Saturday, 31 August 2013

Global Warming Gertrude

My Aunt Gertrude from Australia switched off the radio and said, “Well that’s a load of old nonsense, cobber; if ever I heard some!”

I bit into my toast with ginger marmalade and asked, semi-expecting her unusual take on another world problem, “What’s that Auntie?”

“Those fellas on the radio,” she said, “they were talking about global warming. The planet is getting warmer, they said, and it will melt the polar ice cap and we’ll all drown as the sea level rises!”

“Oh …” I exclaimed “better start taking swimming lesson then!”

“If the polar cap melts,” she asked, “will it be the North Pole or the South one?”

“I dunno. Both I suppose.” I replied putting down my cup of coffee.

“Well, I’ll go back to Adelaide and I’ll be all right then!” she said nonchalantly.

I must admit I never thought I’d be grateful for global warming and ice caps melting if it meant her going back to Australia. But, after a moment’s pause I asked her to explain.

“Well cobber,” she said, “if the North polar cap melts then all the water will flood you lot in Europe and the North and I’ll be in Australia safe and sound!”

I nodded and said nothing.

“And if the South Pole melts, the water will not rise up the globe towards Australia will it? It will drip down into space just like when you get your head out of the water tub. The water drips down not rise up!”

I’ll admit to having learnt something new about the whole issue of the environment and changing weather patterns. Before I could say anything Aunt Gertrude continued.

“Besides …” she said, “assuming that this global warming thing is actually man-made, and not just a freak of nature … a bit like you … then we should do something about it, cobber!”

I ignored the badly-veiled insult, and asked her what we should do.

“We should stop lighting candles for a start,” she declared, “candles create a lot of heat for no reason. Can you imagine how many candles are lit in the world at any one time? Candles in romantic settings in restaurants, at the dinner table at home, in the bath … struth … what is the purpose of candles in a bath tub? Candles in churches ... candles on birthday cakes ... wherever you turn people are lighting candles. Now that’s a lot of unnecessary heat I tell you!”

This was proving to be quite a scientific lesson from my Aunt. Who would have thought that the world’s problems could be down to one simple solution? I ventured an opinion and suggested we stop using barbecues too.

“Watch it cobber!” she retorted back, “when we Australians have barbies it is for a purpose; and that is to enjoy the great outdoors with a nice bit of steak and a can of amber nectar. Not a triangular cucumber sandwich and a cup of tea like you do.”

I waved a mental white flag and retreated. You can never win an argument with Aunt Gertrude.

“And another thing,” she declared triumphantly, “it mentioned on the radio that another reason for global warming is cows breaking wind. Apparently they break a lot of wind and this upsets the ozone layer or something like that; and it heats up the planet.”

“Unlike the kangaroo” she continued, “the kangaroo cannot actually pass wind. Its guts do not have the necessary bacteria to create the gassy emissions which make up a fart! So you cannot blame us Australians for global warming.”

I bit my lip and poured myself another cup of coffee.

“So scientists should establish how to treat cows so that they behave just like kangaroos” explained Auntie Gertrude with authority, “and they can start by experimenting on you!” she smiled as she left the room.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

How to enter Heaven

A man dies and arrives at the Gates of Heaven where he meets St Peter.

“Hello there …” says the Saint, “welcome to your final destination. You’ll like it here … it’s all about love. Can you spell love?”

“L … O … V … E …” says the man.

“That’s great,” replies St Peter with a smile, “you can come in!”

At this point the telephone rings and St Peter answers it. After a while he says to the new arrival:

“You’ll have to excuse me a minute … there’s something I have to attend to … it’s those Catholics … they’ve lit all the incense and set off the fire alarms … and they keep arguing about which type of Mass is best … I have to go and sort them out!

“Can you stay here at the Gates for a while until I return?”

Moments later a woman arrives at the Gates and the man recognizes his wife.

“What are you doing here?” he asks, “you’re quick to follow me … I haven’t even had time to Rest In Peace and here you are following me …”

“Well … yes …” she mumbles, “after your funeral … the hearse was speeding to the pub and it got off the road … and here I am …”

“Oh …” he replies, remembering a lifetime of nagging.

“What’s it like here?” she asks her husband, “does it need re-decorating? I've seen some lovely wallpaper ..."

He raises his eyebrows and says nothing.

"Don't be like that ..." she goes on, "is it easy to get in Heaven?”

“Very easy …” he replies, “this fellow, Peter, is very easy going … all you have to do is spell a word and you’re in …”

“That’s great …” she smiles enthusiastically.

“Can you spell Rachmaninoff?”

Ha … That’s a good one. I’ve never heard this joke before!!!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God smiles when we laugh. Laughter is good for you. It releases dolphins within us which tickle us from the inside, and make us laugh more! Dolphins are good for your health.

Friday, 23 August 2013

The answer is blowing in the wind

I went to the library with Auntie Gertrude, a relative from Australia who is staying with us for a (long) while.

I sat at a table with a couple of volumes which I needed for my research work and started making notes quietly. Auntie Gertrude sat next to me reading a magazine. A few minutes later a small man came at the table and sat beside her with a few books which he started reading and making cross-references in his notebook.

A few minutes later he turned to Aunt Gertrude and said “Do you realize that all the time I’ve been sitting here 500 square miles of rain forest have been destroyed?”

Without batting an eyelid Auntie replied “Then I suggest you don’t sit here cobber!”

“Are you interested in the environment?” he asked her.

“I’m interested in a quiet environment in which to read my magazine in peace” she replied somewhat harshly.

“Do you want to save Mother Earth?” he continued enthusiastically not having taken her point to heart. Before she could reply the man continued, “Take births and deaths for instance …” he said. “Births and deaths … it’s a question of balancing the two … Do you realize that every time I breathe in and out someone in the world dies?”

“You should try a different mouth-wash mate!” replied Auntie as quick as a flash. I smiled inwardly and said nothing. She is well able to fight her own battles and for once her attention was not directed at me.

He ignored her and proceeded with another fact “Every 30 seconds or so a woman gives birth to a new baby!”

“Someone should stop her before she gets too exhausted,” Auntie Gertrude retorted in her Australian accent, “now if you don’t mind I’d like to continue reading.”

On our way home in the car Aunt Gertrude commented that she was reading an article about the environment and saving the planet whilst we were in the library. She told me of plans to build a wind power facility somewhere and the inhabitants were protesting against wind turbines being erected in their locality.

“Why do you think they’d do that cobber?” she asked.

I explained that wind turbines tend to spoil the view, especially in the countryside; to which she promptly replied without thinking, “Why don’t they bring them out at night when there’s no one there and take them away in the morning?”

I was struggling for a diplomatic polite answer when she continued, “Either that or disguise them as windmills. Everyone likes windmills; they are so romantic.”

I smiled and said nothing.

“We should also harness solar power,” she continued, “that and wave power, in fact any movement can be harnessed to make electricity.”

I nodded as I drove on.

“Can you imagine,” she said “if everyone wore a hat with a solar panel on top we’d be gathering electricity everywhere we go. We could also fit people with a movement contraption and whenever they walked they'd produce electricity.”

“That’s good,” I smiled thinking of windmills, “and how about getting some wind power from people?”

“Oh, you produce enough of that all by yourself cobber!” she retorted with a laugh.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

No one said it would be easy, cobber!

We were watching a Christian program on TV and I made an off the cuff comment that sometimes it is very difficult being a Christian considering all the world’s temptations and how many non-believers seem to have it so good.

My Australian Aunt Gertrude who is staying with us for a (long) while, stopped knitting and said “No one said it would be easy, cobber! Jesus never said "you'll all get into Heaven no worries mate!" ”

I smiled and she continued.

“If the Good Lord meant us all to return to Him in Heaven He would have created a load of senseless boomerangs! We'd live our life here with smiles all round and then boomerang back to paradise. Well, it ain't like that I tell ye ... just take it from me!”

I smiled again at her interpretation of Scripture and before I could say anything she went on.

“But the Good Lord is wise and kind you see. He gave us the choice to choose between going to Him in Heaven or spending eternity in a hell hole hotter than the outback! We must make that choice, it just ain't automatic fair dinkum and all that!”

I must say I never realized she had such opinions. She is Christian all right but she never talks religion … until now.

“It is not compulsory to go to Heaven!” she announced as if she’d discovered a newly found secret, “we have a choice to make between Heaven or roasting our backsides for ever in the outback!

“And for us to make the choice between good and evil, God had to allow evil in the world.

“If evil didn’t exist then we’d have no choice to make; and with no choice we’d all do good and we’d boomerang back to Heaven.

"What I'm sayin fella ... is that we'd be like robots with no brains to make a choice with. But as I said, if you were listening, God being kind and all that, gave us the freedom to choose ... that's a great gift which we often take for granted mate!”

I stifled a laugh at her colourful explanation of Free Will and imagined her as a preacher in her native Australia.

“So as I was saying before you interrupt me fella …” she continued, “God allowed evil to happen in the shape of the devil. He allowed him to exist and gave him the freedom to tempt us into his evil ways.

“His temptations come in many shapes and sizes … from the tiny piece of chocolate to a cigarette, a bottle of drink or spending a lifetime bonking someone we’re not married to!”

At this I had to let out a laugh. She frowned like an old school teacher chastising a little naughty child.

“I’m sorry Auntie,” I said, “I am not laughing at you, I’m laughing at your way of expressing yourself.”

“That’s OK fella …” she smiled, “it's just that I feel there are so many Christians in name only. But they aren't fooling God ye know ... They may think they are holy and do-gooders but the Lord isn't easily fooled by their false piety and hideous sins.

"I know it isn’t easy being a Christian. What, with life being as difficult as it is and we're all rushing around like our derrière is on fire. But Christianity is a way of life my friend. It's not a badge one wears on one’s lapel. And when life gets difficult the Good Lord and His Mother Mary will help if we ask them.”

“Are there any Australian Saints?” I asked for no apparent reason.

“I don’t know cobber,” she replied, “but if there are they’d be quietly spoken, shy and demure; like most Australians are!” she smiled.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Three Wishes

There I was face to face with St Peter. He looked at his computer monitor and said. “Yep … your credentials are OK. You’ve made it. Welcome to Heaven!”

I smiled silently.

“We like our guests to be very comfortable here” continued the Saint, “and not feel too disoriented from where they come from. So you’re allowed to go back to earth for a short period and bring with you three items from down there which will help make you more comfortable up here.

“I have to enter them on the computer … so, what will they be?”

I stopped and thought for a few moments. Three items … what could I bring from earth which will make my eternity here more pleasant … as if that were possible.

I saw him smile at that last thought.

Perhaps I could bring my MP3 player with all my music collection … that would be nice.

He frowned a little and was about to type when I added … “Oh … it’s got Latin hymns on it too …” He said nothing and I saw him type in the reflection of his spectacles.

Perhaps I could also bring my DVD collection of all those movies I never had time to see …

He interrupted my thoughts by saying, “Whilst you’re thinking about this can I also tell you that you can bring three people from down there to share Heaven with you. Who will they be?”

“Three people?” I thought, “but I know more than three people whom I’d love to see in Heaven for eternity.

“My wife … my children, my extended family, my friends, and all my Blogging friends whom I’ve ‘met’ through the Internet. There’s many more than just three people I’d like here with me.

“But … but … their lives are so inter-dependent. If I bring my wife here, who will look after the children left behind? And is it right and fair to bring young children here before they’ve had a chance to live life? How about my extended family … I can’t bring one and leave the others behind?

“This is so unfair!”

“Sit down,” said the Saint sternly, “you think it is unfair because you see things through human perspective. You analyze and measure things your way; often in a possessive manner.

“You say things like my wife, my children, my parents and my friends … as if these people belong to you.

“No one and nothing belongs to anybody and everything belongs to God.

“God gave life and only He decides when it ends and whether people come here or … the other place.

“You humans often complain when a young life is taken or when someone leaves dependents behind with seemingly no one to care for them.

“You forget that God is there to care for them, and He leaves plenty of opportunities for those people left behind to take on the task He has set them.

“Whilst everyone has his allotted time on earth, whilst there, their main job is to do His will so that when their turn comes they end up here!

“You understand?”

I nodded meekly.

“Now tell me,” he continued with a smile, “which Latin hymns do you have in your collection?”

“Not everyone who calls me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do what my Father in Heaven wants them to do.” Matthew 7:21.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Desperate Prayers

Sunday, 11 August 2013


When Christ hung dying on the Cross, despite His earlier betrayal, arrest, humiliation, beatings and torture; despite suffering the most painful of death and being taunted and tormented by His enemies, He still had love in His heart and asked for forgiveness on behalf of these people.

We are asked to do the same. We are asked to forgive others just as He forgave. When we recite the Prayer He taught us we seek His forgiveness and promise to forgive others.

He also taught us to "Love one another as I have loved you". A Commandment no less.

Yet, when we consider both of these teachings from our Lord, to love one another and to forgive whatever hurt is done to us, we cannot help but wander whether it is at all possible.

When Christ forgave on the Cross and loved as He has loved it was a Divine God who forgave and loved. Not a mere human like us. Can we, humans, possibly love and forgive as He?

Christ knows full well that what He asks us is impossible for us to achieve. Yet He asks all the same.

Being human we are subject to all human failings. When we are hurt we often feel resentment, ill-will and perhaps vengeance and forgiveness might be very difficult an emotion for us when the pain is still fresh and raw. And in time, as the memories of the hurt and pains come back we may still find it hard to forgive. Or, if we find it in our hearts to forgive, as many indeed do, the memories bring back that pain once again and, at the very least, we feel hard done by.

To forgive totally, as Christ did, is not within our grasp because we are not as Divine as He.

And to love unequivocally, all those within our circle of acquaintance, never mind our enemies, and to turn the other cheek is certainly not within our powers. No matter how much we try, there will always be one person whom we do not like, who rubs us the wrong way, whom we'd rather avoid. Yet we're asked to love one another as He has loved us.


So ... what are we to do? Are we doomed to failure? Unable to forgive totally and to love without reservation?

Our response to Christ's Commandment is to try as best as we can to obey it. Through gritted teeth perhaps, we should try again and again to forgive and to love. The memories of the hurts done to us will return, but these should not stop us from forgiving again and again.

We will probably fail ... often. But this should not stop us from trying. We will never achieve the same level of forgiveness and love as Christ, but His example should urge us on to try harder.

Saints did not become Saints because they were necessarily good at all times. They were often sinners who kept on trying.

God knows our human nature. He knows our failings and weaknesses. He knows we cannot achieve the impossible.

But in His Divine love and mercy He will welcome us with open arms for eternity with Him ... just because we kept trying and never gave up.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Real men don't cry

For years the debate has continued about the difference between men and women. Women can be gentle, kind, tender, emotional and so on and so on … whilst men are naturally tough, they don’t show their emotions, and any sign of kindness or tenderness is a sign of weakness.

Whilst not wishing to either start or enter this debate right here I must admit that I have been brought up to hide my emotions and to always appear strong, in control and not show any hesitation in my decisions or the accuracy of my judgment. The stiff upper lip syndrome has long been a revered trait to be adhered to whenever possible.

The new fashionable trend that it is nice for men to show their feminine side and it is OK for men to cry would not until recently have found favor with me.

I really cannot remember the last time I ever cried …… until a few days ago.

In recent days I have had reason to cry twice, with real tears. Not manly, I know; but it actually happened.

The first time it happened involved my dear Aunt Gertrude who is holidaying with us from Australia. I have written a lot about her and how she has tested my patience to extremes since she arrived at our house. But deep inside she is a kind old lady who has suffered a lot in life and overcame all odds with a smile and a determination of a Saint. But what she did a few days ago really brought tears to my eyes.

We were at the supermarket car-park having loaded all our shopping in the car and about to leave. Being a gentleman, I opened the door for her and waited until she entered the car and sat behind the driver’s seat. She looked at me with a gentle smile and moist eyes and said “look at that beautiful sunset … it reminds me of many sweet sunsets with my late husband in Adelaide! He really loved bright red sunsets ... I miss him so … he was a handsome big man ... you would have liked him. Pity the two of you never met!”

I looked at the sun setting in the distance over the hills and for once I felt really sorry for this little old lady with so much hidden love in her heart. For a fleeting moment, I really regreted ever wishing she'd go back to Australia.

Then, for some unexplained reason, she shut the car door on my hand … accidentally of course.

OH the pain … it brought real tears to my eyes. "Real men don't cry!" I heard my brain say; but my eyes were in no mood to listen.

Auntie got out of the car and apologized profusely … everyone panicked!

"Dad are you crying?" I heard in the distance of my confused mind. Where's the stiff upper lip when you most need it?

I could not see because of the tears … I was driven to hospital A&E Department where they took an X ray of my hand.

Mercifully, apart from some serious bruising there were no broken bones or torn tendons. But I really cried that day ... real tears like it rarely happened before. Talk of showing my feminine side !!!

Amongst the pain and confusion I asked the doctor whether I’d be able to play the piano. He said yes. Which I found most odd since I could not play the piano before the accident! Perhaps I should have asked him about the guitar too! I always wanted to play it well.

Anyway ... a few days passed and all was forgotten. However, Auntie Gertrude was once again the source of more tears in this hitherto stiff upper lip type of a man.

She read in the papers that the local cinema was showing a romantic sad film involving a love story and a tragic ending. A real tear-jerker from all accounts! Apparently she’d seen the film in Adelaide and cried throughout and she believed we'd all enjoy shedding a tear at this sad story too.

"What a load of nonsense!" I thought. Why is it that women love to see sad films and cry throughout? Well, I certainly had no intention of going to see this silly sad story. If I needed to cry some more I'd gladly shut the car door on my hand myself.

But I was out-numbered as often happens in this household. They all decided to go to the cinema.

Now, it is a very long time since I have been to the cinema. In my days going to the cinema was not necessarily to see a film. Much better to sit in the back with your date and …

Anyway, we all went to the cinema as a family with Auntie Gertrude; and once again the occasion brought real tears to my eyes. Tears which I just could not control.

It wasn't so much the story which made me weep like a child ...

Have you seen how much cinema tickets cost these days? A true fortune I tell you!

And no reductions for a whole family or old people – which Auntie certainly is!

And can you imagine the price of popcorn, drinks, sweets, chocolates and all the other things which apparently are now essentials whilst watching a film.

In my days, sitting at the back row one was too busy ... watching the film ... to need popcorn and drinks.

My wallet joined me in shedding genuine tears as we had to fork out so much for so little.
As the film started I had so many tears in my eyes thinking of the cost that I could not see anything.

Anyway, the cinema was so crowded that if the lady in front of me did not have pierced ears I would not have been able to see the screen!

Sunday, 4 August 2013


Isn’t it annoying when you’re waiting for an important letter and the postman never comes. Or he delivers a lot of bills and adverts but not the letter you want.

I accept that sometimes he has no letters for me. When that is the case, why can’t he ring the door bell and tell me he has no letters for me?

After all, when I check my computer it tells me there are no new messages on the server. So why can’t the postman?

And why doesn’t God say to the world “I have no new messages for you. The message is the same as it ever was. I love you so much that I sacrificed my only Son, Jesus, for you.” (John 3:16).

The devil on the other hand, well … he’s always got new messages for us. New temptations. New ways to lead us astray. New ways to rebel against God.

Or is it perhaps that God is telling us daily His Good News of our salvation, by His Grace, through Jesus – and we’re just not listening.

Now here’s a thought!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

God's Invitation

Someone asked me whether God wants everyone to come to Him, and, since He knows everything, if anyone refuses to follow God’s Word, then did this man really have a choice, or was it pre-determined that he would not follow God.

Pre-determination and free will have been debated by Christians and non-Christians for years.

Here’s my view on it.

God's invitation is to everyone - without exception. When He invites us to love Him, He wants us to choose freely - without any pressure on His part to influence our decision. We choose to love Him and come to God through Jesus Christ: "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me.” John 14:6.

Of course, some choose not to accept the invitation. They decide to walk away from God. Not to believe in Him and in Jesus as His only Son. That is their free choice.

God in His infinite wisdom knows our decision before we even make it - but He does not influence it in any way. He knows that some people will not believe in Him.

In certain cases He allows this to happen.

It's like you being in a helicopter watching two cars coming at an intersection. You know they will hit each other. Yet you do not influence or change the outcome.

There are times however when God does try to influence our decision. Give us a nudge in the right direction, you might say.

Note that I say “influence” and not force our decision.

Why He does that only in some cases we really don’t know.

A well known example of His influence is the manner He “encouraged” Paul on the way to Damascus. I suppose Paul could still have walked away and not followed God’s Word; although I doubt many would have done so under the circumstances! Paul chose to accept God and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today God does nudge some of us in the right direction.


Perhaps through chance meetings with someone who might talk to us about God and encourage us to accept His Word and take up His invitation to love Him.

Maybe He allows certain things to happen in our lives which make us turn to Him.

But the fact is that He does talk to us. He does encourage us to come to Him through Jesus Christ. Perhaps some of us just aren't listening.

But here’s the important distinction to remember. God tries to influence us to accept His Word. He encourages us.

But He never forces us.

We are free to choose to love Him, or not.