Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Humbug


I was looking at the face of a friend at work and although we are of a comparable age, she has more wrinkles than I do.  Some might count this as something in my favour – I am less wrinkly.  In our age-obsessed society I have accomplished something my friend has been unable to do.  I have held back the ravages of time – and all without a single injection of botox.

What I felt was not elation that I looked younger but sadness that I didn’t have her laughter lines.  Her face was gentle and soft and so easily took to smiles.  I would quite like to have a face that folds itself into fun and frivolity, not one that smooths itself out into seriousness and sobriety.  I seem to take life too seriously – and myself too seriously.  I don’t have a “chill” setting. 

All this has nothing to do with my refusal to participate in anything Halloween.  Tricks are for clever magicians and nimble gymnasts.  Treats are for good dogs. 

I can’t swallow the whole “It’s just harmless fun” idea. 

Reading from the BBC webpage on Religions/Christianity/Halloween  “All Hallows' Eve falls on 31st October each year, and is the day before All Hallows' Day, also known as All Saints' Day in the Christian calendar. The Church traditionally held a vigil on All Hallows' Eve when worshippers would prepare themselves with prayers and fasting prior to the feast day itself.”

It doesn’t say anything about dressing up as ghosts and ghouls, knocking on people’s doors and demanding a treat. 

Today I am choosing not to sit in the dark or pretending to be out.  Technically there is no chance I will hear the doorbell as the battery hasn’t worked for ages.  People have to bang on the door if they want a response.  Removing my hearing aids will sort out the banging on the door – I’m not likely to hear that either. 

I just want to be left alone.  I don’t want to be labelled a party pooper and frowned upon by some accompanying adult because I don’t have a bucket of lollypops, or a selection of fruit for the health conscious.  I don’t want to be made to feel guilty because I am not joining in.

I am not joining in. 

Please don't knock upon my door
Into your hands I will not pour
The treats you think should come your way
Ghosts and ghoulies - go away!

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Swordplay


The other day I was watching a documentary on William Wallace.  The programme makers were debunking all the various myths that have sprung up about him.  I am sure that if Mel Gibson had just stuck to historical accuracy his film would not have stirred the imagination the way that it did. 

The programme looked carefully at the sword credited to belong to Wallace.  A big sword housed in a glass cabinet did not mean Wallace had to be a big man, as a wee man with a quick wrist and a jaunty step was keen to demonstrate.  However, a man with white gloves and a close up camera angle revealed that the sword wasn’t THE sword but three bits of swords welded together.  The handle, the middle bit and the end bit were all from different blades.  Another myth debunked.

I have been fascinated for the last few weeks with the sword of the Spirit. I think it possibly ranks as the most ignored weapon in our armoury as Christians.  It is the most magnificent sword ever forged but for many of us it is in the equivalent of a glass cabinet, handled with white gloves and possibly scrutinised by preachers with their various angles.  But is it wielded?  Is it doing the damage it is supposed to do to the enemy?

Write this letter to the angel of the church in Pergamum. This is the message from the one with the sharp two-edged sword:” Rev 2:12

“Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” Rev 2:16.  The church in Pergamum lived “in the city where Satan has his throne “.  Jesus described Satan as a liar and the father of lies.  The church was being confronted with a lot of false teaching, so it was no surprise that Jesus came with a sword of truth.  

There is a scene in one of my favourite films, The Princess Bride, which involves a sword fight.  Two adversaries buckle their swash over the ruins of a castle.  As the swords flick and flash, there is a word duel that goes on also. 

There is something of that sword fight in the temptations in the wilderness.  Satan demonstrates an expert grasp of the Word of God.  He knows it well enough to manipulate it, take it out of context and spin it in a way that can be appealing.  Jesus is the better expert when it comes to swordplay.  He is not only the author of the Word, but He is the living Word.  He does not need to manipulate the Word.

“So, how good is your swordplay, Mel?” said God.

Just as in the natural world you need lessons to learn how to wield a sword you can’t just pick up the Sword of the Spirit and begin to fight the enemy.  He is an expert with the Word of God.  Too many Christians don’t know the word of God as well as the enemy.  We might learn by heart some of the more encouraging scriptures, but we don’t know enough of the tough stuff!  We certainly don’t know what to do with it to hurt the enemy.

So, God has been teaching me some swordplay!  As I have my quiet times, God asks me whether there is a sentence or phrase in what I read that can be wielded against the enemy.

“This is the message from the one who is holy and true the one who has the key of David. What he(Jesus) opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open... I have opened a door for you that no one can close.” Rev 3:7-8

Grabbing hold of this word, I began to pray for open doors in people’s lives.  I very forcefully prayed a door slammed in Satan’s face when it came to all the damage he wanted to inflict in the lives of my friends and family.  I pictured myself using this key of David to open and lock a variety of doors.

“Nice idea,” said God, “but is that what the verse is really about?  What doors are being opened or closed here?  Is it a door to financial security?  Or complete health?  Is it a door to a better job? Exactly what door can Jesus open using the key of David?”

“Yes, I will drive you (Shebnah) out of office,” says the Lord. “I will pull you down from your high position. And then I will call my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah to replace you. I will dress him in your royal robes and will give him your title and your authority. And he will be a father to the people of Jerusalem and Judah. I will give him the key to the house of David—the highest position in the royal court. When he opens doors, no one will be able to close them; when he closes doors, no one will be able to open them.  Isaiah 22:19-22

I think the key of David opens door in the royal court – the place where the king resides.  That may include the doors to the storehouses – but it certainly includes a door into the presence of the King.  It doesn’t tell you what Shebnah did to get the keys taken off him.  He was making a beautiful tomb at the time and he had glorious chariots.  I may be joining up the dots wrong but I think he was open to bribery when it came to who got to see the king and who didn’t. He became rich.  The poor and needy that needed to see the king perhaps didn’t get a look in. 

The door Jesus opened with the key of David was the door to God’s presence. What people need more than financial security, more than good health and more than a better job is God himself.  He is the provider and the healer.  He is the one who lifts up and pulls down rulers. 

The door is open.  What is it that hampers people from entering into God’s presence? Work that one out and start praying more effectively.

I don’t appear to have any natural aptitude with the sword of the Spirit. Does anyone?  Like most things skill comes only with practice. 

I will learn how to use this sword.  I will become a threat to the enemy.  I will.

Friday, October 04, 2013

The Problem with Physics


“A bullet is moving at a speed of 367 m/s when it embeds into a lump of moist clay. The bullet penetrates for a distance of 0.0621 m. Determine the acceleration of the bullet while moving into the clay. (Assume a uniform acceleration.)”

A physics teacher colleague of mine shared a problem he had with one of his students when it came to solving problems.  Rather than write out the problem in the form of a sum and throw in a relevant formula, they, the writers of the books or the tests, have put it into a story or a scenario like the one above.  One of his students wants to know more about the story than he does about the solution to the problem.

It does appear that there are a number of questions involved here…

Why is a man shooting at a lump of moist clay?  Do the police know he has a gun?  How big is the lump of clay?  Is it made into the shape of a person perhaps?  Is this some kind of target practice?  Does the clay man have a face?  Is it someone the shooter knows?  Someone he considers to be his enemy?  Is this all happening in a sound proof basement so that no one can hear?  How far away is he standing from the clay? Is the gun against the clay man’s temple execution style? Is he aiming between the eyes of the clay man?

What is the man thinking as he shoots the lump of clay? Is he angry about anything?  Is this a case of the last straw on the camel’s back? Does he think he will feel better if he shoots at the clay rather than shooting at the person who has made him angry?  Has he forgotten to take the medication which usually keeps him calm?

Has he thought about how he will dispose of the body?  Not the clay one – he can just dismantle that and make a few vases instead. No, the real body – the man he plans to shoot. Is he going to dig a shallow grave in the woods on the outskirts of town?  The river is too shallow this time of the year to throw the body in there.  Pity it’s not January when the thaw comes.

Does he just intend to stay at the crime scene holding the smoking gun until the police arrive? Is he going to go quietly? Can he afford a lawyer to defend him? He could show the police the empty pill bottle and tell them he has stopped taking his tablets.  Diminished responsibility shouldn’t be too hard to fake.

How will his mum take the news? It will break her heart.  She will ask herself a hundred questions beginning with “What did I do wrong?” She will stand by him, of course, as all mothers do.  Will she be strong at the trial or break down into tears?

Perhaps the image of his sobbing mother is too painful to imagine.  To continue with his plan is no longer appealing.  He takes the bullets out of the gun and wraps the gun in a piece of cloth.  He pulls out the loose brick in the basement wall and conceals the gun where he found it.

He makes a dozen vases in a variety of shapes and sizes with the clay.