Category Archives: communication

Grandmother I

GRANDMOTHER I

My grandmother was a Christian lady. When I was a little boy (pre-teens) I used to visit with her, along with my mum and her son (my dad).

Her husband, my grandfather, died before I was born, so I never knew him.

How easy it is, when we start to write about relatives, to lose ourselves and those listening, with the necessary jargon needed, when explaining.

[e.g. My uncle’s grandmother’s son, and my cousin’s grandchild on their daughter’s side, or my mum’s mum’s brother – crazy!

Not amazing – just a maze].

So – my grandmother was my father’s mum. That’s simple enough. If you still don’t follow please ask a practicing historian.

She was probably in her eighties at the time of my visits, and was cared for by her daughter, who later became a missionary in Japan, and remained a spinster, until she went to be with Jesus in 2008.

My paternal grandmother would sit very still in her chair. And would ask: ‘if we were never going to make a cup of tea’? She asked this every ten minutes or so.

She would sit with me by her side, looking straight ahead. She couldn’t see very well.

As though unbeknown to everyone else, she would move her arm slowly across to me, and slip a sum of money into my little hand.

The large sum of one penny.

I would sense by the way she did so, that it was top secret, and I fought the smile that would try to break forth on my face, afraid of betraying her act of kindness, and exposing  this great secret.

She would sing a song from her younger days and I always remember the chorus: I did a painting based on the song, it is long gone. I forget who has it.

(As with many paintings a great curiosity comes to me at times regarding where a painting is. Lost in the world somewhere, like a long lost child.)

Here is the chorus, I searched it of course, and found it on the internet. ‘Riding on a load of hay’ (author unknown).

Oh someone stole my heart away

Riding on a load of hay

I looked up and he looked down

Handsome sunburnt Johnny Brown

She told me of her extremely naughty youthful antics. Extreme things like banging on people’s front doors and running away.

Hiding, while she and her co-conspirators, observed the reaction of the house owner, as he or she looked up and down the street, baffled as to the invisible visitor.

And that was about the sum total of her reported naughtiness. (Naughtiness? – My! – how times have changed).

I remember nothing of her passing. I was twelve years old at the time.

As she sang the song, her voice was still as sweet, as when she graced the platforms of Christian Meetings, being the invited soloist.

In Northern Ireland we designate some church buildings as Gospel Halls. And they still exist.

Her daughter went to be a missionary in Japan, as previously stated, and I often reflect on my aunt’s faithfulness in prayer for me.

Indeed I often query with The Lord, just how much a part my grandmother’s prayers, played in my mighty encounter with The Living God, seven years after her passing!

When my dad, was nearing his journey into eternity, though that is for another blog post, I remember him telling me, that his mother taught him how to pray.

How important that young lives are taught the Word of God, at an early age. It will impact them fully or partially – it all depends on how they respond to it as they journey through life.

The bible describes it this way:

Cast your bread upon the waters,

For you will find it after many days.

I’m sure everyone has the experience of failing to ask enough questions regarding their family history, and suddenly it is too late. Those able to furnish us with details are gone, we didn’t ask them.

Nevertheless we can cherish what we do know. And I can still see plainly my grandmother’s facial expression as she sat – ever so still – in her armchair.

I think I must have spent the pennies.

Apprentice interlude

APPRENTICE Interlude

So much has happened in the world since those days

Just as so much happened in the world before those days

Standing outside the central library on the steps

Leaning against the pillar and watching the world go by

As the odd gust of wind lifted dust and old cigarette packets

That wafted their obnoxious mix across one’s squinting eyes

While the journeyman who stood there beside me said little

And seemed to never hear when spoken to

Long monologues I would exhale to his ears that seemed to swivel his head from side to side as he too observed the passers by

And then frustratingly he would – after my well-crafted theories were expounded – grunt a question mark in response

As though he hadn’t heard a word

Time was up – back to the stone – the chase – the form

Back to his instruction – for now he came alive

Indentured-I-was to this fair trade as it was then

With licence to carry a sword by ancient decree

I carried a lunch box instead

The library (rarely entered) covered us with it’s canopy it’s baroque archway of an entrance providing shelter

So that even on rainy days we could watch that

changing world go by

Lunchtime break – a welcomed device for quenching

the smell of ink and wash-up

Menial tasks thrust into one’s path – do this – do that – scenarios

Except for the efforts of the non-answering journeyman

under whose wing

I began to learn the trade – Stanley – with slightly crossed eyes

I never did hear of his life again or of his demise

Neutral…

NEUTRAL

(For long enough…?)

Dictionary: Dogmatism:

the tendency to lay down principles as undeniably true, without consideration of evidence or the opinions of others: a culture of dogmatism and fanaticism.

I’m still convinced there is a lot to be said for remaining neutral.

I will explain.

But first, I remember Billy Graham preaching about being neutral about Jesus.

He used the illustration of the American Civil War – and how one gentleman tried to be neutral about the war, he put on a blue coat and grey trousers and they shot at him from both sides.

So no – we can’t be neutral about Jesus. We either believe on Him or don’t.

The Rolling Stone’s lyric comes to mind – ‘trying to make up my mind – but it is so hard to find so I’m sitting on a fence.’

We can’t ‘sit on the fence’ when it comes to Jesus. There is no neutral here.

We cannot remain neutral on perhaps many things. But my premise is = neutral first.

When it comes to making judgements, or deciding what is right or wrong, we need to be neutral until we know – that we know – that we know.

This is not easy. Because when a given set of opinions is communicated to us, we want to come to a conclusion as quickly as we can. And sometimes in our eagerness to conclude – we end up with the wrong conclusions, one’s that we later regret.

Recently I became aware of an American Radio show host, and was open to what he had to say.

I added my address to his email list. 

Like everyone else(?), – I like a mix of profundity and humour. 

Humour of the non-mocking kind. There are many levels of sensitivity when it comes to being on the receiving end of humour and basically comedians are unable to please all of the people all of the time, as they dish it out.

We all need a bit of thick skin, a duck’s back from which the water flows off, and a dose of not taking ourselves too seriously, when it comes to receiving humour.

We run the danger of becoming enslaved to political correctness, so that freedom of speech is stifled for evil purposes rather than good.

So – enjoying this radio commentator, most of my observations on what he says and espouses, are neutral until slow persuasion either-way takes place.

Notice the underlined slow. Too many, too quickly, jump to conclusions.

If we listen to someone enough, we shall find ourselves partnering with a lot of what they believe – or not – as the case may be. Give it time.

It is not wrong in my view to be found accepting perhaps 70% of what they share whilst rejecting the rest, but still accepting their legitimacy. Consequently it is acceptable to still follow them and listen-in to their views.

Some folks find perhaps one major thing that the commentator holds, and it’s enough to cause them to run a mile from anything else they might share.

Falsely accusing them of things they are not guilty of, simply because in our view they have made a large faux pas, in espousing one particular thing we don’t agree with.

Professing Christians who expound given views – should get the initial benefit of the doubt, even if they do not wear one of our immediately recognisable T-shirts.

The fact they profess to follow Christ should be enough for us to give them a chance.

We are told however:

John 4/1

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

‘Test the spirits’ is an important exercise – often overlooked by many hard-line dogmatists. They can’t accept anything the professing man of God says – because of one thing they can’t agree with.

How many of us have got it – all right, all of the time?

Apart from examining other aspects of the commentator, ‘testing their spirit’ entails spiritual ‘discerning of spirits’ – a gift of The Holy Spirit.

We must embrace the idea that we are to know THE HEART (their spirit), of the person speaking.

They can be sincere, but sincerely wrong. And the sincerely wrong can have a good heart (spirit). 

Thus discerned – they should not be rejected by us, or dismissed as heretical, because of the one ‘heresy’ we perceive they hold to.

I came across a post, subsequent to my having embraced this American radio host Christian and a lot of his views.

And my openness to him was suddenly challenged by the conclusion of this blogger, who did not speak highly of him.

The one element in all this that I should add, is the fact that I am not from USA, and have a limited grasp of their cultural, religious, and political affairs.

Let’s remember what was said of Steven and take our lead from his life: Acts 6/

Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.

10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.

Stephen spoke that which was right. But he had his priorities right in that his heart was right with God.

[That’s a lot or ‘rights’].

He was an instrument in God’s hands and incurred opposition, as we will also, if we walk closely with The Lord.

Notice: not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.

As I assimilated what this blogger was saying about said broadcaster, I felt no urge consequently, to flee (from listening to his radio show).

The blogger’s decrying of the ‘conspiracy theories’ this radio host was espousing, was not enough to persuade me to debunk the other stuff he was sharing.

As one who usually avoids like the plague anything political – I got interested in the whole ‘vote steal’ battle  and the varying views on both sides of the political divide, in the States. Interested from the ‘truth’ perspective rather than the political.

And in the midst of it all I still remain baffled as an outsider to the situation, why a thorough examination of machines, vote boxes, means of voting and so on never took place?

Am I naive – in thinking that – that could have settled the thing either way?

Well it seems I’m ending on a note I hadn’t planned, ie. a by-path meander into election fraud.

Back to the point – neutral – until we know. Not a bad piece of wisdom in my opinion. Let’s allow The Lord to have the final say: James 1/

19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

Foolish

FOOLISH 2021

Galatians 3:

v1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so [c]many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain

Paul the Apostle is addressing this Galatian group of believers.

But of course it is ordained of God that, when one of His Specially Chosen Early Apostolic leaders, writes to a particular ‘branch’ of God’s church – it is more than meant for, or sent to – just them.

It is sent to all believers throughout history who follow on, by inheritance, from the early formed church/churches.

The Word of God will never pass away. Anything that the Holy Spirit  has placed His indelible fingerprint upon – will remain as His Word forever.

Jesus said:

Matt. 24/

34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

Paul, saddened, grieved and a little perplexed, is addressing a fundamental problem pervading the Galatian church.

This problem can, or has, pervaded the lives of believers ever since, and indeed at one time – knocked me off-course for a couple of years in my Christian life.

Paul is very straight with them, out of love and concern, trying to wake them up to spiritual reality. Wake them up to the completeness of Christ’s Salvation.

“O Foolish Galatians…” – exclamation mark!

“Who has bewitched you…”?

Without even going into the original meaning of the Greek etc. as we can do, when seeking to expound some aspect of God’s New Testament. Let me instead pass on what the dictionary means by the word ‘bewitched’:

to attract or interest someone a lot so that you have the power to influence them:

to put a magicspell on someone or something in order to control him, her, or it

Either definition will do – First – attracted and therefore distracted. Distracted from the real wonderful message, into their own ideas. (Manmade gospel)

Second – (bewitched)  – Coming under the control of something, someone, or a spirit not of God.

That was how Paul found these believers. They got away from the wonderful New Testament message of Salvation by Faith – through God’s Amazing Grace – and their whole focus was on themselves and their own performance.

He spends most of the rest of the epistle addressing and correcting this legalistic distraction, in order that the Galatians will become re-focused on Christ.

We must look to Christ in prayer for everything to do with the spiritual life.

The following is a spiritual seeing:

25 For David says concerning Him:

‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face,

For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.

26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad;

Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope.

This was the spoken spiritual reality of someone staying on course by faith – seeing the invisible God – (see also e.g. Heb. 11/27) so as to walk pleasing to Him, without wrongly, losing sight of Him completely and then trying to live like Him. It doesn’t work. The Galatians were trying it and failing.

Paul put them right.

Are your eyes on God in prayer? Will you respond (by the hearing of this encouragement) – in faith? (see verse 2).

Prophesying today

PROPHESYING TODAY

It is dangerous to ‘generalise’ when we have limited information.

Limited information can cause a limited conclusion. A faulty judgement can therefore be made about a given scenario.

Jumping too quickly to conclusions.

However, in some situations in life, in extenuating circumstances, a decision needs to be taken quickly, because

of how a particular scenario will or might play-out and effect us personally.

This ‘deficient information factor’ makes that decision hard to make.

We do our best – and proceed to make the decision, even with inadequate information, because if it goes a certain way, it will perhaps effect us personally.

I would imagine those who deal in the stock market, find themselves in that situation daily (?).

It can be, that we may not have the time to make full enquiry. And our decision as a result can be a good one or a bad one – as time will usually tell.

We can best hope that by our necessary decision making, no one gets hurt or damaged, as we make the decision.

I’m thinking of how people resign from a particular position they occupy, in perhaps a company, a political party, a Medical Practice, a church etc.

Making their decision, but not basing it on full knowledge, sometimes just suspicion.

It is still true to say, that unless one undertakes a thorough comprehensive research study, our lack of information can cause us to form the wrong conclusions.

The Bible says in James 1/So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; . It’s easy to reverse this – speaking with limited knowledge and without proper discernment, and in self-righteous anger (quick to wrath), making wrong judgements.

Biblically we are exhorted in different ways to be careful about judging given situations or people. 

Some make the mistake of thinking we are never to judge anything. The bible doesn’t teach this – but it does call us to ‘judge righteously’ according to the truth of God’s Word.

Jesus said: John 7/

24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

The spirit in which we judge is also of paramount importance. Anger and bitterness in our hearts and we have judged wrongly already, and must hear ‘judge not that you be not judged’.

Matthew 7/ v1“Judge  not, that you be not judged.

It may seem now that I am about to change tack to a different subject, but that’s not what I am doing.

Because I am thinking of the discernment necessary and the full knowledge needed, of what is said – before judgements can be made in response to modern day prophetic utterance.

Prophecy in the bible in it’s basic definition is simply ‘inspired utterance’. Jesus spoke with supreme wisdom and perpetual inspiration/revelation. 

Those who penned the scriptures were given Grace of an unequalled kind. No one (as in ‘ordinary’ Christians) prophesying since the Apostles and prophets, chosen by Christ, will be given that same calibre of Grace. Therefore they will not speak as authoritatively.

That does not mean that someone with a true gift of prophecy (inspired utterance), will not speak with authority.

Just not of that particular unique kind that penned The Word of God.

The Bible cannot be added to, it remains perpetually in the hand of The Holy Spirit to accomplish whatever God sends it to accomplish. Isa. 55/

11 

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;

It shall not return to Me void,

But it shall accomplish what I please,

And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Whether this ‘accomplishing’ takes place in the individuals heart or in accomplishing the task of giving to mankind foreknowledge of the future, in prophesying what is to come.

But modern day, inspired utterance, still calls for men and women to be in touch with God.

We are exhorted to speak as the ‘oracles of God’.

1 Peter 4:11

If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever.

Some Christians live more incomplete lives than others, when they exclude from their experience the possible exercise of Spiritual Gifts, as found in I Corinthians chapter 12 etc..

Even those who believe that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and therefore accept the ‘manifestation of The Holy Spirit’ doctrinally, (another way of saying ‘the gifts of The Spirit’) – even so, may not fully manifest those gifts.

Certain cessationists dismiss the Gifts of The Holy Spirit – as not being for today.

If the manifestations of The Holy Spirit, are not taking place today – it is not because God has turned the tap off, or that such a thing is not possible, but rather for the reason, that  they are not sought for fully, or not allowed in the assembly of God’s people, usually as a result of cessationist theology or limited revelation/experience in the leadership.

The lack of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit may also be because of the ‘falling away’ that is happening on the earth and even in the churches. We read of a somewhat parallel time in the time of Samuel the prophet: 

I Samuel 3/1…And the word of the Lord was precious (rare) in those days; there was no open vision.

The gifts are not as manifest as in previous eras. (This can also be the result of how much there is – full or limited pursuing thereof): Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 

Those who accept the gifts, rightly so, as being for today – may not, however in practice, manifest them in the church.

Prophecy is for every member – we may all prophesy one by one.

All may speak ‘inspired utterances’.

These utterances of the spoken gifts are as follows – prophesy, speaking in different tongues and interpretation, word of wisdom, word of knowledge.

There are other gifts, or manifestations of The Holy Spirit, but the above are the spoken gifts.

11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

When it comes to prophesying – we are told: 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 

All prophesying’ does not make us all prophets.

A prophet is someone who has a proven track record in words of knowledge, words of wisdom, prophesying by forth-telling or fore-telling.

The fruit of which gives help, direction and deliverance to the church.

It may entail foretelling, but must include:

 3 (But he who prophesies speaks)… edification and exhortation and comfort to men.

Except, on the rarer occasions when it can contain correction or rebuke, depending on the situation. Such correction should come from an established proven Prophetic ministry, that God has set in the church.

The rest of the church present, where a prophecy is given, are meant to engage in discerning if the prophecy is brought by The Holy Spirit and does not violate the principles of God’s Word.

29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 

We must be careful to:

19 Quench not the Spirit.

20 Despise not prophesyings.

21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

Unfortunately some dismiss anything prophetic, when we are told we can all prophesy, (and the Word of God cannot be broken).

We must judge firstly the prophecy – and after this depending on the fruit in their lives – if need be – then the vessel who brought the prophecy.

If what they are – in themselves, clearly shows them to be false prophets, or carrying a wrong spirit, or disrupting and damaging the people of God, then they need to be subject to the sanction of the church.

But – and this brings me back to my original point – full or limited knowledge…

If a foretelling prophecy does not come to pass, being of a foretelling nature, the first thing to establish is – is it completely wrong? Genuine prophets can make mistakes, but this does not mean they are to be dismissed as charlatans.

To dismiss them out of hand, is to get the cart before the horse. We are to judge the prophecy, as to it’s correctness or otherwise. But if it is wrong, we should not automatically disqualify the prophet.

Unless he/she has a track record of damaging the church, causing confusion, and perhaps obtaining a ‘following’ through dishonest gain.

Titus 1:

10 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. 12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 

The Gifts or manifestations of – The Holy Spirit are for our profit as the Church. 

And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,

There can be a lot of ‘hype’ in televised prophesying, especially in a certain country. But we need to see-through the hype and ask the question ‘Is this of God?” Secondly is this person a true servant of Christ – who loves The Lord.

Not easily or immediately discernible sometimes. But we must not ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’.

Regarding foretelling and not the less consequential type of prophesying, (edification, exhortation, and comfort), here is the safeguard:

Deuteronomy18

21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

There is both warnings for those who hear the prophetic word, in this passage:

 And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.

And for the prophet who prophesies:

20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’

However these warnings aught to be heard in the light of the greater Covenant of The New Testament.

Blogging millions

BLOGGING MILLIONS

I was thinking the other day about blogging.

I checked out the numbers. Here is what I found, not an exact science it would seem:

Here’s a quote I came across:

Exactly how many blogs there are in the world is difficult to know, but what’s clear is that blogs online number in the hundreds of millions. The total number of blogs on Tumblr, Squarespace, and WordPress alone equals over 440 million. In actuality, the total number of blogs in the world likely greatly exceeds this number.

Also someone suggested the following:

Tumbler = 440 billion blogs

Blogging has been on the go for quite some time. And I hear a scriptural injunction amidst the fact, that there are so many:

There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance.

This is part of a particular context of course, but nevertheless it is a statement in itself.

All speech is significant. All languages are necessary. Most subjects have some value. All blogs have something to say. 

Stripping it back even further – everyone wants to communicate to their fellow man.

So much so that there are hundreds of millions who want to do so.

I find this interesting/intriguing. And ask myself why I too wish to blog post?

Can we say – we are just made that way (?).

We can’t help it – as it were.

I write poetry because ‘I can’t help it’. I paint pictures because ‘I can’t help it’. I want to communicate because that’s how I [and all of us (?)] are made.

Communication is like breathing, – necessary, and it’s absence is deadly.

Even reclusive-type humans – communicate with themselves. We can’t switch our brains off, and stay alive.

I stop and think this over again.

In another way it is quite inexplicable.

How many really know why they must write their posts? Why do you do it?

I guess there are many reasons.

Do we seek the agreement of others? Do we hope to gain financially? Are we commissioned to pass on our message? Are we looking for admiration? Are we trying to help others? Do we want to be part of a ‘mutual appreciation’ society? Do we think we are geniuses and the world needs our contribution? Are we lonely and want responses? Are we compelled to promote something – some cause, some belief? Are we enthused about a hobby and seek other members for the club?

Such questions must also be coupled with what we hope to achieve, and that starts another round of questions, about what it is we are trying to accomplish.

Usually what I’ve just written, should end with a personal view or conclusion, in which I share my own reasons for blogging.

But maybe that’s too boring?

And maybe I’m in for a silent admonition from 440+ million – “don’t overthink things”.