Life changes tremendously in your twenties. It has done so for me, at any rate. I finished my degree, got married, moved out of home, relocated provinces, got a job, returned to Gauteng, bought a house, got a new job, had twins, and bought a dental practice. That’s probably more change in seven years than the first twenty put together!

If asked which aspect has been most significant, my reflexive response would be: parenting. Parenting has been one of the greatest joys and blessings I have experienced. It alters your perspective irrevocably, and shows you your own rough edges in a way that nothing else could.

One of the more interesting changes the little people achieve, is in your mind. Parents learn to predict the future. With almost perfect accuracy. This ability is not one which can be exercised at will, and it doesn’t extend more than about thirty-seconds into the future. Lets call it a Spidey-Sense, which only comes into play when the need arises. Perhaps it is a gift.

As your child goes about their kiddy-activities you get flashes of probable futures and generally you make moves to influence the outcome to be most favorable. Every now and then one possibility becomes a certainty. Sometimes, initially, you ignore this Spidey-Sense to your detriment, but soon you learn to trust it.

Maybe this child-clairvoyance is helpful as you shepherd little people through the dangerous years of an undeveloped frontal cortex, but in the rest of life, relying on your mind can be a problem.

Allowing possibilities too much weight in your thinking can cause you to live in fear of unrealities – things which might happen, but also might not (and usually won’t, in all probability).

This phenomenon is what causes us to fear the dark, or that noise you wake up to at 01:30am. It is usually irrational, and very often unhelpful. Of course, not giving any consideration to possibilities makes you reckless – in short, a teenager. Giving too much consideration to possibilities causes you to stagnate, take no risks, and lose enjoyment in life.

As a Christian, I have the most freeing reality to fall back on. It allows me to give due consideration to possibilities, without being paralyzed by “what-if’s”. This is the certainty that, “…for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. ” (Romans 8:28)

The above promise, along with the instruction to, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) helps me to strike the right balance and keep a hold on peace.

Life is about living, and taking action requires risk. Risk implies analysis of the odds, and analysis considers possibilities. Giving those possibilities the correct weight is the trick, and knowing how much to trust your own brain… well that is wisdom.

A Digital Comeback

Posted: 14 April, 2017 in Uncategorized

Its been over a year since I last posted anything on this blog. Thank goodness that WordPress doesn’t give up on you and close your blog down when it’s author goes AWOL!

Even before January 2015 when I made my last post, I had begun to write less and less. Well, that isn’t entirely true. I had begun to publish less and less. I continued to put my thoughts down, the old fashioned way – with a pen and paper. What could be the cause of this fade from public exposure, you might wonder. I have been pondering the same recently and I have come up with two answers:

The first is that, by God’s grace, He has been working in me and, I trust, producing a smidgen of humility. As one is exposed to life, you begin to realize your own insignificance – the wealth of fine minds out there can make you feel as if you have very little to offer.

The second reason, and perhaps the dominant one is that in many ways, I am a coward. I grew tired of putting my ideas out there for others to criticize, tear apart, and disagree with so I began to write my thoughts down privately. Of course, this feeling of privacy is only temporary since “…nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” (Luke 8:17)

I still benefited from the catharsis and meditation of writing my musings down, but not as much as I used to. When you write in the public sphere, it really forces you to critically analyze your views, and open yourself up to correction, which isn’t easy. Things of value rarely are.

So here I am – coaxing the burners to life, and re-greasing the gears. I trust that it will be a positive move from a personal standpoint, and if my thoughts get someone else’s mental machinery working at the same time then that will be a bonus.

Soli Deo Gloria

The Alchemist Book Review

Posted: 7 January, 2015 in Uncategorized

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You have probably heard of the title, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, even if you don’t know much about it. I certainly had, and it was something I vaguely associated with Artemis Fowl, another book I have heard of but know almost nothing about.

Well, I have been disillusioned – there is no relation between the two. I was given a copy of The Alchemist for my birthday a few years back. The cover says: Paulo Coelho, The International Bestseller, The Alchemist. An impressive caption for such a thin little volume.

However, having a sneaky suspicion that the book was dodgy, I hadn’t gotten around to reading it until recently. I had been reading a history of World War I, so I felt like a little fiction as a break, and picked up The Alchemist.

So, do you know what an Alchemist is? Me neither… If you look it up, you’ll most probably find that it is someone who practices Alchemy. Not very helpful – what then is alchemy? According to The Merriam-Webster Online dictionary, it is, “a medieval chemical science and speculative philosophy aiming to achieve the transmutation of the base metals into gold, the discovery of a universal cure for disease, and the discovery of a means of indefinitely prolonging life”

If you’re starting to hear a faint beeping noise, don’t worry, its just your quackery alarm giving it’s warning signals. “But wait,” your mental voice says, “its only a novel – don’t take the title too seriously, who knows, it might be a good story?”

I’m writing this post to tell you, it isn’t. Not only is the story and writing style weak, but the book is, in fact, downright harmful. But as it is an international bestseller, I will need to substantiate my opinion.

The poor literary style may stem from the fact that the book has been translated into English, or it may be inherent, I’m not sure. This idea may surprise you – after all, why then is the book so popular?

It is basically a story about a young spanish shepherd boy who gives up the good to go for the great, and follow his destiny. The book follows him on his journey in realising this destiny, and shows all that he learns along the way.

That may not sound too terrible, and it isn’t – but as the saying goes, “The devil is in the details.”

In my opinion, what makes the book so popular is a two-fold reason.

1. Universal dissatisfaction with life, and the belief that we deserve better

2. The pantheistic, khumbaya-eccumenical faith

The Alchemist borrows many characters and references from the Bible, and often sails very close to the wind with regard to outright blasphemy. It also makes references to other religions such as Islam, and basically presents an, all-roads-lead-to-Rome type of picture, where truth is a relative idea. The book encourages dissatisfaction with the ordinary, and the idea that one should be willing to sacrifice all in the quest for achieving/finding one’s destiny, and that anyone who truly loves you will be happy to be a part of that sacrifice. This mysterious entity, “destiny” can only be found by following one’s heart, because, “where your heart is, there your treasure will be also.” and the “omens” because according to Melchizedek, “…there is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, its because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth… The Soul of the World is nourished by people’s happiness. And also by unhappiness, envy, and jealousy. To realise one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation. All things are one. And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” 1

“In order to find the treasure, you will have to follow the omens. God has prepared a path for everyone to follow. You just have to read the omens that he left for you.” 2

What does Scripture actually say to these issues, when we aren’t ripping characters and verses out of context?

Jeremiah 17:9 says, ” The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Matthew 6:21 is quoted quite often in The Alchemist, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” But if you read the two preceding verses Jesus says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” The treasure Santiago eventually finds is gold.

Leviticus 19:26 says, “You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it. You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes.”

Micah 6:8 says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

So to a well-informed Christian, the error of this book is clear, but to an unbeliever this book is very dangerous. First of all it encourages an unhealthy discontentment. Secondly, it presents a twisted view of Scripture, where one uses and interprets the Bible merely as a guide in achieving personal goals, and not as the sacred, infallible word of Almighty God, who says in Psalm 2:12, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all those who take refuge in him.” Thirdly, it presents the popular idea that truth is relative and that all we need to do to go to heaven is, follow our destiny and do the best we can.

Just as telling a man walking towards the edge of a cliff that all he needs to do is follow his nose to live a healthy life is fatal, so is the philosophy of The Alchemist.

1. Paulo Coelho. The Alchemist. HarperCollins. 2006. p 21

2. Ibid. p 21

The Heart of the Law

Posted: 28 June, 2014 in Uncategorized

I am a fan of J.R.R. Tolkiens great novel, The Lord of The Rings. Recently I had the opportunity to read the book again and I was struck by the following passage. For the sake of context, the Fellowship of The Ring which was made up of four hobbits, two men, an elf, a dwarf and a wizard has been broken up. Frodo and his faithful servant Sam have gone off alone towards Mordor but Merry and Pippin, the other two hobbits have been captured by a band of Uruk hai and are being pursued by Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. In the land of Rohan they meet up with a group of horsemen led by Eomer, the nephew of the King of Rohan.

‘How shall a man judge what to do in such times?’ ‘As he has ever judged,’ said Aragorn. ‘Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.’ ‘True indeed,’ said Eomer. ‘But I do not doubt you, nor the deed which my heart would do. Yet I am not free to do all as I would. It is against our law to let strangers wander at will in our land, until the king himself shall give them leave, and more strict is the command in these days of peril. I have begged you to come back willingly with me, and you will not. Loth am I to begin a battle of one hundred against three.’ ‘I do not think your law was made for such a chance,’ said Aragorn. ‘Nor am I indeed a stranger…’

As I read this I was reminded of what Jesus said in reply to the Pharisees who accused his disciples of profaning the Sabbath in Matthew 12:1-8:

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, ‘Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath.’ He said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? And if you had know what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.’

Without going in depth into the Sabbath law, the Pharisees were ridgidly applying the Law in ways that God had never intended for it to be applied. The Law of God reflects His Holy character, it is not a set of arbitrary rules. This, of course highlights the need for the transformation of our minds and an earnest pursuit of God, that we may know Him and live as He intended, rightly dividing and applying the Word of Truth.

Leatherman Overhaul

Posted: 30 October, 2013 in Uncategorized

After 6 years of active service I decided it needed a proper maintenance session:

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God The All

Posted: 4 September, 2011 in Literature, Prayers, Theology, True worship, Worldview

O God whose will conquers all,

There is no comfort in anything

apart from enjoying thee

and being engaged in thy service;

Thou art All in all, and all enjoyments are what to me

thou makes them, and no more.

I am well pleased with thy will, whatever it is,

or should be in all respects,

And if thou bidst me decide for myself in any affair

I would choose to refer all to thee,

for thou art infinitely wise and connote do amiss,

as I am in danger of doing.

I rejoice to think that all things are at thy disposal,

and it delights me to leave them there.

Then prayer turns wholly into praise,

and all I can do is to adore and bless thee.

What shall I give thee for all thy benefits?

I am in a strait betwixt two, knowing not what to do;

I long to make some return, but have nothing to offer,

and can only rejoice that thou doest all,

that none in heaven or on earth shares thy honour;

I can of myself do nothing to glorify thy blessed name,

but I can through grace cheerfully surrender soul and body to thee,

I know that thou art the author and finisher of faith,

that the whole work of redemption is thine alone,

that every good work or thought found in me

is the effect of thy power and grace,

that thy sole motive in working in me to will and to do

is for thy good pleasure.

O God, it is amazing that men can talk so much

about man’s creaturely power and goodness,

when, if thou didst not hold us back every moment,

we should be devils incarnate.

This, by bitter experience, thou hast taught me concerning myself.

THE VALLEY OF VISION

Exodus 3:13-14  Then Moses said to God, "If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, 
'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' 
what shall I say to them?"  (14)  God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, 
"Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"
Joh 8:56-58  Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was 
glad." (57)  So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you 
seen Abraham?" (58)  Jesus said to them, 
"Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am."