Friday, 28 April 2017

Honour your father and mother

It is a fact that some of us, if we're fortunate, will grow old. And as we grow old, some of us may well become ill, some will live alone, some will struggle with day to day tasks, and many will have their families living far away.

Our children will grow up and move to other places to find jobs and to start a family. Other children will probably fall out with their parents, perhaps as a result of a family argument, and cease to contact their parents. Whilst some other children will just be too busy with the day-to-day stresses of life to maintain contact with their parents.

It is also a fact that some of us, as we grow older, will become cantankerous, argumentative pains in the neck working our way down South. Not everyone can be as pleasant and nice to be with as me. And so it follows, that such old people will make it difficult for their families to visit them as often as they should. In some cases, perhaps for safety's sake, it will be necessary for children and parents to meet no longer.

Then there is another fact. Many years ago, God commanded on a tablet of stone, "Honour your father and mother."

Now I ask myself, how much of a duty is that on every son and daughter, and how serious a sin is it if we ignore it?

Many amongst us can claim that our lives are too busy with the responsibilities of work, raising a family, looking after our own children, and so on and so forth, to be able to visit our parents frequently. Especially if they live too far away.

Others can claim that they fell out with their parents because of a serious family dispute, and indeed it is for their own safety, and that of their children, that they don't visit their parents anymore.

Others will claim that their parents have become the proverbial in-laws; and whenever they visit them, their parents are always criticising and creating a dividing wedge between husband and wife; especially if they never approved of their choice of partners in the first place.

These, and many other supposedly valid reasons have resulted in parents and children no longer seeing each other.

I have known several lonely elderly people in my time. One old lady was so lonely seeing no one from day to day that every week she took the bus to town and back just to be with other people on the journey.

Another left the TV or radio on all day and night just to hear the voice of someone speaking; and she left the lights on all night for fear of being alone in the dark.

Another old lady living alone just talked to her dog just to exercise her vocal chords. She said her throat dries up if she does not speak to anyone all day.

And yet another old man died alone at home and was not discovered until days later when the postman wondered why his mail was piling up behind his door.

Loneliness, especially in old age, is the scourge of a modern society awash with electronic communications devices.

What is the point of having hundreds of "friends and followers" on social media if none visit you when you're old?

So, my message to every son and daughter is: "What will you say to God when you meet Him about the way you honoured your parents"?

And for every parent, old and not so old, "What will you say to God about the way you helped your children obey that commandment?"

I wonder what God would respond.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Faith is not enough


Saturday, 22 April 2017

The Fear that grips us all

Fear is a natural emotion. We all experience fear at one time or another in our lives. Fear can be a good thing at times because it  stops us from taking un-necessary risks. From being reckless and un-thoughtful in what you do.

But there are times when fear itself breeds more fear and grips us to the extent of ruling our lives.

Few of us are really immune to it.

The fear of losing our job and not being able to provide for our families. The fear of missing payments on our mortgage and losing our house. The fear of failure and being unable to work again. The fear of our very lives crumbling in front of our eyes.
The fear of a marriage breakdown. Infidelity. Divorce and its many heartaches. The tearing apart of a family. How it affects one's children. Separation. Costs. Access to children. Being no longer a part of their lives. The feeling of failure and betrayal.
The fear of growing old. Being alone. Especially at night. Forgotten with only one's memories for comfort. The fear of being unable to cope any more. The fear of losing control as others decide for you what is best. The fear that everyone you relied upon is now no longer there.
The fear of being ill. With no prospects of getting better. Relying on others and perhaps being a burden on family and friends. The fear of incapacity. The fear of being unable to make any decisions. The fear of being unable to afford treatment. The fear of un-ending pain.
The fear for others. Children. Grand-children. Other relatives or friends. How they are coping. How will they cope. The fear of the future and what it might bring. In an ever changing world, the very fear of opening a newspaper or seeing the news that something or other has happened that will adversely affect you or your loved ones.
Few of us can claim not to have experienced the real darkness of fear as it grips our minds, our imaginations and indeed our realities.

Because all these fears outlined above, and others besides not mentioned here, have actually happened to others and can very well happen to us.

One day we are living our lives happily and the next ... a quick change in circumstances can easily propel us into any of the fearful scenarios described above.

Christ taught us not to be afraid. That our God loves us. He cares for us. He will not let us perish. He is always by our side.

Yet ... these fearful events are real and have happened to others, those who love and obey God, and those who don't; and can so easily happen to us. So we feel, perhaps, that our fears are justified.

Until we consider, for a moment or two, how God feels about our so-called justified fears.

Isn't our fear, justified as it might be, a sign that we don't truly trust Him? A real profession of faith that, when it comes down to it, we don't really trust Him? Somehow, somewhere, in the back of our minds, we harbour that doubt, that worry, that when things will go bad for us, as they will inevitably be for some of us, we don't really trust Him enough to be by our side in our moment of need.

Now how do you think God feels about your lack of trust in Him?

We may not be able to help these fears when they attack our minds, perhaps sub-consciously, but we can fight against them with prayer. Real prayer. Through gritted teeth even. Admitting to God that we are fearful and yet, trying, through every fibre of our being to trust in Him, in His love and in His caring.

Fear will try to grip us all. It is how we handle it that is our salvation. And with His grace and help we will succeed.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

A Place At The Table

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The Train

The train with no wheels

Going nowhere

But the stations are moving

Showing the passing of time

There goes 1914

Then 39 too

The 40s and 50s

And the others pass thru

Humanity at war

Knowing no peace

The world in turmoil

For ever it seems

When will this train stop?

For cease-fire and respite

And let the flower of love

Get a chance to re-birth

The train with no wheels

That is going nowhere

Will never reach Peace

‘Til we learn to forgive!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

The Nature of Sin

It's not often in this Blog that we engage in intellectual, theological, philosophical or any other ending discussion. So let's change that and talk about something we are all expert on - - - SIN.

What is sin? Why do we do it? Is it because it is pleasurable in some form or another? Or are we somehow pre-programmed to do it?

The Bible tells us that sin is something that upsets God. It is against His will for us, and hurts His love for us.

I guess the first sin was when the angel Lucifer rebelled against God. The second sin was when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.

We are told that as a result of Adam and Eve's sin we are all born in sin and we have to struggle and toil for all our lives and suffer death.

I'm not sure I buy that. Why is it that I have to take the blame for someone else's sin? I wasn't even there at the time; and had I been there I would have probably dissuaded them from listening to the snake and advised them to enjoy their nakedness instead.

But anyway ... now all those years later we have sin. There are of course small sins, like telling a little lie every now and then, or eating too many cakes, or in my case ginger marmalade. And there are really big sins like adultery, robbing a bank and murder.

The Catholic Church, to help (or confuse) matters further, have described sins as venial sins and mortal sins. I say to confuse matters further because today many Catholics cannot distinguish venial from mortal sins; and they consider very serious sins as being ... well, quaint weaknesses really!

According to the Catholic Church venial sins are the small ones which you can ask God to forgive in your prayers and you're OK. No need to go to regular Confession for these, (so we've been told by our church).

Mortal sins are really big whoppers like adultery, stealing and killing. Basically, they are the ones which disobey the Ten Commandments and ... the rules of the Catholic Church as imposed by its teachings. (I must buy such a book just in case I'm doing something wrong and don't know it!)

Now then ... according to the Catholic Church, if you die with a mortal sin on your soul you're going down without a parachute my friend. No hope for you.

If you die with a venial sin or sins then you'll spend some time in Purgatory before going to Heaven. It's like a car-wash where they clean your soul and put a sparkle on it.

Here again I am confused.

No where in the Bible does it mention Purgatory. So we don't really know if it exists or what it's like there. Is there a burning fire like in hell but a little cooler? Are there devils poking you with blunt forks, or angels cleaning your soul? How long do you have to stay in Purgatory? Is it a day for each venial sin, a week, or longer? These Catholics don't half confuse things!

When Jesus hung dying on the Cross, He said to the thief next to Him, "Today you'll be with me in Paradise." He didn't say, "But you need to spend some time in Purgatory first!"

But let's leave the Catholic dogma to one side for a moment. Let us look at the nature of sin as viewed by God; if we could be so presumptuous as to try and see like God.

Does He view all sins with the same degree of seriousness and "badness", if there is such a word?

Does my being greedy with ginger marmalade rank in the same seriousness as adultery? Is an adulterer not also being greedy in a similar manner as me? (OK ... stop smirking. I realise there's a lot of difference between a spoonful of ginger marmalade and sex. I'm trying to be serious here, and you're making up your own jokes.)

Does God categorise sin into different levels of seriousness and does He judge us accordingly?

When we die, will He send an unrepentant adulterer, thief or murderer down? All three have broken one of His Commandments. How about an unrepentant gourmand or a lazy husband who will not paint the garden gate and fence, or mow the lawn, even though his wife asked him a million times?

Does a lazy man who does not do what his wife asks him, like mowing the lawn, deserve to go to hell? (Don't ask my wife!)

Does God judge the sin, or the intent behind the sin?

An adulterer, thief, or murderer knows he is doing something wrong. He knows it is against God's will. Yet he knowingly does it all the same regardless of the seriousness of the matter. That's what a serious, or mortal, sin is: knowing that doing something is seriously wrong, yet doing it all the same without any pressure or influence from anyone else; doing it in defiance of God.

Being lazy, or greedy, are weaknesses of human nature. God knows that; because He created us and He knows all our weaknesses. God knows that the intent behind these sins are our weaknesses rather than a clear-minded decision to do wrong, and to defy God.

The sin of Adam and Eve was not a sin of greediness because they liked the fruit. Or indeed a sin of disobedience because God told them not to eat the fruit. It was a sin of defiance. They knowingly defied God. They were told that by eating the fruit they "will be like God". (Genesis 3:5).

Not so dissimilar from Lucifer's sin. He wanted to be like God.

I believe that when God comes to judge us, He will look at the intent behind our actions. Have we lived a life as best as we can following His Commandments, loving Him, and trying our best to please Him?

Or have we lived a life in defiance of Him? Not believing in His existence. And pursuing our own purpose in life.

Father Francis Maple in one of his sermons makes a good point about our relationship with God by referring to a leaning tree. Here's what he says:
I think of a life as a tree. If a tree leans in one direction when it dies it will fall in that direction. It is not going to fall in the opposite direction. So, too, with our lives. If all the time we are leaning towards God, very likely, with God's grace we shall fall into His arms when we die. But if our lives never point to God, it is very likely that when we die we shall die in enmity with God.

NOTE: This is the second post regarding matters relating to our Christian Faith. Let's have a discussion. I welcome your views, opinions and disagreements also; for it is by an exchange of thoughts that we learn from each other. Anonymous comments welcome.

If you would like to suggest a subject which we can discuss on future posts please write to me at: Your e-mail will reach my desk only and I will respond to every one I receive.

God bless.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Thursday, 13 April 2017


This week, many churches re-enact the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet before the Last Supper. The priest washes the feet of 12 people representing the disciples. You can bet that the chosen 12 have ensured that their feet, (or foot, because usually one foot is washed to speed the whole procedure), are/is as clean as could be, to avoid embarrassment during the re-enactment.

At the time of Jesus, however, things were different. Streets were not as modern and clean as they are now in our towns and cities. They were dusty, muddy if it rained, and no doubt full of deposits from horses, camels and cattle. People wore sandals or even walked in bare feet.

So when they entered a house as guests washing their feet must have been an essential task rather than the symbolism it is in today’s churches. A task left to the servants to undertake.

When Jesus offered, insisted even, in washing His disciples’ feet He was teaching them, and us, a very important lesson.

Here is God Himself, born in poverty, raised in poverty, living in poverty, submitting Himself to perform a task reserved for servants.

Perhaps the disciples didn’t understand the significance of what Jesus had just done. Maybe we don’t understand it ourselves right now.

Yet, He was preparing for an even greater submission and humiliation for us.

Dying a most horrible and painful death on the Cross.

Just for us.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The Judas Question.

Father Ignatius was chairing the monthly “Any Questions” meeting at the Parish Hall. This is an event he had initiated some time ago whereby parishioners and their guests gather of an evening, and after refreshments of tea, coffee, hot chocolate drinks and cakes, they sit in cinema fashion and ask him any question totally un-prepared. Usually the questions are about the day to day running of the church, or the two Catholic schools nearby; but more often than not there are some questions about Christianity and the Catholic Faith.

Father Ignatius was convinced that the hot drinks and cakes were the main attraction; but he was assured this was not the case.

His curve ball came from a young lady sitting at the front.

“Father,” she said, “I can’t help feeling sorry for Judas. What chance did he really have? He had to betray Jesus; because if he didn’t do so, he’d be going against God’s will. So what choice or free will did Judas have?”

The priest put down his cup of coffee and cleaned his spectacles; a trick he had learnt in order to gain time.

“Would it help if I say I don’t know the answer to this?” he said eventually.

After a short pause the young lady continued, “well Father, I don’t understand the difference between our free will, or Judas’ free will, to do as we wish, and pre-destination to do what God has determined will happen.”

Before the priest could answer a man put up his hand and said: “Oddly enough, I was reading about this the other day. In John Chapter 17 I think it was. When Jesus was praying for His disciples He says to God something like ‘I kept the disciples safe. Not one was lost except the one who was meant to be lost so that the Scriptures may come true.’ This implies that Judas had no choice. He was pre-programmed as it were to betray Jesus.”

A few of the audience murmured at this; perhaps they hadn't read or heard about it.

“Free will and pre-destination are matters which have taxed many a learned brain over the centuries,” replied Father Ignatius gently, “and no doubt they will continue to do so.

“I am not God, and so I do not have a definite answer for you. But I assure you I will ask Him when I get to meet Him.

“In the meantime, let us consider the question a bit more.

“When God created us He had two choices.

“He could have created a species of robots. All pre-programmed to obey Him, to love Him and to do His will without question.

“And how trouble-free that would have been! No sin, no rebellion, no satan.

“But God loved us so much that He gave us a precious gift. He gave us the gift to choose. He allowed us to decide whether to love Him back, or not.

“When He invited us to return His love for us, He did so with no coercion whatsoever from His part. Love given freely by Him, and returned freely by us; but only if we want to.

“Hence our free will to choose.

“We are free to decide what we do with our lives. To love and obey Him, or to go our own way.

“Yet having said so, there are instances in the Bible where God does lead, or encourage, certain people in some direction. Look at the way he nudged Paul on the way to Damascus for instance.”

The audience laughed.

“You may well laugh,” continued Father Ignatius, “but God may have seen some good qualities in Paul which could come useful in furthering God’s Word on earth. And how right He was!

“After all, why should the devil have all the good talent?”

The audience laughed again.

“So …,” went on the priest after they had settled down, “whilst on the face of it there is some evidence, in our eyes, that God does lead us in some direction it is somewhat presumptuous on our part to try to analyze when this is pre-destination and when it is free will.

“But this so-called evidence is in our eyes only. Because we try to understand God in human terms. Something we should not do, in my opinion, because we are humans and He is not.

“By analyzing Him in human terms we bring Him down to our level. And this is wrong.

“God does not want us to understand Him and analyze His motives. He wants us to love Him and to dare to obey Him, in blind Faith, in the sure knowledge that He knows what He is doing.

“Can we do that? Dare to obey Him without question?

“And not want to serve God in an advisory capacity. But as obedient children, trusting His every word and action.”

The priest stopped for a second and sipped his coffee.

“Let Him be God and let us be humans. And let us always be willing to listen to Him when He leads us in a certain direction” continued Father Ignatius.

“I really cannot tell you whether Judas was pre-programmed, as you put it, or not. Did Judas really have a free choice? Could he have decided not to follow his evil instincts and not betray Jesus? In the Gospel of John he tells us that Jesus gave a piece of bread to Judas, to point at the one who was to betray Him, and at that instant 'Satan entered into him'; signifying perhaps that it was the devil who betrayed Jesus, and Judas was only an instrument in all this. I really do not have an answer to this, but I trust God to know the answer to that question and to have dealt with it with compassion, fairness and love.

“Finally, I wish to say this.

“I did not fall out of bed one morning and decide to become a priest. At the time, I felt led by God to follow the path to priesthood. It was a gradual process, it took time and it took a lot of thinking and praying … and eventually, I knew that He was calling me.

“God may well be calling some of you these days. Not necessarily into the priesthood, but to listen to Him and His will for you.

“I pray that you’d be listening when He calls you to do whatever He asks of you in this life.”

Monday, 10 April 2017

You will always have the poor with you.

John 12:1-11
"Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume."

We all know this story, which is also told in Mark 14 3-7.

This event happened in the house of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. The man whom Jesus had raised from the dead, and as a result many people believed in Jesus and became His followers.

When Mary washed Jesus' feet with the expensive perfume, we are told in this Gospel that Judas Iscariot, (the one who betrayed Jesus), said, "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?"

Jesus replied, predicting His death, "Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."

Jesus was of course right in saying we will always have the poor with us. Two thousand years later and we still have poverty and starvation in the world whilst others seem to enjoy great luxuries.

It seems that whatever we do, or try to do, we cannot resolve this problem of poverty. I read somewhere that there is indeed enough food in this world to feed the whole population; but the food is in the wrong place. Plenty in one place and not enough in another; and it would take great efforts and cost to move the plenty we have in one place to the places who need it.

The problem of poverty seems too big and complicated for my limited brain-power to tackle and ... I am told ... whatever little I give to organised charities is diminished even further by administration costs, management salaries, advertising, transportation and so on, that by the time it reaches those who need it it becomes very little indeed.

So ... what am I to do with my limited donations to the poor? What did Jesus mean by them being always with us?

Let us look at what Jesus said in a wider context.

Could He perhaps be talking about something more than just material poverty?

Is He maybe reminding us that there will always be someone worse off than us? Someone who is poor in material things, someone poor in spirit, poor in health, poor in education or even poor in Faith.

This may be miss-interpreting Him perhaps but still worth considering.

We all have a responsibility towards those in poverty in one way or another. No matter how their poverty manifests itself.

We should always readily recognize our blessings and share them with those less well off than us.

If we are fortunate to be financially rich, we should give to those who have not.

If we are in good health, we should help those who are sick. Visit them at home or in hospital, and give a hand when needed.

If we are clever or intelligent we should be more tolerant towards those not as bright as us and help educate them where we can.

And if our Faith is strong, we should help and pray for those who falter and fail in their walk with the Lord.

So I suppose Jesus could be referring to poverty in the wider sense, as well as physical poverty of course, and such poverty, whatever it may be, will continue with us as a permanent reminder of our responsibilities towards others as well as towards God Himself.

And if any of us are not able for one reason or another to visit the sick, or teach the under-priviledged, or to serve at soup kitchens for the poor, there's something else very valuable they could do.

They could pray, pray and pray some more. Pray for the poor, the sick, the vulnerable, the under-priviledged. Pray for your relatives and friends. Mention them individually in your prayers and say something personal about the person in question.

Prayer is the greatest gift we can give and receive from one another.

And if you have time ... pray for me.


God bless.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Stop the world and let me off

Can you see me in the picture above? Running round and round in the wheel ever going faster and faster?

That was me years ago when I worked in a managerial position in a big multi-national firm in London.

It was all about responsibilities, working hard, being focused, waking up early and commuting to London, or sometimes travelling long distances on the highway to various locations, getting home late, and doing it all over again day in day out, working all the hours available and more besides.

And at the same time doing one's best to raise a family, paying all the bills, being a good husband, parent, son, sibling, friend and all else besides.

OK ... by now you must all be thinking, "So what? We all have to do that."

And that's exactly the point of my post today.

We all have to do that. Whether we are a manager, a doctor, accountant, lawyer, carpenter, plumber or whatever else our job may be, we all have to do that.

That's what our modern, sophisticated, advanced, enlightened society has created. A wheel for each one of us in which we enter and run ever so faster and not seeming to get anywhere. Ever increasing responsibilities leading to worries, fears, and cares as we try our best to survive in life and keep our heads above water whilst certainly harming our health a little at a time until ...

Life becomes a struggle just to live.

Is that what God wants of us? To spend our lives struggling against all odds to just about survive?

We can't all say, "Stop the world and let me off."

We can't all give up our jobs and responsibilities and go and live a simpler life out in the country. Even that in itself is hard-work if you have to grow your own food to feed your family.

Modern life dictates a certain income if we are at the very least to bob along our perilous journey without sinking; never mind keeping up with the Joneses who seem to be speeding ahead in a motor boat.

And as we grow older, and assuming we survive the struggles that come our way, and we eventually retire there is no respite ahead. No getting off the wheel or at least slowing it down a little.

No ... the work still has to go on. Being there for one's children when they need you, looking after the grand-children when asked, baby-sitting them or taking them to school or shopping and so on, volunteering for this and that, doing a million and one other jobs around the house which for some reason got procrastinated all those years ago; and any spare minutes one has which vaguely resemble leisure have to be filled in with some hobby or other, or some exercise to keep you fit, or some other nonsense which the doctor or nurse has suggested to keep you healthy.

Well, personally I don't care for all that.

For me retirement should mean just that. Retire from life and do nothing.

If the lawn needs cutting just buy yourself a goat to do it for you. It will grow up again anyway.

If the house needs cleaning just start a hobby of collecting dust instead.

If there are books to be read, because you've always promised yourself to read them anyway when you've got time, just wait until they make them into a film; then watch them with the subtitles on and hey presto ... you've read them. (This doesn't apply to my books, by the way; which are always a good read. I'm re-reading mine in my spare time!).

If the nurse suggests exercise to keep you fit just use the remote control for the TV more often; you'd be surprised how nimble your fingers will get. The other day my doctor suggested that I do something every day that leaves me a little breathless - so I took up smoking. And don't waste time and money joining a gymnasium or keep fit club. I did that for six months to lose weight and did not lose one ounce. No one told me that I had to attend regularly too!

Try your best in retirement to avoid work as much as possible especially as you slow down and then ... the final chapters ... as you grow older and older and eventually you ... ... ... die.

Don't for one moment think that when this happens you will rest in peace. No way ...

Should you be fortunate enough to go to Heaven it all starts all over gain ... for eternity.

There's harp playing lessons to attend at least once a week. Trying on new wings and learning to fly like an angel. Meeting relative, friends and acquaintances all over again and visiting each of them in turn over and again for a nice cup of tea and biscuits. Just think for a moment how many visits these will be; and then there is them visiting you in return, before the whole routine starts once again. And don't forget having to join the choir of angels and learning to sing in harmony with the rest of them. And I'm sure that at one stage or other St Peter will ask you every now and then to help him re-paint the Pearly Gates.

It's enough to make you say, "Stop the world and let me off."

Thursday, 6 April 2017

The Oven You Wear

I mentioned on this Blog some six years ago that a friend of mine is quite an inventor. He had invented a jacket which warms up by means of a small battery to keep you protected from the cold in winter. I tried this jacket for him six years ago with interesting results. I really urge you to read about it HERE.

Anyway, fast forwards to the present day and this same friend has now improved on his invention and has now developed Oven-U-Wear.TM

To put it simply, this is an oven which you wear.

Or, to be more precise, it is a jacket or overcoat which acts like an oven. It has many pockets, both on the inside and outside, and through a battery operated system it heats up each pocket individually to the temperature you desire.

For example, you could be on your way to work with a potato in each armpit cooking gently. By lunchtime, hey presto ... baked potatoes!

Or, on your way home after a hard day's work you could be carrying a chicken on your back roasting gently, whilst the vegetables are in your side pocket and a cake up your sleeve! Once you're home you can sit down to a hot meal in seconds!

In the morning you can eat your porridge from your pocket whilst travelling on the bus or train. And have toast popping out of your collar straight into your mouth. Delicious with some honey or jam which you'll keep in your trousers which act as a refrigerator.

The problem with the trousers is that I have now grown icicles where I really don't want them!

And when they defrost I have a rather embarrassing tell-tale patch at the front of my trousers. Not to mention a cold wet bottom when I sit down.

The combination between cooking a meal in my jacket and making ice cream in my trousers is somewhat disconcerting at the best of time.

In winter I am nice and warm at the top of my body and freezing my un-mentionables underneath. Whereas in summer I am over-heating my head whilst my manhood is rather cool.

All in all, whilst this invention is rather cool, (modern slang meaning good, great, fantastic); in reality it needs a few more refinements.

The other day a short circuit sent an electric shock up my backside and my hat flew off !!!

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Readers - We have a problem

This post may not be suitable for readers with a nervous disposition. 
Please have someone else read this for you. 
Or read it with your eyes closed!
And please keep an open mind ...

Some people snore in their sleep. Others talk in their sleep. Whilst others indeed walk in their sleep. I knew someone who used to eat in his sleep. He'd wake up in the morning and find he'd eaten half a pillow. He also often dreamt he was at a marshmallow factory. But that's another story.

What I want to tell you is about myself ... rather embarrassing, but ... here goes ...

I ... it seems ... so I am told ... apparently ... sing and tell jokes in my sleep.

The other night, I understand, I was singing songs from the musical Oklahoma. A few days ago it was "Old McDonald had a farm"! I then tend to lean forwards as if receiving tumultuous applause and recognition from an appreciative audience - a standing ovation no less.

What is worse, it seems is that I also tell jokes. Original ones.

Now years ago, I used to compare variety shows to raise money for charity and I often did stand-ups telling jokes and introducing the next act. So I can see how such distant memories can now trigger and  replay from my sub-conscious into my dreams. What I find interesting is that my brain seems to make up new jokes which I enjoy and then include in my Blog posts.

However, what I find somewhat disconcerting is that my dreams also seem to involve you ... yes you ... my loyal and very welcome readers.

It seems that when I sing or tell jokes I also name you in my repertoire. I say something like, "I hope you have enjoyed this song (name)." Or "Now I am sure that (name) will enjoy this joke ..." and I proceed to tell the joke.

As you can imagine, naming people in one's dreams is somewhat embarrassing and it has been difficult explaining who all these real people from my virtual Internet world are. Obviously, I've never met you, and do not really know you. So how come you are featuring in my private dreams?

And it's not just you. The other day I dedicated a song to Eleanor, who happens to be our neighbour's dog; and also to Christina which is the name he gave to his new car, would you believe.

So my real world and my virtual Internet world are combining with songs and jokes in my dream world with embarrassing results.

I went to see my doctor about this intriguing phenomenon. She asked me whether I ever mention her in my sleep. I said, "No."

She was very upset and asked, "Why? Am I not as attractive or as interesting as all those other people?"

She got very jealous that my dreams seem to prefer you and a dog instead of her. After a bit of a heated discussion where I tried to re-assure her that she was just as important as all of my friends and dogs, she calmed down a little and gave me some horse pills which a vet friend of hers gave her for nightmares.

The problem is that the pills are the size of golf balls. OK I suppose for a horse; but too large for me to swallow. So I grind the pills using a pestle and mortar and dilute them in plenty of water.

As you can imagine. Taking those horse pills with gallons of water has had side effect.

Being up in the bathroom all night has stopped my vivid dreams.

OK ... better stop here. Have you heard the one about ... ... ...

Monday, 3 April 2017

Forgiving You

A married man was having an affair with his secretary. One day they went to her place and made love all afternoon. Later that evening the man hurriedly dressed and told his lover to take his shoes outside and rub them in the grass and dirt.

He put on his shoes and drove home.

"Where have you been?" his wife demanded.

"I can't lie to you," he replied, "I'm having an affair with my secretary."

She looked down at his shoes and said: "You're lying to me! You've been playing golf!"

Adultery is no laughing matter, of course, although these days it is so common that it has become the subject of jokes. Many years ago adultery was a very serious matter indeed.

We all know the story when the Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman caught committing adultery.

According to Jewish law she had to be stoned to death for that sin. We’re told in the Gospel of John that Jesus wrote in the sand with His finger. We’re not told what He wrote. I guess He wrote ‘Dear God … will they never learn?’

But that’s not important; what is important is that after He said let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone, and when they all left one by one, Jesus turned to the woman and asked ‘Is there no one left to condemn you?’

She said ‘No one …’

And Jesus replied ‘I do not condemn you either. Go, but do not sin again.’

Now Jesus did not mean do not sin any sin whatsoever ever again for the rest of your life!

He knew that that is impossible. The woman was human, and it is natural that she would sin again. Jesus knows our human nature and He knows that we are liable to sin again and again …

What Jesus said to the woman is, do not commit that particular sin again … it is serious enough to get you into a lot of trouble with the Pharisees as well as with God Himself.

And that’s what Jesus is saying to us today.

He knows we are weak … He knows that we will sin … By saying ‘do not sin again’ Jesus is warning us to beware of those particular sins which are serious enough to lead us into damnation, and into an eternity of exclusion from our Father in Heaven.

In our propensity to sin, God is loving and caring enough to forgive us again and again.

When we confess our sins to God there should also be remorse and guilt for what we have done. Confession should not be just a laborious recitation of the same old sins; and a futile exercise which serves no one and certainly does not fool God Himself.

Without true remorse, and a genuine resolve not to repeat our sins; then confession means nothing. And it would be better not to confess or repent at all. At least that is honest in the eyes of God.

Now when God has forgiven us that should be the end of the matter. He does not keep a little black book in which He writes what we have done and reminds us again and again when we sin again. He knows that our weakness will overcome us; and what He asks is that we at least try not to repeat our sins again. Certainly so for the more serious ones; like adultery for instance.

However, often, our human nature is less forgiving than God's nature. With an honest repentance we are certainly forgiven by God but not by us. We feel we are not forgiven. We feel so ashamed of our sin that we do not forgive ourselves and we torture ourselves by re-calling our sins in our mind and feel unforgiven.

Our inner voice tells us we are unforgiven and reproaches us for what we have done. In some cases this is to such an extent that it stops us moving forward with our lives and hinders our progress towards a loving God waiting to hug us with open arms.

Such a reaction to sin may indeed be a natural human emotion, but it is wrong. It is like slapping God's face and saying that we do not accept His forgiveness or that His forgiveness was wrong. And that itself is another sin on our conscience.

We must learn, and indeed accept, that once God has forgiven us that should be the end of it. And not carry the sense of guilt with us for ever more. Let us move on freely and with a resolve not to sin that particular sin again.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

The Resurrection of Lazarus

 John 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33-45

"So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was."

Note that Jesus does not go straightaway to heal Lazarus. He waits for two more days. He also says that this illness will not lead to death.

"When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days ... Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’"

Jesus arrives after Lazarus has been dead for four days. This is very significant. In those days some people believed that the soul does not leave the body until after three days. Jesus wanted to make sure that Lazarus was dead before performing His miracle. He did not want anyone to suggests that Lazarus was just sleeping or in a coma; as may well have happened in previous occasions when He raised someone from the dead. This time He wanted to make sure that the people understood that the power of God can raise people from the dead.

Notice also how Martha reprimands Jesus. "If you had been here, my brother would not have died."

Don't we too, kick back and blame God when something goes wrong in our lives? Note also the faith in that very sentence. She believes that Jesus could have saved Lazarus, had He been here. She reprimands Jesus. That in itself is an expression of faith. There is no point in reprimanding or getting angry with someone who can do nothing about it. But the very fact she reprimands Jesus shows that she knew He could do something about it had He been there.

When we are in great grief, or despair, we sometimes lash out at God. We blame Him for what has happened. This is only natural. It is our human nature speaking.

God knows that and He can take our anger. After all, He took all our anger and hatred when He hung there from the Cross.

Like in Martha's case, God forgives. We should in return hold on to our Faith and believe that everything is possible to God.

"Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’"

He re-iterates His message that He has the power to raise Lazarus. And Martha too, confirms that she believes Jesus is the Son of God.

"When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

This is also significant. Mary joins her sister to meet Jesus and she too says, "If you had been here Lazarus would not have died". The crowd murmur that Jesus healed many sick people why did He not come earlier to save Lazarus.

"Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’"

Let there be no doubt that Lazarus is dead.

"And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’"

Jesus re-affirms to His Father that this miracle is to make the people believe that He is the Son of God. This whole episode in Christ's life has one main purpose. To make the people believe.

Jesus deliberately arrived late to ensure that Lazarus was dead. Let there be no doubt about that. His sister and the crowd knew that. After four days, in the hot heat, the body would have decomposed and begin to smell.

In previous miracles, many sceptics and cynics would have said that the individual was probably not dead. He may have been in a deep sleep, or in a coma. Not much of a miracle.

This time Jesus waited for four days after death and burial to turn up and raise Lazarus. He wanted there to be no doubt that Lazarus is dead and that he has been raised back to life. No doubt that God's glory, through Him, will be seen by everyone.

Jesus says "unbind him, and let him go." Let that be a message to us when we are unbound from our sins and let go freely forgiven once again.

"Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him."

At last ... some ... of the Jews believed.

From the very beginning Jesus had said, "The final result of this illness will not be the death of Lazarus; this has happened in order to bring glory to God, and it will be the means by which the son of God will receive glory."

Our lesson is to learn that when things go wrong ... very ... very wrong; we need only believe that the end result will be that God is glorified, as is His will.
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