I was thinking of explaining why it’s been so long since I last recorded my thoughts. On reflection the reasons would be lame and the truth is simpler, it being that I haven’t cared enough. With 86,400 fleeting seconds in very day, 1,400 precious minutes and 24 shining hours there is the time. If there is anything we don’t get round to doing it’s simply that we dont care enough. We’ll never find the time if we don’t make the time. The woman in the picture knows this truth.
This man made the time to sow patches on his jeans. I’ve made the time to train, write some letters, read a great book that is a gift from my beautiful wife, called, ‘Sons of Obedience’, participate in Bible studies, visits to cafes, restaurants and. oh yes, work. I love having work that requires keeping fit.
How’s it going for you? Are you examining your heart? Discovered any hidden parts recently? Had any of those moments where your anger, idleness or lack of compassion spills over in thought word and deed? Are you stubbornly ignoring those moments, making excuses, blaming others or using them to see where your character needs work. You gotta look at where you wanna be when you die:
This is a powerful picture. The woman’s expression is revealing her true attitude to those people who may gaze upon her beauty. I have no doubt if she chose she could provide a display of vivacity but instead she seems to say, “really, is that all I am to you, an object of desire with good legs?”. Her look is accusing, sanguin, resigned, ambivilent, sad. She saying, “find me a real man, who’ll protect me, provide for me and cover my body from the salacious mankind’s gazes.”
She’s the kind of woman Jesus would exhort us to treat with the honour, dignity and value due a sister. A woman he would offer rest, peace and comfort, in a world eager to exploit her by persuading her to use her body for gain. Her expression is a plea for escape but without knowledge of the path that will lead her to liberty, freedom, truth and Love.
Shall we hope that this Easter someone crosses her path and shares the greatest story ever told? Shall we hope that what the world is so keen to hide from her will be revealed? Shall we hope another lucrative source of income, from an industry ravenous for the marketing value of beauty, is removed and this woman’s purity restored? How wonderful to see her look of contempt transformed to one nobility and purpose.
I thought this picture captured the brokeness of the world we live in and the desperate plight of so many. It also captures the virtues of manhood and the deep feelings and passions of womanhood. It doesn’t need to be disheartening to reflect upon the truth that we will all face devestation in our lives. Hiding from truth can only produce greater anguish eventually. Whereas preparing our hearts by recognising sorrow and grief as normal in a fractured world is a good thing.
In the depths of heartache there will remain the need to Love. There is a need to be thankful for our fleeting lives and let children know that they have everything to live for. The hopelessness that accompanies atheism is an unloving lie. Whatever we each believe, I would love us to endure our suffering together; for suffering produces endurance, and endurance builds character, and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame. This is the nature of love that through commitment and action we control our emotions and feelings to love people in times of desperate need.
I want to see better and listen better. Until we recognise what terrible listeners we are we’ll never learn. You may have a PhD, have a wealth of experience, with a mind packed with information that you can apply to many given situations. You impress friends and colleagues with your learning, wit and analysis. It could have earned you promotion to places of authority and influence but despite knowing much you have learned little.
There are tests to help see the extent of your learning. Do you find yourself listening carefully when people pass the time of day, with you and find their answer unsatisfactory? When you ask someone how they are and they reply fine, do you feel inclined to stop and engage to find out what they mean? Do you give time to your colleague to find out what he means by, “great thank you,” or, “another day in paradise”?
For the married men ask your wife if you listen carefully. Try a test. Ask her if you can tell her about the things she believes. Explain her attitudes to important issues in her life; her relationships with her work colleagues and tell her something about her friends’ characters and situations. Perhaps you could put the icing on the cake by recalling how she feels about her favourite books and movies.
Embarrassment is a wonderful window into your mind and heart. It’ll reveal all kind of things for you. Have you been walking down the street, seen a colleague or neighbour approaching and while they are some way off not been sure where to look? You feel a touch self-conscious, look over at the horizon, or down at your feet, until you reach a comfortable distance to look at them and engage with polite nod. Your heart is revealing to you that you don’t love them.
Think of when you see a youngster running to a parent or lovers racing to greet each other on the station platform. There’s an model of how people who care deeply for one another approach. Their gaze stays fixed on the object of their love and they have no hesitation exhibiting their affections and excitement. The thing is everyone you see on the street is worthy of equal respect. They are image bearers with equal value, dignity and honour. If you look upon each one in the sure knowledge that despite how they may look, walk, or behave you are called to love them, serve them and care for them, it may make a profound difference to your walk through life.
You have a soul and it was were created for relationship. Relationships require intimacy. With each person you meet you should seek a degree of intimacy. It can be achieved with the bus driver, the checkout person or the postman. It just takes that extra attention to detail, handing your note over with two hands or giving a little time to listen to their story. We miss so many chances each day, people have fascinating stories to accompany seemingly ordinary lives, given time there is much more to learn.
My friend, the atheist, is a frequent and passionate correspondent with me here in the Hindu Kush. He provides me a window on culture’s received wisdom into what I supposedly believe. What he seemingly fails to get is that you need to be on the team to appreciate the game plan. From his perspective you can have some idea but you need to come to practice, rehearse the calls and establish relationships to really understand what’s going on.
The thing I don’t get of his team is why they bother: If your convictions are that all science, rational and plain common sense make the idea of a Creator God ridiculous. If all religion causes mayhem and the Bible is a medieval conspiracy cooked up among secretive church councils, why bother with life? Apparently ‘nothing’ is what follows death. Your body stops functioning and you are no more, the end, finished, pushing up the daisies. We come from nothing and are going nowhere.
By staying alive you face old age, pain, struggling relationships at work, amongst friends and in your family. For many of you this will include divorce, premature death of those you love and meaningless accidents that leave you devastated. Even if you are happy now it can be but temporal, death will simply be a joyful end to the inevitable consequences of life! You’ll have saved yourself all the heartache of living. In the words of the MASH song, “suicide is painless it brings on many changes.” You’ll even be doing those you love a favour because they can get through the grieving process; miss you for a few seasons, find new loves, distraction, passions and desires. Soon you’ll be nothing but an increasingly distant memory. Would that not be kinder than spending a lifetime with them and then abandoning them to loneliness in old age? Why is it that most atheists cling so rigidly to life?
“To me the logical path of atheism leads at best to suicide and at worst to a lifetime of confusion, frustration and depression.”
I had a great letter from a godly friend of mine who is in his mid twenties. Can you imagine keeping yourself pure for your wife that you have yet to meet? How caring, generous and loving is that my women readers? But then he’s another of these crazy followers of Jesus who reckons he’s tapped into the source of Love. A misguided fool to my atheistic friend. I wonder if Tom’s wife will think the same when they meet?
Tom said that he enjoyed my blogs but counseled me to keep them shorter….
”Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”
This is the story of the 71 year old man found guilty of abusing children when he ran a primary school in Devon. Multiple testimonies convinces a jury of his guilt. It was revealed after the verdict that he had been sentenced for stealing from the school and motoring offences.
How does that make you feel when you hear of people who years after their crimes are held to account? Sex attackers, murderers, abusers. Living oblivious of the suffering of their victims and then, boom, the long arm of the law stretches out and collars them. Feels good doesn’t it?
Feels good to me. I love the idea of those filthy, perverted men, who are the causes of peoples’ nightmares and trauma, who have initiated cycles of abuse and violence, not knowing when the next DNA test is going to lead the forces of justice to their door.
We love to see justice done. We love it. Tell me you don’t, I double dare you to tell me you wouldn’t want to see someone face the severest sentence for harming someone you dearly love. So don’t come to me with liberal spirtualism, your loving spirit being, or kama, that allows everyone into spiritual nirvana once they die because we’ve all got a spark of goodness in us.
You love justice and you want justice for those you love because you love them. Join the dots people, love and justice are synonymous. You don’t need a weak wristed, liberal, cumbaya god that you can manipulate: the god of success, intellect, philosophy or corrupted humanism; you need a God of Love.
You may think your life is going mighty fine without him but you ought to know he has your DNA. He has a record of every crime, each trangression, each unkind thought, malicious word and envious glance.
That pride that in your mind puts you on a pedestal, makes you lord over your life and gives you the answer to life’s mystery. That pride is drawing you to the dock. To stand before a God who is Love, who is Justice, and Life. He will pronounce sentence. You will discover how you love justice for others but desperately want mercy for yourself. We all love to see justice but when it comes to us out comes the mitigation, the excuses, the reason and the rational with the plea for mercy.
I am a weak miserable sinner who has been on his knees and begged for mercy. Oh glorious humilty, happy embarrassment, joyous mockery for I am justified. I can stand before the judge and he will see that the work is finished, the penalty taken and the wages for sin paid.
Just so you know, this will be foolishness and seem impossible and incredulous to those who live to the world’s standard. The truth is a tougly pill for a proud man. Ask your questions, go ahead. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.