“Everyone that loves is born of God and knows God.”

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Long ago whist at college my daughter’s class was asked by an atheistic teacher.

“Whoever here believes in God, stand up.” Only she and a Muslim girl dared to stand.

“And why do you believe?” He continued. Their answers were very similar, they had both seen God work in their lives and miraculously answer prayer. Not to be put off he announced.

“Well you, pointing to my daughter, are Christian, but how come this girl is Muslim says the same thing?” She couldn’t answer and came home troubled. I had never considered the question and had to pray for the answer. It came instantly.

God loves all His children whoever they are and whatever faith they embrace. If someone prays with a pure and believing heart He will answer (even if they call Him by another name). My daughter was content with that answer. For me however it triggered other questions.

I’ve never believed that if someone hasn’t received Jesus they’ll burn in hell for eternity – though a common fundmentalist doctrine, that just doesn’t jive with all I’ve known of God. What about all those that never had a chance to hear? Rather I’ve found Him to be far more loving, more merciful, going to far greater extremes to redeme His children than I could envisage. I think not to know Jesus maybe means to miss out on the fulness of life He brings right here and now, the joy, the freedom, the healing, the solace.

It is my personal belief that, rather than God as a stern judge dealing out rewards and eternal punishment at death, we, in a sense, judge ourselves. When God is revealed in all His splendour we either run to embrace Him, cringe in guilt and shame begging for mercy, or run in fear or rebelion. To come before God drenched in sin is perhaps akin to someone drenched in gasoline confronting a fire. God is always loving, forgiving, but we can only come into His presence naked and humble (one cannot pretend with God) we cannot bear His presence with any taint of sin or subterfuge.

It says “God looks on the heart” we must be careful to do likewise. A self-righteous, holier than thou Christian may further from God than a big-hearted atheist. Perhaps some of the “saved” may find themselves raised, not to glory, but to “everlasting shame and contempt” for their lack of love toward humanity, and the shamed single mum who loved too ardently find,  she that loves much will be forgiven much. Perhaps that’s what it means about the last being first and the first last.

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Stop and look and take it in!

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Autumn is breaking in all its multicoloured splendour. Flaming ivy on the wall, lakeside trees tinted orange and yellow, the mornings a chill fog, evenings needing a comfy blanket to cuddle in. Winter has yet to show its face, no need to turn the heating on quite yet. Thick sweaters grace the cupboard again, ready, but not quite needed yet. Strappy T shirts and shorts, sundresses and sandals are packed away. Summer fades behind us. Like trees dropping leaves we forsake summer dreams. Christmas is glimpsed on the far off horizon; meanwhile we gaze in wonder at the beauty of decay transforming the world in glorious hues.

Comfort in grief.

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(Excerpt of a letter from Ben Franklin to the widow of his brother John Feb. 1756)

“That bodies should be lent to us is a kind and benevolent act of God. When they become unfit for these purposes and afford us pain instead of pleasure – instead of an aid, become an encumbrance and answer none of the intentions for which they were given – it is equally kind and benevolent that a way is provided by which we may get rid of them.

Death is that way … Why should you and I be grieved at this, since we are soon to follow, and know where to find him.”

Ultimate rush!

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The water was fresh and pure, unadulterated by chemicals and piping. A deep breath of fresh air filled his lungs. He felt… alive! Raising his hands to the sky he yelled for pure joy. It was over.
He began to laugh, a deep-throated laugh that echoed all around him reverberating from the trees and flowers. He began to run free as the breeze, hands brushing the tall grass and leaves. He was free! Where he was he didn’t know only that “life” no longer held him captive. The end had become the beginning. Somewhere doctors fought to bring him back, but his body, old, tired, and riddled with disease no longer responded. He was free!
A touch of sadness tinged his joy. His loved ones, would they understand? Would they see why he couldn’t go back? He’d served his time, done his part, now he was home. He’d wait for them here. They’d come one day when their time was up, when they too had accomplished that for which they went. He wished he could tell them how wonderful it was, how happy he was, but that would distract them. Having seen this, how could they experience joy in their pale earthly lives. He saw the wisdom but was sad to know they’d grieve. Still the sky beckoned him on. In the distance he saw others waiting for him.

Destiny

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Like an eagle confined to a cage,
The soul chaffs for another world,
Brighter, freer world of soft winds,
Refreshing mist and high vistas.
It was never created for the cage.

When the hand of death opens
The confining door of flesh
It flies free
Seeking by instinct its true realm.

fear, the modern epidemic?

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Of course there’s a balance to this statement. Wisdom and caution can be good, but fear itself is never good, whether founded or unfounded, it debilitates us. Whether its a result of age or simply that fear is more prevalent these days I find myself having to deal with it more both in my own life and that of others.

It’s probably a combination of both, at least in the west, our society tends to be protective in many ways. We are encouraged to give the thief our wallet, to phone the police and stay locked in our room when being burgled, not to get involved etc. and health and safety laws are everywhere. I sometimes think back to my childhood when no one worried about being “politically correct”, when any adult seeing you misbehaving would take you to task, when any able bodied man would tackle the guy running off with the handbag. Nowadays a would be hero may even find himself doing time for accosting a robber and a policeman dare not put a comforting arm around a distraught crime victim for fear of being charged with sexual harassment! While I appreciate these attempts to keep us safe I also wonder if we have not gone so far as to become dis-empowered?

Sickness tends to be much the same, we give responsibility for our health to the doctor often imagining the worst while pouring over tales in social media. My conclusion? A life lived in fear is no life at all. While I’m all for caution fear is the enemy and makes out lives miserable.

Not gone.

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What’s grown within this earthly shell?
Like seed casing
Shelters the essence within,
A means of transport and protection
Finding fertile ground in which to develop.
Unseen it grows, encased, embalmed,
Till, no longer containable.
The husk bursts,
Is blown away on the winds of time.
What has been born within
Finally revealed.