Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

It’s Getting Rather Hot

Posted: 23 November, 2018 in Uncategorized

I watched Trevor Noah’s latest stand-up comedy this evening, Son of Patricia. His views are decidedly to the left. Obviously. He works on TV – and anyone who works on TV in America knows that to stay afloat one must toe the party line. The media is so liberal that they will not tolerate anybody who does not agree. Having said that, I don’t think he is being forced into those views. I think he, like many others has drunk enough liberal kool-aid to begin believing in the craziness.

Anyway, putting that performance together with what I hear of American news and what I see even in South Africa, I can only conclude that the world is going insane and Christians can either stand up in opposition or be swept into apostasy. There is no safe neutral ground. The sad part is that I feel like much of the Church is being slowly boiled alive like the frog in the pot on the stove. The Church is slowly being boiled to death in the cultural water without even realising it. When will we stand up and say, “The emperor has no clothes on and the gospel is the only solution to this mess,” rather than seeing how close we can get to the flame without getting burnt.

We need to believe what we say we believe and allow that truth to animate us. We simply cannot afford – I simply cannot afford to continue to say that I believe the Bible but live like truth is relative.

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Pleasure in Toil

Posted: 10 April, 2018 in Uncategorized

I met with a few teenage boys last night, which is something that we do on a monthly basis. We get together to discuss topics related to being a godly man.

Last night we had a guest over and in general, the guest will give something of a biography of himself so that the boys can see how he got from where they are, to where he is currently, and how his testimony works itself out in his chosen profession.

As usual, I think I benefitted more than the kids did, and the discussion left me mulling over (among other things) the nature of work.

The speaker made the point that having worked in his dad’s shop since primary school, and hating every moment, he realised that the more he hated it, the slower the time moved. The experience taught him to find pleasure in excellence, no matter what he found himself doing.

The fact is, he said, there will be times when you are working, no matter what type of work it is, that you will not feel like doing it, but you have to just knuckle down and get the job done. There is much truth in that for teenage boys to hear – even the fighter pilot has to do things he doesnt feel like doing sometimes.

But its not just helpful to teenage boys – I needed to be reminded of that again. There is much in the way of work which requires sheer self-discipline.

Having said that, there is also much reward to be gained from work, if we do it with the proper perspective. If we stop thinking about work as a means to an end, the end of making a living, and simply focus on taking pleasure in the act of creation. As we create something good, we are expressing the image of God far better than a simple wage earner, even in a sin-cursed world where work is… well – hard work!

“…also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.” Ecclesiastes 3:13

 

Last night some friends and I did a crazy, spontaneous thing by going to watch the 11pm screening of the new Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi.

I really enjoyed the movie, in spite of watching it in 3D (which I despise!). The cinematography and special effects made for a satisfying experience, and the way they were able to superimpose Carrie-Ann Fischer’s face onto the new actress, was absolutely flawless.

I was struck by a few very noticeable elements in the movie which came across quite boldly. There were definitely some agendas being pushed by this artwork. Using the word, “agenda”, sounds so sinister and conspiratorial. That is not my intention, but I have to recognize and acknowledge the reality that film is a very powerful medium. It is highly influential and widely disseminated, and while there may or may not be deliberate intentions for influencing the culture on the part of the movie-makers, they most certainly do set trends, and they also (wanting to please the masses and thereby make more money) will be quick to bow to current social pressures.

So what were these ‘agendas’, exactly?

Feminism. A strong feminist bent was about as subtle as one of those Kangaroo-dog-camels, rampaging through the casino. Females were cast for the majority of the leadership roles (not to mention the main character is a female). Interestingly, the makers did not try to portray the female leaders in a butch way, as if they were trying to live up to a male stereotype. Instead they made many of them very ‘girly’ but still wanted us to believe that they were highly effective, accomplished and war-hardened military heroes – something I found particularly unbelievable. In a day and age of gender fluidity and lack of definition, I saw the clearly lady-like women (albeit in very unladylike roles), very interesting.

Bunny-hugging. Or birdie-hugging, in this case. Clearly, the makers wanted to send a pro-animal message – they made some very cute, and cuddly looking creatures, and then put them in scenes where they were being cruelly-treated. That is all good and well – as a Christian, I am told to care for the life of my beasts. What I found disturbing, was how cruelty and immorality was being portrayed.

At one point Chewbacca was about to eat a roast bird, when a bunch of other cute, cuddly birds with big sorry-for-me-eyes came and watched him. He tried to scare them away, but in the end he didn’t eat the bird, and clearly felt ashamed for having killed it in the first place.

At another point we see some alien whipping a racing Kangaroo-dog-camel, and clearly the implication is that this is wrong. Of course, whipping an animal can easily be cruel, and there were stripes left on these creatures which support the idea that the whipping was excessive. However, using animals for racing and disciplining them corporally is not in-itself wrong. In fact, animals were made to be used and to serve man. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the implications of Darwinian evolution. If an evolutionist wishes to hold on to morality, he or she must not distinguish between humans and other less-evolved life-forms. If you say that animals are not worthy of the same rights as humans, then you must answer the question, “Why?” This is unanswerable from and evolutionary standpoint.

Crossing ethnic and racial divides. This comes across strongly, and clearly the makers want to show that ultimately we are all the same regardless of external factors, and we can work together for the greater good. I applaud this particular message, which just goes to show, that its not the fact that there are agenda’s and messages being sent in art which is the problem. It is who’s messages and agenda’s they are. Are they Satan’s or are they God’s?

My last observation for the purposes of this article is that they tried very hard to stick as closely as possible to the original trilogy (episode IV, V and VI) décor and themes – this is most noticeable in the form of Master Yoda, who appears toward the end of the film, looking and sounding far more like the original Yoda than the (in my opinion) better, more polished Yoda of Episodes I, II and III.

P.S. Whatever happened to training Jedi? So the oldschool Jedi had to train for years. Heck, they almost didn’t accept Anakin, because he was too old. But recently, it seems like Jedi can do it on their own, purely on natural talent, and without much more than a crash course, they can beat formidable dark opponents.

P.P.S. I did actually enjoy this movie, in spite of what may sound like a negative rant

A Consolation in Affliction

Posted: 3 December, 2017 in Uncategorized
The below is taken from The Great Gain of Godliness by Thomas Watson:
  1. When the Lord afflicts the saints yet he deals well with them because he is their God.
  2. When it goes badly with the godly, yet God deals well with them because, while he is inflicting evil upon them he is doing them good. ‘It is good for me that I have been afflicted’ (Psalm 119:71)
               The godly grow wiser
               Affliction promotes holiness
  1. When God puts his children to the school of the cross, yet he deals well with them because he does not leave them without a promise: ‘God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able.’ (1 Corinthians 10:13)
  2. God deal swell with his people when he afflicts because afflictions are preventative.
               They prevent sin
               They prevent hell
  1. When God corrects he deals well with his people because all he does is in love. ‘As many as I love, I rebuke.’ (Revelation 3:19)
  2. God deals well with his people when he afflicts them because he moderates his stroke; ‘I will correct thee in measure.’ (Jeremiah 30:11; 46:28)
  3. When God afflicts his children he deals well with them because he keeps them from sinning in affliction; ‘I pray… that thou shouldest keep them from evil.’ (John 17:15)
               The godly are kept from impatience.
               The godly dare not use any dishonest means to extricate themselves out of trouble.
  1. God deals well with his children in affliction because though he correct them, he does not forsake them. ‘For the Lord will not cast off for ever.’ (Lamentations 3:31)
  2. God deals well with his children in affliction because though their condition should be sad, yet it is not so bad as others. 
  3. God in affliction deals well with his children because, if he takes away one comfort, he leaves more behind. 
  4. When God afflicts, he deals well with his people because he takes away nothing from them but he gives them that which is better. 
  5. When God afflicts his children he deals well with them because he affords them his divine presence: ‘I will be with him in trouble.’ (Psalm 91:15)
  6. God in afflicting deals well with his children because he gives them that which makes amends for their afflictions; he drops in the oil of gladness; he makes them gather grapes of thorns: ‘Your sorrow shall be turned into joy’ (John 16:20)
  7. When God corrects his children he deals well with them because these paroxysms or hot trials do not last long. After the clouds, the sun. ‘I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever’ (1 Kings 11:39)
  8. When God puts his children to the school of the cross he deals well with them . ‘Our light affliction… worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory’ (2 Corinthians 4:17)

The World Without Worry

Posted: 21 October, 2017 in Uncategorized

Remember when you were a little kid, and you looked ahead to some career, or activity that you would only be able to do as an adult.

Think of driving, for example. How did you feel as you anticipated driving your own car one day? Don’t you remember feeling like to be able to drive would just be the best thing in the world? The freedom, the speed, the autonomy, the nice car, the independence! What’s not to love??

Then we grow up and few of us experience life the way we pictured it as a child. Not only does the novelty wear off, but our frontal cortex takes over and we begin to dwell on the RESPONSIBILITY of being an adult.
As a driver, you have to think about the wear and tear on your car; you have to think about the price of petrol, and the fact that your little joy ride costs something. You have to think about the risk of an accident, the time wasted in traffic, and a million other negatives. The result is – all the joy the child in you expected simply evaporates!

I have been thinking a lot about perspective, anxiety and fear-of-man, recently, and I am beginning to think that the perspective of the child is the better one.
Yes, the kid-version-of-you didn’t realise the responsibility that come with a career, or a car, or kids, but he did know where to focus.

I think that it is possible to be both responsible AND childlike in our experience of life. Stop thinking that life has to be perfect to be enjoyable. Realise the risks, but don’t dwell on them. Acknowledge the fact that life isn’t a bed of roses, but choose not to fixate on the thorns. Remember how young-you looked at life, and let that little guy/girl out to enjoy it!

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