Tuesday, 26 October 2021

What happens on the other side

 

When we're in Heaven with God, is it possible that He may ask us to return to earth, as spirits, to accomplish His purpose or intent?

To God, everything is possible. But let us explore this further.

What happens to us when we die?

Two schools of thoughts. Some believe we come face-to-face with God and we are judged and we go to either Heaven or hell. The Catholics also believe we go to Purgatory; but let us not confuse matters even more for now. 

The options appear to be either Heaven or hell. 

When Christ died on the Cross He said to the thief by His side, "Today you will be in Paradise with me". This does imply instant judgement at the time of death. When our loved ones die, often at the funeral we are told in sermons that they are in Heaven, looking down on us.

When Christ went up the mountain with Peter, James and John, (The Transfiguration - Matthew 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8, Luke 9:28–36), the disciples saw Moses and Elijah talking to Jesus. Now  we assume that they saw them as bodies not just spirits. This means that God is able to let dead people appear again on earth as human bodies to suit His purposes.

So the question is: If God wanted to, can He allow a certain dead person to go back to earth to serve God's purpose? The answer is YES - God can do anything. 

The next question then is: Does God do that? Does He send people (souls) back to earth to serve His purpose? We don't know the answer, but I see no reason why He does not do so.

God sent Angels many times on earth to announce to Mary about Christ's birth, to announce to the shepherds the same thing, and to warn Joseph to go to Egypt. So why can He not send souls from Heaven to visit earth to serve His purpose - perhaps to protect us? 

This raises another question: Are Angels souls of those who have died and gone to Heaven? Do souls in Heaven somehow become Angels?

Whilst we have no answer to those questions, and they are not raised in the Bible, apart from the fact that Angels exist, we can assume that if God wanted to He could make souls in Heaven Angels, and He could send them to various missions on earth.

And another question. Are ghosts/spirits here on earth with God's express permission, to accomplish a mission perhaps?

When Christ walked on water, His disciples on the boat thought they had seen a ghost. Jesus did not say, "Hold on chaps. There are no such things as ghosts!"

When He appeared to the disciples after the Resurrection, He said, "Look, it is me. I am not a ghost. I have flesh and bones. Ghosts do not have flesh and bones". (Luke 24:36 onwards - and other Gospels).

So this implies that ghosts do exist and they are spirits - not humans with flesh and bones. 

In my view, and I'd appreciate yours: To God all is possible.

He could, if He wishes, send back the souls of dead people back to earth in the form of spirits or angels or ghosts. They would certainly not be able to do so without His express permission.

We will not know the answers to all these questions ... not now at least.

Monday, 25 October 2021

Parting of the way

 

You know what it's like. You're a Christian. And at some stage in your life you became a Christian. Either you were brought up a Christian by your parents, or you became a Christian later on in life.

You brought up your children to follow your beliefs. And all through life you and your family, extended family even, have walked the same path following Jesus.

Then at some point, someone decided to take a different path. Your spouse maybe, offspring, parent or other relative. They have decided no longer to follow Jesus and His teachings. Slowly but gradually they have ceased to believe. 

What do you do?

Arguments, debates, discussions and persuasions have not helped. If anything, people have become more entrenched in their way of thinking. It's probably got to the stage that families have broken up over this. People no longer talk to each other or see each other. Grand-parents have probably been denied access to grand-children. No contacts whatsoever between the generations or those we once loved so dearly and still do.

And the devil laughs.

Let's face facts. You cannot live someone else's life. It is difficult enough these days to live your own life without having to influence someone else to live their lives according to your morals and standards.

Look at the life of Saint Augustine, for instance. In spite of the good warnings of his mother, as a youth Augustine lived a hedonistic lifestyle associating with young men who boasted of their sexual exploits. His very nature, he says, was flawed. 'It was foul, and I loved it. I loved my own error—not that for which I erred, but the error itself.' Note also his famously insincere prayer, "Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet."
 
However, it is said that his mother prayed all her life for God to help him and eventually Augustine turned to God and became a leading figure in the Church.
 
Perhaps that's what we should do when our loved ones walk away from God and there is the parting of the way. Pray, pray and pray some more.
 
God allowed the situation to happen. He did not cause it; just allowed it to happen. Had He in any way tried to stop your loved one from choosing a different path, then He would have interfered with that person's free will to choose. God let them go; but continued to love them.
 
In John Chapter 6 we read that Jesus said He is "the Bread of life" and later He says that unless people eat His flesh or drink His blood they will not have life.

As you can imagine, this was very confusing to His listeners; even His followers and disciples.

"What is He on about?" they asked. "How can we eat His flesh and drink His blood? This is cannibalism surely. This is too much for us. We don't want to follow this guy any longer!" Or words to that effect.

So what did Jesus do?

He didn't say, "Hey ... wait a minute. You didn't understand what I meant. This is what I really meant to say ... let me explain!"

No ... Jesus let them go. He didn't try to justify Himself or what He had just said. It was as if He dissolved the unspoken contract between them. They could not accept a certain clause so He let them go; and continued to love them.

And that's what we should do also. Let them go, but continue to love them and pray for them. And to be a good example by the way we behave.

Sunday, 24 October 2021

What would you say?

 

Only this morning I was speaking to someone on the phone and she said, "This evening I am going to an eightieth birthday party!"

"An atheist birthday party?" I asked, "what's that? Don't they invite believers? Why are you going?"

Hold on to that thought ... we'll come back to it later.

"As He and His disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!' ... ... ... 

... ... ... And they called the blind man, saying to him, 'Take heart; get up, He is calling you.' So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, 'What do you want me to do for you?' The blind man said to Him, 'My teacher, let me see again.' Jesus said to him, 'Go; your faith has made you well.' Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way." 

Mark 10:46-52

Note the insistence of the blind man. They tried to shut him out but he shouted even more until he met Jesus.

Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?"

He asked for his sight to be restored and regained his sight.

Imagine Jesus asking you the same question. "What do you want me to do for you?"

What would you reply? Would you request just one thing? Two? More? Or is it a long list of things you would like Jesus to do for you and your loved ones?

And how sure are you that Jesus would respond as He did to Bartimaeus, the blind beggar?  

Are you certain of His response? A favourable response? In His way? In His time?

Or are you just asking in the hope that maybe ... perhaps ... one day ... who knows ... He may respond positively?

I have never met a hesitant atheist. They are always certain. They know there is no God, and that's that. 

They don't say, "I believe there is no God; but then, maybe I'm wrong and there is one after all!"

Atheists are certain in their beliefs. Maybe we need to learn a lesson from them.

How certain are we in what we believe?

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Where's your wealth?

 

VERY OLD TAPE - RESTORED.
5 MINUTES

In Mark Chapter 14 we read about Jesus visiting Simon and whilst He was eating a woman came in with an alabaster jar full of expensive perfume made of nard.  

Now I must admit I don't know what nard is, or what it smells like. But when the people saw this expensive perfume they said what a waste. It could have been sold and the money given to the poor.

Jesus said to them the poor will always be with us. What a pity, I think, that nobody asked Him why? Why did He say the poor will always be with us? Is He actually saying that all our efforts to beat poverty are wasted and we might as well not bother?

No I don't think He's saying that. I've thought about this time and again and this is my interpretation. See what you think.

I believe Jesus was trying to teach us wealth with responsibility. No matter how wealthy we are in life, we might be living just moderately within our means, there will always be somebody less well-off than ourselves; and I think here Jesus is teaching us that we owe a responsibility to those people less financially well-off than ourselves.

But then, perhaps He is not just speaking about monetary wealth. There are different kinds of wealth. How about people who are healthy, they are wealthy in health if you see what I mean.

Is Jesus saying that these healthy people have a responsibility to those who are ill by visiting them in hospital perhaps or visiting them at home and helping them with the shopping the cleaning or the gardening or whatever?

How about those people who are wealthy in education and in knowledge? People who have the ability to learn? Do they not have a responsibility for those less bright than themselves? To help them to educate them and not to look down their nose and treat them as stupid?

There are of course people who are wealthy in influence, celebrities for instance, you see them on the news on TV or on the media and they have masses and masses of followers; and whatever they say people follow their example and do like them. Do they not have a responsibility to their followers to give them a good example to follow?

And then, of course, there are those who are wealthy in spirit and in faith. No matter what happens to them their faith is forever strong. Do they have a responsibility to those people who stumble and fall whenever difficulty comes into their lives? Do they owe them a responsibility to tell them about God's love and God's caring; and to help them in their weak faith.

Priests for instance … I believe priests have a special responsibility in that respect. They took on the job of being shepherds and their job is to lead as many of their flock as possible to the gates of Heaven. The shepherd who lets his sheep be devoured by the wolves … well he is not a good shepherd is he? And I'm sure the Master will have something to say when they meet face-to-face!

So I think that's what Jesus was trying to say when He said the poor will be always with us. There will always be people financially poor, poor in health, poor in education, poor in influence, poor in spirit, poor in faith, or whatever; and we who have been given talents and gifts owe it to them to use these gifts to help them.

Thank you for listening. God bless.

Friday, 22 October 2021

The day I met Owl

 

Many years ago. A summer evening. Keith and I were going home from the pub. It was still light as it usually is in summer over here. Walking by the edge of the park we saw an owl on a tree.

It was a large owl; I'd never seem them so big. It was about half-way up a tall tree. It was not moving at all. It did not seem bothered by our presence, as if he hadn't noticed us.

Keith started making hooting noises. I tried to dissuade him in case the people in nearby houses may hear us and call the police. He continued hooting for a while. The owl did not move an inch; or a centimetre either. I did not know whether he used the metric system of measurements or not, but it did not matter because he did not move.

We thought he was a statue. But then, who would but a statue of an owl so high up a tree. 

"Perhaps it's a stuffed owl," said Keith who had considered studying taxidermy. He had failed trigonometry at college and taxidermy was another course in the list beginning with T. He thought it was the management of taxis. He ended up studying truancy at College and went on to University to study stupidity.

I doubted it was a stuffed owl. It looked real. But then, stuffed animals look real anyway, only dead. 

Keith decided to draw its attention by throwing something at it. He picked up a brick from a nearby building site. I had to dissuade him by explaining it was not aerodynamic enough. He threw a few small pebbles. The owl did not move at all.

We decided to phone the animal and birds welfare people, even though it was getting late. We went to the telephone kiosk and Keith phoned them.

"There's a big owl on top of a big tree and it is not moving at all!"

"What kind is it?"

"I don't know. Possibly an oak, or an elm or perhaps a sycamore. I don't know about trees!"

"The owl!"

"What about the owl?"

"What type is it?"

"I didn't know there were different types. They're all the same shape with big eyes and heads that go round 360 degrees to save them turning round when walking!"

"How big is it?"

"The size of a small dog!"

"Colour?"

"Mostly brown ... I think ... it's getting a bit dark right now!"

"Does it have a brown face, or is it a lighter colour?"

"Can't remember ... hold on ... we'll go and find out ..."

We ran back to the edge of the park and we could not agree on which tree the owl was on. All trees look the same apparently and the owl could have been on any of them; but which one. We searched many trees and eventually gave up.

Perhaps we should have marked the tree before phoning for help.

Thursday, 21 October 2021

What the ...

 

You know what it's like folks. One moment you are happy and smiling and the sun is shining in your life. Then suddenly there's a dark cloud all over you. Your mood changes, and you're feeling low.

How could it be? Only a few moments ago you were joyful and seemingly without a care in the world and now you're in this sombre mood.

Was it that sad song you just heard? Or the snippet of news on the radio? Or a thought perhaps triggered by something you've just seen? An old photo perhaps, or a memento of times gone by, a gift perhaps from a loved one no longer here? 

Somehow, suddenly your world seems a lot darker now. You feel a tightening of your chest, the need to cry, or just give up altogether.

Perhaps you turn to any distraction at hand. The ice cream tub in the freezer. The cookie dough. Chocolates. Or whatever else is available for such emergencies.

Or maybe you just crumble under the pressure and the worries and concerns for yourself, or someone dear to you. 

Or possibly you struggle on until the dark clouds move away and you return to some semblance of normality; whatever that is for you.

Let's now look at this scenario all over again but from a different perspective.

How do you think God feels when suddenly a bad mood or thought gets hold of you?

Do you think He delights and enjoys your moment of despair?

When you were young and you hurt yourself, or something made you sad, you probably ran to a loving parent to kiss it better and to wrap you round with love and caring.

But now you're grown up. Age does not protect you from hurt and grief. But a loving Creator Father in Heaven is still there to comfort you and see you through your darkness.

Use your moment of negativity as an opportunity to pray to God. Hand the matter over to Him. Tell Him what's on your mind. Praise Him even.

You are not praising Him because things are going bad for you. You are praising Him because, whatever the circumstances, He is still in control. 

He allowed you to be brought to this situation, and He will see you safely through it.

Whenever your world is dark; Christ will light your way.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Suffering in silence or in joy.

 

... and then someone said sotto voce, "if God cared so much He would not let her suffer ..."

Being a Christian and a God-loving person does not mean we will have a joyful life with nothing ever going wrong. There will be times of great difficulty, as happens to most people, whether they believe in God or not. Being Christian does not make us immune to pain. Physical pain, mental pain, spiritual pain, the pain of loneliness and rejection, the pain of poverty, of prejudice or hatred which so abounds in this world.

I guess a number of readers right here are suffering some pain or other. Perhaps it's an illness, or the heart-breaking pain of a relationship that's gone bad, or the agony concerning a loved one that has gone astray, either physically by the way they live, or spiritually by turning away from God.

It is natural for such people to ask God, "why did you let this happen to me?" It is natural to have dark thoughts, perhaps rebelling against the very God we have grown to love and trust. This is the work of the evil one. He knows what you are going through and he uses this opportunity to derail you and your very faith away from God.

He tried it on Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” Mark 14:32-42

That was the devil tempting Jesus. He tried to tempt Him and derail Him from His mission many times. So you should not be much of a challenge to him.

Many people in the Bible suffered in one way or another whilst carrying on God's work. They were beaten, had stones thrown at them, arrested, imprisoned, killed, yet they kept going.  

"Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

We do not know whether Paul suffered a physical illness, or whether it was a spiritual attack by the devil to keep him from preaching God's Word.

But what we do know, because he says so, is that God's grace was with him at all times of suffering.

And it's the same with us when we suffer. I do not believe we should suffer with joy and be glad when we're in pain. God does not enjoy and revel when we suffer. He knows that suffering of all sorts will come our way, and He is there to comfort us and relieve our suffering according to His will for us.

“Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and He will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, He will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out”. (1 Corinthians Chapter 10 Verse 13).


















Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Complicated God

Early morning Mass had just finished. Everyone had gone home or to work, except for Simon the gardener. He stayed behind to collect any stray hymn books left in the pews and to clear up in the Sacristy before he put in an hour or two mowing the lawn in the garden behind the church.

“That was an odd reading we had today from 2 Peter 3:8” he said to Father Ignatius as he locked the Sacristy door.

“You remember the exact chapter and verse I see …” replied the priest, “what was so odd about it?”

“I mean … it said ‘There is no difference in the Lord’s sight between one day and a thousand years; to Him the two are the same.’

“That must make it very difficult keeping an appointment with God … imagine Him asking Moses to come up the mountain tomorrow … Moses wouldn’t know whether it’s in twenty four hours’ time or in a thousand years …”

The priest smiled and said nothing.

“Why is God so complicated sometimes?” asked Simon.

“It’s a bit early in the morning for all these questions … I haven’t had my toast and ginger marmalade yet … have you had breakfast?” asked Father Ignatius.

“Er … no … not yet …”

“In that case I suggest we go to the kitchen and prepare something to eat …” continued the priest as he headed for the Parish house.

Minutes later he had set the table with fried eggs and bacon, coffee, toast and marmalade.

“Now then …” said Father Ignatius as he put his cup down, “what’s on your mind Simon?”

“Well … as I was saying … God and the Bible seem so complicated at times. All this business about one day is the same as a thousand years … and the story of the Creation for instance … if God is so powerful why did He need seven days to create the universe … and did He really need a rib from Adam to create Eve? Seems so improbable to me …”

Father Ignatius sympathized with what Simon was saying.

“Remember Simon,” he said, “the Bible is a book of Faith and not necessarily a book of literal facts … not all of it …

“No one was with God at the time of Creation. So no one can say for certain whether it took Him seven days or seven seconds or less even. In reality, it doesn’t matter how long God took to create the universe; or whether he really took a bone from the side of Adam or not. What matters is that we have learnt that God is the ultimate Creator of all that we see and all that we are. And all that we have yet to discover in this great universe.

“The Creation is a story told by the writer of the book of Genesis to teach the people of the time about God. A story inspired by God no doubt, but not necessarily all factual in every detail.”

“That’s what I meant by complicated…” retorted Simon, “how are we to know what is factual and what is not … which bit to believe literally and which not?”

Father Ignatius chuckled gently.

“I see what you mean,” he said.

“Over the years, and in preparation for the priesthood, I have studied and read many books,” continued Father Ignatius, “you’d be surprised how many different views and opinions there are about God, the teachings of the Bible and theology in general.

“For centuries many learned wise heads have surmised and pronounced on various issues concerning God and Christianity. To the point where we have made it into a science; a discipline worthy of study at our universities and such like.

“And after all of my studies I’ve reached one conclusion …

“God is not complicated at all … it is us who make Him complicated.

“We question and analyze every aspect of our religion and our Faith. We try to understand in human terms what is not of human origin. We dissect our very Creator as if He were an insect in a laboratory and debate His very existence.

“This is wrong surely …

“God is simply love. He created us out of love and wishes the best for us. He wishes to share eternity with us.

“But we distanced ourselves from Him through our sin. And when we did so, He did not give up on us.

“He loved us so much that He sent His Son on earth, so that we may see Him in human terms. Can you imagine that … really imagine it?

“God walked this earth as a man, just like everyone else. Humans saw Him, spoke to Him and listened to Him. They witnessed His miracles. He died for us, and was raised from the dead so that we may be forgiven.

“It’s as simple as that … God created us, and loved us so much that He came down on earth and lived amongst us.

“God does not ask us to understand His ways or to know how things work … He doesn’t expect us to analyze His motives and His strategies … He just wants us to step out in Faith and dare to trust Him … to love Him … and to obey Him.”

“I like that … to step out in Faith and dare to trust Him …” repeated Simon.

“That’s right,” said Father Ignatius as he poured another cup of coffee, “let us stop trying to find answers where He doesn’t want us to … let’s trust Him that His ways are superior and better than ours, and that His love will see us through … if we let Him.

“Let God work in your life, rather than waste time working out all about Him.”

Monday, 18 October 2021

Do you want to sell?

 

It's happened again. A few days ago I mentioned that I was parked in a car park waiting for someone to finish shopping. A man approached me and asked if I wanted to sell my car. I said "No" and he went away.

Well, it happened again. My car was parked on our drive in our front garden. It was on private property. Someone has put a well printed and produced card under the windscreen wiper.

It said, "Do you want to sell your car? We offer good prices. Phone this number ..."

I looked up and down the street and none of the neighbours' cars had a similar card on them. I did not know whether to feel proud that my car is attracting attention, or to be insulted because it is an old wreck. So old the Driving Instructions Manual is written in Latin and so are all the controls on the car. 

And another thing ... every so often, about once a month I would say, we receive a card through the letter box from various Estate Agents. The card says, "Do you want to sell your house? We have three potential buyers who would like a house in your area, and yours is an ideal house for them."

Are these people serious when they print and distribute these cards to various households? 

Consider the cost involved in production and distribution of such adverts. Do people suddenly think, "Oh yes ... that's what I'll do. I'll sell my house and move because there are at least three potential buyers out there!"

I know some people sometimes make impulse purchases as a result of adverts, but does that really happen with impulse sales? 

Can you imagine me approaching a woman in the street and saying I like her handbag, would she sell it to me? 

Well, that too happened to me. I was approached by a woman in town who said she liked my trousers because of their mauve colour and she wanted to buy them of me. I refused politely.

Whilst I was not looking, she stole my trousers and ran away. I had to chase her trouser-less for at least a hundred metres until she finally threw them away and ran off.

Luckily, the trousers I had just bought were not damaged as they were still in their packaging. 

On an unrelated matter ... Did you know my grand-father invented the colour mauve. Before then there was red, and there was blue, and violet, and purple, but no mauve. He went to the shops with my grandma and she tried a dress on. She asked him, "Do you like the colour? What is it called?"

He was eager to go home and replied, "Come on ... move!"

She said, "Mauve ... that's my favourite colour from now on!"

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Closed Hearts

 

A thought crossed my mind a moment ago. It seemed to come from nowhere. So I thought I'd write about it.

As you know, I post here everyday. Sometimes it is difficult finding something to write about, but by and large, I manage to post every day. My posts are a mixture of humourous articles, some music every now and then, and Christian based serious articles.

I study the statistics to see which posts attract most visitors, and I noticed that about 80% of visitors are first time visitors. This are people who may visit my Blog once and possibly not return again; or return a while later and be marked as first visitors once more. I think 80% turnover is good, because it shows I am spreading the net further all the time. Most people visit to read the humourous articles, and then, hopefully, read the Christian articles too.

We never know who visits our Blogs and not leave a comment.

And that's when the thought struck me. 

How many people who read my Christian articles do so with a closed heart? 

How many think, "Oh ... not that again! He is on about religion once more! I'll come back another day ... or perhaps never!"

But then ... who am I to complain?

Better people than me have preached, and written and Blogged far better than me. 

For thousands of years God has been speaking to this world through the prophets, through Jesus and through the Holy Spirit.

And there are still plenty of closed hearts intent on not listening and on doing their own thing. 

I feel there's a hardening of hearts throughout the world. People opposing each other. Lack of compassion and forgiveness.

But these are only the symptoms. They are not the root cause of the matter.

I fear many have ceased to believe in the existence of God. It is just us now. There is no One else.

The ultimate struggle; man wants to be in control of his own destiny.

And God let's him be.

Saturday, 16 October 2021

The Father Ignatius Series

 





Each book is a stand-alone novel. 

But it is best to read them in chronological order as shown above. 

BUY BEFORE THE BOOK SHORTAGE

IDEAL GIFTS FOR CHRISTMAS AND OTHER OCCASIONS

MORE CHRISTIAN BOOKS HERE


Friday, 15 October 2021

The Journey

 

Let me take you on a journey back into the past which you will find both terrifying and at times somewhat unbelievable. In fact, I would not believe it myself if it had not happened to me.

It happened in Wales, out in the countryside. I was travelling by car from one place to another, as you do. It was winter. It was snowing as it happens. Now, not many people know that, but sometimes in Wales it snows. This was one of those times.

Snow laid everywhere and covered everything. It was getting thicker and thicker to the point where it was difficult to drive. I could not see the road ahead, nor the road behind for that matter. The windscreen wipers grew tired of moving to and fro and losing the battle against the snow. Eventually they gave up and I could drive no further or farther either.

I stopped and tried to get out the car. The door was frozen solid. I pushed hard and finally it opened. I got out but did not know which way to go. Should I walk on forwards, or return whence I came which I knew was a frozen wilderness anyway.

I walked a few steps forward and fell into a frozen pool of water. Must have been a pond, probably frozen at the top and totally covered with snow. The sudden shock and extreme drop in temperature nearly killed me. Somehow, don't ask me how, I managed to crawl out before I lost consciousness and saying goodbye to this world. The whole of my life flashed before me but I was too busy saving myself to see it.

I stood there totally soaked, freezing and my teeth chattering of the cold. I had goosebumps all over and they had goosebumps too. I was so afraid that my knees started shaking. I had butterflies in my stomach and their knees were shaking too.

I stumbled a few steps forwards, no more than a hundred yards or so, and to my surprise, delight and amazement, not necessarily in that order, I saw an inn not too far away.

I hurried as quickly as my legs could carry me and knocked loudly at the door. The inn-keeper opened the door but would not let me in because I was not wearing a tie. I had a scarf wrapped round my neck. I took it off and tied it like a tie and he let me in.

I sat by the fire to warm me up. His wife gave me a bowl of soup. She said it was Cock-a-leekie soup and it contained chicken, bacon, carrots, celery, leeks and prunes. I was too cold and the soup was too hot for me to taste any of those ingredients.

The inn-keeper stood at the bar with his silhouette lightly lit by the flames of the candles behind him. His wife explained that the electricity had been cut-off because of the snow-storm.

That's when I noticed that the inn-keeper had a very big nose. Big, and round and bulbous. It was so heavy that his head would tip forwards when he was tired and closed his eyes. His wife had shoved a broomstick down his back and tied his forehead to the stick with a bandana to stop him leaning his head forwards.

When I finished the soup, she suggested I have a warm bath and get changed into new dry clothes. Her husband refused point-blank to loan me any of his clothes. So I had to make do with wearing one of her nightdresses instead. She gave me the choice between the pink one or the pale pastel green. Unbeknown to her husband, she gave me some of his underwear to wear under the dress because hers would not fit.

I went to the bathroom, and after a long hot bath I was as good as new albeit I looked a little feminine. And that's when my troubles started. As if being stranded in the snow, falling in a freezing pond, stumbling to the inn totally drenched and freezing, and now wearing women's clothing was not enough. More troubles were in store for me.

The bathroom door would not open. It was totally stuck. I pulled and I pushed and I knocked and I shouted for help and I screamed and I kicked the door and I screamed for help some more and it was all to no avail. I was stuck and imprisoned in that bathroom and there was no one to help me get out.

All this happened some twenty years ago. In fact, I am still stuck in that bathroom now. Fortunately, I have my laptop computer to write and tell you all about it.

Thursday, 14 October 2021

A few moments of reflections ...

 

 
 
 VIDEOS BEST PLAYED FULL SCREEN




Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Doggone !!!

 

We love dogs and many have them as pets. We spend a fortune on dogs. Food, shelter, vet fees, pet insurance and so on.

Have you noticed in supermarkets how pet foods are stacked on shelves? Over here they put the food according to the height of the animal. The dog foods are placed at eye level so you notice them as you walk down the aisle. Cat foods are lower down. Food for fish and birds are on the bottom shelves. It's quite a task getting food for giraffes.

A friend's Golden Labrador has sadly died. He is quite wealthy, the friend not the dog. So in order to remember the dog, he went to a jeweller and asked him to make a statue of the dog in gold so he can keep it on the mantle-piece. 

The jeweller asked, "18 carats?"

"No," my friend replied, "eating bones of course!"

Another friend has lost his dog. They were in the park and the dog got off its lead and ran away. I suggested he puts an advert in the newspaper, also posters all over the area which he could stick on trees, notice boards and such like.

A few days later and he still did not find his dog.

I asked him what he had written on the advert and posters.

He replied, "Here boy!"

I got an e-mail from a friend in Australia. He is a shepherd. Whilst he was out with his dog in the fields shepherding his flock a crocodile came out of a swamp and bit his leg!

I sympathised and e-mailed back, "which one?"

He said, "I dunno sport! You see a crocodile and you've seen them all!"

He explained he did not lose his leg but he was in hospital for treatment. I e-mailed "Antibiotics?"

He replied, "No ... but uncle Biotics came to see me instead!"

Another friend has one of those fluffy, bouncy type of dogs. It's white and looks like a low flying cloud. He's always friendly and playful.

One day when the delivery man came round the dog barked at him. As the man ran away he dropped his hat and the dog chewed it.

The man complained to my friend. My friend smiled and said, "It's only a hat, mate! No harm done."

The delivery man replied, "I don't like your attitude!"

To which my friend said, "It's not my hat he chewed, it's your hat he chewed!" 

The old man who lives in the house behind us ... his back garden backs onto our back garden ... well, he must have got a little puppy for company. I was digging my garden and saw the little dog in his garden. He chose a silly name for his dog, I thought. He called him "Help!"

All day yesterday, I could hear the old man shouting "Help! Help!" Eventually, he must have found him because he stopped calling. 

This morning, whilst I was out buying a newspaper, I saw an ambulance outside the old man's house.

(It's a joke folks ... a joke ... no dogs have been harmed in the writing of this post!)

When I got to work this morning my secretary was crying her heart out. She did no work at all. Apparently her dog had died. She showed me his photo. 

I wanted her to get on with her work. So to stop her crying, I took the photo and went out and bought her an identical dog. When she saw it she cried some more.

Now she has two dead dogs!

(It's another joke ... I did not buy her a dead dog ... you are a tough audience you lot!"



Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Hypocrites

I wonder ... how many of us are hypocrites? Are you a hypocrite? Am I a hypocrite, do you think?

A hypocrite is a person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs.

Jesus declared, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment." Matthew 22:37-38

We say we love God, but how do we love Him? What are the tangible, physical, noticeable acts that prove we love Him?

In Olden Times, at the time of the prophets and at the times of Jesus, the faithful showed that they loved God by offering animals as burnt sacrifices. These could be doves, or pigeons or a lamb or goat or an ox. They had to be perfect animals, not those blemished, or lame or sick and diseased. Animals that people would not want for themselves.

Of course, God does not really need or wants such sacrifices. He will not in any way be found wanting or diminished if we do not offer Him any sacrifices. But people did it as a sign of love and respect.

How do we love God today?

When two people get married they vow and promise to love each other. But, if we're honest, over time such love wains a little. That is why many people renew their vows. 

How often do we do that with God? How often do we tell Him we love Him and how do we show such love?

We may not offer burnt sacrifices, but how often, and how much do we give to the Church, or the poor, or to charity? How much is enough? Say, your weekly spend on food is $200 - is $20 a week to charity a lot or too little? Our offerings need not be financial, how often and how much do we offer our time, or knowledge, or expertise to help those less fortunate than us?

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ Matthew 25:40

We say we trust God. How much do we trust Him, and how do we show it? Do we trust Him as a child trusts his parents?

"What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?" Luke 11:11-12

When we pray, do we really trust God to respond with what is best for us, in His own time? Or do we tell Him precisely what He should do? You'd be surprised how many people want to serve God in an advisory capacity.

When we praise God, do we do so because we really believe that He is in control of every situation? Or do we just pay lip-service with our praise?

It can be so easy to jump up and down praising God when all is well, and fade away into depression and disbelief when things go wrong in our lives.

To re-state the question: how many amongst us are hypocrites?

Am I addressing this to anyone in particular, or is it just to myself?

Monday, 11 October 2021

Memories

 

I was thinking the other night as I hung upside down from my hammock. I always do my thinking at that time, and then it dawned on me ... it was morning once again. I realised that although I was upside down, as I opened my eyes, I could see the door, the walls, and the room exactly as they are; not upside down. Why is that?

Then another thought struck me as I fell to the ground. 

When I'm sitting on the couch watching TV I see the picture perfectly - for example, a newsreader talking to me. 

If I were to lean sideways horizontal on the couch, the TV does not turn sideways too. The picture  remains the same and my eyes still see the newsreader straight way up. Why is that? 

If I were to take a photo with a camera and then move the camera horizontally (90 degrees) the second photo would be sideways; but this does not happen when I lean sideways myself. Maybe my eyes are turning sideways instead!

And then I thought some more. Do things happen as we see them, or do they happen one way and we see them differently?

For example, if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to see it, does it remain upright?

When a chicken lays an egg, does it come out the pointy way out or the large way out?

I've always wondered which came first, so I ordered a chicken and an egg from Amazon ... I'll let you know!

Then my mind wandered a little further back to my childhood. We used to love playing hide-and-seek in the woods with friends. We used to tie a dead squirrel to someone's leg and then try to find him by smell alone.

I became very good at it. I could even smell round corners. I developed stereophonic 3D sense of smell. I could pin-point at someone in the elevator and say, "it was you!"

Breaking wind in an elevator is wrong on so many levels.

As a young man in my twenties I got involved in helping at Church. Every Saturday, in the big hall, we held Bingo games to raise money for charity. I used to call the numbers in Latin to make sure only the Catholics won. One day, I got this feeling in my soul that this was all wrong and Jesus would not be happy. So I had to learn Aramaic instead. Is that the language Jesus spoke?

Things must have been very different those days. Not like now. My wife brought me a cup of tea and I wondered. What did they drink in Jesus' time? They did not have tea, or coffee or hot chocolate. Maybe it was boiled fish water. Must have tasted awful; unless they added milk and honey. Or is that in the Old Testament?

By the way, did you know I met my wife on the net? We were both bad trapeze artists!

She liked spiders. She collected them like pets. So I went to a pet shop and tried to buy her one. It cost £50. Can you imagine? £50? So I got one cheaper from the web.

Anyway, enough thinking for now. I think I hurt my head when I fell off the hammock. My wife did not like us having a hammock in the bedroom. So I bought her a trampoline instead ... she hit the roof.

Sunday, 10 October 2021

What's the point of it all?

 


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

I was wondering  about priests, vicars, ministers or other religious preachers? 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?

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, don't check our Blog statistics to see who has read us. There's a bit of pride and self-satisfaction in all of us.

What about those comments we get on our Blogs? Are they just pleasant platitudes 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?

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 anyone from continuing with their Christian Blogs.

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.

The sower is 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. 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 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.

Saturday, 9 October 2021

Wrong Decisions

 

Do you ever make the wrong decision and regret is afterwards. Happens to me often. I decided to improve myself so I went to the local college to enrol on an evening course; one evening a week. I had a choice of Emergency First Aid or Cookery. All the other courses were fully booked. 

I enrolled on the cookery classes to impress the family like those TV cooks do. A few weeks in the course, as I was leaving, a young lady walking ahead of me broke the heel of her shoe. The heel just came off. Her leg twisted and she fell to the ground in pain. She started crying. I approached her and got down to the ground beside her. I did not know what to do. I offered to cook her an omelette. She said something rude I'd rather not repeat here.

If only I had taken the First Aid course I could have given her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

There was this old lady standing at the bus stop hopping from foot to foot and watching up the road. It was obvious she wanted to cross the street but was too scared of the heavy traffic. Being the gentleman, I held her by the arm and said, "let's cross together madam!"

I walked her across the road. She was generally reluctant and kept looking back. She was obviously scared but I encouraged her along. When we got to the other side she hit me on the head with her umbrella. 

"You made me miss my bus, you idiot!" she said, "I was in a hurry to get home to go to the toilet. If I pee myself again it will be your fault!"

I gave up the cookery course. No one appreciated my food except the dog. I took up a Health and Safety course instead. The instructor was a young engineer. The first day of the course he had his arm in bandages. He lectured us on the dangers of falling off a ladder. He said that when working at heights you must always have someone hold the ladder for you in case it slips. He explained, "Don't do like me. When holding the ladder for someone, if he happens to fall, move away quickly in case he falls on you!"

I gave up that course too. There was another place available in the Self-Defence course. They advised me it would be useful in case I am attacked or mugged in the street on a dark night. Good idea, I thought. It is always dark at night where we live.

They taught us karate. Breaking planks of wood and bricks with a chopping motion of your hand. It hurt a bit but was effective. I got good at it.

One night I was attacked by a mugger. He took me by surprise. He hit me from behind and as I dropped to the ground he hit me again and again and took my wallet. As I lay there on the ground I saw a brick. I broke it with one chopping motion.

I complained to the college. They moved me to carpentry class. A few days later I was mugged by another thug on my way home. I offered to build him some shelves and he let me go. 

I always wanted to learn to play the guitar. I enrolled on that course too. By this time the college was getting a little fed up of me changing courses so often; but they obliged especially when some people had left their courses creating vacancies.

The instructor taught me how to use the plectrum. It’s a small triangular bit of plastic used to pluck the strings of the guitar. It’s easy to use, according to my instructor. Hold the plectrum with your fingers and pluck the strings one at a time. He showed me how to use it and then asked me to try.

I wish I didn’t … and so did he. I plucked the string so hard that the small piece of plastic flew out of my hand and hit the instructor in the eye. What he said next could not be put into music no matter what instrument you use. It was a string of unrepeatable words, none rhyming nor musically melodic, and hardly likely to be ever used in any lyrics I can think of.

Whether I liked it or not, the college moved me to Art Classes. Painting, drawing, pottery ... that sort of thing.

The first lesson I attended we had to paint a nude. I did not know what to do. Should I go or should I stay? The instructor sat us round in a semi-circle whilst the model got ready behind a screen. When he removed the screen ... ... I recognised the naked lady as someone from work!!!


Friday, 8 October 2021

Divisions

 


I've been blogging for a few years now, and been on other social media websites too. I met a number of  kind and interesting people through the Internet and exchanged views, opinions, and thoughts ... learnt quite a bit from them too.

One thing that has intrigued me though, as a Catholic, is the number of times people have written to me saying that Catholics are not Christians. 

I did not expect that. I expected people writing against Christianity, or mocking it even. This is quite common in the UK. You see it on TV all the time. Comedians and others mentioning God or Jesus in a mocking way to attract laughs and applause.

But I did not expect attacks against a particular denomination within the Christian family.

Now I'll admit, Catholics can be a bit weird at times, (maybe often). They have what appear as peculiar habits and beliefs and dogmas set out by people high up on the managerial tree. Also, a lot of times lay Catholics misunderstand what they are taught by the Church and as a result project the wrong image of their Faith.

But in basic terms, Catholics believe the same things that other Christian denominations do.

We believe in one living God, His Son Jesus, the Holy Spirit, what is taught in the Bible and lots of other things Christians believe in. I wrote about this earlier in a post called CREDO. Check it out here and see where we differ in opinions and beliefs. 

Now (some) of the peculiar bits about the Catholics:

LATIN - There was a time when Mass was celebrated in Latin. This was stopped (generally) years ago and now Mass is celebrated in the language of the country where it is said.

STATUES, CANDLES AND FLOWERS - Yes, Catholic churches have statues of Christ and other Saints. This is to help the faithful to visualise how these people may have looked. Very much like you having a photo of a loved one in your wallet or on your desk. It is WRONG to worship these statues made of stone or whatever. Some Catholics get this bit wrong, they light candles and place flowers in the hope the Saint will answer their prayers and do them favours. This is also WRONG. You cannot buy God's favours, or the Saints', with candles, flowers, prayers or anything else. Perhaps the Church should re-teach this message which seems to have been misunderstood by some.

PRAYING TO MARY AND SAINTS - Yet another source of confusion. We do not (should not) pray TO the Saints but ask the Saints to pray FOR us. Imagine when someone is ill and you pray to God to heal him and care for him. You are in effect pleading with God for some help on behalf of this person. This is good. It shows charity and generosity of spirit on your part. When we pray to Saints, we ask them to plead for us with God and His Son, Jesus. To put in a good word for us. A good reference. I know I need as many prayers and pleadings for me; so any prayers from the Saints, or from you, would be welcome. Praying to Saints does not by-pass God, or Jesus, it is an extra channel through which some people like to channel their needs and requests. 

When we pray to Mary, yet again, we are not by-passing God. Or worshipping her. We only worship God and no one else. The way I see it is this:

God must have favoured Mary to have chosen her as the mother of Jesus. Jesus must have loved her and honoured her as He grew up. I guess God still honours her for saying YES when the Angel Gabriel visited her. Do you think God will be angry with me for honouring and loving Mary too?

FISH ON FRIDAYS - Years ago, the Church leaders suggested that, as a sacrifice and to honour Jesus, Catholics should not eat meat on Fridays, (the day Jesus died). It was in fact a mortal sin to eat meat on Fridays. This means if you die, having eaten meat on a Friday and not confessed and been forgiven of that sin, then you'd be going down without a parachute.   

This practice was because meat in those days was expensive. So people got in the habit of eating fish instead, which was cheaper. It is not compulsory to eat fish on Fridays. In fact it is not compulsory to eat, or not eat, anything. The practice of abstaining from meat on Fridays has largely faded away. Some still do not eat meat on Fridays, others abstain. It's a personal choice.

This has been a quick tour of what may be seen as different between Catholics and other Christians. If there are any other differences or questions you'd like explained please mention them in the comments box below, or write to me privately at enquiries@holyvisions.co.uk  Your e-mail comes to my desk and no one else. I shall respond, either privately, or by posting another article here.

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Bernard Rossignol

 

I wonder ... what is the last thing you do before going to sleep at night? 

When I'm actually travelling on business, before going to sleep I check all the park benches nearby to make sure there are no other people sleeping near me. I hate it when there's someone nearby in case they steal my shoes when I'm asleep.

And that's how I first met Bernard Rossignol. He is French, you know. You don't pronounce his name Bernard like in English, but Bear Naar ... like in French.

Anyway, there I was in the park at midnight searching for a free bench on which to sleep when I saw Bernard walking through the trees. I stopped him and asked, "Are you looking for a free bench too?"

He must have thought I was a Park Ranger because of my abrupt manner of speaking. 

"Non monsieur ..." he said in a French accent, "I am doing zee walking of my tortoise!"

"Walking a tortoise?" I said incredulously, "I see no tortoise here!" 

"Zat eez bee cause I let 'im off ze lead and he run away in ze bushes!" he replied.

I did not believe him and asked him his name which he gave me without hesitation. So I asked him what he was doing in the park at this late hour. He said that he was a music conductor and a tenor. He likes to go out on a walk at night as the fresh air clears his lungs and helps him sing.

As he was talking, a fox came out hurriedly from the bushes and ran between his legs. That's when I first realised that he was bow-legged. 

"With legs like that you should play the cello!" I said. 

I don't think he understood because he replied, "I cannot Monsieur ... I 'ave ze cold!"

At that moment a tortoise happened to walk by slowly from some bushes. It had a red flashing light on its back to help see it in the dark. It also had a sensor stuck on its shell. Apparently he has a receiver in his pocket and can locate the tortoise if he loses it.

"Allo Alphonse ..." he said as he picked up the tortoise and put it in his bag.

I asked him what Rossignol meant in French. He said it is nightingale; the singing bird!

He gave me a couple of tickets for his next concert. Here's a short video I took on my cellphone of him conducting the orchestra.


Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Stupid animals

 

They say that one thing that distinguish us from animals is that we have opposable thumbs. Opposable thumbs means that our thumb can bend and touch all the other fingers. So we can hold things, small things, we can eat with one hand, and we can do many things animals cannot. There are of course many animals with opposable thumbs, but they cannot touch all their other fingers with their thumbs.

Try picking up a single grain of rice, or lentil, or a KFC leg with your thumb and index finger and tell your dog, "See ... I can do this and you cannot!"

Actually, I think many animals are just not smart, regardless of whether they have opposable thumbs or not. Try teaching your dog to say "Pretty Polly!" You'd be wasting your time. And you don't need any thumbs to say "Pretty Polly!"

When I point to his bed and tell my dog, "Go to bed!" he looks at my finger instead of his sleeping-couch. That is stupid.

He is so stupid he lost three out of five games of chess against me. He can never remember that the bishop moves sideways on the board. That's dumb.

Try teaching a cat to fetch a ball when you throw it in the park. Another waste of time. When I take it off its lead it just runs away. 

We've had our cat since it was a small kitten. It is black, and now rather big. He's as big as a large dog like an Alsatian at least. He eats about two kilos of meat a day and sits there growling.

I took it for a walk once and it climbed up a tree dragging me behind him holding on to his lead. It was a pine type tree and I got cut up and bruised with all the needles and sharp branches. That's a stupid cat indeed.

Some people think that speaking to animals gently and quietly will help teach them. Believe me, it does not seem to work. They are too dumb to understand. 

A friend of mine wanted to prove that animals are really smart and can understand humans. He says, or claims, he was a horse whisperer. He believed he could calm a horse by approaching it slowly and quietly speak to it. He also wanted to be a lion whisperer. An ambition he achieved just a few minutes before his tragic death.

Some animals provide us with food. I've already mentioned KFC. Once at a restaurant I had an elephant steak. It has a taste you'll never forget. 

As a side dish I also had rhinoceros cutlets. When I got out of the restaurant I started head-butting Jeeps and charging at people.

I used to be an amateur dramatic actor. A member of a small troupe who performed locally in various venues.

Being a perfectionist, I liked to dress in full costume beforehand and rehearse my lines in front of a full length mirror.

On one occasion I played the part of one of the mice that turn into horses in the Cinderella story.


So I took my costume home and put it on; then I stood there in front of the mirror looking like a giant mouse.

The cat came in and AHHH!!!! He was totally frightened out of his nine lives. 

He thought one of the many mice he has been chasing in the past had come back for revenge. He climbed madly on top of the wardrobe and would not come down … shaking to death he was.

The dog usually half-asleep in front of the TV woke up suddenly upon hearing the cat’s commotion.

He looked at me and decided there’s no way he’d let a giant mouse usurp his territory. He started growling … I tried to calm him down … but he pounced toppling me onto the ground and biting me in several unmentionable places.

Animals are dumb ... opposable thumbs or not.