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 atoned.
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.


Thursday, 24 August 2017

Listen if you have ears.

A more nuanced understanding of this phenomenon, whereby closed mindedness is characterised as open mindedness:

What is happening is that the opponents of various social measures that 'everyone agrees on' are being characterised as intolerant, clinging to tradition, the modern equivalent of the Pharisees in the gospels.

The fact that some people who oppose the (wrong) factual assertions accompanying these social measures  have come to this conclusion by a process of measured, thoughtful research/reasoning does not matter, and certainly does not fit into the current narrative. Particularly, a conversion story to conservatism is certainly not the kind of story the progressives want to hear.

Someone who starts out open minded, considers the evidence, then comes to a conclusion, is then characterised these days as closed minded if they come to the conclusion we disagree with. But it is those who won't even look at the evidence who are truly closed minded.

"Hear - if you have ears," Jesus said. But today, more and more people are characterising those they disagree with as figures of caricature, less and less will they even read or listen to what they actually say, or engage with any of their arguments. Something CS Lewis predicted a long time ago.

An ominous sign, I think, reminiscent of times in the past that have not ended well for those not in the status quo.

Open and Closed mindedness.

It seems to me that people are less and less inclined to listen to or consider an opinion different from their own.

It used to be that open-mindedness meant an ability to consider different opinions, to weigh evidence, and perhaps come to a new point of view, a different point of view, a different opinion as to the truth of this or that matter.

These days they don't even read something all the way through if it differs from their own established opinion. They certainly don't consider or weigh evidence. Even the most uneducated person considers that their own opinion is an absolute.

Facebook confirms this.

No, what 'Open-Mindedness' means for this generation of Westerners is, 'Agrees with me.' If someone agrees with me about something then they are according to this definition open minded. If they disagree then they are closed- minded.

What is upsetting about this is that if a person truly is open-minded then likely they have considered the evidence. But once they have come to a decision about that evidence they will appear closed-minded, but only because they now know. 

For instance someone I know who looked at the evidence regarding climate change, & the evidence against, with an open mind, and concluded that the evidence against climate change being anything to worry about is a great deal stronger, in fact, the evidence for global warming is altogether spurious. (But don't take anyone's word for it. Check it out yourself. Look at both sides, weigh the evidence)

And what about gay marriage, etc?

Well, one claim that I've seen repeated is that the Bible says nothing about homosexuality. I hardly care what they say about gay marriage in civil society, but when Christians make claims about the Bible- well, one would hope they have been open-minded enough to actually look at what the Bible really does say, rather than simply parroting other people's opinions.

I think the well known section in Romans 1 is clear enough - note that it is in the context that Paul is saying soon afterwards, "Don't judge, because we are all sinners". But the meaning of "arsenokoites" is disputed by some same-sex marriage advocates, which greatly affects the two other New Testament passages to do with homosexuality,  1 Cor 6.9 and 1 Tim 1.10.

In Leviticus 16:19 the greek is "kai meta arsenos ou koiméthésé koitén gunaikos" And with a-man you-shall-not sleep in-a-bed as with a woman, the passage Paul's term very clearly summarises, "arsenokoites", 'man-bedding', translated 'male concubine' in the Latin Vulgate, and 'man-sleeping-with-man' or something similar in the Syriac and Coptic New Testaments.

This article by Daniel Wallace explains the issues very clearly I believe:
https://bible.org/article/review-mel-white-s-what-bible-says-and-doesn-t-say-about-homosexuality

The thing is, does anyone really care enough about what the New Testament really says, to look at the evidence honestly and change their opinion on that basis, if they find themselves disagreeing with God's word? I think this attitude might be very rare.

It makes me feel rather depressed, because many people characterize someone like me  as the one who is 'closed-minded' these days. Yet I was man enough to look into the New Testament, find out what it says, face that fact honestly and allow the scripture to shape my thoughts, allow my opinions to be changed if necessary.

And I was man enough to look at the science behind this or that scientific claim, grasp the issues, weigh the evidence and come to a conclusion based on evidence, even if it made me unpopular.

Where has integrity gone?  Where has honesty gone? They have fled, it would seem, and everyone is too much of a coward to even consider the veracity of this or that claim, & they would rather find safety in conforming to the herd.

Even when the herd might turn out to be a herd of rhinoceroses. Turns out maybe Ionesco was right.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Chronicles of Marwe.

Chronicles of Marwe is coming along, as are two or three other books that I'm readying for release. However another project has taken my attention for a short while, one completely unrelated to my books... 

But I'm quite pleased with where the Chronicles of Marwe is headed. Here's the cover, already created, for a book that isn't finished yet!  

Not sure whether to release the three books as one or separately. 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Fragment of a Romantic Poem.

....And I would say to you,
Will you let me be your King? 
Under Aslan, who in this world 
Is Christ, the Lord of everything? 

I would give my life for you 
My lovely bride, my holy Queen,
As Christ was a sacrifice 
For His holy city, to wash her clean. 

Will you my own helpmate be 
Serving Jesus alongside me? 
Will you cleave to me as one,
Two whole tunes, in unity? 

This life is the prelude to 
The wedding banquet yet to come 
This holy anointing that we bear 
Is the promise of our eternal home. 

Every cross we carry here 
Becomes a jewel in our crown.
Every sorrow here we bear
Prepares us for our heavenly throne. 

The rulers who will share Christ's throne 
And rule with him over the All 
Must, like him, bear suffering, 
For this is their holy call. 

But those who suffer also rule 
With Christ, and thus his people build 
At the very gates of Hell, true forth tell
Of heaven in this sorrowing world. 

Thus in this world let our home be 
A place of peace where others find 
A refuge from the cruel world 
Built to Christ's own plans and mind. 

For all Christ's thoughts and wishes for
Our way of life are in His word. 
Together let us build our home 
Upon the foundation of our Lord. 

For unless the Lord builds the house, 
those who build, labour in vain. 
Unless the Lord watches over the city 
The watchmen stay awake in vain. 

Our foundation stone Jesus became
When dying, He took all our sin and shame. 
And God sealed Him as the only Son 
When He rose Him up again 

And God made Him reign over all 
When He ascended to sit on God's throne,
He is our King, and I'll be yours
And you will be my Queen and home.

You shall have a song as in the night when a holy feast is kept, and gladness of heart, as when one sets out to the sound of the flute to go to the mountain of the LORD, to the Rock of Israel.
Isaiah 30:29 

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

More about Rationality.

Thoughts. 

People usually use rationality to justify decisions they have already taken. (Hence the term 'rationalisation'.

Or (sometimes) to resist taking a decision when someone seems to be pressuring them to take a particular decision. (Hence how it can force someone to take the reverse decision to the one a 'rational' person is recommending.)

The wonderful thing about Jesus is that his arguments were not argued from a rational basis, he was not a philosopher, but rather much of His teaching is bearing witness about two things:

1) What the human heart is like (not good!)
2) What the human heart might be like if we were more like God our Father, who is perfect & perfectly loving.

Following Jesus is a matter of a changed heart, first and foremost, a heart changed by God to love others instead of loving self. The mind, the rationality, the rationalisations, follows.

Jesus turns the world's way upside down. He tells us to serve others instead of looking to lord it over them, to forgive and turn the other cheek instead of seeking revenge, to tell the simple truth instead of trying to manipulate.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The Perils of Rationality.

What scares me about rational argument is that people can arrive at opposite conclusions and both believe that they are completely rational, then they can justify completely that the other person's point of view is irrational because he (i.e. the other person) is using 'rhetoric' (it's only rhetoric if the other person is using it, it's a rational argument if I'm using it; I think this is how they think).

Take a person (I just met one) who believes vaccination is evil because some children die from it. Yet take diseases like tetanus, for instance - when you think of the havoc that used to cause, the terrible suffering, to so many people, is it not worth a few people risking danger, for the sake of getting rid of that terrible disease? I think accepting the risk of vaccination on behalf of all the people who won't get sick because of vaccination is actually a Christ-like thing to do.

But I just had an argument with a person who sincerely believed me to be completely wrong about this.

It was very distressing, particularly when I got so annoyed with the lady that I purposely brought up climate change, because I just knew she would want to argue about that too... (Ironically it was the Australian ABC, the bastion of climate change belief, who initially alerted me to the other side of the argument online back in 2008/2009, and that was when I went down the rabbit hole.)

This is what scares me about human thinking though. Not many people will honestly look at both sides of an argument. They are too scared of having their minds changed.

And the problem is, if you are a person who goes out of their way to listen to both sides, once you have decided, everyone who is on the other side calls you bigoted, closed-minded, says you are thinking in a box.

Yet it is not the person who has looked at both sides of an argument and then decided that one is right who is closed minded.

(Afterthought added a few minutes later: It is actually the person who has only looked at one side of an argument and refuses to consider the other side who is closed-minded: this is the only rational definition of closed-mindedness. But today, the common definition of closed-minded has changed. People will say you are closed-minded if you have looked at both sides of an argument and come to any conclusion other than the one the person you are arguing with believes. particularly when they have not ever considered in their wildest dreams that they might be wrong or that any person who is in any way rational might disagree with them. )

(Auuugh!)

(PS another Afterthought - this is what is so lovely about Jesus in contrast to the rest of us. His arguments on any subject come from one place alone: complete faith in and submission to a completely loving, good God, His Father in heaven, who is also our Father in heaven through Him. Praise Jesus ! )



Love your Enemies. What about if you are your own worst enemy?

Jesus' beautiful words, quoted tonight at Mt Pleasant baptist church by John Dickson, apologist here:

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them."

“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful." Luke 6:27-36 English Standard Version (ESV)

The wonderful thing about these verses is that Jesus is telling us to do nothing more than He did Himself.

Who has not been on the wrong end of the wrath of a Christian who thought they were 'in the right?' Those who think they are 'in the right' often do more damage than any number of evil people who know they are doing the wrong thing.

We often do bad by ourselves too - by giving in to passions, selfishness, a divisive spirit, having to be 'right', intellectual pride  - various evil habits that make us our own worst enemies (my habits if I'm truthful at times).

If one is one's own worst enemy, should one therefore love oneself? Yes, by receiving the forgiveness, grace, friendship of Jesus, Who is so gentle and kind and forgiving, that one might truthfully hope that by receiving from Him His friendship, then His Spirit, influencing and moving in our souls, might make us a little more like Him and more inclined to love those who hurt us and incline us to such gentleness ourselves. Dear Lord let this be so for all Christians, Amen.

How do you love someone who has cast you out of their life completely? (This happens) By praying for them.


Sunday, 30 July 2017

Ultima Thule prophecy.

Just had an email query from a reader asking about this prophecy about Ultima Thule in Steam Submarine into Ultima Thule, and where I got the idea from, whether from some Thule prophecy or ancient source or mystical text or other:

I thought my followers who read this blog might be interested in my reply, so I've reproduced it here:

Dear ----

Thankyou for your interest in my books!

No I did not use any source for this, although I sometimes do in my books. I can’t really say where the idea came from, but it may have come out of the following rather bizarre cogitations:

1) I projected forwards our current technology and the modern experience-oriented mindset, to the point where people might wish to join minds to have some sort of mental/emotional communion, a parody of Christian ideas of communion with Christ. I believe such a technology would end in the depersonalisation of massive numbers of people in an addictive mass experience, probably sexual/spiritual/drug-like in nature. Such a technology would be either genetic manipulation/biological of some sort or electronic through some sort of mind/machine interface, but of course in the case of the elves in my Ultima Thule they do it through ‘magic’, which works in that world, and such a mass-mind is the ultimate expression of their mastery of the world through magic, just as the scientists would say it is the ultimate expression of our science. (Both magic and science try to attain mastery over the world - it just so happens that science was successful at doing this in the past in our world and not magic)

2) I was also thinking that in the kingdom of hell, every individual demon or unfortunate person who becomes part of that kingdom ultimately loses their individuality and becomes an expression of Satan’s will and personality, and eventually their own personality or soul becomes more and more a chaotic mess, the left-behind bits of themselves. (See C.S.Lewis’ Perelandra for a rather chilling and I think unfortunately accurate depiction of this process, which I believe can really happen.) This is of course the danger of the occult - it sucks people in and drains them of their individuality, leaving them often mentally ill and spiritually bereft. The opposite of God, I might add, who asks people to consent to His rule over them, then gives them their individuality.

3) And I was also reflecting upon the fact that the world of advertising and mass media these days generally also offers people complete individuality through things they purchase (new car, ‘relationship’, money, fancy house, new TV, Coca Cola etc etc) which ultimately results in a slave mentality and loss of individuality because people become the slaves of whatever outside of themselves (for many, money or success) that they give themselves to (can be any other thing too, romantic love, another person, wisdom, knowledge, even family can enslave someone by becoming an ultimate goal), whereas in contrast Jesus Christ offers faith in Him and subjection to His kingship, which results in a person losing their lives to His reign in service to others, but finding their own complete individuality in Him.

4) Lastly I was wondering what it would take for a loving God to want to give up on a world, destroy that world and create a new heavens and a new earth, which is what happens a little later in that novel, and seems to be how our world will end, Biblically speaking. Ultimately I think something as sinister as that, a ‘mass-mind’ which destroys the souls of those who participate, would make God want to end things, to save the people who could be saved while they still could be.

5) Finally I guess I was probably influenced by thoughts about Star Trek universe’s ultimate enemy, the Borg, and many other sci-fi tropes along those lines. The difference is, I assumed that such a “mass mind” would only work if people entered it willingly, a devastating thought, actually.

So I’m sorry to say, I did not read anywhere in anything I read about Thule or the German Nazi mystical group or anything else about this ‘mass mind’ - it simply came from my own twisted imagination. But I would not be surprised, however, to discover that there was some basis in some text or other. My writing has often come up with such coincidences, for instance the title “Day of Dithingstump” of my latest published novel came to me in a dream, and only afterwards did I discover that a “Dithing Stump” seems to have been an actual word, an Anglo-Saxon blacksmith’s tool for making dishes and helmets.

So I don’t know where my ideas come from, but occasionally they do seem to have a slightly bizarre, coincidental resemblance to something in the real world.

If you do find such a prophecy or mystical writing, please send it to me! I will add it the list of weird things my writing has presaged.

Kind regards,

Robert Denethon.

Not One Jot or Tittle.

In the King James' translation there is this charming phrase, 'not one jot or tittle' - a jot means a dot, essentially, the dot on top of an i, a 'tittle' is the stroke on a "t". Here is the context:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.…Matthew 5:17-19

I am using the King James translation here because the 'jot and tittle' phrase is so memorable, but any translation would do, the point that Jesus is making is the same.

The Law and the Prophets are the Old Testament, the scriptures of Jesus' experience, the Jewish scriptures. And here in this passage Jesus is saying that he has not come to do away with the scriptures but to fulfill them.

In other words, the Bible is very important. It is very important to be obedient to God's word and to teach others to do likewise.

Why are certain churches disappearing today? (In Australia the Uniting Church at present is literally dying because the central office can no longer afford to support the parishes that cannot support themselves, and they are closing the whole organisation. It is like a branch being cut off from the vine... John 15:2)

Why is the Uniting Church dying? Demographics is only part of the picture. Might lack of attention to obedience to God's word and the failure to affirm the value of and uniqueness of the Bible be a reason why this church is dying? I don't think anyone could argue that the Uniting Church, in the end, treated the Bible as just another book, one possibility of spirituality among many, and certainly did not affirm the  unique truth of the Bible by obeying the words written inside it or by teaching others to do the same.

Here in Matthew's gospel Jesus is saying that the Bible not just one holy book among many. The Bible is unique. It is God's Word. And so, if one wishes to follow him, to be great in the kingdom of heaven, one must follow the Bible and teach others to do the same.

In my latest book, "Dragon Den", which I am finishing now, Princess Aerae is enchanted by the clever sorcerer, Zhal, who is really a dragon in disguise, and the initial focus of his efforts is in convincing her that the Aetmedlalin Writings are not unique. (In my books the Aetmedlalin Writings are a symbol for the Bible, Aetmedlalin meaning 'true'  or 'truthful' in the Gryphon tongue). To this end Zhal wishes to convince Princess Aerae there are other prophecies she could follow, the prophecies he wishes her to believe in, to which end he uses flattery and charm and mesmerising speech, for in the end Zhal wishes to take over her entire kingdom.

Princess Aerae in this section is really a symbol or allegory for a part of the Christian church today in the West, which is not being faithful to Jesus Christ because it is not following the Bible faithfully and is not teaching others to do the same. In Aerae's case she is being deceived by the dragon-in-human-disguise, Zhal.

I had a dream during the night that Jesus was pleased with the point I was making in this part of the book. That dream was filled with a sense of His Presence and I am certain it came from Him.

In the scheme of things, when I look back on the recent part my life, it is possible that I am alone today rather than married because I insisted 'this book is true' over various other affirmations various people were making. I don't know this for a fact, I just suspect it.

But let me say, I would very much prefer to be alone than with the woman I love, if being with her meant that I had to compromise on this point. Even if a person's life must be lived alone rather than with one's soul-mate, to affirm this point that the Bible is uniquely true and God's word, well the loneliness will not last forever, but that life of loneliness will end one day in company with Jesus and the saints in heaven in the Messianic Banquet, and that will last forever.

And who knows but that God might have someone else for me, anyway? He is faithful, even when human beings are faithless.

The Bible is God's word and even if it is a single church or a whole denomination or a whole country or even the whole world that disagrees with this, such a church or denomination or country, even such a world, will not last long.

But God's word will last at least until the end of heaven and earth, and God's kingdom will last forever.  And isn't that where we all will want to be, in the end?

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

What to do once you have turned to Jesus.

When a person has turned to Jesus - received forgiveness for their sins, been washed in His blood - it is not always immediately obvious what one should do next. Here is a practical list:

1) Tell a Christian friend. 

One thing is - tell someone ! Preferably someone you can trust. An evangelical Christian (I am not ruling out Catholics or Coptics or Orthodox or Pentecostals here, any of whom might be evangelical in their faith - i.e. outgoing - witnessing to Christ) 

I would say, though, that if you had been going to a church where the message of the gospel has not been preached that you should not talk to the priest or minister at that church about your experience. It is possible that they will minimise it, or that they will feel uncomfortable about it and make you think you are a psychological case. 

No, talk to someone you know is fully on board with the gospel of Christ, who knows the scriptures, someone whom you know will support you and affirm your decision. (I think of a lady called Helga whom I know, as the type of person one should talk to. She is a faithful Christian, reads the Bible, often bears witness to Jesus in a gentle way, someone like that.) 

By the way, if you're not sure who to speak to, ask God to show you. God will certainly guide you to the right person. 

2) With your friend's help and prayers, find a Christian fellowship to attend. 

It might be a bible study, or a church, or some sort of weekly gathering of Christians, but it's really important to find a place where your faith is affirmed and you can be part of the Body of Christ.

You need to hear the Word of God preached - i.e. the Bible - you need to hear someone tell you what God is saying to you in the Bible, to have it explained and expounded. This is what will make your faith grow - and faith is your shield for the inevitable attacks that will follow. 

For, once you are a Christian, you become a target for the "heavenly powers and authorities" - the spiritual powers arrayed against God. But don't worry - Jesus has already conquered these powers by dying on the cross! We are more than conquerers through Him. 

3) Ask for God's guidance about your life. 

Thirdly, there may be things God wishes you to change about your life. Start asking God for guidance about what he wants you to do with your time, your resources, & your whole life. Ask God to rule over every aspect of your life. God is very gentle and He will take you step by step into your new life with Jesus. Walk with God, obey His promptings. There may be difficult decisions to make, but if Jesus' Spirit strengthens you in your inner being* you will be able to make those decisions. 

*Ephesians 3:16-17 "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith"