise you, if you'd have it, though now I understand
The secret is you don't deserve it. Not a bit. Not in the least.
Should this make me love you less? I love you, but not the hand
That made that stroke upon the page that meant we ceased,
At least, not that hand upon that day, when my heart got creased.

That same hand I would love greatly if it were raised in welcome now.
I would love that hand evermore! Have no doubt, I forgive thee.
But my guess is, you will never read these words. You won't allow
The thought to enter in your mind that I could ever be
Anything but dead to thee.

God and Satan.

Some points:

*God and Satan are not two sides of the same coin/ equivalent. Satan is a created creature, who went wrong and turned away from God. God is Sovereign Ruler over all creation and Creator of everything.

*Jesus and Judas' names are not the same either in meaning or etymology (can you believe someone once told me this and sincerely believed it? As is common in such cases, he didn't want to know the facts of the matter.) Jesus' name is Yeshua or Yehoshua, i.e., Joshua, and means "Yahweh Saves", Judas' name is Yehudah and means "Yahweh be praised."  - and if you think it's unusual that they both start with J (or Y in Hebrew) Y is the most common letter to start names in in Hebrew of those days, since the diminutive Ya or Ye stands for Yahweh.

*Good and evil are not equivalent/ two sides of the same coin. (Does anyone really believe this?) It is a thing people say who have read too much Eastern philosophy for their own good. Goodness is exemplified by the self-sacrifice of Jesus for others, and ultimately it is much greater than evil which has already been defeated by Christ on the cross; this fact is demonstrated by the fact that God raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at HIs right hand on high.

*God can use evil deeds that created beings do, to accomplish His own purposes, seen by the fact that God used Satan through Judas to get Jesus crucified - God used the evil that Judas did to save the world. Every evil that befalls us, every ill that occurs, God can use to bring forth greater good.

*Ultimately God's sovereign will, will be seen to rule over everything.

*God wishes for us to accomplish God's will - not by doing evil and thereby becoming an unwilling instrument in God's hands, but primarily by coming to know God, by having a relationship with God, by participating in the life of the Trinity through Jesus, and our lives then will bear fruit because we are 'plugged in' to the ultimate energy of the three-Persona-ed-God Who rules and runs the universe, the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.