Friday, December 31, 2010

Two Things Men are Thinking About Sex and Whatever Else is on Their Mind.


Here's my evidence:

USA spends more on porn that on country, rock, classical music combined and Broadway musicals. It is a $10 billion industry in the States alone, bigger than pro baseball and football combined.

Each year $4 billion is spent on DVDs and 11,000 are made each year which is more movies than Hollywood.

30% of rentals are porno. The top internet search words are 1. Porn, 2. Sex, etc Most internet porn is viewed between 0900 and 1700 hrs. 60 - 80 % of porn addicts, that is those that watch on a regular basis spend over an hour each day.

There are over 2400 strip clubs in the USA some make up to $8 per year employing up to 200 girls.

61% of high school seniors claim to have had sexual intercourse. 25% of all STDs are with adolescents.

By the time of graduation the student has watched on average 15,000 hours of TV and undergone 12,000 hours of classroom activity. Each year they receive around 14,000 references encouraging sexual activity through various media outlets, how many discouraging messages are received? 165!

Is it any wonder that the conversations I have with men encouraging the benefits of abstinence, fidelity, and patience as preparations for being worthy husbands and fathers is met with bewilderment.

Here is further information for those who feel moved to understand what's going on beyond the net curtains for your neighbours home:

This information is courtesy of Safe Families.
~~~
PORNOGRAPHY ADDICTION STATS
Pornography Addiction and Industry Statistics
As of 2003, there were 1.3 million pornographic websites; 260 million pages (N2H2, 2003).
The total porn industry revenue for 2006: $13.3 billion in the United States; $97 billion worldwide (Internet Filter Review).
U.S. adult DVD/video rentals in 2005: almost 1 billion (Adult Video News).
Hotel viewership for adult films: 55% (cbsnews.com).
Unique worldwide users visiting adult web sites monthly: 72 million (Internet Filter Review).
Number of hardcore pornography titles released in 2005 (U.S.): 13,588 (Internet Filter Review).
Adults admitting to Internet sexual addiction: 10%; 28% of those are women (internet-filter-review.com).
More than 70% of men from 18 to 34 visit a pornographic site in a typical month (comScore Media Metrix).
More than 20,000 images of child pornography posted online every week (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 10/8/03).
Approximately 20% of all Internet pornography involves children (National Center for Mission & Exploited Children).
100,000 websites offer illegal child pornography (U.S. Customs Service estimate).
As of December 2005, child pornography was a $3 billion annual industry (internet-filter-review.com).
“At a 2003 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, two thirds of the 350 divorce lawyers who attended said the Internet played a significant role in the divorces in the past year, with excessive interest in online porn contributing to more than half such cases. Pornography had an almost non-existent role in divorce just seven or eight years ago.” (Divorcewizards.com)
Christians, Pastors and Church Pornography Statistics
A 1996 Promise Keepers survey at one of their stadium events revealed that over 50% of the men in attendance were involved with pornography within one week of attending the event.
51% of pastors say cyber-porn is a possible temptation. 37% say it is a current struggle (Christianity Today, Leadership Survey, 12/2001).
Over half of evangelical pastors admits viewing pornography last year.
Roger Charman of Focus on the Family’s Pastoral Ministries reports that approximately 20 percent of the calls received on their Pastoral Care Line are for help with issues such as pornography and compulsive sexual behavior.
In a 2000 Christianity Today survey, 33% of clergy admitted to having visited a sexually explicit Web site. Of those who had visited a porn site, 53% had visited such sites “a few times” in the past year, and 18% visit sexually explicit sites between a couple of times a month and more than once a week.
29% of born again adults in the U.S. feel it is morally acceptable to view movies with explicit sexual behavior (The Barna Group).
57% of pastors say that addiction to pornography is the most sexually damaging issue to their congregation (Christians and Sex Leadership Journal Survey, March 2005).
Statistics on Women with Pornography Addiction
28% those admitting to sexual addiction are women (internet-filter-review.com).
34% of female readers of Today’s Christian Woman’s online newsletter admitted to intentionally accessing Internet porn in a recent poll and 1 out of every 6 women, including Christians, struggles with an addiction to pornography (Today’s Christian Woman, Fall 2003).
Statistics on Pornography’s Effect on Families and Marriages
47% percent of families said pornography is a problem in their home (Focus on the Family Poll, October 1, 2003).
The Internet was a significant factor in 2 out of 3 divorces (American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in 2003 – divorcewizards.com).
Statistics on Child Pornography Use
9 out of 10 children aged between the ages of 8 and 16 have viewed pornography on the Internet, in most cases unintentionally (London School of Economics January 2002).
Average age of first Internet exposure to pornography: 11 years old (internet-filter-review.com).
Largest consumer of Internet pornography: 12 – 17 year-old age group (various sources, as of 2007).
Adult industry says traffic is 20-30% children (NRC Report 2002, 3.3).
Youth with significant exposure to sexuality in the media were shown to be significantly more likely to have had intercourse at ages 14 to 16 (Report in Pediatrics, April, 2006).
“Never before in the history of telecommunications media in the United States has so much indecent (and obscene) material been so easily accessible by so many minors in so many American homes with so few restrictions.”
– U.S. Department of Justice, Post Hearing Memorandum of Points and Authorities, at l, ACLU v. Reno, 929 F. Supp. 824 (1996).
Statistics on Online Perpetrators
1 in 7 children who use the internet have been sexually solicated – 2005. (Internet Filter Review)
1 in 4 kids participate in Real Time Chat. (FamilyPC Survey, 2000).
1 in 5 children (10 to 17 years old) receives unwanted sexual solicitations online (Youth Internet Safety Survey, U.S. Department of Justice, 2001).
2 in 5 abductions of children ages 15-17 are due to Internet contact (San Diego Police Dept.).
76% of victims in Net-initiated sexual exploitation cases were 13-15, 75% were girls. “Most cases progressed to sexual encounters” – 93% of the face-to-face meetings involved illegal sex (Journal of Adolescent Health, November 2004)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Truth Plus Obedience = Solid Rock Foundation



Truth in obedience out! :-) If only I had the wit, sense and intelligence to accept that teaching. Did I receive that sound counsel early in my life? I don't remember doing so and would I have taken any notice? It would have at least been useful to have received the teaching, responded and rejected the guidance for there would be no telling when dormant seeds may have sprung into life. Truth in obedience out, that's the rock to build a life on and lean into the future.

The truth is that I am now in a position to come to you in a loving way and encourage you to work out the truth with fear, urgency and care. With the Truth you are in a position to love well. I know you reckon you love your spouse, parents or children just fine the way you are, but wouldn't you like to love them better? Don't you love them enough to see that they deserve to be loved more? Wouldn't you at least like to try? If it seems too much like hard work then that's indifference and indifference is no less loving than hatred. Do you see? You need to know love to love and you have an opportunity to love in ways you have never loved before.

We live in a Pagan culture. It's the new atheism that says the body, beauty, youth, comfort, the environment is worthy of worship. The claim is that what we can see, touch, feel and scientifically examine is all there is of substantial value. However, love is very different. Those things you need for comfort, satisfaction or affection you cannot love. You cannot love what you need because love is not needy, love is not selfish, it is compassionate, generous and giving. Jesus did not coerce anyone into loving Him 2000 years ago, he served them. He does not and will not coerce you into loving him today. That's the big frightening idea. Your loving father in heaven is relentlessly pursuing you but He's not about to appear on a giant white stallion just now, to 'put the fear of God in you", he wants you to love him freely. You have the awesome responsibility of free will with which to love or rebel. Your call.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010



This had better be good if I am going to attract your attention. I guess it's the excitement of life. Seeing as you walk the steet, speak with those you love and spending time with people. Do you get fired up seeing human endeavour, dispondency, ambivilence? I do, it's bewildering, it's awesome. The whole mix of human feeling fascinates me especially ambivalence. Indifference to suffering or just indifference to life is as bad as hatred and seem somehow callous.

Someone I love asked me, "yea but I am quite content what difference would it make to me if I followed and believed in Jesus?" I am sorry I didn't answer well. I should have said, "to know how much you are loved, which is wonderful!"

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cultural Norms



The best way of supporting the sale and purchasing of porn is to day that it is a legitimate industry that generates jobs, creates business opportunities, it's a freedom of choice matter, is really nothing more than an extension of ancient erotic art, is daring because it challenges convention and prudes and is a strike for the libertarian cause. Nobody is going to be harmed, it adds spice to a relationship and provides an outlet for the libido of the would be sexual predator.

Of course nothing could be further from the truth. The reason why most people use porn clandestinely is because they feel the shame. Even soldiers who will sometimes watch in groups are doing it for reasons of bravado without much thought to the damage. This is an industry that ravages people's lives. I was in a quiet rural gas station yesterday and on display was a spread of hard core porn. Despite the plastic covers providing some protection from the graphic scenes the images viewable were quite clearly of 'women' being screwed. I use the term advisedly because this is screwing up the lives of women around the world. How does this affect the mind, thoughts outlook of the young woman behind the counter who has to see and sell that material?

You cannot avoid being affected by this industry as it rolls back the frontiers of 'tolerance' for graphic sexual imagery. There's your great cultural politically correct verb 'to tolerate'. Poised on the lips of libertarians and liberal intellectuals throughout the western world. In the name of tolerance the exclusive truth claims of Jesus are rejected as being intolerant of other religions. You bet He was intolerant. Christmas offers an exclusive claim. It is claims that reject Islam, Buddhism, consumerism, spiritualism. It is claim that says clearly that if you follow the world and reject Jesus you will go to Hell! If you are living in rebellion, reject Jesus as God and reckon that the world's scientific theories has the answers you have nothing to celebrate in Christmas.

Jesus was intolerant of women being marginalized from society just because they had been sexually promiscuous, adulterous, sold their bodies for sex, or weren't given the opportunity for community. After all his His Mum had been pregnant out of wedlock in a time when that could have attracted a severe punishment. People suffer because in the West we fund a global sex industry that makes the trafficking of young women and children and profitable venture. Please encourage your local retail outlet to consider this. Please tell him or her that Christmas is a time of great news. If he says Happy Christmas explain that there will be no happiness for those who reject Jesus for eventually every knee will bow and every tongue confess either today to rejoice at new life or beyond the grave from the cold dark place where souls who lived separated from God will reside forever.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Shadows




Out of the deep chill, snow and freezing fog emerged today a stunning blue sky. Running across a road bridge I cast a long dark shadow which I chased down the pavement. How reminiscent of life chasing shadows, what Plato called forms, when beating on your back is the warmth of the light. All you have do is rest in its warmth knowing that even when you can't see it it's there. Of course one day the sun will be no more. The one who placed it there will let it die and like the stars we see dying in the night sky so our world will be no more. Even the most vehement atheist scientists accept that Biblical prophesy.

Sometimes it takes a while to answer a request. Days ago a friend asked for prayers for the school that thought it a good idea to have a St Trinian's fancy dress for young teenagers. I got to thinking what a great opportunity to examine culture. We have to see that there is nothing extraordinary about this in a culture that happily dresses prepubescent girls in adult style clothes designed to show off the body. Girls who would in previous generations been in jumpers and run around clothes are dressing to impress. This tells us that paganism, where youth and the body are prominent and preeminent in value, is strengthening. This is an understandable result of a generation schooled in equality, tolerance a diversity. When men heard that women wanted to be equal many thought fantastic let's get it on. Whoever thinks this is a good thing really doesn't know men very well. Youth, beauty, status and the body is worshipped. Look at how much of our time, treasure, talent and energy are infested in this. We even value the opinion of the young when most of them really do need to learn to shut up and listen. However, if most adults they listen to have no other source of wisdom than their jaundiced opinion and limited experiential knowledge what self respecting youth is going to not see that for the nonsense it is! If these adults are telling them that for the sake of equality, tolerance and diversity they value their opinion then of course they are going to work out that person is an imbecile! I bet even Oscar Wilde would be castigated patronizing for saying youth is wasted on the young, he was simply pointing out that when we are young we are naive and dumb! And I submit to you that if you haven't yet worked out that when you were young you would have reached a degree of credible maturity far sooner had you spent more time listening then you probably still have some way to go.

I have heard the liberal arguments, I was one of its fiercest proponents. Are you that determined to cling to the age of enlightenment as a good thing? We are seeing the ripe fruits of a 300 year experiment and I am unimpressed. The idea that we should challenge all authority and science and technology will cure us of mankind's ills is proving a shaky hypothesis. Walk down the street, speak to a social worker, talk to an abandoned mother, divorced wife, embittered and abused woman. It's fine saying medical science has prolonged our lives but to what end. Living to ninety is no good if you have never been loved well. The only good thing I can imagine to living to old age in misery, frustration and gnawing depression is that it might give you some preparation for the conscience eternal torments of hell.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The mind




It's more about what you don't let into the mind than what you do. If people's minds weren't full of such nonsense from the world around them would there not be less suffering? Take the woman at the wedding I attended with Jo last week. The beautiful 16 year old when we first met, 1988, is now a mum of three wonderful children all below 9 years old. She is still beautiful and now a dignified and lovely woman, great company and fun to be with. Now explain to me why her husband decided to abandon a wife and three kids? Here's my explanation. It is because his mind is full of what the world drip feeds each of us everyday. From our days in the classrooms listening existentialism from teachers under the influence of 20th century atheistic philosophers. They tell us that God is an invention of man designed to oppress our spirits and control our behaviour, you can believe what you wish, take a version of the truth you find most plausible and that can be your truth. The man says this is an idea I like. That means even when I make a solemn vow until death I can break that vow, abandon that woman, and neglect those children? You bet sir. Women have equality now which means they can be treated as badly as men treat one another.

The sorriest state of affairs is when women are drawn into this desperate need for material wealth to numb the pain of a life lived disconnected from the source of our love. How we try so hard through our minds, ideas, theories, religions and addictions to be our own god, shaping the world around us to conform to our image and likeness. A world where fidelity is only necessary if there is a risk of getting caught, where porn is legitimate art, where the sexuality of culture and objectification of the female form is seen as victimless. Oh how easy to ignore the suffering of those we don't know. What a relief to know that our loved ones are safe. We are each facing devastation and anguish, it's coming to all of us. Do you really want to be alone, do you honestly think you can handle it? Are you so convinced of your god like statues that pride will see you through the pain? You will be utterly broken with shattered dreams and hopes. Oh to know the joy of being loved when you are utterly alone. To know the joy of loving strangers and enemies because you have first been loved.

The joy of knowing that the seeds of love, life, joy, hope and salvation are planted for the generations that will follow long after we are dead. Thank you Jesus for the gift of wisdom to explain to my sons their purpose, thank you for the gift of our physical bodies, for the knowledge that they are precious and valued, thank you for the wonderful gift that is the safety and security of a marriage covenant entered into with you at the centre. Thank you for loving that abandoned wife and her three beautiful children now that the passive coward masquerading as a man has abandoned them. And I pray that through your grace she may come to know you and may once again find a real man to step up and share with her the great journey of life lived in your light.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Communication


That was perfect timing, thank you. You have joined this blog at just the right moment. It has been such a long time since I recorded. I know that having a steady writing rhythm is essential if one is to keep people engaged. So here are a few questions for us to ponder:

Why do I not buy my Christmas and birthday presents in plenty of time?

Why do I avoid choices that would benefit me in the long term or even the medium term or for that matter even tomorrow morning?

Why am I writing this blog 19 minutes before I am due to be at work when I have yet to clean my teeth and get sorted?

Surely I am seizing the moment to get on with what I feel needs to be done. I doubt it. I have a friend who was a soldier but is now a professional athlete, Tom Lowe, www.tomlowe.org. The thing is Tom now writes and I would imagine far more profusely that before and in a more timely manner. Is he motivated by need, greed or fear?

Our hearts are wellsprings, from them flows what we really value. Some blog because it gives them an opportunity to talk about themselves, get their opinions out or preach. Much of our lives are spent preaching or being preached to. Most conversations we are trying to persuade another of a certain worldview. Even the kindly old lady chatting at the bus queue is somehow sharing with her neighour those things that are important to her in the hope that someone will hear, empathize and understand.

Let me assure you that I am not sharing Adrian's opinion, laced with all the baggage from a lifetime of caring only for that which I find attractive. I am writing because I love you. I want to engage with you, to work through the monumental truths that separate the purpose for our lives from the competing truth claims we contend with throughout each day through the people we meet.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Promotion


The Peter Principle says each person is promoted to their level of incompetence. It is a deeply cynical fear of man, pride and arrogance idea. Like all cynicism it misses the irony that cynics lack faith in their own cynicism. Interestingly for a British soldier being anything other than cynical is considered odd. It's true. If you doubt me try this experiment. Tell a work colleague, preferably a peer or commander that you really appreciate and value their service. Be sure to look into their eyes when you do and tell me that you don't see bewilderment. Cynicism is a lack of faith in mankind, his intentions, motives and abilities and it's growing. Is this intriguing?

Cynics have the privileged and exalted position of being able to see mankind from a lofty perspective. They see that people need to sort out their consciences to find better motives and intentions and thereby improve our institutions. Here is a great example from a website of a comrade in arms, who I admire for his energies but would love him to see his piety:

"My contention is that by concentrating our efforts inward, we will develop leaders of known moral character, with the ability to critically view their environment and make decisions consistent with the values of the nation and the Army and that advance the commander's intent and mission accomplishment. They gain the understanding of why they make the choices or decisions they do and then possess the character to stand by them once made, or adapt them when they become aware that they will not work."


If the condition of the world, if the consistent failure of institutions and empires are symbolic of mankind's inherent rot, corruption and tendency to greed, how will looking inward be of any benefit? Of course, in a culture of strict fundamental secularism, suggesting that we look beyond the material world is the preserve of primitive religions, and not for inclusion in serious dialogue regarding Army leadership. The latest manifestation of this secular atheistic religion is the radical environmental movement that has emerged from the 300 year Age of Enlightenment experiment. Its religious shrines litter our countryside in the form of huge windmills. Daring to challenge the secularist scriptures by suggesting that our thoughts, behaviour and lifestyle are accountable to anything beyond our personal rational and common sense, risks accusations of intolerance by making exclusive claims - And believe me the accusation is accepted because this is complete exclusivity!

My point is to illustrate that we are dealing with competing truth claims. The proposal that good morals can come from introspection is classic eastern religious philosophy. This philosophy is increasingly popular in western cultures. Mankind is essentially good, it just takes enough exploration of a personal paths and peace and harmony will follow. This compliments the idea that there are multiple paths to enlightenment however, to see those paths you already have to hold the high ground. Do you see the dichotomy? These are truth claims in a maelstrom of competing truth claims.

Corporately in the military, we had a broad consensus about the truth. We still benefit from that legacy with our commissioning scrolls recognizing God, our units still having Christian church services and parades, and Christian pastors still being directly employed by the military. However, these components are being marginalized by a new religion that says there are no ultimate truth claims, all judgement and retribution has to take place in this world, mankind's laws and institutions can fix our broken world. We are on a dangerous path believing that the ultimate truth our fathers fought for are wrong, that our more evolved world perspective allows us to see clearer. The deserts and mountains of Afghanistan are littered with the dried bones of men who believed that they had a soul and that soul had an eternal purpose - to love one God. Many believed that there were false gods, prophets and theories and sacrificed their lives to protect their wives, children and families from the lies that would enslave them.

We each see deceit, lies and corruption in our lives each day, let's face it we are even capable of lying to ourselves. What greater evidence that our hearts are deceitful do we need? Is it not therefore sensible to see that there can be only one truth, greed will lead people to lie to you and that any suggestion that you can fix things, that your actions can merit your enlightenment/salvation/happiness are likely lies?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

On My Mind


I fear that there is more on my mind than in my mind. I see youth untarnished by the world, who remain uninhibited by social convention and I just want to preserve it. However, I know that can't be so I must ensure I enjoy it. My hope is that I can point as many as the next generation as possible to wisdom. Not received worldly wisdom but the wisdom that comes from humbly submitting oneself to the truth that we see around us. Of course if i approach each day desperate to cherish each moment I will overlook just enjoying the moment, how crazy is that? I read in Gyles Brandreth's book A Portrait of Royal Marriage that the Queen and Duke of Edinburg are not introspective. That says to me that if they don't spend time pondering their meaning, what all the wealth and pomp and circumstance is about then they must be sincere Gospel centered Christians. Of a lengthy and interesting book that one important fact has stayed with me. That's cool!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You represent a worldview that is common in my family and many friends. One thing that unites us is an instinctive animosity to the world's religions. Religion's message is 'join us, follow our rules, pray in this way, read these holy books, undertake a particular task and you will merit your salvation, our god will love you'. We can witness the brutal consequences of religion each day. Of course there are additional religions like sex, worshipped through porn, adultery and perversion; there is success, where it's all about conquering and rising to the top at the expense of family, neighbour and colleague; there is reputation, how people perceive me has value above all else. People's religion is revealed in where they invest their time, treasure, talent and emotion.

The point is that it is not my place to persuade you or set out a series of arguments in support of my particular worldview. I can tell you my story. That being, until about three years ago, I shared a similar attitude as you and now, through a personal relationship with a loving and just God, who is a father, I am much to my own surprise, reporting that Jesus is in fact who he said he was and did what he said he came to do.

Like the early Christian church and Christians around the world today I now get to deal with ridicule and risk persecution. In places like Iran, Saudi Arabia and parts of northern Sudan I would face torture and death by simply loving and serving people as Jesus loved and served them. But when you worship a homeless guy, who was brought up by his step dad in a small middle eastern village, became an itinerant preacher and was tortured and murdered for claiming he was God then it kind of goes with the turf.

Many of the questions that arise about God, whether it's unpacking his character and nature, through understanding the doctrine of the trinity; "how can there be one God but in three persons?", needs to be understood by studying the Bible accompanied by good teaching. There are teaching Bibles, and commentaries to accompany each of its 66 books. People want to know how can a loving God permit suffering in the world? How can the Bible be the infallible word of God in company with scientific research and theory? Answers to these questions help each man and woman appreciate their role and purpose in this brief and uncertain life.

The testimony of several eye witnesses that corroborate each others story is powerful in any court of law. If they testified against a pedophile, rapist or cruel murderer and a judge released him without being held to account there would be a righteous outcry. We expect justice for the victim, anything less would be gross and unloving. Justice and Love are inseparable. You cannot love someone with lies, we need the truth, Jesus said: "Abide in my word......then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). I do not envy those who face a confusing world of competing truth claims. However, the good news is that there is mercy, forgiveness and hope from our loving Father God who wants and needs nothing from you because he's a dad and all the dad's understand the power of that love. Jesus said, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11,28

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Answers to those Great OT Questions

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are from neighboring nations. A friend of mine
claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

Essentially He is wrong. Equality and diversity legislation can be applied to the Rabbinical laws of the Bible in the same way we apply them to modern employment legislation. This is because the Bible provides the framework for the kind of laws we enjoy today that protect the rights of people in the workplace. In ancient times there were no such laws enshrined or encoded so the Israelites were the first.

If you beat your slave to point where he or she received a permanent injury you were required to free that slave and provide financial support. So we had a industrial injury compensation package. Just like today people would sell them selves into slavery, or get a job in a cubicle to pay a debt. They were in bondage to their debt. However we have backslided from sound Biblical teaching because we hold people in bondage for life, no respite, even if people engaged in irresponsible lending. So now we witness a debt crisis and crippling addictions to credit where the poor get poorer and loan sharks enjoy varying degrees of legitimacy. For the Hebrews no such irresponsible banking practices for every 7 years would be the ‘Year of Jubillee’ when debts were cancelled and slaves were released. The point is that your friend is offering you bad advice. In the ancient near east the slave was not on the bottom rung of the social ladder. It was the intinerant labourer who had to survive day by day to feed his family. The slave could enjoy positions of comfort, education and privilege, take Joseph for example. Please take note that it would be most unfair of you to accept Mexicans into bondage but refused Canadians, Canadians have as much right to lift themselves up by their bootstraps as Mexicans.

2. I would like to sell my friend into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

Is your friend on the bottom wrung of the social and economic ladder? Is she heavily in debt from buying stuff she doesn't need, with money she doesn't have, to impress people she doesn't like? Is she nevertheless keen to now make a better life for herself? Fortunately, as we established in the previous question, there are provisions in place to ensure she is treated well whilst in bondage. In fact there is an exceptionally high standard required for the treatment of women in that they are to be treated, amongst other things, by their masters as daughters. A fair price will be dependent on the talents and skills she is offering. Moreover, there is a reasonable chance, if they get along, that a master may invite her to be his wife, all things are possible. Unlike in the race based slavery, of the modern era, there is no stigma in marrying a slave.

I have in the past sold my wife into bondage, or wage slavery, and her price has tended to reflect her level of responsibility. In Biblical times it was not unusual for slaves to have positions of senior responsibility in a household or if you take Joseph’s situation to be commander of a nation’s army. The point is that you need to take care when selling your friend lest you don’t get her full value so it would be useful to seek the services of an employment agency (modern day slave trader).

It would be worth counseling your friend to work well. The Bible says; Slaves obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye service, as people pleasers, but as servants of Christ , doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. Ephesians 6:5-8. She should remember that we worship a God who came off His throne and humbled himself to the point of washing the feet of His disciples, even the one He knew would betray him for 30 pieces of silver. He worked as a construction worker, in the sun, and learned a trade with his step-ad. That’s a degree of humility with wow factor to be the Lord over all creation and come into human history to swing a hammer! With a heart for Jesus I am sure your friend will be a great slave, succeed and go from strength to strength.

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how
do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Okay, another great question. The answer is straightforward in so far as under the old Abrahamic Covenant there was a need to obey a whole series of laws, which included these about women who had, if we are to adopt the popular vernacular, “the plumber in”. However, Jesus being the “Lamb of God” and the final sacrifice, established a the New Covenant, meaning no longer are we bound by those laws established under the sacrificial covenant system, which were bound up with the need for the shedding of blood to pay the price for sin. Answer is; you are now allowed to have contact with women who are in full menstrual flow.

Now your question can by unpacked further because it raises the issue of dirty tampons and their relationship to our efforts to be moral upright kind hearted, good, compassionate people; good spouses and generous neighbours. Religions will tell you that if you behave in a certain way, follow their code, then god will love you and you will be allowed into heaven. The idea is, follow their theory, philosophy, or doctrine and you will work your way to some form of paradise either in this life, or the next, or if you are a Buddhist you’ll keep going around until you get dizzy I suppose. If you're a Muslim you'll end up with seven virgins, though I do wonder if anyone ever asked the virgins what they think of this deal.

Of course people who follow the rules to reach some form of nirvana get awfully disenchanted when their life becomes a trial, they fall ill, their spouse cheats on them or the world deals them a general bitch slap. Either that or they do really well and become pious and ‘holier than thou’, when they see that their life is blessed above all those rotten sinners around them. That’s called pride and to a loving God, who loves all His children equally, and knows them as His image bearers with equal dignity, value and worth, this is a terrible sin when one person sets him or herself up as better than another. It is snobbery and Jesus hates snobbery. We’re talking about a God who came into history as a blue collar worker and hung out with prostitutes and social outcasts, he’s hardly going to reward those who consider themselves above others.

You see the issue is that we are all sinners, we have all broken God’s laws, it’s in our nature, He’s perfect, we are not. To live in His presence we have to be forgiven, have our bodies and souls washed of all that scum. That’s why the Bible teaches us that all our good works are like dung, and that to God our deeds are no better than filthy sanitary towels, or dirty tampons. He is perfect love, all seeing, Lord over all time and creation, perfect. However, He loves us as a father to the degree that He sent His son, Jesus, to live a perfect life, the life we couldn’t live, sinless, though he faced all the temptations we do and more. His son came to die the death we should, pay the price we owe. Then follows the ultimate miracle of showing His power over creation by rising to a new life, conquering death, sin and hell in order that we can live through Him, in Him, imputed with His righteousness. Therefore we can live in awe, humility and joy knowing that the price has been paid and we get to live a new life, free from the bonds of sin, in a personal loving relationship with Him beginning today and lasting for all eternity, which you need to know is a long time!

With love

Adrian


4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors.
They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

This is the thing about neighbours they can be so tiresome and difficult to like. Are they tree hugging, sandal wearing hipsters who consider themselves redeemed by recycling? Are they highly spiritual vegetarians who are tuned into their environment and believe the world is ‘one’? These folk may well consider any animal sacred, which is really tiresome when you are simply eager to enjoy all the gifts that the created order offers. They find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that God made cattle out of tasty steak!

The good news is that the sacrificial system, foreshadowed the coming of the Messiah, and was used by the Hebrews to atone for sins under the Abrahamic covenant. The promise to Abraham was that God’s people would reach all nations and be as numerous as the stars. The Jews expected the Christ to come in glory to destroy all their enemies, they hadn’t anticipated Him coming in humility, to love all nations, tribes, people groups, sexualities, ethnicities and cultures. However, He did and in light of their disappointment the religious men, with their big hats and gowns, ensured His brutal torture and execution. Isn’t that typical of religious folk to be so self righteous that they murder God!

In light of this historical event you are no longer bound by the sacrificial system and smiting is best left to due judicial process under legitimate governmental authorities. Now that the love of Jesus is freely available you can love your neighbours with patience kindness and generosity, loving them because you were first loved. And if they are vegetarians invite them over for a ‘nut cutlet’ or ‘vegetable lasagne’, as Paul said in the New Testement, to the Jews I am a Jew and to the gentiles a gentile, and you could include to the vegetarians vegetarian. Do what it takes to love people gently, in truth and causing them not to stumble, be frustrated or generally nauseated by the smell of roasting Bull. You never know, once they learn that they have dominion over all the creatures of the earth and sea, that it is all a gift from a loving creator God, to be stewarded well and enjoyed they may come to enjoy a tasty succulent slice of beef the way God intended!

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated
to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

I advise you to ask the police and be sure to take your toothbrush with you because I think they may invite you to stay for a while. Unless of course you live, as so many do around the globe, in the shadow of corruption, then with some cash you may ask for your neighbour’s death in consideration of his misdemeanor. That was the exact approach of the Sadducees and Pharisees who sponsored the arrest, torture and execution of Jesus. They used their religious influence to have an innocent man murdered for blasphemy. Next time you meet a religious professional you can ask, “wasn’t it your team that murdered God?”

The point about Sabbath is that it is not a legal obligation to be followed with religious dogma. You see religious people make rules about the rules so Jewish law, for example, about how many steps you could walk from your home on the Sabbath. Jesus made it plain, when His disciples picked some heads of grain on the Sabbath and were accused of working, that the religious rules were ridiculous.

Sabbath is a gift, we don’t have to Sabbath, we get to Sabbath. The best approach with your neighbour is to invite him to share in your rest. Think ahead, plan a party or an afternoon BBQ around when he would be available and make that Sabbath. It can be on any day of the week, the point is take the opportunity to spend time with loved ones, have community with neighbours and celebrate the gifts we have. It’ll be easier on your conscience than having him murdered.

You may wish to talk with your neighbour about Sabbath being one of those peculiarities of a loving father as a God, as opposed to the capricious false gods of worldly religions like Allah. You see, from a moralist viewpoint, most of the ten commandments make a lot of sense. Don’t have any other gods, or murder, steal, envy, lie, commit adultery, and so forth but then unexpectedly comes take a day off! That’s out of rhythm with the rest of the commandments and provides a clue that these aren’t the rules of man seeking to control and manipulate but commands that are born out of love, compassion and generosity. I (God) took a day off and despite the fact that by your rebellion you displayed no love for me I’ll go on loving you and let you enjoy my rest. How cool is that?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than
homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

Abomination is an effective word, hard to listen to and descriptive. Think about the abominable snowman, something that is outside of the natural order, something to be feared. Creating a law that forbids the eating of shellfish for the tribe of Israel makes sense. Shellfish harbour the kind of diseases that mankind is susceptible to, so in a era without refrigeration calling them abominable is probably appropriate language to deter people from eating something that could threaten their very existence. However, as we’ve established, Jesus came to fulfill the laws of the old covenant. So for practical reasons, the introduction of refrigeration and theological reasons, God revealing to Peter that it is permissible to eat any of the foods he created, you can enjoy a fish pie at your leisure.

The straight answer to your question is no, there are not degrees of abomination. God is perfect and all have, that is everyone, from Mother Theresa, through Ghandi, to despots like Mau, all have fallen short of His standard. That’s why the Jesus the Messiah had to come, because we could not redeem ourselves, we are sinful by nature and choice. We needed a mediator, an intercessor, who would pay the price for our sins, take the judgment we deserved. Sin is an abomination to a loving, just God. Without confession, repentance and restitution there is no justice. And the amazing thing is that He does forgive us, restore us and renew us if we simply turn to Him. However, we want to justice for others and mercy for ourselves without accepting His authority, grace and mercy. So shame on any man that would see Jesus Christ’s limp, beaten, bloody body on the Cross, paying the price for his sins and not get on his knees in adoration and worship. Shame on any man that would see the historical evidence of Jesus’s life, person, works, sacrifice, death, and resurrection and the life of the church from its establishment at Pentecost through to this day and reject His love. The question is not, how could a loving God send anyone to Hell, the question is how could a loving and just God possibly allow anyone into heaven? And to answer that question you have to look to the cross.

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading
glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

I really don’t know the answer. As it happens G I have poor eyesight which is why I wear either glasses or contact lenses so the question is personal?

I think we can be helped by considering the Scottish Reformation. This reached a critical stage in 1538 when the covenanters published their charter declaring a church in Scotland independent from Rome. You can see an original copy in St Giles Cathedral Edinburgh. Jo and I were in the Scottish capital this week enjoying the Edinburgh festival. While St Giles was under the Church of Rome’s leadership it had 41 alters to various saints. These were removed because John Knox and other leaders of the reformation recognized that there is one mediator between God and man and that’s the Messiah Jesus Christ.

Alters were used under the old Abrahamic covenant to slaughter unblemished lambs to pay for the peoples’ sins but now Jesus, the lamb of God, has paid the penalty for our sin at the Cross. Jesus said, “come to me all who are weary and in need”. We all have the opportunity to go to him whether we are suffering physical or spiritual impediments, including the blind, weak, lost, disabled, physically and mentally impaired, ‘everyone’.

The point is that we should not get to concerned about the eyesight standards stipulated for the early Christians, the Israelites, living under the sacrificial system. This is great news for all of us and probably the kind of news that the likes of Charles the 1st wanted to suppress. Under his jurisdiction in the mid 1600s horrific persecution of thousands of Scottish Christians took place. Men were burned at the stake or shot for preaching from the Bible, people suffered, as they suffer today, getting the truth out to the people. We see it across the world, from the supposed developed western democracies to China, people being persecuted for telling the truth about Jesus, who he was and what he did.

Hopefully you have had a chance to see the photos from Edinburgh where Jo and me had the privilege of seeing the Soweto Gospel Choir. These are fine people and when I think of apartheid I think of these people trusting in God, knowing that they are enjoying liberation from the weight of their sinful natures, looking to Jesus’ for inspiration and leadership, knowing they can forgive injustices because they have first been forgiven. There have always been those who preach a false Gospel of Jesus, who would take Holy Scripture and use it to oppress, manipulate and rule. Jesus poured out His life for all of us, because He is a father and loves you as a father loves his children. Please take comfort from the truth that we are more wicked then we know and more loved than we could possibly imagine.

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.19:27. How should they die?

They should die as Bishop John Hooper died when he was burned at the stake in 1655 for refusing to recant his rejection of Papal authority confident that he would be with Jesus on the other side of the grave. They should die like the men and women of Edinburgh who were to be killed 100 years later for their faith, rejoicing that Jesus had conquered death.

Don’t get the wrong impression, these are not people with a primitive belief system facing death for a cause. They are educated, have read philosophy, listened to other perspectives, and are familiar with all kinds of clever arguments that say Jesus was not God entered into human history.

That’s what so intriguing about Christians throughout history, there behaviour seems to the atheist to be so pointless. From the early church, men who were devout Jews, who had followed the law, had no doubt about the conscience eternal torments of Hell, turned from their religion knowing they risked rejection, torture and death. The men of the Protestant reformation, who so easily could have followed papal authority died professing their faith in Jesus and the truth of His word. What is the rational for educated men and women to believe Jesus Christ physically rose from death, unless it’s true?

To answer you question directly, your male friends should die believing what is true and rejecting lies. With that they can be confident that despite living imperfect lives, despite regularly breaking promises to God, in a way that they wouldn't dare with their friends, they can enjoy being with their creator God for eternity. The creator of all things who loves colour, music, good meat, wines and architecture, will wipe every tear from their eye, take away the suffering, hurt and pain and restore them with a new body free from the infirmities caused by sin.

Jesus, that hard working carpenter, who worked in the sun with his dad, became a traveling preacher bringing good news to the poor, is either who he said he was or a cruel hoaxer. Given that life is at best fragile, lies are beguiling, and sin is attractive I commend your friends approach their considerations with as much urgency as they can muster, eternity is a long time.

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

Do you mean rugby football, American football or association football? If rugby football then the answer would unequivocally be no. There is intimate physical contact in rugby and the wearing of gloves takes away the important sense of touch when getting up close and personal in the scrummage. Association Football or ‘soccer’ involves less hugging, at least until someone scores. Soccer is very much a game for the streets, something that can easily be played in an alley or field. Considering Jesus came from a small rural village in Galilee of maybe 150 people, with large families and narrow streets, there’s every chance he would have played a game, not dissimilar to football. When growing up there would have been plenty of other young men his age keen to have a break from the rigours of life. We don’t know much from the Bible of his early life but we do know that in those days a young man joined the family business. Jesus’ dad was a construction worker, so he would have swung a hammer all day, just an ordinary blue collar worker learning his trade. I don’t get the rather effeminate figure popular in so much Roman Catholic art, with hair product in his long hair and flowing robes. Jesus would need to have worn practical clothes for working on roofs and in a carpenters shop, his hair would have been cut to a practical length, and he would have been tanned from working out in the scorching middle eastern sun. The real Jesus was a tough, lean, strong man, with calluses on his hands from swinging a hammer. He had a great sense of humour and he lived with his mum, step-dad and brothers, growing in stature and learning as witnessed by the teachers and leaders of the day. This normal life had one distinct difference from our lives G - Jesus never sinned. If he had played football, living in an obedient Jewish home under the old covenant, he would not have worn gloves. Perhaps not wearing gloves he may have learned a painful lesson while keeping goal providing further motivation for him to fulfill the law through his death, burial and resurrection.

As a result we live under the New Covenant with Jesus as the life and the resurrection, giving us all the freedom, including those who may wish to play American Football, to wear gloves! So the good news is that pig skin will not make you unclean because the blood of Jesus is available to wash you clean of the stench of sin. We are no longer bound by rules and laws in order to merit our salvation, we have been given salvation at the cross through Him willingly laying down his life for us. That’s the thing about Christianity, we have nothing to do to earn forgiveness, it’s a gift for anyone who asks. Go in peace to have a blessed day my brother.

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14) I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I'm confident you can help.

I can help so thank you for asking. It really will be no bother getting the whole town together. Populations of small towns in Biblical times were a fraction of the size they are today and people would regularly gather anyway for community events. Something like a public execution for these kinds of transgressions would be a relatively rare event, so they would draw a large crowd. The thing is, the Israelites were a troublesome, disobedient and grumbling nation who really struggled to keep the law. That’s why they were given the law to show that they could not keep it and desperately needed a messiah to fulfill the law, redeem them and make them a great nation, as promised to Abraham.

Obeying law to earn salvation just results in religious people trying to impose rules over rules to explain the rules. So your uncle and aunt had the Sadducees as the very learned men with voluntary assistance from the Pharisees helping to enforce rules that were in many cases unenforceable. This led to varying degrees of compromise, and abuse, but isn’t that the way with the law and why there are so many rich lawyers? This led to the most monumental abuse of the law when we murdered God! God came into human history, in humility, to live a perfect life, in the person of Jesus and we accused him of blasphemy because we didn’t like the fact he hung out with prostitutes, drunkards, thieves and outcasts. Your uncle is not exceptional. In today’s society we have laws against lying, cheating, stealing, murder and breaching the peace that, despite a range of penalties from the mild to severe, we flagrantly ignore. It simply goes to show that you can provide information about the penalties of a chosen action but you cannot achieve transformation without a new heart, a change of mindset, or in scriptural terms, being born again. A Christian who has a new heart, has new desires, purposes and appetites, he doesn’t have to obey the Commandments He gets to obey them.

The love of God, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, through the person of Jesus Christ is freely available to anyone, regardless of gender, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, race, language, colour, creed or tribe. That’s the good news, that’s the difference between Christianity and all other religions, it’s not what you do to merit your sanctification, it’s what has already been done. It’s not an idea, scientific theory, philosophy or new trendy therapy programme. It’s the love poured out from your creator, in whose image and likeness you were made, the father to the fatherless, dispossessed, lonely, abandoned, and abused. A love that knows no boundaries to the extent of dying for you, not because you are deserving but because you were already loved in a way that a Father should love his children, in a way a husband should love his wife, in a way that a neighbour should love his neighbour, stranger, widow, orphan and prisoners.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wow

Considering our shared prejudicial inclinations I shouldn’t be taken aback when friends or family hold completely distorted views about my beliefs. I had the entertaining experience at a family gathering the other day of being told, by a friend of my sister Karen, how being in America has caused me to “change” and how my beliefs were oh so exclusive, quote, “what about the Buddhists, Hindus and Jews?”. I got the uneasy feeling that this person thought I had adopted the views of some messianic cult but quite clearly hadn't the foggiest idea what I believed.

These bemusing encounters with red wine sozzled party companions raise questions about how we break through barriers of prejudice to uncover truth? Challenging a comfortable, diverse and tolerant view of the cultural mandate is hardly going to be popular in a world of "lifestyle choices". However, I will persevere,

The phrase, “people avoid sin to avoid Jesus” is useful. The doctrine goes that as long as I live a moral good life, give to charity, help old ladies across the road and don’t kick the cat, I can avoid all this exclusive Christian repentance nonsense, that says I am rotten to the core, wicked from my mother’s womb and unless I start afresh it’s hopeless and I am on the path darkness, destruction and the eternal, conscious torments of hell! In rejecting this uncomfortable worldview I can continue to blame environment for the behaviour of my offspring and I don’t have to face our inherent proclivity to wickedness, selfishness and sheer naked stupidity.

The last thing people need invading their ‘circle of self deception’, otherwise known as ‘like minded friends’, is someone saying your wrong, turn around, go back to where you started and try again. We tend to live our lives doing our best to avoid pain and facing the truth is not an ordeal many are willing to face. Reorientation, turning away from a comforting worldview, experiencing a profound heart change will be painful and takes time, effort and compassion to recover from, if you ever do. How much easier to avoid the surgeons knife than face the trials of rehabilitation? We have worked all our lives to get either power, approval, comfort or control and being asked to just let them go, to most people, is incomprehensible. Are you most people?

The other day I was cycling through the delightful Gloucestershire countryside and I found myself on Painswick Beacon. I sat on a bench and the morning sun penetrated my soul. From this high place I looked out towards the Black Mountains of Wales and I thought wow! Wow that’s awesome. I rushed home and at the first opportunity, asked Jo if she’d take a walk with me and invited her, as you guessed, up to the Beacon. I was not disappointed as she took in the beauty and we shared in the delight of the wow moment.

The point is that I do not go to family BBQs, or anywhere else claiming to have the truth. The truth does not belong to me and I cannot sell it or gift it. However, I can invite people to journey to the Beacon where they can experience the wow moment for themselves. Don’t you see? Haven’t you had a wow moment and been desperate to share it? What if I had arrived at the bottom of the hill with Jo and she had said to me without going to the Beacon, “it’s an ugly view.” Imagine a gift of great beauty being rejected by someone you love. It's bewildering, nonsensical, disappointing, I only want to show you, it's up to you how you respond once you've had the opportunity to see.

The conversation I experienced at the family gathering was much like rejecting the beauty of the view before even looking. The world is saying to us, ‘don’t climb the hill, we have ideas, philosophies and perspectives that provide you the truth of your choice’. ‘Take whatever you want, you are free, you are a winner, you can be all you want to be’. We are told that the hill view is exclusive, it’s elitist. Don’t you dare climb that hill for the wow factor will ensnare you, you’ll loose your freedom of choice. One of the great attractions to choice is that you can change your mind. If your spouse doesn’t make you happy, get a quick no fault divorce, if your girlfriend won’t sleep with you, dump her, you’ll soon find one willing to exercise her freedom to give her body away on the cheap, I did.

We are not loving our children by casting them adrift into a hostile ocean with no way of navigating, with no truth by which to measure the perspectives and ideas they will be bombarded with as they journey though life. There is right and wrong, there is truth and there are lies. You cannot love people with lies. Before rejecting the view, just take a look, it’s beautiful.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Now we are into the Problem of Pain by CS Lewis

Now we are into the Problem of Pain by CS Lewis a far more nuanced, whatever that means, I am not sure but I am sure I heard it once on a Radio 4 art farty programme, who am I trying to impress? Anyway this nuanced book is addressing far more pressing problems than the Art of Learning. I have read the introduction and all ready I see this is going to be an illuminating read. A great piece from page 13:

"The fourth strand or element is a historical event. There was a man born among these Jews or claimed to be, or to be the son of, or to be 'one with', the Something which is at once the awful haunter of nature and the giver of the moral law. The claim is so shocking-a paradox, and even a horror, which we may easily be lulled into taking too lightly-that only two views of this man are possible. Either he was a raving lunatic of an unusually abominable type, or else He was, and is, precisely what He said. There is no middle way. If the records make the first hypothesis unacceptable, you must submit to the second."

We now have Chapter two Divine Omnipotence. This will be as interesting to my atheist friends as to those who believe in God, both the God of the Bible, Allah and the other smaller gods many of my friends worship. I will keep you updated as we go one chapter at a time.....

Chapter 3 Divine Goodness. Love can forebear, and Love can forgive...but Love can never be reconciled to an unlovely object....He can never therefore be reconciled to your sin, because sin itself is incapable of being altered; but he may be reconciled to your person, because that may be restored. Traherne, Centuries of Meditation, 11,30

Chapter 4 Human Wickedness. We are wicked to the core. Our occasional inclination to virtues is exceptional when our every thought and motive infected, if not infested with sin, usually pride. Even in writing this blog I have to guard against using it to glorify me, give me credit and credibility for what purpose would that serve other than to justify myself, which is a terrific sin. Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one, You are to love the Lord with all your heart soul and strength, these commandments are to be upon your hearts, impress them upon your children, remember them when you are walking, resting and having community.

So how do I tell when I am staying connected to God, holding Jesus.s hand and living with and in the Holy Spirit? Being joyful. If I can view adversity, pain, grievances, annoyances, trials and troubles as joyful opportunities to serve Jesus, rest in Him and depend on him I am on mission, on track and walking in the light.

Of course I don't want to deter my agnostic, pagan, atheistic and Roman Catholic friends and family from entering into a personal relationship with their creator by being a freaky, wacky and screwy Christian who they fear to talk to at the risk of being tempted to buy a pair of gym shoes and drink the cool aid. So if you have any ideas to allow me to maintain a healthy relationship with you, while still loving you with truth by pointing you to a humble Galilean carpenter, who grew up climbing trees, playing hide and seek with the neighbours in his small village, learnt a trade from his step dad Joe and lived a normal obscure life up to about the age of 12 when it is first noted that he had unexpected gifts then please leave a note.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Messaging

On the face of it was a harmless question, "was he queer?", however when you stop to think about it this was a terrible thing to ask in the company of an attentive eighteen year old man and revealed so much about the mindset of the questioner, the cultural context of our day and the careless way as parents, friends and family we use words.

We were having lunch with my father, I told him about the sad passing of our dear friend Luder Ahmels. I told him a little about Luder's life which included the detail that he was single and this prompted the question about Luder's sexual behaviour. The question for this blog is why the interest in Luder's sex life, why associate singleness with homosexuality, why a willingness to ask a question of such an intimate personal nature and why not consider the subliminal messages this sends to all those with whom you are sharing lunch?

I am reading a book called the Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin. The first half of the book is all about his path to success as a chess-master. It is peppered generously with references to spirituality, flow and ancient Chinese philosophy. It is a classic tale of someone's voyage of discovery and how the twentieth century existentialist mindset has such a strong influence on our attitudes. It is self orientated, looking at the world through a lens of self discovery as if inside every human being there is this calm, insightful inner person accessible who is going to fulfill his or her potential. Needless to say the author is clearly missing the big E on the eye chart as to why the relationship with his girlfriend is so volatile and he has this continued appetite to discover his inner self. More to follow.........

Saturday, June 19, 2010

According to the Times there are 43 million Christians in the UK compared to 4.5 million Muslims. The Muslims are increasing ten times faster than anyone else. What are we doing about it? Are we standing aside like our father Adam as a passive coward while our wives, offspring, family and friends are tempted? You bet we are. We are exorted to declare the truth, proclaim the truth, go out into all nations, tribes languages and point people to the truth.

The problem is that we don't appreciate the threat. Despite 7/7 and 9/11 and the fact that instinct tells us that there is something really wrong with the world we are really in denial. We have invented all kinds of ideas, sciences and philosophies to rationalise the behaviour of the perpetrators of these serious crimes. And we have been encouraged by the liberal intelligencia, through our media and politicians to embrace culture diversity and pursue equality. We are counselled to tolerate alternative truth claims becuase it is oppressive, egotistical and imperialistic to suggest that we have the truth. I just dropped by to tell you that you are being lied to.

At your peril do you respond to counterfit truth claims with good advice and acceptance of multiple truths. The only way to counter nonsense, lies and religion is with truth. Truth is best gathered through the judicial process of examining the evidence. This takes time, care, thought and dilligence. Are you seriously going to dismiss my encouragement to study the person and works of Jesus Christ because you somehow feel your three pound brain has got it all worked out? Do you not see the arrogance and danger of a miscarriage of justice by dismissing the case without examing the evidence?

Just go get Mel Gibson's the Passion movie out on DVD and watch it with mindset that it happened, it's historical and there is evidence avaibable from multiple sources, secular and biblical. If nothing else it should stimulte a path of inquiry as to why human history revolves around a poor carpenter, from an inconsequential rural town, who was abandoned and murdered alongside two thieves and for whom there is no monument or grave. Come on you have to be intrigued by all this fuss, surely?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

वेर्बुम डोमिनि मानेट इन एतेर्मुम Verbum domini manet in aetermum

Simul iustus et peccator. Here's my thing, there is nothing I did yesterday that can or will serve to save me, it says even my good works are like dirty towels to God! You need to know that there are no ideas, philosophies, new age thinking or good morals that will set you free from the bondage of just being a sinner. You were one when you were born and while you insist on living your life in rebellion to the God who humbled himself by coming of his throne to serve as a blue collar worker and penniless preacher you will remain on your chosen path to destruction. I can barely take a breath, right a word, think a thought without sinning which is of course why I am entirely dependent on living in Christ, having my identity in him, putting to death the old self for a new self living in communion with Christ and his saints.

What's the point then? The point is to look ahead, see you are work in progress and gaze in awe at the cross. That's where you see the extent of God's love for you. And if you want to learn what on earth I am talking about - Verbum domini manet in aetermum - the word of the Lord endures forever - so get into it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

4 June 2010.

What’s the fascination with examining the mannerisms of offspring? Why do families take such delight in finding familiar features in sons and daughters?

That’s easy: because it’s fun, reassuring and fascinating. It’s remarkable the similarity in looks between Jo and her niece Christine, my cousin Patrick and me, Cornelius and his cousin Richard, or my sister Karen and my Mother Sheila, spooky in some ways. It illustrates how we inherit certain character traits, features, and mindsets from a shared genetic pool. So what does this teach us? Well popular culture will have you believe that this genetic programming is the reason why you can be a little lazy sometimes, that you too often drink more than is really good for you, that you carry a little more weight than is healthy, that you struggle to establish close, loving and intimate relationships with people. That you occasionally throw a punch, when it’s deserved, that you are a firm disciplinarian to the point of scaring your children, that you are physically and verbally overbearing with the woman or man in your life. Or you simply can’t help not being the loving, kind, generous, gracious, thoughtful, compassionate and protective person you’d like to be. Put simply, "you have someone to blame.”

Like all effective lies, this one includes an element of truth. You have indeed inherited these proclivities from your parents; it is in your very nature to behave in this way, it’s why we have policemen and locks on our doors. Without laws it is likely you will find your neighbour not just kicking the cat but burning your car and raping your daughter. Go outside today, say hi to your neighbour and look around - hard to believe isn’t it? Try Rwanda, Bosnia, New Orleans, France; just pick up a history book and see the naive fools we are if we think our neighbour isn’t inclined to take that which is most precious to you.

“Oh, but our Western society is so much more civilized, we have equality and diversity, sexual liberation and Britain’s Got Talent.” Okay, then let’s explain the UK’s serial abuse of women, in all economic classes and neighbourhoods, the consistent neglect of children to make an extra few quid to indulge selfish desires to lay in the sun for a week and the abandonment of the promises and responsibilities by spouses that is so lucrative for divorce lawyers. Let’s explain why in the Gloucester village of Churchdown, where poverty is rare and comfort abounds, the local newsagent has an extensive range of hard-core pornography. Clearly because it’s a lucrative trade and those quiet inoffensive men who buy his stuff are happy to invest in an industry worth billions of dollars that fuels a global sex trade in which young girls and boys and women are serially exploited and suffer appalling abuse. There is nothing I see in the culture, from where you take ideas and philosophies, to cause me to believe that your neighbour is not an ever-present threat. So is change required to make the world, our country, your community a better place?

Here’s the big idea, “you’ve changed”. You are not the person you were yesterday. Yesterday you got out of bed you had a certain set of values, you measured right from wrong, and had a sense of what is permissible and unacceptable. You more or less complied with that set of rules to govern how thoughtful a driver you were, the relationship with your work colleagues, your choice of newspaper, the channel on TV you decided to watch and the websites you decided to surf. Put simply you followed convention. All day long you were bombarded with subliminal messages, which you filtered through a particular worldview to decide if they were true or false.

Beware, these messages have shaped and continue to shape your character. Fifteen or fifty your character and personality are changing, either you are gaining wisdom or absorbing lies - it depends on your filter. If your worldview is one that you have accepted from family, academics, friends, popular media and an atheistic culture that says there are multiple truths and everyone has a right to an opinion then your filter is the same one that causes neighbour to turn on neighbour. It’s the filter that says blood is thicker than water; in evolutionary terms it’s the survival of the fittest through natural selection. Do you sincerely believe that attitude will not cause corruption, decay and lead to a fractured society? Evolutionary scientific theories have not created the stability in society we enjoy but they will cause its devolution. It’s an obstinate filter that says I am who I am, I have my own principles and morals thank you.

Can you make the connection with the illustration I am making and your life yet? Or is the world we live in so far removed from your daily existence that I am making no sense? Your friends think they help, they want to love you, but apart from the truth there are lies and friends who offer you lies are not loving. The trouble is deep down you feel alone. Alone in a cold, empty universe, spiraling towards an ignominious death. The self help books, magazine articles about realizing your true potential, enjoying your success, comparing your pathetic life to those less fortunate still doesn’t really address that grinding sense of abandonment. This is because you are living as a rebel, a free agent, an outlaw. You have cultivated a worldview, values, mindset and approach to life on infertile, rocky, barren soil and no matter how hard you work, no matter how healthy the seeds you sow, you will never produce healthy fruit. Stop being so complacent, it’s ugly.

Pause - My fear is that those who would benefit from thinking through these ideas will not have reached this far down the page; my hope is that those who have endured and reckon that this really is not their thing will at least agree that love, like justice, depends on truth. I know that those who have read thus far, who accept, appreciate, and empathise with my reasoning will take it, improve it, and share it. Let’s keep going:

If you have come this far there remains an important question, “in a world of competing truth claims where do I find this fertile soil?” Can I depend on my own reason, who can I trust? Do I turn to academics, people who have studied philosophy and science? Do I look to those who are popular on TV, healthy living gurus, astrologers, agony aunts, social scientists, doctors or teachers? Do I look to family, to see those who have made something of their lives, those who have struggled, and seek to replicate their approach? Perhaps I you take all of these, blend them together in a soup called experience and use my powers of discernment to navigate my ‘chosen’ path. The trouble with that approach is the recipe has been tried before and all that you end up with is a really bitter, unpleasant soup. You have no memory of what’s in it, you can’t share your recipe and your only hope is to keep adding ingredients to hide its true flavour. The trouble is that those additives have to be powerful to remove the original taste, so ever increasing amounts of alcohol, sugar, sex or comfort cannot remove doubts about the base ingredients. Eventually you will simply run out of the energy. Apathy, acceptance, and complacency will lead you to acquiring a taste for your soup, and its unhealthy properties will gradually overwhelm you. Its bitterness will show as looks fade, mind slows and arteries thicken. Eventually you become resigned to death, escape from nothing but nondescript meaningless soup!

I have still not answered the question about how to find fertile soil: CS Lewis had the right idea when he pointed out that if you want to get somewhere and you are on the wrong path the quickest way is usually to turn around and go back to where you started. Now if you have an atheistic belief that explains the intelligent evolved from the unintelligent, then you have a particularly powerful faith that is unlikely to be dented by reason. This is a popular faith, followed by millions around the globe, it’s attractive and provides all the answers (we took a vote and decided something came from nothing so it must be true!) John Lennon’s Imagine is one of it’s most popular ‘praise songs’. Tune in with some cosmic karma, be peaceful man imagine all the people living life as one.

However, I urge you to test your idea or philosophy, be it from Lennon, Buddha, Marx, Mohammed, Mum, Dad or a favourite uncle. Test your belief by looking for the scars of sacrifice. Examine feet and hands for evidence of nails, look on the back for evidence of lacerations where hooks made of metal or bone tore into flesh, note marks from deep tissue injuries around the head, and look for where a sword was thrust deep into the flesh just below the ribcage. When you don’t find the evidence turn back, go visit the tomb of the innocent man who has the marks of your punishment, and an excruciatingly painful death. And when you reach the tomb you’ll find no memorial or shrine because you don’t build monuments to the living but you go out and tell people incredible news.

Here’s the start of your new journey, with your creator God, who came into human history as a man, to take the punishment you deserve and demonstrate His power by conquering sin, death and hell. On this path you will learn your unique purpose, appreciate why there is suffering and love the people who are burdened with stress, frustration, exploitation, abuse, divorce and suicide. You will never be abandoned or never forsaken. It is a narrow path on which you will have doubts and questions. You’ll definitely be mocked, possibly bullied and likely ignored. You will realize how much easier it is to follow the herd, how embarrassing it can feel to step aside from popular culture and how friends, family and loved ones react when you tell them that without truth there is no love. The journey starts by simply believing and results in transformation. Not just same old gradual absorption of ideas that, despite your best efforts, drags you deeper into despair but radical change with a new heart, new thoughts, different mindset and worldview that transforms lives and relationships. Do you want to see how it looks? Of course you do, thanks for asking, your welcome:

The old self liked the old music, familiar radio channels and favourite authors; the new lives for praise music, new folk artists and lots of great books about life and living.

The old self treated the dusty Bible as a moral handrail to be opened at weddings, Christenings and funerals; the new loves to compare the NIV, King James and ESV with good Bible commentaries for receiving good teaching and learning about the character and nature of God.

The old self knew about multiple perspectives and believed everyone had a right to an opinion but now sees that this attitude was an excuse to be a bad husband and poor father.

The old self couldn’t even weep at his mother’s funeral, the new weeps at movies, the news, visions of a broken and corrupted world and when praying for his family, friends and enemies.

The old self wanted to earn more to get more; the new is grateful for what he has and tries to steward it better.

The old self used nihilism, wrapped in vague spirituality, while vaguely referencing a god to justify an immoral view of sexuality; the new understands that sex is a gift from God to be enjoyed in a monogamous marriage between a man and a woman.

The old self argued that pornography was a legitimate art form freely entered into which we should be at liberty to enjoy, the new self humbly asks for forgiveness for participating in this cruel lie.

The old wanted enough money to pay for someone to serve him, he now has a desire to serve.

The old self wanted to be in authority not under authority but the new finds obedience, humility, deference and service worthy pursuits.

The old self became a church warden, put on a blazer, led his family to church and falsely claimed the title of Christian; the new doesn’t have to go to church anymore. The new wants to go to church and loves his family, friends and community in a way he never thought possible.

The old self thought that science, philosophy and our along the evolutionary scale had surpassed the supernatural religion of his great grandparents but has repented of what CS Lewis called chronological snobbery.

The old self tuned in to current affairs and politics, he just couldn’t get enough Question Time, the Today Programme, the World at One, PM and the World Tonight, the new tunes in to community, neighbour and great Bible teaching from Ed Stetzer, Matt Chandler, Tim Keller, John Piper and Jonathan Perkins.

The old self wanted the company of people who liked the stuff he liked, people like him; the new loves the company of every culture, nation, class, and ethnicity.

The old self treated the existence of heaven, hell, the devil and a spiritual realm as nonsense but has now repented of the pride and arrogance that led him to believe that he could in any way know God apart from Jesus Christ.

The old self thought equality and diversity, tolerance and different paths through different religions could lead to one god of love the new understands there is only one God, there can be only be one truth amongst many lies and that Jesus Christ is who he said he was:

“I am the way, and the truth and the life, nobody comes to the Father except through me” (John 16.6).

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Being characterised as having a 'belief system' is tiresome. I am sure there is no mallice intended but you need to know that you are simply regurgitating politically correct nonsense. You see the thing is that the term was coined in the 60s/70s/80s by a radically athiestic education programme designed to eject Christ from the classroom. All well and good say those who don't believe Christ was who he said he was but the trouble is when you don't have Christ you have a vacuum and the laws of physics say that it must be filled.

As we know Christ, who was taught to my father's generation, has been replaced by the educated elites rational. They can explain why the generations of their fathers, grandfathers and forefathers believed all this religious nonsense. Clearly they were less evolved wingnuts, fruit cakes and lunatics. We, the enlightened genetic mutations of turbo charged chimps have modernity. We say, " there, there Adrian, if it makes you happy, well done, your belief system must be very nice for you but we don't need it so please keep it away from our children." "We have higher truths to teach them like feminism, environmentalism, democracy (as long as we remain in charge) secularism and equality and diversity." There is only one Bible verse these people share with their followers, that's you by the way of the cap fits, and that's, "thou shalt not judge".

So little Johnny isn't wicked, he just has attention deficit disorder. Give him a state provided educational pyschiatrist and we’ll be fine. The drunken daugher with an STD isn't bad for giving her body away cheaply, it's her body and she'll do what she wants with it, noone has the right to judge her. Your irresponsible idle boy, who shows little respect for anyone or anything and has no sense of duty or purpose beyond the goal of his selfish satisfaction is good at heart, he's just going through a difficult phase. These attitudes stink. They are uncaring, selfish, timid and unloving. When our children started to walk we grabbed them if they were running into danger and told them the truth. There was no reason given, obedience was expected and demanded. That's because we loved, cared and provided for them. So love comes with truth. If you just grab them without love it's cruel and if you love them without grabbing them, they'll run under a truck.

Put another way if you fill their heads with ideas, philosophies, facts, figures and qualifications without love, they'll be crushed and if you shower them with love without truth and learning they'll be lost. The trouble is as parents you don't know what to believe. You hear all these conflicting claims, great ideas, and beguiling stories and it's just confusing. You have heard that religion is the cause of wars, you have seen the oppression of ideologies like communism and you have been taught by Marxists (cunningly disguised as liberals (my apologies to the true liberals out there)), that truth claims are power plays. And then to cap it all you have been taught that you have your own ideas, make your own mind up, you are independant person, nobody can judge you!

I just came by to tell you that someone can judge you and you will be judged. The charges against you will be turning your back on the one person who loved you so much that he was willing to die for you. You will be judged for putting your trust in worldly things that are corrupted and decaying. You will be judged for looking at the cross and seeing the limp, bloodied, torn, dehydrated, stinking corpse of Jesus Christ and scorning it like the paid religious professionals who hung him there. You will be judged for choosing a broad, comfortable, non confrontational easy going path that leads to darkness, lonliness and death instead of the narrow, tough and difficult path that is in the light and leads to life. The historical truth of the Cross is not a power claim, as Marx so rightly says most truth claims are, but a true story of humility, sacrifice and love. It is the most liberating, inspiring, hope giving story ever told and it's all true. Add that to your list of equality and diversity lectures.

So please don’t characterise as someone who has a ‘belief system’. If you had the cure for cancer you wouldn’t keep it a secret, likewise if you have the truth that leads to life it would be unloving and completely lacking in compassion not to share it. I understand that if, like me, you wanted to reject Jesus Christ’s truth claim in preference for your own. You do however, put your faith in something. Something atttracts your time, treasure and talents, gives you purpose and hope and maybe provides you contentment and satisfaction. Given that’s the case I would strongly encourage you to test your truth claim against mine. It’s a short life and there’s a gift of truth with a new life of purpose, meaing and love greater than you ever imagined avaibable to you, you just have to face up and accept it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Remember

I remember a time when you could only buy ready salted, salt and vinegar or cheese and onion crisps (chips for the American audience). The introduction of beef flavuor was a wonderful thing. Now we have salsa flavour amongst hedgehog and probably pea soup.

I remember when the boxy shaped Ford Transit was brought out and my father bought one. Wow, you'd struggle to exagerate how cool I thought this was. I deeply admired the cab and the size and the newness. It fuelled a great desire for commercial transportation a passion that has dwindled.

I remember when the M27 was turned from woodland to road. I walked about 4 or 5 miles to watch the construction equipment in action. There's only one thing more exciting than a new Ford Transit and that's the site of a mechanical digger, I believe excavator is the right term, loading a one of those earth moving trucks with big wheels. Hours of fun watching the heavy machinery at work.

Don't get me started in tractors. The Ford County, what a magnificent beast. This was the first I knew of tractors with all four wheels the same size. I remain particularly fond of John Deere, big fords and of course my favourite Massey Ferguson. On the lead up to my sixteenth birthday I carefully planned and nurtured dreams of having a tractor, I really did. I honestly thought this was a feasible aspiration. Knowing that you could drive a tractor on the public road at 16 this was my ticket to freedom. Needless to say I was disappointed.

Then I remember dreams of high yeald vegtable growing. My father very kindly rented a large maching for rotating the earth and I transformed a plot of land from waste to production. From my large pile of rotted rabbit manure I fertilzed the ground and produced a bumper crop of broad beans. I had great farming plans. From the library I got books out about sillage making and cattle husbandry and made mental plans. Hours and hours of mental plans involving farm machinery, sillage, a large farmhouse and a life in the country. I kid you not this was the mind of the foureteen year old Adrian.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Stuff

I submit to you that much of your "knowledge, beliefs and convictions" are in fact an amalgam of the stuff that you have been absorbing all your life. That it is time you considered that the lens in which you view the world is corrupted and you are therefore not seeing things as they really are! Now that, if true, is a powerful statement that should give you cause for concern. Let’s discuss:

Would you admit to adopting the views, habits and opinions that most attract you? I was a particularly strange youth who took to listening to current affairs programming on the radio from an early age. I loved the liberal libertarian mindset that said you could be all you want to be, argue over morality and the person with the convincing argument gets the most votes and wins the day! Of course this allowed me to shape the world to suit my proclivities which of course unfettered were sex, drugs and rock and roll. I didn’t have to look far for the company of those who shared my passions. Did we have a good time? Yes and often. With our energy, enthusiasm, stamina, sense of sporting passion and testosterone of course we had a great time. Singing rugby songs with gusto, playing bar games with abandon, seeking to entertain and have a grand old time.

Nobody asked “what person do you suppose will emerge as a result of this behaviour and mindset?” “What effect would you like to have on the world around you, what sort of legacy do you hope to show, how so you intend to lean into the future?” Nobody saying “I tell you the truth, I speak from love, I care about you”. Not pious questions but big questions from the heart. I did have ideas of character, morality and legacy but these were cultivated in a culture that celebrated young men behaving like idiots, encouraged excess and couldn’t care less about the outcome. Where was my father during this time, my friends’ fathers, the fathers of the women I hoped would carelessly give away their bodies; where were the uncles, godfathers, where were the patriarchs? I’ll tell you. They were emasculated by an overbearing liberal led feminist ideology that had somehow convinced them that the wisdom that had lasted for millennia, about the roles of man and women was

nonsense and that equality and diversity was the new religion. There is no truth, we can all formulate our own truth and morality and it is the height of arrogance to suppose you have any right to tell me what to do. We took a vote and you lost! Well check out the streets people, see the prison population, see the incident of domestic violence and the divorce courts and see just how profoundly you have lost?

Just stay with me a little longer and suppose, hypothesize just for a moment that there is a Creator God that exists above time and beyond this material universe. Just use your imagination to suppose that something cannot come from nothing and before there was anything God existed for eternity, living in perfect relationship as an outpouring of love between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Have you got that image of love? Good. Now think; all you have to do is believe and you will be gifted His righteousness. You do nothing else, no chants, no praying five times a day. Just accept that he loves you, he willingly died for you. He knew you before time began and has power over all creative forces which was ultimately illustrated in the historically recorded event of being resurrected from the dead!

Now that changes everything. The course of your life, the purpose you have each time you go out to party, the meaning of spending time amongst people and serving them, loving them. Be you a nurse, checkout girl, soldier, banker or baker you have a soul and a purpose. Now get out and party hard, dance hard, crank up the volume, have a great time but do it knowing that it has a purpose and that’s to enjoy your Father’s love.