Thursday, February 24, 2011

Time is a mist.

I am only a few months away from my 53rd birthday and I’ve been thinking about the years behind and the years ahead. Clearly, after passing the half century mark it is most likely that I have fewer years in front of me than I have behind.

I recall hearing (and saying) that time seems to go faster as we get older. Those school years seemed like they would never end – but as an adult time seems to slip away far too quickly (although the hours at work still seem much slower than hours at home).

I’m beginning to see the reality of growing older and how short our time on earth is.

“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

I’m not sure which experience gives the greater understanding of the passing of time and the aging process. Is it my own physical body, its greying/receding hair; the increase in aches and pains; the recognition that I’m not as agile or fast on my feet? Is it the realisation that the daughter I saw being born into this world is now 26 and married? Or maybe it’s seeing my parents fading away with old age and ill health, my dad barely holding on to prove a doctor’s predicted 9 month lifespan has been wrong by at least three years…

Should I still be around twenty years in the future I would have exceeded my “three score years and ten”. I look back twenty years and it seems so close, almost yesterday. At that time I was at University as a “mature age” student, hoping for a new start in life. Putting 13 years of mundane work behind me to increase the chances of getting a job I enjoyed.

While those hoped for changes were never realised and I didn’t seem to gain anything from my studies, I did eventually regain a faith that had slipped away years earlier. No, not merely a regained faith – a renewed faith! In earlier days I had been tossed to and fro from one appealing teaching to another, always searching for something real to give substance to what I knew I needed to believe. I relied on others to show me the way, but each time found my guide was just as desperate and blind as I was.

This renewed faith is more focused. It centres on God and His word rather than the latest “spiritual” fad to hit the church. It centres on God and His word instead of theologies that have been handed down through church systems. It centres on God and His word instead of popular religious opinion.

The Bible describes this as a narrow way accessible through a narrow gate. It is the only way according to Jesus. The way He established. The way centred on Him. He is the Way.

And it is that Way; it is Jesus and Him alone who makes the reality of aging, the reality of the shortness of life, a non-issue.
While this life may be brief – it’s not the be all and end all. There is something far more glorious to come.

“Jesus said … ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.’”

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Andrew Strom wrote the following article about yesterday's earthquake in Christchurch New Zealand.

In the continuing news coverage I have seen a few severely damaged church buildings. I think what Andrew says might shed some light on a reason for this.


It was with terrible sadness that I learned yesterday of another huge earthquake hitting the New Zealand city of Christchurch. It has only been 2 months since we left that city and we have many dear friends there. The first earthquake last year had no fatalities but this one looks to have many dead and injured.

I want to share a few things about our time in Christchurch that left me quite disturbed and concerned when we left. But I want to be sensitive because of the terrible sadness associated with this new quake.

As some of you know, one of the main things that I hoped to do in Christchurch after the first quake was to organize a large open worship event in the city – to praise and glorify God that nobody had been killed even in a huge 7.1 earthquake. I found that no such event was being planned, but there were thousands of evangelical Christians in Christchurch, and I felt very strongly that it was important for us to publicly glorify God for the miracle of surviving such a disaster with no-one killed. The place was traumatized and it was obvious that a sensitive Worship event would do much good – and even many non-Christians would likely attend. But sadly it was not to be. And this is the disturbing part.

I have organized large events before, so the Christian Radio network knows me – and quickly agreed to promote the event for free. The PA sound people also agreed to supply excellent sound for a very low cost. And the Christchurch City Council couldn’t have been more helpful. Everything was looking good. But then we ran up
against the Christian leaders.

One of the main “networking” Pentecostal leaders in the city told me that we could count him OUT of any support for the event. Then I spoke personally with the Dean of Christchurch Cathedral who told me that we could NOT use the main Square in Christchurch for a worship event for the whole Body. (Today this man’s Cathedral
lies in ruins. It had survived the first quake, but it did not survive
this new one).

I called a number of prominent pastors and worship bands around Christchurch. I said we had the support of Radio, the Council, the sound and everything. No response. Worship bands not interested. Pastors not returning calls. (You might think they were busy after the quake – but remember no-one died and Christchurch was up and running pretty fully after only a couple of weeks). I simply couldn’t understand it. The evangelicals of Christchurch had made no public acknowledgement of God at all – no public worship for this miraculous escape – no public glorifying of Jesus. Even the secular News and the politicians were calling it a “miracle”. People were traumatized everywhere. Wasn’t it a “no-brainer” that we should be doing such a thing? Doesn’t God deserve public praise after protecting so many people from harm?
In fact, it was such a no-brainer that the secular people themselves decided to do something. A number of the top bands and musicians from New Zealand came down and gave a free concert in the park for the traumatized city. It was heavily advertised on Radio – and 20,000 people showed up. Of course it was a secular event – not
Christian. The Pentecostals, Charismatics and Evangelicals of Christchurch had made virtually no public sound at all.

I felt strongly that I could not push things any further without some basic support from the church. We managed to hold a couple of outdoor concerts for the homeless, and got involved with distributing “care packages” and things, but I was so disappointed. In fact I was more than disappointed – I was alarmed and deeply disturbed. I even told some friends that it was “dangerous” to offer no public praise
after God has just so obviously saved your city. I felt so strongly about it – and deeply saddened for the state of the Body of Christ.
But I could do nothing more.

On December 17, 2010, my family departed from Christchurch. OnDecember 28th we boarded a plane for Australia. I believe it may be some time before we ever return.

My heart truly goes out to the people of Christchurch – and to all the world so poorly served by the church of our day. This was truly one of the worst “lost opportunities” that I have ever witnessed in all my years with the church. And Christchurch was truly one of the most beautiful cites I have ever seen. The people are so dear to us. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, my friends. May God bless and protect you all in these dark times.

Yours with great sadness,

Andrew Strom.

Illustrating photos from gallery here:

See also:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Jesus gives empty warnings!

Jesus wastes His breath through making empty statements:

Matt 24: 4 Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

9 "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

15 "So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. 22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.

Of course my introductory statement is a total lie. Jesus’ warnings are not empty. They are serious and need to be heeded, yet so many who profess belief in Jesus do NOT believe they need to heed His warnings. They consider themselves immune from deception. They believe they will be kept from deception.

Perhaps their main assurance is the single phrase “if that were possible” that Jesus adds when He mentions“the elect” . However I think that assurance is based on presumption: people PRESUMING they are part of this deception-proof elect – and yet they assume they don’t have to heed Jesus’ words of warning.

Can anyone really be part of “the elect” if they don’t consider that ALL of Jesus’ words need to be personally heeded?

Within the context of these warnings we are told that “he who stands firm to the end will be saved". Jesus did not say those who are saved will stand firm to the end.

I see the matter of the elect and deception in this way. It will not be possible for “the elect” to be deceived because “the elect” are those who DO take Jesus seriously enough to avoid falling for the various false ministers He warned about.

We should not see the single phrase “if that were possible” as assurance of safety, but we should take the rest of Jesus prophecy as an indication of the strength and danger of the deceptive forces – that extreme diligence is required to ensure we stand firm to the end and are counted among “the elect”.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lady Jane Grey

On February 12th 1554, Lady Jane Grey was executed at the age of sixteen. Part of her story is told in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and she is deemed by some as being the first protestant martyr of Queen Mary’s reign.

Jane was designated by Edward VI to be his successor to the throne of England, overruling the succession decreed by his father Henry VIII. According to Henry’s instructions, the successor to a childless Edward would be Edward’s half sister Mary.

However, during Edward’s short reign the religious climate changed drastically.

While Henry is usually credited with taking England away from Catholicism and into Protestantism, the real changes began under Edward.

Henry attempted to break away from the Pope’s political influence while retaining most of the Roman Catholic Church’s beliefs, but Edward moved to establishing religion more in line with the teachings of the reformers. As illness made Edward’s premature death a foregone conclusion he was advised to pass the throne to his cousin Jane to avert the certainty of a return to Rome should his sister Mary be crowned Queen.

Under Henry’s decreed order of succession, Jane would have been next in line after Mary and Elizabeth, but since Henry had previously had these two daughters declared illegitimate their position in the line of succession was legally questionable. Therefore to a degree, Jane had a legitimate right to the throne.

Upon Edward’s death, moves were quickly made to establish Jane as Queen and to take both Mary and Elizabeth prisoner to remove any threat of them raising opposition. However the plan went terribly wrong when Mary avoided capture and was able to draw strong support.

Jane’s reign lasted less than two weeks. She was imprisoned by Mary who was accepted by the people as the rightful Queen. Initially, despite constant pressure from advisers, Mary resisted suggestions to execute Jane, recognising that Jane had been reluctant to take the crown.

But political complications interfered. Firstly Jane’s father helped lead a revolt against Mary, making Jane seem to be a threat as a potential figurehead for future hostilities against Mary. Also, Mary was keen to marry Phillip of Spain and the possibility of this marriage was made doubtful while Jane lived. The Spanish requiring the threat of protestant Jane to be dealt with before the marriage could go ahead.

Mary tried to give Jane a lifeline by sending a trusted Catholic priest to persuade her to turn away from her protestant beliefs. Her execution may have been averted had she converted to Mary’s religion. However Jane stood firm and her execution became unavoidable.

Can Jane be rightly as a martyr of Mary’s reign, one of the first of many?

I think both yes and no, and in explanation I’ll deal with the “no” first.

Her execution was not primarily a religious act it was political. Had it not been for her father’s involvement in the revolt against Mary, Jane may well have been spared from the executioner and may have eventually been given her freedom. Her religious convictions were not the condemning factor.

However, she would not have been in her position had she not had strong protestant beliefs. She allowed herself to be made Queen, with strong misgivings, because she had been made to see that the security of Protestantism in England was on her shoulders. Then later, when given the opportunity to deny her faith and to convert to Catholicism to possibly save her life, she saw death as the preferable option.

As a young teenager, Jane demonstrated strong faith in her God. Her convictions were strong and well considered. And when it really counted she knew what was most important.

Our understanding of history is always shaped by our sources of information. I’ve read several accounts of Jane’s life and from those sources I have drawn my own understanding of her life and the reasons for her death.

See for reviews of my sources.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Not Another Rant About Context???

Here I am AGAIN repeating what I have said before – but the problem will not go away.

The most frustrating Christian practices I continually see is the use of bible quotes out of context to support a favoured doctrine. Most times this is done the context CLEARLY gives no validity for using the quote in that particular way.

We’ve all done it.

And we are all prone to doing it – often with memory verses that come to mind when we want to support what we are saying.

Maybe its time for honest, for integrity. At least it is if we genuinely want to know and promote the truth.

Before applying a “text” for a chosen purpose make sure that it is REALLY supporting the point without the need to stretch or force meaning into the “text” that was never intended.

illustration credit "Open Bible by Petr Kratochvil

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Conspiracy and Ideological Sleight of Hand.

Last night I listened to an audio recording that claimed information had been gained from some high level government sources warning of the downfall of the American dollar. (I think March this year was mentioned as the time of trouble).

The dollar's downfall is supposed to be a major step towards a one world currency. While I was thinking about this I realised that a one world currency is NOT on the way. If we are waiting for one to come we are probably waiting in vain, we are too late.

We ALREADY have a one world currency - but we don't realise it because our different nations still use different notes and coins on a daily basis. But the thing behind those notes and coins is the REAL currency, the electronic data that makes up the world's financial system.

I have suspicions about the "high level sources" that have leaked this information about the dollar's downfall. In the last week I have also heard reports of other "reliable government sources" leaking information about other things - such as ufos, alien technology and treaties with alien beings... I have also heard (again with reference to a government source) that the extreme weather around the world is caused by a "weather weapon".

Rather than these sources leaking reliable, truthful data to prepare the world for great changes ahead, there is perhaps something else going on - our gullibility is being put to the test and our attention is being distracted. The question is - what are the distractions designed to stop us from seeing?

illustration from here: dollars