Wednesday, 31 May 2017

AN ANNOUNCEMENT







Publishing Agent extraordinaire to Victor S E Moubarak and to many other famous writers who would rather I did not mention their names.

I have an important announcement to make.

Victor is still away and I do not know when he will return. He was last seen walking up the hill with a seagull perched on his left shoulder and a carrot on his right. On his head there was an orange and a banana.

I went to his office this morning. The curtains were drawn but the rest of the furniture was real. He had received a letter which must have made him cry; it was written on an onion. It read: "If it wasn’t for marriage people would have to argue with complete strangers. At least marriage keeps it within the family."

In the corner of the room there was a statue of Venus de Milo with her arms fully restored. I did not realise that she was playing the violin when she modelled for the statue. Thank Heavens for Velcro to keep her dress from falling down.

On his desk there was a note saying that the winner of the book competition is LULU and if she would contact him on enquiries@holyvisions.co.uk giving her postal address he would send her a book of her choice which he has written.

There was also a video on the desk with a note saying "Special Message to my leaders" ... or is it "readers"? I can't make out his writing.

Anyway, here's the video:



Thursday, 25 May 2017

Interview with my Publishing Agent


AGENT: I've been studying your files. Tell me, how many books have you written so far?

VIC M: Twenty-two. Some in paperback, some in Kindle and some in PDF format available FREE from my website.

AGENT: Great ... available FREE. No wonder I am earning peanuts as your agent. And the other books in paperback and Kindle are selling at a very low price indeed. What are you up to?

VIC M: Well ... the idea is not to make money. But to make sure that what I write, especially the Christian books, reach as many people as possible.

AGENT: Are you a Charity?

VIC M: No I am not. I just write books and hope that people enjoy them, that's all.

AGENT: Are you making a monkey out of me? As your Agent I should get 10% of your royalties, and according to my calculations 10% of Zero is still Zero. Understand? And if you pay your Agent in peanuts you get ...

VIC M: A very good agent. I know you're trying your best Bonzo ...

AGENT: Mr Bookshelf, to you. Bonzo Bookshelf ... that's my name.

VIC M: Mr Bookshelf, I appreciate you being my Agent and a good job you do too; but as I explained, my aim is to recover printing and sales costs, not to make money. That's why the book prices are so low, and some are FREE.

AGENT: As laughable as your Business Model and Strategy may be; I suggest we ... you ... do something to get more people to read your books. To reach a wider audience, or readership, as they say.

VIC M: What do you suggest I do?

AGENT: Have you thought of starting a Book Club?

VIC M: What's that?

AGENT: Get people to read your books and discuss them amongst themselves.

VIC M: You mean get them to meet at my house?

AGENT: No you idiot ... honestly ... you have the brain power of a lame pigeon. Your readers are from all over the place, America, Britain, Australia and so on. That's the beauty of AMAZON. You can't expect your readers to travel to your house. But you can get them to read a book and discuss it with you via e-mail. That's a one-to-one personal Book Club with the author. I bet not many authors do that. Your readers can write to you about a specific book you wrote and ask you about the plot, how you developed the characters, are they based on real people you know, and any other things they have gleaned from your books ... including the ones you so stupidly give away for FREE.

VIC M: That's not a bad idea.

AGENT: I'm not just a pretty face ... although some would dispute the aesthetics of my face. Have you got an e-mail address?

VIC M: Yes ... it's enquiries@holyvisions.co.uk ... all e-mails come straight to my desk.

AGENT: Great ... so let's do that ... From now on your readers can contact you with their comments, views, opinions and so on on the books they have read, and you promise to reply to each one. Agreed?

VIC M: Yes ...

AGENT: Next, you need to tell people about this new Book Club you have just launched.

VIC M: How do I do that?

AGENT: Listen lame pigeon ... Post something based on our discussion on your Blog. Encourage people to comment in the comments box. They can say anything; even just "Hello!" Encourage them to encourage other people, like their friends and relatives, to comment too.

Perhaps your readers can mention this on their Blogs and get their readers to visit you and comment too.

Put all the names of those who have commented in a hat. Draw out one name and give the winner one of your paperback books. Any book. They can choose.

And if everyone who comments says they were sent to your Blog by someone else then you put the name of the person who invited them in the hat too. So people can have their names in the hat more than once. Once for commenting, and another time when visitors say they were sent to your Blog by those people.

And also ... wait for it ... wait for it ... If anyone writes a Customer Review on AMAZON and tells you about it you put their name in the hat too.

VIC M: I'll have to write all this down.

AGENT: Here ... let me do it for you!

HOW DO I GET MY NAME IN THE HAT 
FOR THIS COMPETITION?

1   Write a comment below. Any comment - not anonymous. (Your name is in the hat).

2   Tell your friends and relatives to do the same and mention your name. (Their name and yours is in the hat once again. Every time someone mentions you, their name and yours is in the hat again).

3   Write an article on your Blog about this competition. (Your name is in the hat).

4   Write a Customer Review on AMAZON. (Your name is in the hat).

That's four ways you can get your name in the hat over and over again. For example, write two Customer Reviews and your name is in the hat twice. More chances to win the draw and get ONE of the paperbacks sent to you. You choose which one you want. One person will win one book of their choice.

Also, anyone can join the Book Club by writing to enquiries@holyvisions.co.uk

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Doubting God's Love


Father Ignatius sat in his favourite armchair next to the roaring log fireplace holding a cup of hot chocolate drink and enjoying a football game on TV.

Mrs Davenport, the housekeeper, entered the large room in the Parish House and said that there is someone outside wanting to see the priest urgently.

"Let him in ... let him in!" said Father Ignatius as he switched off the TV, "don't keep him out in the freezing cold."

Moments later, Jason, a young parishioner came in and sat on the couch opposite the priest. He was obviously very distraught and within seconds he poured out his heart to the kind old priest who sat there listening quietly. It wasn't a major problem or difficulty as such, but in the eyes of a young man, his personal crisis at the time seemed insurmountable.

"To be honest, Father," ended Jason, "I doubt very much that God loves me. Don't misunderstand me. I believe in God all right; I just think He is not as loving or caring as we are led to believe! Otherwise I would not be in this situation."

Father Ignatius waited for a second or two until Jason had calmed down and then asked him, "Does your father love you?"

"Of course," replied the young man.

"How do you know?" asked the priest.

"Well ... I just know. It is obvious that he does!" Jason said somewhat irritated.

"That's good," continued Father Ignatius gently, "you know your father loves you because of what he does, and because of his loving behaviour towards you?"

Jason nodded silently.

"And right now," the priest went on, "you do not have that same feeling towards God. You do not see any evidence of His love for you. You feel He has let you down. Abandoned you. Jesus felt like that on the Cross, you know."

Jason nodded again.

"We often feel that the love of God is far away from us," said the priest, "we do not feel as protected and sheltered from evil things as we would like. Let's try a little experiment. Let's see things from God's perspective, not that this is possible. He is God and we are not. So we can't possibly see things from His perspective. But let's try ...

"Imagine for a moment that you are God. There's a building site somewhere with bad safety procedures. A major accident happens and many are dead and injured. People blame God, you, for allowing it to happen. How do you feel?"

"Well ..." hesitated Jason, "you said it had a bad safety system, so I think it's not God's fault really ..."

"Exactly," Father Ignatius continued calmly, "we tend to blame God for allowing bad things to happen but we don't see our contribution to those happenings. But that aside, let's look at what choice God has. He could do nothing and allow bad things to happen sometimes. Or He could do something about it. He could somehow get the building site managers to see the error of their ways, and if they don't react positively, He could somehow let their bosses know ... you understand what I mean?"

Jason nodded.

"But if God were to do that," said the priest, "then He would be a kind of Superman like in the movies, flying from one place to another putting things to right and stopping wrong from happening. Hardly free will for us, is it? We would all be like little robots reacting to His every decision and action.

"But God loves us ... even if we don't feel it sometimes, like you right now for example. He sometimes pulls back and allows bad things to happen. It doesn't mean that He doesn't love us. Of course He does, and He hurts with us when bad things like disasters happen. But there is a very fine line between interfering and stopping bad things from happening, and being there alongside us to comfort us, to help us and to love us when they do.

"God loves you, Jason. He knows you are suffering right now and He wants you to trust Him. You can't understand why He allows some things to happen, but then, He never asked us to understand Him, but to trust Him and love Him in return."

Jason wiped the corner of his eye with his sleeve.

"Let us say a prayer together," continued Father Ignatius, "in the sure knowledge that God's love will find a way to comfort you and help you in your situation."

MORE FATHER IGNATIUS STORIES HERE

Monday, 22 May 2017

God is getting old.

Father Ignatius’s car had broken down just on the day he had to drive to the City miles away. Somehow he was glad this had happened because in all honesty he hated to drive long distances, especially when it involved negotiating busy traffic in the City.

He phoned his local garage for help and just as luck would have it, or was it a God-incidence, one of the managers was due to travel to the City that very day and he was happy to take Father Ignatius to his Conference and drive him back the same evening.

Oh what a God send Gerald was as he and the priest set off on the long journey. For once Father Ignatius could relax and not worry about the driving.

A few minutes into the journey Gerald started the conversation.

“I was thinking Father,” he said, “do you reckon that God has mellowed with age?”

“What do you mean?” enquired the priest.

“Well …” continued Gerald, “in the Old Testament we see Him full of wrath and anger sending floods everywhere and pestilence on the Egyptians and all sorts of bad things to those who did not tow the line. He behaved like a right monster at times, thumping people on the head if they did not obey Him.

“And now we’re told He’s a loving, caring, forgiving Father who has our best interests at heart. Why do you think He changed strategy? Did His first plans not work?”

Father Ignatius laughed.

“I’m amused that you think I know all about God’s plans,” he said, “the Almighty does not confide in me you know …”

“Maybe not Father! But you must admit it is a total change of tactics from anger and wrath … and you must admit the Bible says in the Old Testament things like vengeance is mine … and I am a jealous God … and all that. And now it’s all gentleness and sweet love … at least that’s what you priests lead us to believe.

“Why doesn’t God thump people on the head and into line these days? The world is going to ruin and His sweet love will get us nowhere …”

The priest laughed again at Gerald’s direct and forthright way of putting things.

“OK … let’s analyze what you’ve been saying …” said Father Ignatius, “on the face of it … it does appear that there’s a great contrast between the description of God in the Old Testament and the description in the New Testament.

“Now what I’m saying here is purely my opinion, you understand. I don’t have a hotline to God and I’m not privy to His strategies and plans …”

Gerald smiled and nodded.

“We tend to see God from our human perspective,” continued the priest, “we see Him with human understanding and we attribute to Him human qualities, plans, strategies, emotions and so on.

“But God is God. And man is man. We cannot possibly understand Him from our viewpoint, nor should we attempt to do so.

“Now it could well be … and this is me guessing here you understand Gerald … it could well be that the people at the time of the Old Testament were accustomed to being led … being guided … and told what to do.

“Can you imagine for instance one man … Moses … guiding a multitude of people out of Egypt, promising them a better life elsewhere, and going round in circles in the desert for forty years?

"This wouldn't happen today.

“In modern times people would have set up committees to discuss the project, appointed several managers to chair sub-committees and devised multiple budgetary plans and operational strategies … all before their poor overworked wives had time to pack the luggage and prepare the kids to leave Cairo.

“Yet in the Old Testament one man said let’s go … and they all went.

“True … they argued and rebelled along the way … and Moses dealt with it in a forthright manner as you advocate …”

Gerald laughed.

“So it could well be that God treated people in the Old Testament days the way they expected to be lead and the way they understood,” said Father Ignatius, “With firmness where necessary … yet at all times with fairness and compassion.

“This is only my opinion … as I said.

“And it could be that in His own time, according to His will, God decided to send Jesus to us in human form to teach us … to show us God’s infinite love, and to forgive and redeem us through His death and Resurrection.

“Jesus in human form had to be kind, and gentle and compassionate to portray God’s infinite love. And He taught us in the Lord’s Prayer about a loving Father caring for His children and always ready to provide for them.

"It would have been pointless to have a ruthless commanding Jesus forcing people to obey Him. This does not depict God's love for us, which is so infinite, that He gave up His own Son to die for us.

“Hence the contrast between the Old and New Testaments …”

At this point a huge truck overtook their car and moved back into lane so close that Gerald had to swerve sharply in order to avoid a collision.

“Stupid idiot …” shouted Gerald, and then muttered something else unrepeatable under his breath.

After a moment or two as the two men calmed down a little Gerald continued, “There are times Father, when I wish God would deal with people the old fashioned Old Testament way!”

Father Ignatius said nothing but prayed silently that God may forgive Gerald for his immediate reaction under pressure.

MORE FATHER IGNATIUS STORIES HERE

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Advocate? What Advocate?

John 14:15-17
‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, because He abides with you, and He will be in you.'

Who is this Advocate? Some might ask.

Jesus here is speaking of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God, and Jesus Himself, who will come down from Heaven at Pentecost and be within the disciples.

There's often confusion in people's minds about the Holy Spirit. Who is He exactly?

We are taught about God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit … He doesn’t seem to have a title or description.

St Hilary of Poitiers, a Bishop in the 3rd Century AD, described the Holy Spirit as “the Gift”.

He is the gift given to us by God after Jesus ascended into Heaven.

He is the very Spirit of God, God Himself, come back to us on earth to dwell within us and to help us in our Christian life.

That’s why He is sometimes referred to as the Helper, the Counselor, God’s own Being living within us.

The Holy Spirit didn't just descend on the disciples at Pentecost and that's it. A once in a lifetime event. He is present here and now today and is within some people who ask for His presence within them.

Now that last fact itself, God's own Being living within us, causes even more confusion amongst Christians and non-Christians alike.

Sure, Christians believe the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples at Pentecost teaching them what to say in various languages and how to proclaim the Good News to all. But now? Today? Does the Holy Spirit enter our very souls today?

Can you imagine that?

God. Living within us. Guiding us. Helping us. Teaching us. Advising us when to speak and when to remain silent. What to say and what to do.

Isn’t that wonderful? Or is it too difficult to imagine or believe?

If you were to say to a non-Christian that God is living within you in the form of the Holy Spirit they would most probably scoff, or smile politely or perhaps think you've lost your mind.

The very concept is difficult for many Christians to believe; never mind those who don't believe at all.

And yet ... Isn’t it a tragedy that in this day and age, when many are too willing to believe that the devil can possess an individual unwillingly and reap havoc in their lives; many people find it difficult to understand that the Spirit of God is willing to abide within us and lead us to an eternal better life in Heaven.

But only if we ask Him.

Unlike the devil, the Holy Spirit will not abide in a person unless He is asked. Unless He is invited.

All we have to do is to believe and to invite the Holy Spirit to be within us.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

What's your attitude?


I don't know if it's my imagination, but a lot of people are going around these days with a face as if they have a permanent bad smell under their nose.

I know it is not possible to be always happy and cheerful and go along singing and shouting "Praise the Lord!". But some people I know seem to be permanently gloomy as if they're carrying the world's garbage on their shoulders. I accept that at times we all have our bad hair day, the days when things aren't as they should be; that's natural and to be expected. But let's not make a habit of always looking like a mouldy ten year old sandwich in a caffeteria.

Imagine a party, or a barbeque, where everyone is happy and chatty, and the food and drink are perfect, and the weather is wonderful, and the music is playing, and ... one sour faced person looking as if they have just tasted a vinaigrette gateau - if there is such a thing. And if there isn't, then there should be to help me make my point.

That person's attitude will spoil the whole event for everyone. People will remember their face, their behaviour, their demeanour for years to come. If any one is taking photos then that will be permanently recorded for posteriority too. (I know there is no such word - I've just made it up to add effect to my writing).

So let's look in the mirror more often and watch our attitude. Is the person looking back at us the sort of person we'd like to meet? Does he or she make us happy?

Even if it is difficult, which I accept it sometimes is for some, let's make an effort to break a smile. I said break a smile; not break wind. That's an all together different story for another day.

Let's smile more often. If not for us, then for others. A smile every now and then makes someone else happy. Let's tickle ourselves to make ourselves smile. I always carry a feather in my trouser pocket for such a purpose. (Please don't make up your own jokes at my expense.)

Let's watch our attitude.

The other day the postman dropped his hat accidentally and my dog rushed upon it and tore it to pieces. The postman complained to me saying "Your dog chewed my hat!"

I remembered my attitude and smiled broadly.

He said, "I don't like your attitude!"

I replied "It's not my 'at he chewed. It's your 'at he chewed!"

Keep smiling.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Prayers and Actions


There are times
when God
requires some action
from us.

"My brothers and sisters, what good is it for people to say that they have faith if their actions do not prove it? Can that faith save them? Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don't have enough to eat. What good is there in your saying to them, “God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!” — if you don't give them the necessities of life? So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead." James 2:14-17. 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

I am God personified


John 14:6-14
Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.’

Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’

Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does His works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

This is perhaps a little bit confusing at first, and we probably read the passage and move on to something else. The message we get, at first sight, is that Jesus says He is at one with the Father; God.

But let's analyse what He says a bit more.

Here Jesus is saying something that the disciples do not understand. They think He is saying that He is the Son of God, He is at one with God. But what He is in fact saying is "I am God. I am God, personified. I am God in the shape of a human."

Jesus often taught people to refer to God as the Father. And He often said that He is the Son of God. This must have scandalised the Jews and their elders who crucified Him for the blasphemy of saying He is the Son of God.

Can you imagine their reaction had He said outright, "I am God!"

This is the closest He comes to saying just that. And His disciples still did not understand.

"Whoever has seen me has seen the Father," meaning "I am God personified."

He goes on to say, "I am in the Father and the Father is in me," again, explaining that they are one, He is God in human form.

He repeats this message and explains that the works He has done (miracles) are done through God Who lives in Him.

From olden times, as far back as Abraham, Moses and the prophets, the Jews believed in God. One God. One living God.

Other people had many deities like the Romans and the Greeks for instance.

The Jews had one living God. The God of Abraham and Moses Who spoke through the prophets.

Then Jesus came on the scene. He said He was the Son of God; and in time, many Jews accepted this. In their minds there was a living God in Heaven, and this Jesus, His only Son. Albeit, right now in this passage, He is telling them He is God, (i.e. part of the Trinity), but they don't see it or understand it.

After His death and resurrection the early Christians came to associate God and Jesus together. In their minds, and central to their faith, there was a living God, and this man Jesus who died and was raised from the dead was (is) His only Son.

When Jesus ascended to Heaven, as promised, He sent down His Holy Spirit, (the Spirit of God), to dwell within the disciples and to open their eyes and minds and to understand.

To understand that the three, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, are indeed one.

God - an invisible living Being, Creator of all and everything, somewhere in Heaven.

Jesus - God personified. Appearing on earth as a human being. The only Son of God.

The Holy Spirit - The Spirit (soul) of God. Descending upon the disciples, and upon us if we ask Him, to enlighten us, to help us, and to guide us back home to the Father, God.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

What's the point of it all - really?

Something that has no point is pointless - like a pencil!

Many of us have, or had, different jobs in life. Some people are doctors, some lawyers, carpenters, plumbers and so on. We go to work to earn a living, do our best, and more often than not see tangible results from the work that we do. There's a point to what we do.

The doctor sees the results of his treatment in his patients who may (or may not) recover. Whatever the result, he sees it in time, and can alter the treatment if required.

The same goes for the lawyer preparing for a court case, or a carpenter making a table or some other piece of furniture.

Most people can see the results of their hard-work; even if they have to wait a while, like the farmer planting seeds and hoping for a good harvest.

But how about the priest, vicar, minister or other religious preacher? Do they always see tangible results in their work? Does what they say, and do, really change lives, and keep them changed until the day these souls meet their Maker?

I suspect that when such a priest gets to meet God face to face, he may well be asked: "And how many of the people I put in your direction have made it to Heaven?" I wonder what they would answer then?

How many people do priests really lead to Heaven?

This is a great responsibility for priests and such like religious people. Are they really changing lives by their own example? Or are they just self-bemused shepherds just herding wild cats in all directions? What evidence is there that their works have led one more person towards Heaven?

How about you and me?

Then there are the Christian Bloggers like you and I. Yes ... you.

We write our Christian Blogs week in week out; but do we see any tangible results from what we write? Is anyone really taking any notice of our pearls of wisdom? Or are we writing just to satisfy our own egos, and to say to God, "There you are. I've done my bit writing about Christianity, now let me into Heaven!"

What is the point of writing a Christian Blog?

Few amongst us, if we are truly honest, don't check the statistics to see who has read us; or delight at every comment we get. There's a bit of pride and self-satisfaction in all of us.

As for those comments we get on our Blogs. Are they just pleasant platitudes and pats on the back from like-minded Christians? Or do they actually influence anyone anywhere reading them? Where is the tangible evidence that one individual has been somehow touched by what we write to make him search more and discover, for the first time perhaps, the love of God?

Are we preaching to the already converted?

If all we are doing is writing Christian posts for other Christians who either don't bother to comment or just say something nice to be polite; then what's so clever about that? What good have we done? We might as well stop Blogging and spend our time in prayer instead. At least then we are doing something more productive.

Time for Reflections.

OK ... let's all stop now and take a deep breath. I hope that what I have said above has not discouraged you from continuing with your Christian Blogs. If it has in any way irritated you, or angered you even, then at least this is a reaction which could be turned to the good.

Let's consider your Blog posts, day in day out, or week in week out, depending on how often you post.

Remember the parable of the sower where Jesus teaches that some seeds ended on the footpath, and others on rocky ground, and others among thorns and only a few on good ground?

In this parable the seeds are the Word of God spread amongst many who would not listen.

Let's consider who is the sower? Is it God teaching us? Or Jesus preaching throughout the Holy Land? Or the prophets and Disciples?

The sower is of course all of these. But he is us too. Yes ... you and me. Writing our own Blogs.

We have a duty and a responsibility to evangelise and spread the Word of God to everyone, far and wide. Not just to Christians.

If the Word of God was meant for just Christians we would dig a long furrow and make sure that the seeds are planted one by one carefully in the furrow and none are wasted. But Jesus does not say that. He spread the seeds far and wide and if people do not want to listen that is their problem. Not yours.

And that's where social media and our Blogs come in. They are the open fields where we spread our seeds far and wide in the hope that someone somewhere might listen to the Word of God.

That's why it is important to check our statistics and see which posts got more hits, and what subjects attract attention from readers old and new.

Encourage one another.

That's why it is also important to comment on other peoples' Blogs, especially if we are already Christians and agree with what is being said, (or disagree even). Our comments serve as encouragement for people to keep on posting, and even if we disagree with something they serve as a discussion and a learning opportunity from one another.

The worst thing is to visit a Christian Blog and say nothing.

The early Christians, after Christ's Resurrection, may have disagreed with each other perhaps, but at least they discussed their opinions and encouraged each other to go on with the task of building the Church of Christ.

And so should we when we visit other Christian blogs. We should comment not only on other peoples' blogs but also respond when others comment on our Blogs. And if possible, also visit those who commented on our Blogs and return the courtesy.

Today, we are no different to those early Christians. Social media is the wilderness longing for the Good News; and our Blogs are the fields where we plant the seeds which will grow and bear fruit.

Let your Blog be the one Jesus would want to read.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

My Mortal Sin




I left the hotel hurriedly in a taxi on my way to the airport. It was then that I realized that I had sinned deeply and severely the night before.

This was in no doubt a mortal sin. I had succumbed to temptation and been led astray by the devil. The horror of the situation filled me with dread and a cold sweat started trickling on my forehead. What if the worst were to happen and I was suddenly face to face with my Maker, my Creator, and my ultimate Judge?

The taxi drew past a church and I asked the driver to stop suddenly. I paid him off and rushed into the building. Suddenly, missing the plane didn’t seem to matter any more. It was Saturday and the chances are there would be Confessions in progress.

I was fortunate. A dozen or so people were waiting their turn to enter the old fashioned Confessional.

I waited with them and could only think of one sin. My mortal sin of the night before! The dark blot on my soul leading me to eternal damnation unless it is wiped clean once again.

How could I succumb to such sin once more? The shame and humiliation of it all played over in my mind time and again. I could see myself sinning vividly at Satan’s feet. And now I had to tell the priest all about it.

Eventually my turn came and I knelt down by the thick curtain hiding my Confessor.

I confessed my hideous sin leaving no detail unsaid. I told him exactly what had happened and how I succumbed to temptation and how I needed absolution.

When I finished, somewhat relieved off the heavy weight on my soul, the voice behind the curtain said, “Yo no hablo Ingles!”

In my hurry to confess my mortal sin I had forgotten that I was on a business trip to Spain.

This was a Spanish church with a Spanish priest, and he does not speak English, and he has not understood a word I said, how can he possibly forgive me my sin?

How could I mime my sin from behind the curtain? And would he understand me if he saw me re-enact it? Are some sins so international to be easily understood in any language?

I did what most English people do when abroad and not understood. I repeated every word again slowly and very loudly. Somehow, there’s a tradition amongst us British that if we speak slowly and loudly we would be understood universally by everyone.

Eventually, the Spanish priest repeated in an equally loud voice, “Yo te perdono! Yo te perdono!”

I said, “Muchas Gracias” and left the church before waiting for absolution and penance.

Not satisfied with a half-hearted Spanish Confession, as soon as I  arrived back home I thought I’d make doubly sure and get a proper absolution from an English speaking priest; albeit our priest has a Scottish accent, but I forgive him that.

I told him about my Spanish mortal sin. I explained that the night before I left Spain, whilst in my hotel room, I was so tempted that I succumbed to temptation itself.

I took a chocolate from the little ice box they have in some hotels. I really enjoyed that chocolate.
      
The following morning, when asked by the receptionist whether I had used the ice box, I had forgotten about the chocolate bar and I said “No!”

It wasn’t until I was in the taxi heading for the airport that I realized I had technically stolen from the hotel and committed a mortal sin.

The Scottish priest laughed at my face and did not give me absolution. Luckily, I had a Spanish absolution instead. I think!

Sunday, 7 May 2017

The Gate



In the Gospel of John Chapter 10 Jesus says several times "I am the gate".

In Chapter 10 - 9 He says "I am the gate. Those who come in by me will be saved; they will come in and go out and find pasture."

This seems strange at first. We can understand when Jesus says "I am the Way" or "I am the Good Shepherd"; but gate? What does all that mean?

To understand this we need to visualise how a sheep pen at the times of Christ looked like. It was a circular or square enclosure built out of stone, wooden fencing or just hedges. And it had an opening through which sheep got in and out.

But shepherds in those days were poor people. They certainly would not have the money to build gates at the opening of the pen. They stayed "watching their flocks by night" with their sheep.

The pen looked something like this:

And the shepherd would lie across the opening, sleeping with his sheep, and making sure that none would get out during the night. Also protecting them from wolves or other predators.

So, the shepherd was in fact the gate.

That's what Jesus meant when He said He is the gate.

He protects us from evil and stops us from going astray.

Friday, 5 May 2017

SAMSON AND HIS HAIRY STRENGTH



SAMSON CRUEL TO FOXES
It's in the Bible.
Samson went and caught three hundred foxes.
Two by two,
he tied their tails together
and put torches in the knots.
Then he set fire to the torches
and turned the foxes loose
in the Philistine cornfields.
He burnt not only the corn harvested
but also that in the fields,
and the olive orchards as well.
 JUDGES 15:4-5.

This is terrible behaviour.
Someone should report him to the Animal Protection people.
Not only is Samson cruel to animals
but he is an arsonist too.

He destroyed corn fields and olive orchards.
No wonder olives are so expensive in the shops.

And I like corn dogs too!!!  

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Never under estimate

NEVER UNDER-ESTIMATE
YOUR ABILITY
WHEN GOD ASKS YOU
TO DO SOMETHING!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Never bet on a cert

NEVER BET ON A CERT

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Driving to work

DRIVING TO WORK
Do you find your mind wandering when driving?
Especially if it is a long journey,
with slow traffic,
bumper to bumper,
moving at a snail's pace,
getting no where ...
Whilst your mind is getting there faster.
Here's what I was thinking the other day.

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