Friday, December 17, 2010

It's not enough

A recently graduated high school student wrote to the Australian press, complaining that the school did not teach him things he needed to know. It taught acedemic subjects, but not, he says, how to handle life. You might reply that the school is not there to teach him all there is, his family and others around him have a role there, too. But still, I could see what he means. It reminded me of something I read in MAD Magazine, years ago. A father was saying to his son, "You need to work hard, son! Go to college, and get a good job!"
The son asked "Why?"
The father replied, "So you get paid good money, and then you can send your kids to college, and then they can get good jobs."
The son said, "Well, then what happens?"
The father said, "Well, uh, then they make money, so they can send their kids to college, so that they can get good jobs."
And so on. You see how the father hesitated, because he could see how it became a bit of a repetitive thing, a circle that kept repeating itself. And all he seemed to see was that you needed to get a 'good' job, whatever that is, and make good money, so you can....and that's it. The son was looking for meaning in life. Are we just like animals, which just live to produce offspring, provide for them while they grow to adulthood, so that they too can provide for their offspring, and so on....
The young letter writer could see that there is more to life than just working and earning, although of course those things matter. We need to live, and if we have children we should provide for them as well as we can.
But we don't live by bread alone.
If we don't exist just to reproduce and keep the species in existence, what are we here for.
As the old cliche goes, what is life about?
Back in the 1960s, the hippies and others wanted more than just the materialism that their elders seemed to live for. But then the generation before them remembered the Great Depression, and all the destruction of World War 2, and building up material security was important to them. It's a problem that they lost sight of something here: why are we on Earth? Is it just to survive and leave descendants behind?
Jesus said it first: Humankind does not live by bread alone. The body is not all there is. The soul has needs too, and those needs include a direction, a reason to live.
If I could get all the population of my country to hear ONE thing I said, that would be it. You exist because God caused you to be conceived, to be born, and to be alive today. He has a purpose for you life.
Ask Him what it is.
If the young letter writer did not see how his high school education showed him that, it shows that secular education has a major shortcoming. It does not deal with the matters of the Spirit. In fact thanks to some 'reformers' and 'social progressives' who try to get God out of schools, the school is not allowed to deal with things of the Spirit. And that is its shortcoming.
I can see why Christian schools are being set up. The fill a need that secular public schools do not. I can see why more parents want to home school their children. That way they don't have to leave the nurture of their kids to people who either deny God His place, or simply don't care, or who are not permitted to mention such things.
So who is going to tell them? Education itself is not enough. Evangelization is the life-blood of the human spirit, without which it can develop spiritual deformities and become distorted in what it seeks. It might lapse into hedonism, personal gratification, or it might get duped into bizarre forms of mysticism that come from Satan, although that being tries not to be seen doing it.
We do not live by bread alone. We are spirits in bodies for a time, not bodies with spirits.
Let no-one hide the fact.

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Time to confront the deadliest demon..."

That title above is partly taken from an article that started me thinking. It is about youth suicide. According to the article, up to five Australian children attempt it every day. I don't know what that figure would be for the U.S, Canada, Britain, but it might be just as bad. And it's a demon, alright. It's pure horror. The writer says we must confront it, but his suggestion is that schools need to deal with it, through their curriculum.
He's right to be concerned, but it seems to me the problem goes back deeper than he believes and so does what should be done about it. The answer is not just a matter of teaching students, or children and youth generally, to rationalize problems and build defences against them. They need to be shown a different world view.
The clever modern thinkers who've had control of schooling for some years wanted to get God out of schools. We've all heard the thing about 'religion being a crutch', or a residual superstition from the past, and so forth. Not so clever, actually, because when people do not have any idea of a personal God to turn to, they have no hope in this universe except what they can find from themselves or other mere human beings.
The clever secular thinker talks about coming to terms with things, or playing the hand you're dealt, or making the best of it, and so on. My question: I've played poker for matchsticks, and I know, you can get dealt a hand that is no use at all. How do you play that? Shocking things can happen, that are quite beyond your control. Whether they happen to me or to people I care about, or complete strangers, how do you come to terms with the fact that life is just like that?
Not good enough. If live is worth going on with, there has to be more to hope for.
Someone once said that if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him. That person knew just what he was saying. Human efforts and invention are not enough to keep up hope. We all die in the body sometime, some people too soon and very tragically. This life is not enough. I need to hope for and believe in something more. I need God. I have to know that He's there, and that He cares. He might not do just what I want, or give me just what I want, but ultimaletly, He's there and in the end He makes it right - for those who believe and turn to Him.
That is what young children and youth need to know. They need to understand they are not left to cope with all the rotten and tragic, cruel things that life can drop on them. God is there. They need to know that - and to know about God, so they don't get to thinking He's like the insurance company, you only call if you've got an emergency. Or the fire brigade - You don't have to talk to Him unless a crisis comes up. Stay in touch, daily.
That is where hope lies. I was not a Christian until just before I turned 25. In that first quarter century of life I heard it all about learning to cope, to accept things, to make the best of it, look on the bright side, yakkety yak. It wasn't enough. There was to much beyond control that could turn things bad.
We need to tell people that they don't need to despair because God is right beside them and has things under control. Life will have bad times but there is always hope, and always a direction if you look to God for it.
The world is not all that there is - and that's just as well!
That's what we need to tell kids, but the clever people in charge don't want that at all.
It is as if in claiming to try and help, they are cutting off the only real help there is. Wolves in sheeps' clothing. Or the blind leading the blind.
Just recently one of our sons told us he was grateful we brought him up to know the Lord. He can see what happens when people are not given that hope.
I'm grateful that the Holy Spirit reached out to me and made me see what I had to. There is no hope or real help anywhere except in God.
Kids need to know that.
And no-one should be able to keep the message from them.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Subtle tricks.

Arsinoe was Cleopatra's younger sister, so history tells us. And Arsinoe was killed on big sister's orders, because she might have been a rival for the Egyptian throne. The same source describes how the boys in Cleopatra's family were disposed of, also. How vile and evil! If you asked most people what they know about Queen Cleopatra, they would probably say she was famous for her beauty and her tragic death after her lover died, not that she was a power-seeking murderer.
We know families don't always get on well, but fratricide is another thing. As we agreed, discussing it after, the society of Ancient Egypt included some dark and evil places.
It's the same elsewhere. The Ancient Greeks, of the Hellenic Age, had a very advanced civilization in the material sense. They learned and deduced some things about the world and our solar system which were later forgotten and had to be rediscovered hundreds of years later. Vert commendable.
They could also be grossly indulgent and entertain some perversions. Several times I've been told that Hellenic men took boys as 'lovers'. That's not homosexuality so much as pederasty, or paedophilia.
The Romans indulged in debauched evil, too. Burning people alive in the Colluseum, or having them set upon by wild animals, was a specator sport for the public at the time.
Yet we were taught at school that these societies were marvellous and admirable. History books and scholars talk about 'the wonder that was Ancient Rome' and 'the Golden Age of Greece', overlooking the Greek practice of keeping slaves. Egypt too is described as a place full of wonders, like the pyramids and Tutenkhamen's tomb.
A young learner could get the impression that the past was a breathtaking place, and it's only the present that is disappointing. And it is a subtle trick, to delude us about human nature and the state of the world. It pretends that human beings are much more admirable and upright than we actually are. I say 'we' because I'm not some exception.
Secular teaching of history therefore conceals an important truth, that a human must know to hear the call of God. Human history does NOT only show us what marvels we have achieved as a race, but also what depths of corruption we have often sunk to.
Teaching history the way we do can be mischieviously misused. Communists teach history to try and sell their ideology, by claiming everything before Karl Marx was bad. And secularists can use history to try and fool us that we don't need God.
This was what George Orwell meant when he said, whoever controls the past controls the present. Tell people that the past was what you want them to believe it was, and you can manipulate them into believing certain things about the present.
The concept of the 'noble savage' comes in here too. The idea was that at some time in the past, a human society existed which was perfectly harmonious and free from evil. If we can get back to it we can re enter the golden age of peace. That idea also tries to show that human creatures can be perfect if put in the right environment - and thus pretends that we are better than we are in fact, when you look at what actually happens.
I can see why the Christian schools movement has grown. There is a need to present knowledge and learing in a clear way, without attempting to idealize it. And Christian truth will show that, but not secularism. Secularism tries to pretend we are better than we are, and deny the need of a Messiah to save us.
I wonder where it will end?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

An analogy

When some people talk about Christianity, or any other belief, they give their ignorance away. I don't mean to be too harsh, just get right to the point. People discuss faith as if it was like being part of a club, which has some traditions and rituals, but it doesn't necessarily change your the members' world view. When they're not at a club meeting they simply live like everyone else around them.
This is the analogy that occurs to me. A convinced theist, or believer in God, and a convince atheist are as different as two mathematicians working with different number scales. If you work with a number scale of ten, then four fives equal twenty. If you work with a number scale of five, four fives equal forty. The same data yields a different answer if your analytical thinking framework is different. If a person really believes in the existence of God, then God is a factor in all things, all issues and all equations about life. God is always there and always has to be considered. And God can make the impossible possible. God can, if He chooses turn water into wine. So God has to be remembered in all situations. Someone I once knew said "This has nothing to do with God," when telling someone else what to do. They were quite wrong. It has everything to do with God. The advice they were giving was not in keeping with God's teaching. But they were saying that in the real world you have to be 'practical', by which they meant do whatever worked best, and never mind if it wasn't the Christian thing to do. There is probably a great deal of that. This person called themselves a Christian but left God out of some of their daily decisions in life. God was only for Sundays or for making fine sounding speeches about when they were in the mood. Their faith did not transfer into daily life.
That's not all. Some non-believers, or agnostics, don't understand why Christians get 'hung up' about certain things. They don't see why Christians have to make an issue out of things instead of just fitting in. That is to say, they don't realize how real God and His teachings are to those who really believe.
Even though I personally do not follow the teachings of Judaism, I must respect the right of a Jewish man to wear a yarmulka, if he feels that's important a part of his belief. Some people propose to ban such things in public schools, because the school is supposed to be secular. But a Jew does not stop being Jewish just because they are in a public school.
And a Christian does not stop being a Christian just because it is not Sunday and they are not in church.
That is why they sometimes cannot fit in with the world. Jesus Himself warned His followers of that. They may be rejected and victimised by the world.
In the same vein, some people say the church should 'modernise' to fit in with the community it wants to connect with. That is putting the cart before the horse. The community needs to change to follow the Word's teachings - or else be honest enough to admit that they are not doing so. To say the church has to agree with society is saying that the church has no real beliefs, it just reflects social or political fashion. But some people can't see that because they do not really know what they are talking about when they discuss faith.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Why are we born?

Another TV documentary not long ago, about child beauty pageants and the children and mothers involved. The reviewer passed the comment that there was a certain sadness about it. Their reason? The little girls were involved in these beauty/talent/whatever contests because their mothers wanted them to be. It was supposed to be about the girls getting a great career launched, and a bright future happening, but the ones who pushed the issue were the parents, not the little girls themselves.
This issue goes back years. I recall "Dead Poets Society", one of the best films I've ever seen except that the ending was so tragic. It was the same thing happening. Neil Perry's father had an ambition for his son: "You're going to Harvard, and you're going to be a doctor!" Neil was not asked what he wanted to do, he was told, and when he showed interest in being an actor instead his father, enraged, was going to send him to military school to make sure he shaped up the way his father wanted. The parent reckoned the child came into the world to do what the parent wanted. That was the end of that.
Back further still, MAD Magazine did a satiric take on parents who want their children to become movie stars. In its usual ironic way, the magazine talked about a mother taking her son round all the talent agencies, and said: "Her son will have a movie career. He will succeed if she has to break every bone in his body."
Suffer the children.
It's probably as old as the human race. Parents have children to live out an agenda of their own. Children are born to be heirs to the family property, or to do something the parents want. In recent history, I heard a woman from a Communist nation say of her daughter: "She belongs to the state."
I've heard a father say, "I played football so my son's going to play football."
The examples could go on and on. The point is, mere human beings are claiming ownership of what is NOT theirs, at all.
Who makes children come to life? Can any human guarantee to to that? No way.
God causes people to come into the world. And God alone has the right to decide what they should be, not only because He made them but because He knows far better what is right in any case.
It must be pure horror to be the child of ruthless ego-maniac parents who want to live through their child. The kid is only there for them, they reckon - while insisting they 'only want what's best'. Yeah! A control freak is always good at justifying themselves.
One of the greatest examples of Godly parenting was by Hannah, mother of Samuel the Prophet. Mark you, her example is almost asking too much of a mother. She begged God to give her a son, and vowed to give her son back to God to serve. So when Samuel was only two years old he was given into the care of the Priest to learn to serve in the Temple. His mother only saw him once a year. It shouldn't have to be that hard for all Christian parents, but the point is, who really should decide what becomes of a child, and what they do in life. God. Not mere human parents; and least of all pushy parents who want the child to fulfill their ego-trips for them.
We have five children. Obviously we care a lot about what they do in life, but we can't make them something we decide. It would never work. The huge youth rebellion thing in the 1960s had a lot to do with youth resenting their parents trying to make them into something they did not want to be. One singer of that era penned the line, "your children are not your children," meaning that you don't own them. But that singer still didn't get it quite right. If people try living life just for themselves, they can become hedonists, completely self-centred, or just plain lost.
So we have this ongoing thing, mistake on mistake, and all the fallout. Perents and families trying to breed a child according to blue-print, a sort of made-to-order person; or people making themselves their own god and becoming like Gordon Gecko. Or just plain lost.
When Jesus said 'Give to God what is God's" He meant more than just tithes and money offerings.
Human children are God's. He make them. He alone can save them. He knows best what should become of them. And it is a very arrogant, foolish mistake to forget that.
Of course we have dreams about them. But we need to know who even invented dreams.
One of our sons is studying to become a pastor. His mother and I are glad of that. But he had to decide, under God's prompting, to do that. If we'd pushed and pushed him to do it because we wanted that, it could all have gone square-wheeled. The proverb saying "Bring up a child in the way you want them to go," meanst bring them up to follow God, not just your ambitions for them.
Once before I wrote a blog post about why I would never enter our daughter in a beauty pageant. I don't want to compare her to other children, and treat her like a showpiece for her family. That is NOT why God gave her into our care. Our task is to raise her in Christ, for Him and for her own sake, not to get human approval.
I must never forget that. God help and guide us all.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The worship of youth is the fear of truth.

"Where do you go to, Beloved Son,
With your heart harshly troubled, my noble young one?"
"I must go to the world and bequeath hope and warning,
To tell fractured hearts that a new age is dawning,
There's hope, healing and fire, vile sin and great ire,
And a fearful judgement to come."
(Copyright Andrew Clarke)

Yesterday, reading a historical article in the newspaper, I read about Elizabeth Bathory. It's a problem that she had the same given name as my closest companion, my wife, because she has an evil history. Elizabeth Bathory was one of the people on whom the vampire legends are based, along with Vlad the Impaler, aka Dracula.
She was a princess in what is now Hungary, born in 1560 and being bricked up alive in a room in 1610. She had killed hundreds of young women, drunk their blood and bathed in it because she hoped it would preserve her own youth and beauty (Beauty? Physical only, by the sound of it!) Once it was discovered what she was up to, her accomplices were put to death but because she was an aristocrat she could not be. So they imprisoned her until she died, instead.
Some reports had it that she was descended from Vlad Dracula, the Impaler, who must be among the vilest and grossest human demon who ever blotted this planet God made.
The underlying thing is trying to cheat death. It's been going on forever. People want to avoid aging, and dying. Youth is made into an ideal state, to be worshipped, idealized and imitated in later life even if it can't be made to last into later life. Well, being human, I don't want to look or feel too old, admittedly. Who does? We want to stay fit, and active, and (I'll be honest) still a bit attractive to look at, for as long as possible. But past a certain point it just becomes an obsession, with results that can be either ridiculous or straight out evil. Some people have multiple face lifts and other surgery, trying to look twenty five when they're nearer fifty five, and can start to look like something Dr Frankenstein did on a bad hair day.
Or it can become a murderous obsession, like Princess Bathory, above.
People want to stay young, partly, because they are vain, or afraid that they will be left out of a society that idolizes youth. In doing that, they are being shallow. All life is part of the human continuum, and all of it is meant to be. I was glad to be young when I was, but now I'm fifty seven I can cope with being fifty seven. In fact, I have no choice, unless it becomes absurd self-deception.
People want to cheat death because they are afraid of what comes next. If there is nothing, then once they die they've got nothing left. If there is something, then what is it, they wonder.
They could find out, if they want to believe God's revelations. But that would require them to be humble, and humility does not come easily to people.
God's Word tells us, we WILL die. But that death is only of the body. And if what comes after is better, then clinging to life at all costs is not only futile but it can be self-destructive. You can cling to life and find out it is not only a fragile straw, but a spiky one that can let you down and pierce you. I wrote once before about people who knowingly laid down their lives because they felt they should die themselves rather than see others killed. They would rather die in good conscience than live in bad conscience. It's easier to talk about than to do, but that is how it is. It really IS better to die in good faith than live in bad. I hope I die painlessly in my sleep at a good age, but if I have to, I pray I can die in good faith rather than live in bad. God help me.
So there is the stupidity and pointlessness of thinking, this life is all there is. You can cling to what you will lose anyway, and behave badly towards others in order to cling to it, and find out it's just a sack of dust. But if you remember the soul, not just the body, then you know your existence does not end when your physical form stops breathing. You know that conscious life goes on. Then it matters where that life will be lived.
I'm very thankful the Lord found and called me. I'm very thankful the Lord found and called my wife and our five children. I can never stop thanking Him for that. Without that, I might be madly trying to preserve youth and life and making a complete fool or villain of myself.
Come again, Lord Jesus

Monday, July 19, 2010

If you want them to come, build it right!

I saw a small flier about home schooling/unschooling in our town today. There seems to be a growing interest in it. I can imagine some teachers and senior education bureaucrates voicing their disapproval too, but there is a good reason why some people home school, or at least get their children out of state schools.
My only experience with schooling is in N.S.W, Australia, but it seems the situation is much the same in some other parts of the western world. The school is supposed to be there for everybody, but in fact it just does not suit some people at all. In this state schools teach a secular approach to life, and a tolerance of certain things, such as abortion, which contravene the teachings of Christianity and possibly other faiths as well. That is to say, the schools' position on some life issues is quite wrong to some people. Since we accept freedom of belief, and freedom of worship, the Christians can't impose their beliefs on others but others can't tell Christians - or Jews, or Hindus, or whoever we have - to their own. The state school system alienates some people by wanting them to keep their beliefs private while others are proclaimed as being 'right'. By whose authority are they right?
That's not the only reason why some kids do not want to be in schools, be they state or any other. Bullying has been a problem in school for as long as I can remember. Some individuals find a school to be a hostile place full of nasty hostility. In the last few years we've seen the pure horror of child or teenage suicide, the victim being driven to it by what happened to them in school. What's worse is, some school staffs appear completely unable to stop it - or is it unwilling, because it becomes so difficult?
Respect for the individual can involve accepting that they are different from a lot of people around them and need to live differently. I can completely sympathize with some parents who do not want their kids going to school, because they know just what hostile places schools can be for some people. There are times when school inmates gang up on a lone student like animals. That might be harsh, but look at what happens sometimes and try to be 'nice' about it. Come to that, this is just what sometimes happens. Excuses get made for the bullies, saying that they are victims themselves. Even is that is true, which I don't believe it always is, then saying it does not heal the injury done to the victims. It just gives people an easy way out. They excuse themselves having to confront the problem, and claim a superior social conscience at the same time.
If the community at large wants schools to be suitable for all, the community will have to run them properly. There needs to be effective measures taken against vicimisation that goes on, and an acceptance that kids do not have to deny their own beliefs and background when in school. Make schools work right, and at least some people who try to avoid them might like them better. That is NOT to say that everyone should go to school. Home schooling might really be better for a lot of individual kids. But for those who do go, they would be less off-putting if better supervised. Make them better, more people might like being there. Build them right and they will come to them.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Are you scared of it?

Two newspapers in Australia have reported that their are 'concerns' over the way scripture, or Religious Instruction, is being taught in N.S.W. public schools. Volunteers from the community, as well as church pastors, take these classes as part of the legally mandated Scripture classes run in public schools in the state. A study by Macquarie University has been told that children are being told they will go to hell if they do not believe in Jesus Christ.
Does anyone dare write to the people running the study and tell them: bluntly, though it's not intended to be a threat, that is what the Gospel does teach. There is only one way for the human soul to be saved after the body dies. The soul is everlasting, and it may or may not be saved from permanent misery by separation from God; and that one way is to know Jesus Christ and believe in Him.
The complaint is that kids are being brainwashed, or scared, or something, into 'extreme views' of Christianity. Apparently the pure truth taught by the Christian Gospel is 'extreme'.
It might be that those teachers who put this across had in fact said that Jesus came to save the world, and die for us, rather than just trying to scare kids. Evangelism is 'the Good News', after all. But it is not extreme to teach about the threat of dying unsaved, unless you want to falsify Christian doctrine into a wishy washy thing about just being nice to people.
Suppose it scared kids to be shown what can happen if they drink and then drive, by telling them what happens in vehicle accidents? Should they not be told in case it makes them uncomfortable? What about the risks involved in unsafe sex? Should others keep silent in case hearing the truth upsets someone? In Australia, we have health warnings about skin cancer caused by too much exposure to the sun. Should we stop running them in case it upsets someone?
It is not compulsory to attend Scripture classes in public schools. No-one has to be there. But if the classes are about Christianity, should they not tell it like it is?
I had to grapple with this when I first became a Christian, at 24 years of age. It was not good to know that some 'good' people I knew were not saved. They needed to come to terms with Jesus, not just be well intentioned. I find it difficult to cope with. But if it's true, it is true. You can't escape an issue by denying it.
That is why some people do not want to hear the Gospel. It would confront them with things they don't want to have to admit or deal with. I can't make them, but they can't make me deny what Christianity is and dumb it down for their convenience. If they don't like hearing, what does that show? They might be afraid it's true? It's funny the way some people scoff at Christianity, yet get uncomfortable when ever it is discussed.
Are they scared of it?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Some deeds I admire.

This could quite a list, but I'll stick to two particular ones. We all have our heroes, although we have to keep hero-worship under control, because it can be a misleading distraction.
Did you ever hear of Captain Oates? He was a member of Robert Falcon Scott's Antarctic expedition in 1911. They set out to reach the South Pole, hoping to be the first people to do so. When they reached the Pole they found that another group, led by Roald Amundsen, had beaten them to it. So, disappointed, they set off back to their base, and ran into trouble with fatigue and failing health. Captain Oates realized that his friends were being slowed down by him, because he was the worst affected, and that the others might lose their lives trying to save him.
So he walked out into the freezing cold, knowing he would die, to give the others a better chance. Apparently his last words were, (paraphrased) "I'm going for a walk, gentlemen. I may be a little time."
When I read that I couldn't think of anything else for nearly an hour. That took guts - and it took care for others to put them first, giving up his own life.
Another example was a soldier, Colonel O.C. Hannay. He was a Scotsman, and an officer in the British Army.During the South African War (1899-1902) he was given an order that he knew would cost the lives of too many of his men. The order was to make a mounted charge against a strong postition, which Hannay knew would have just got his men slaughtered. But he had his orders. His orders were "You are to charge the enemy position." Hannay took the view that, right, HIS orders were to charge this strong enemy position, even if it was suicidal.
So he obeyed his orders. He charged - on his own. He gave NO order to his men to follow him, and charged the enemy alone. He was shot down from his horse and killed, but he had saved his men from pointless slaughter.
That action was noble and brave. He gave up his own life to spare others.
Those two men could only save the bodies of others. They could not save souls. They must have cared enough about others to do what they could, whatever it amounted to.
The human race must look quite contemptible to God, with all the cruel and stupid things we do. You could wonder how much suffering we are worth going through for.
Crucifiction has been described by doctors as the most agonizing way to die. But Jesus Christ undertook to suffer it, for the sake of others. Not only that, but according to the Scriptures, when His body died His soul descended tnto Hell. He literally has been to Hell and back. But Hell couldn't hold Him. It had no claim because he was guilty of no wrongdoin.
Men like Oates and Hannay, and women too, have gone to death to save the bodies of others. I hope they were saved. Jesus Christ went through death to Hell itself,to save our souls.
Self-sacrificing heroes and heroines reflect the awesome example of Jesus Christ, because Humankind is made in the image of God and we can sometimes reflect His glory when we do what is right and good. But they can only save bodies. One only can save our souls, and He suffered hideously to do so. God be thanked. Come again, Lord Jesus.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Message: still relevant.

Some books and stories stay in print because they tell the reader something that remains true. They might narrate a moving, sad tale which leaves the reader deeply affected. Such is the power of the language. But they might also be a warning against mistakes we should avoid.
If you read "Wuthering Heights", you remember the character Catherine, who is in love with Heathcliff but decides that she can't marry him. The reason she gives is that, even though Heathcliff is her soul mate, who she loves and needs, she can't imagine taking him into the sort of polite society that she mixes with. Catherine belongs to a landed family, with a certain social station, and Heathcliff was a homeless orphan her father found in the streets and took in. She just can't imagine taking him to a social function of some sort - he would not fit in. So she marries someone 'more suitable' as the saying goes; and just finds that all ends in tears. If you know the story then you recall that it all ends in tragedy, with Catherine dying in some sort of despair and Heathcliff mourning her for years, wanting to reach out to her beyond the grave and eventually dying himself. It is a bleak, heart-wringing story and it probably remains a classic because it gets to people. But it also reveals the human folly of the lead characters. They deny the deeper, spiritual side of themselves to fit in with human society's prejudices.
Catherine is a sympathetic character but she made a bad mistake trying to be married to one man and still closely bonded to another. Heathcliff, also a flawed character, marries another woman to get even with Catherine and treats her with great cruelty; and mistreats his son also.
The story would not be what it is if they all lived happily ever after, but lives would not have been spoilt if the lead characters hadn't given in to their own bad ideas.
It still happens today. It happens because people still give way to the bad ideas invented by humans and don't look for higher spiritual guidance in leading their lives.
Not long ago I read an article in which a Christian single woman argues that it should be okay for Christians to have sexual relationships outside marriage. Her reason is, she can't find a husband. So she hopes to have some sort of intimate relationship without one. I prayed for that woman that she finds what she really needs in life, but I'm wondering quite what that is!
I don't know her at all, but could it be like this? She can't find a husband because of human, worldly prejudices about what a suitable man should be?
It happens to men as well. An old friend I saw at a reunion was still single though he does not want to be because he can't get past daydreams about willowy blondes. He wants to meet a woman who looks like Jerry Hall or something, and in real life he never does.
So where's this going? Dating and matchmaking agencies have become a huge industry in recent decades, because there are people everywhere who 'can't find anyone'. I don't believe that the God revealed in Jesus Christ would leave someone languishing in loneliness because He didn't care. More likely He has to get through to them, that if they want a partner they should leave that to Him. It would sound a bit cute to say it, but God is the best matchmaker in the universe and you don't have to pay for His services. The thing to remember is: God's idea of your right partner might not be what you have been expecting. If that is the problem, change your approach.
One of my sons recently married, and the odds of he and his wife meeting they way they did would be a billion to one. Yet it happened.
My wife and I met rather unexpectedly, on a blind date arranged by someone I hardly even knew. Over thirty years later, God's arrangement is still working out.
So there it is. Do people not find the chance to marry for a long time because they are blinded by a predispostion of mind that their ideal other has to look like some sort of a poster pin up? (Or centre fold!) If they do,then they're being very shallow; and it won't work out anyway. The message is the same as it has been since the Scripture were written. "In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." (Proverbs 3, verse 6.)
A man might dream of Liz Hurley, or a woman of Hugh Grant, and spend their life on a silly shallow dream. And all the time God can set things to right if you undertake His direction and allow Him to. As well as that, we all need to remember what they say, even if it seems corny. Physical beauty is only skin deep. It does not show you the whole person. Hollywood has a bit to answer for, giving so many humans this tinny view of what people should be like. The real answer comes from an eternal source.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Pharisees of today

Jesus compared the pharisees to tombs, 'whited sepulchres.' They were clean and presentable on the outside but inside they were filled with corruption and decay. The same applies to any pretenders who claim to be better than they are by keeping up appearances, which is not the same as living up to them. And some of the best examples are the political poseurs who claim to show the rest of us the way.
What strikes me in particular is this. Some righteous, politically correct people have the most exhaustive social conscience, and make sure they tell others. They don't drink coffee if the beans were picked by exploited workers. They don't wear clothes made in a sweat shop. They don't buy things exported from a country with a government that breaches human rights. And when it comes to their sexual behaviour they have no scruples at all. Even if they are as good as they say, doing all the fine things to save the planet, their behaviour can be a betrayal of others and do huge hurt to those they claim to care about.
In Australia, a member of parliament from the Greens party, married with three children, has been caught having an affair with a member of the Liberal party. Both are married, and they represent different sides of politics. But they can both go behind their partners' backs and carry on with this thing in secret. Them and hundreds more. They say all the right things, claim to stand for what it good and then just indulge themselves, in a way that hurts those close to them and denies what they claim they stand for.
I have to remember my own sins, and the words "Judge not, that you be not judged." My own record will be no great credit to me on the Day of Judgement. But the longer I live the more believable are the words of the Prophets, and of Jesus Himself, condemning the vast sin of the world. It is a bad mistake to start thinking humans are not really so bad, and that the Christian Gospels are too harsh in what they say; and that a loving God would not condemn, and all that. Because if I look around me or inside myself it is not a pretty picture. God must love me all right, to not have abandoned me long ago. And that goes for us all, the more so the proud ones who think they will prove their worth while denying God. You can see people about to bring fearful wrath down on themselves, and they don't know it or refuse to see it. Like the pharisees, if they keep the outside clean and polished, what do they think the inside matters?
But you can't fool God.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


When thinking about our own joys, I should remember the strife and trouble other people may be going through. Writing this, I feel thankful. I wish as much good on the life of anyone who reads this. But I've been absent from blogging for a time because we've been to Hawaii, to our son's wedding!
It sounds exotic, though what happened was this. Our daughter in law is American, our family Australian and to save either family having to make the whole journey across the Pacific the young couple chose Hawaii as a half-way point. So David and Melissa exchanged their vows in Honolulu. It was pure joy. Actually, when I say that, I was getting choked up at one stage. We began singing the opening hymn and I had trouble singing, shedding a few quiet tears. I couldn't help it! When you have children you realize how vulnerable they are and how badly they need God to help them with life, and to look to Him. Our son David is a Christian, and so is our new daughter Melissa. And so are her family. It is a huge blessing to find that your child has been led to God's choice of partner, and that as well as loving her we can love her family as well.
The ceremony itself honoured God. It was the subject of a lot of prayer. It was God's blessing on our son and our whole family, and on the bride's family as well. We have four other children, and we pray it is as good for them. We also have new people to remember in prayer, our daughter-in-law's family. We know that David and Melissa might end up living in the United States, where it's harder to get to see them; but if that's God's will, then it is for the best.
Seeing David and Melissa coming together and a new family beginning gave me a sense of renewal. That is what life in Christ involves. Renewal and new life. God be with them always.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Call a spade a spade.

Not long ago I see a female person verbally attacking a man, telling him off and putting him down, and when he reacted in the same way she accused him of being 'afraid of strong women.' I felt like telling her there is a BIG difference between a strong woman and a bully. It is another case of calling something obnoxious by a fine sounding name in an attempt to make it better than it is.
I know some strong women. I've been privileged to be involved with several strong women, and none of them needs to be abusive, critical, loudly in my face or hostile. None of them tries to be intimidating to get their own way. That is a very important difference. There is some self-serving dishonesty in confusing the two, by calling one the name that belongs to the other.
One strong woman I know stuck by her husband and family, doggedly working hard to help keep the family's struggling farm going. She is my mother. Another strong woman has coped with a lot of grief and disappointment, been through two lots of cancer surgery, and still works while still being there for her friends.
Another strong woman has overcome a miserable childhood to work at her marriage and raise five children. I should know. I'm married to her!
None of those, and others like them, is a strident harridan who pushes people around and belittles them.
Some pushy, bullying women I know try to walk on a man's face and then accuse him of male chauvinism when he simply insists on not being treated that way.
A good woman is worth more than rubies, as the Bible says - and I don't mean that condescendingly. It is true. But let's get the definitions right. Strong need not be loud. Real strength is not the same as vindictiveness, or personal ego. Some female bullies, like male ones, have a problem with fear of their own. They are scared stiff that someone might see their uncertainty so they cover it up with bluster, and try to intimidate others with abuse.
For pure strength, look at the Messiah. He could have called the vengeance of God down on His tormentors, but he asked that they be forgiven instead. Strength and brutality are two utterly different things. We all need to know the difference.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"If God did not exist..." (Heaven forbid!)

A philosopher once said, "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him."
I think it was Voltaire. He knew what he was getting at!
The Global Atheists Convention has just been held in Melbourne, Australia. One columnist who attended it said that it had worked a miracle on him. He describes himself as agnostice, but as he put it, "I've never felt more like believing in God. Especially the Christian one." He feels that way because of the way the atheists behave. As he put it, without God "...there's not much to stop people in our society from behaving like barbarians."
It was the most perfect illustration of what the philosopher mentioned above, was getting at.
Certain things were said at the convention that were utterly discreditable to those who said them. One speaker described Joseph Ratzinger as ' "the Pope Nazi' ', when in fact that man was conscripted into the Hitler Youth, it did not require allegiance to Nazism to be a member.
We have a Senator in Australia named Steve Fielding, also a Christian, who was described by an atheist speaker as stupider than an "earthworm".Yet another speaker asked if there were any believers in the audience, and when some put up their hands he rejoined by saying that he would speak slowly (so that they could keep up with him!). In other words, there were brutish and slanderous insults aimed at Christians for being believers. The journalist reporting went into more detail, which any one reading this could check by going to the site and reading the full text.
My point here is that in challenging the Christians, the atheists do not set an example of better behaviout than the Christians. The atheists resort to the sort of spite and malice that they have accused Christians of. Instead of disagreeing while respecting the rights of others to their views, it seems they wish to intimidate believers out of stating their beliefs. This while claiming to respect freedom of belief. Figure that out!
And the underlying concern is, that a universe without God would be such a vicious barbaric jungle that it would probably render itself extinct. Human beings do not behave better when they reject the idea of Divine Justice or punishment. They feel free to do just as they please! It's been said many times, when people think they can get away with anything they sometimes resort to utterly evil behaviour if it suits them. They would not dare to if they knew they would be named, shamed and punished.
William Golding wrote "Lord Of The Flies" about a group of highly civilized schoolboys from an advanced western culture, marooned without adult supervision or social restraint. They became barbarians, with a dictator, acts of murder and cruelty, and they set up a grotesque pagan god - the pig's head.
Joseph Conrad wrote "Heart Of Darkness" to show what happens when sophisticated people from an advanced culture are in the jungle without the restraint of their culture and its beliefs, including the influence of the Christian church. They become just as savage as the people they say need to be civilized.
I once heard human beings described as 'theotropic'. That means they have an inbuilt instinct to seek God. The only question is, which god will they choose. Centuries ago, when the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, Moses left them for a few days and they pressured Aaron to make them a god - the golden calf. They wanted a god who was convenient, who they could make look like they wanted and which would be there when they demanded.
History reports that one society trying to get rid of the idea of god set up a statue of 'the goddess of reason.' They had to have a focus of worship that was outside themselves. So atheists don't live without a god, they make one of their own intellect, or the writings of people who say what they want to hear. Or as Paul put it, a god of their own stomach - broadly speaking, their own apetites and desires.
So it seems if you want to see why we need God, a good place to start looking for proof is among people who openly reject God. For examples from history, look at Stalin's regime in the then U.S.S.R. where practicing a faith was forbidden and Christians persecuted. Mao's regime in China likewise tried to drive out belief in God, and set up the party and its leader in place of Him. Hitler's Nazi regime was hostile to Christianity. That is why people like Martin Niemoller and Diederich Bonhoffer were persecuted. They stood up for Christianity in a state that did not want to tolerate it.
If God did not exist this universe wouldn't either, but the 'rationalists' insist that several chance accidents, each of odds at several million to one, made it happen. That is the most wild folly I've heard. But people relying on their own 'reason and intellect' stand there and say it.
I'm terribly thankful that God does exist, that He reaches out to us and we aren't left madly trying to make sense of life and find something to believe in. As Jesus said, 'the truth will set you free.' We're free from being duped and bullied by those who try telling us they know everything and we should do what they say.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

"You've got the wood on us."

I was tumbling helpless, into flames of scorching fire,
Doomed to lasting torment by the devil's vile sword,
But a hand reached out to save me from a fearful fate and dire,
The only hand that could do so. The hand of Christ the Lord

The funeral was held for a young Christian man who'd died in a vehicle accident. It was a shocking sad business, losing him like that at 33 years of age, and his parents had already had some grief and trials to cope with. But the family are Christians, and they have the hope Christians all have: physical death is a departure from this world, not the end of existence. IT's a temporary separation between the person whose body has died and those left behind, who miss them. The minister conducting the service was a vibrant believer, and it showed in what he said. There was grief at that event, but there was hope too. And a large number of people were there, whose aquaintance or friendship with the man came from different times or parts of his life. So not all the attendees were Christians. One was a former school teacher and debating coach who came to pay respects.
That man is a communist. I get on well with him, because after years of arguing our different view points we respect each other. But as a communist, he definitely does not believe Christian teaching. Still, being at that funeral and seeing the people there made a deep impression on him. Near the end of the service, when the hearse had left, he said to me quietly, "I think you've got the wood on us." For those not familiar with that expression, it means having the edge. He could see that Christianity could uplift people in a way that a political ideology could not. The Holy Spirit can do what plain human inspiration cannot. I'm not gloating over him. It is itself a witness. Even an unbeliever could see how much difference it made to people that they believed Jesus, and His words, and held to the hope they gain.
Without that hope there could have been nothing but despair and an increasing weariness with life.
If I didn't have Jesus I would have become too bitter and depressed to go on living. If that family did not have Christ they could end up wishing for death themselves to be out of their misery.
I should have said to my friend, "We've haven't got the edge, Jesus gives it to us." I didn't think quickly enough, but then if I was meant to say that the Holy Spirit would have given me those words. They might have sounded too neat, or something. What I know is, the Holy Spirit showed an unbeliever something that day. I pray he took it to heart.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Which came first?

The home schooling movement is growing in Australia, as well as the U.S., and I can see why! Working as a high school teacher for twenty five years, shows what the shortcomings are - not only with schools themselves, but also with the way society views them, and tries to use them.
God did NOT invent schools, He invented families. That has been forgotten by too many people who think that the school is an absolutely essential fact of modern life. It is not. It is a human innovation, and has all the shortcomings that humans' works have.
God gave families first responsibility for the care and nurture of children, and with that the right to be involved in what shape their education takes. That does not mean that all Christians should home-school. There are Christian schools, and Christian teachers in some secular schools, so that Christian content and perspective can be presented to kids who attend a school. But the paramount responsibilty for raising the young rests with families; and if Christian parents decide to home school, I can see exactly why. Some of the content directed at school enrollees is unsympathetic to Christians and their beliefs. One example is the modern 'rationalist' view that life began without the involvement of a Divine Being. Another is the idea that everyone makes their own moral decisions without being answerable to anyone but themselves. Then there is the teaching by secular schools that homosexuality is an entirely healthy individual difference. Christians should not be hostile to such people as homosexuals, in line with rejecting the sin but not the sinner. But they cannot be required to agree that it is a normal good thing if they believe the Bible's clear teaching on the subject. Some individual teachers are quite scornful and hostile to Christianity, and talk openly about trying to turn children away from it. They have no right to do so, but claim they have, and some others would agree. So there are good reasons why Christians may decide to avoid pernicious or hostile influences being directed at their kids.
From another angle, the expectations imposed on schools become quite ridiculous at times. Some parents take the view that if teachers know their job, they can make right anything that is wrong in the life of anyone aged 18 or under. They can make up for the deficit left by inadequate parents, that is! Very convenient for under committed parents who want someone else to do it for them!
Some months ago there were some racially based fights in southern Sydney. A senior officer in the Teachers' Federation stated that these riots drew attention to the role of the school in the community. The implication is that teachers should socially program all students so that they don't get involved in racial tensions. It is as if schools and teachers alone shape the attitudes and beliefs of all students. That is rubbish. Family background, peer group influence and personal experiences have a huge effect on the attitudes people develop. So it is unreasonable to require the school system to take care of all the business of raising children in a healthy way. By this means, schools and teachers are sometimes blamed for things they can't change. So secular society demands that schools take responsibility for raising children, instead of families. Too convenient! It saves parents the trouble of doing it themselves! This is especially the case with some parents who pay huge costs for expensive private schools, especially boarding schools, and expect the school to raise their children for them.
In addition to all this, some individual kids have a horrible time at school because schools can be emotional ghettoes full of bullying and unpleasantness. In New South Wales recently there have been suicides by kids overcome by the torment they endure at school. And the staff of schools are flaccidly useless in doing anything about it, in some cases because they cannot. Part of the problem there is, bullies have all the rights and none of the responsibilities. There is always someone thinking they are on the side of the angels when they stand up for malefactors, claiming that they are misunderstood or 'never had a chance', and so on. Meanwhile, the victims have to just cop it.
So too much is expected of schools, and there are good reasons why some people hate being there.
It is a feature of atheist societies, or totalitarian ones, that the role of parents and families is diminished and the role of educational institutions increased. This gives 'the state' more control over children, and more chance to indoctrinate them. And it never should have been either empowered to do that, or made responsible for doing so. Teachers neither have the right nor should have the responsibility to replace parents. The de-schooling of society can be a reaction to this: that too much has been handed over to schools for too long.
So I entirely understand why home-schooling is increasing. It may even be the way of the future. Other ways can be found for children to mingle with people their own age. It does not have to be at school. God did not invent schools. He invented families, and with them should rest the task of raisng children.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A modern parable

Did you ever hear of someone who made themselves really evil, but some people still stand up for them? Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin would be two of the most abominable human devils the world has seen, but they both had devoted female partners and other followers loyal to them. And there are plenty of less famous examples: brutal, evil and violent individuals, gangsters, underworld figures, who have loyal friends and partners. Sometimes if a person is asked, how could they stand by someone like that, they answer 'You don't know them like I do.'
Well it might be good to see the good in someone, but it can be criminal stupidity to deny the evil that they do, as well.
Eva Braun married Adolf Hitler shortly before their deaths. It would be informative to know how she could be near someone who did what he did.
It seems Adolf Hitler was known for being kind to animals, and children - unless they were Jewish, Gypsy, or handicapped and consigned to euthenasia or the death camps. Josef Stalin had a loyal wife and several children. Did the woman who shared Stalin's home life know about the gulags?
The issue here is, can you relate to a person only according to their good side, or is it dishonest to do so? Does the bad they do exist inseparably with the good?
A classic modern parable here is Robert Louis Stephenson's work, "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde." The terms "Jekyll and Hyde" are now part of the English language. That story shows the tragedy of it. It came about that, when Mr Hyde finally met his end, Dr Jekyll died with him. It couldn't happen any other way. Because they were both parts of the same person, to stop Hyde doing what he did, Jekyll had to go down too. Edward Hyde did gruesome and foul things like stomp on little children. Henry Jekyll saved peoples' lives. But to stop Hyde killing people, Henry Jekyll had to be locked up (or killed) with him. It was impossible to have Jekyll without also having Hyde. And that is both the tragedy of the good in a person being destroyed by the bad; and the impossibility of only recognizing the good in any person, and denying the bad.
Hyde is a fictitious figure, and an extreme case, but the point still stands. A human can be destroyed entirely if the bad in them is too severe. Having a good side doesn't make it all right. In controlling Hyde, you must also lock up Jekyll, because wherever he is, Hyde is there too.
That story seems to me a modern parable. It shows something about the human condition and life. You can't let a person be seen only by their good side, and ignore the bad if it becomes too severe. We all have a down side, but most people keep it under control, or the world would be impossible to live in. But the sinful side can't be ignored. That is how it GETS out of control.
It shows something about the truth of God and Divine Judgement, as well. I believe R.L. Stephenson was a Christian, and his inspiration for the story may be from his faith. God cannot ignore our bad side and only see our good, because He is Truth. That is why we can't attain salvation by our own deeds and works. We have a Henry Jekyll side, but also an Edward Hyde side. The two are part of the one individual. You can't lock up Hyde without Jekyll being locked up as well. So God can't admit the Henry Jekyll to His kingdom without the Hyde entering at the same time. His solution? Take on Himself the punishment for what Hyde does in us all. Suffer excruciatingly on the Cross and bury it. Then the evil we do is paid for.
But simply on our own merits, we can't enter God's peace and kingdom because no matter how much Jekyll we might claim, we can't deny the Hyde. We have to be forgiven. We need to remember that.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What's happening?

I wihs I knew what to think about the American Christian missionaries arrested in Haiti. The claim is that they wanted to rescue orphaned children from disaster and give them shelter and safety. The plan was to have them adopted in the U.S. If that is what they intend, then it sounds to be humane and good. But now the accusation is that some of the children were not real orphans, and the missionaries have been accused of child trafficking. Can anyone tell me what is happening? It's disturbing to see Christian brothers and sisters in distress, and being locked up in a country like Haiti could be a nightmare. Putting it bluntly, that nation has a bad reputation for corruption and it's in a state of chaos as well, after the earthquake-not that they can be blamed for that! So I've prayed that they will be upheld and that the truth will be fairly stated. That's the point, though: is it a case of Christians doing the Lord's work, and being persecuted by the world, which resents what Christians do sometimes. Or are they misunderstood, and being misrepresented? Or did those people really take some liberties with Haitian people that they should not have done?
It is a great humane calling to help those in need. There really are some Haitian orphan children who badly need such help. We have some young Haitians in Australia, adopted by Australian families, and two brothers recently expressed their gratitude for it. Still, it sometimes happens that those claiming to help get rather heavy-handed and presume to do things without making sure their help is wanted. So that is what I'm wondering: did these missionaries set out to follow God's calling and find their actions were misunderstood, or did they get carried away and overstep the mark?
I should pray for their well-being no matter what. I've made too many mistakes myself to reproach anyone else. It's just that I'd be glad to know what's happening. If anyone reads this and can tell me more, I'd be glad to hear. Blessings.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


All lives on Earth shall pass and end,
In few or many years,
But though the earthly bodies walk
No more this vale of tears,
The minds that know, the souls that feel
Lie not where our bones fall.
When Jesus Christ comes back to Earth
They shall rise, one and all.

Some mockers ridicule Christians for using what they call a euphemism, a word meant to make something more pleasant than it is. They describe it as escapism, saying that Christians are unable to face up to the fact of death. To them, it sounds brave and honest to call death by that name, and to talk bluntly about it saying that when you're gone, you're gone: get used to it.
The mistake is theirs. To say that someone has 'passed on' might sound gentler than saying 'died', but the reason for putting it that way is to be accurate about what happens. When a human spirit leaves that person's body, then the body ceases to function, and that can give the appearance of ceasing to exist if you only accept the existence of what you can see. But that spirit has not ceased to exist. It never will. That spirit has gone somewhere else. It waits, and at some future time the Maker of this world is going to come back to it, in One of His Three Persons. That person is God the Son, who we know as Jesus Christ. So it is actually saying it like it is when you talk about 'passing on'. The real essence of the person, their mind and feelings and consciousness, have passed on from this Earth to the next stage of their existence. So it is no euphemism. It is stark truth. I say 'stark' because some people don't want to know! It might be easier for the scoffers if they did cease to be at all. Then there would not be a time to stand before the Throne of God. There would be no need to have to admit that they rejected Him, and trashed the priceless gift He held out.
On the positive side, if people find comfort in saying 'passed on', the God bless them. Those who left this Earth in faith and believing are waiting down the line.
Like anyone else, I've been bereaved from time to time. The longer you live the more it has happened. So like so many others I can feel the pure joy of knowing that we will meet again, those of us still here and those of us who have fallen asleep in the Lord and are waiting. The time is coming when there will be no more pain of parting.
Human beings seem to think that what they can't see they don't have to think about. That might be why they think if they throw something in the sea it no longer has any effect on anything. "Out of sight, out of mind," is an admission of the mind's tricks on itself rather than a sensible statement of fact about life. But few people see their own brain, yet they believe they have on. Likewise we can't see our own heart, yet we know we have one. Okay, so the clever cynics believe that the existence of the heart can be proved. They then challenge the believer to prove the existence of God. Enter the Word in Romans 1 verse 20: "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen,". God's reality is clear if you look at the world with an open mind and heart.
That is why we worship and celebrate Him. He didn't leave us to perish and return just to dust. And He didn't leave us to suffer what we bring on ourselves. He rescued all who believe and gives us everything - without end. Forever.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Not the end.

Though when death comes, and we decay,
And our bones scattered be,
Though they may lie beneath the sky,
Or covered by the sea,
When back to Earth Lord Jesus comes,
The Holy One descend,
Then all who lived shall rise and see -
The grave is not the end!

That's not a masterpiece, but it came to me recently. It's worth reminding myself. John Donne put it in far better form when he wrote "Death be not proude". He tells death to give up its pretensions. It is not a condition which captures people. It is an event which they (we!) go through. The spirit leaves the body. And when that happens, even though physical remains may be scattered and lost, the spirit remains intact and alive. It is immortal. Sometime in the future the day will come when Jesus returns to Earth, and then....
Some years ago I heard a body builder who did some male modelling say: "If you've got something, why not show it off? We'll all be dust in two hundred years."
He reckons, does he? Some people might be better off if we were only unfeeling dust. Then there would be no consequences to face.
When the souls of all who ever lived rise from bodily death, we stand before God and it will be known: who believed God, believed Jesus, and was given the collossal blessing of pardoning for all wrong doing? And who thought it was all rubbish, and ignored Jesus' calling? Come to that, who am I to get up on a high horse about it? The answer: someone who was saved, even though I did not deserve it; and the least I can do is tell anyone else who will listen.
We won't be dust. The greatest part of our existence will start then, and it goes forever. The grave is NOT the end. It is the beginning. So we need to get it right. We need to know how we escape the hurt anger of God asking,'what did you do with the life I gave you?'
I can still cringe inwardly thinking of some of the stupid, mean, selfish or plain nasty things I've done in life, and ask God for forgiveness. It's probably a good thing, so I don't get complacent and forget that I need pardoning - big time. And it would even be vain to talk as if my sins were worse than lots of other peoples'. But waiting beyond this life is either non-ceasing joy or non-ceasing regret. The grave is only the departing point from this earth. When the women went to Jesus' tomb to find His body the angel said that He was not there, because He had risen. Now Jesus is a special and unique case; but He made the way for resurrection, and in a sense it is true to say at any persons' grave that they are not there. The earthly remains are still there, but the real them, the spirit, their real identity is not. It has passed on.
A Christian brother I met recently shared this. The letters BIBLE can stand for
For our own good we need to know certain things before we do so: who Jesus is, and why we need to know and follow Him.
That way the grave leads to entry to God's Kingdom, not to rejection from it.
The grave is not the end.
That is why Jesus came - to tell us.
That's why we celebrate Christmas. He came to save us.