“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.

Can there be a happy ending?

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paris

I was greeted this morning by a face book message saying a friend was safely accounted for after the “Paris Terror Attack”.

My mind went into free fall. Oh no not again! There are times I wish my mind was not quite so agile. I scan the news, 120 dead (and counting) Suicide bombs and automatic rifles… My mind kicks in again – that’s just the dead, for them it’s finished, there’s the grieving families left behind, worse – the injured. My mind’s already doing stats – general percentage death to injury. As the pictures of screaming victims, severed limbs, disfigured faces and bodies kick in my mind has already leapt ahead – this means reprisals!

It means anger, hate, further attacks pushing the moderate Muslims (who, like us, just want to live in peace) further into the militant camp. This means more hate, more aggression, more killing, more injury, more orphans.

My suspicious mind jumps one more step, Friday the 13th. -obviously chosen for its significance … but that would make no sense to a Muslim mind. They would not choose that day over another…

It must have been carried out by Muslims (even the best CIA operatives would not volunteer as a suicide bomber.- even they are not that crazed.) So why Friday 13th? There’s got to be another factor in this mix, but what?

The reports of automatic weapons also raise questions – you can’t exactly sneak one of those under your coat – how did they get them in – hmm seems the killers might need inside co operation of some kind. If so those folks are still at large. Too many questions, the greatest of which is, “How can this end well?”

At times like this I take refuge in my own faith that God sees all, every heart.

I imagine a God of love taking one of these bombers by the hand and, tears in His eyes, showing them how deluded they have been. I imagine the terrible anguish of soul when realization dawns that their idealism has been manipulated by evil, the horror of the chain of destruction they have been part of. I cannot feel anger towards them, only deep, deep sorrow. They are as much victims as those they destroyed.

Hate begets hate, aggression begets aggression. Long ago God gave this creation into our hands to choose between good and evil, to choose the good becomes harder and harder, often requiring a great degree of courage.

I’m glad God is the judge in all this and not me. I await in hope that one day, when the time is fulfilled He will intervene and at last we shall have peace, and those that truly sowed these seeds, whoever they are, find their retribution.

True Brotherhood.

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(from July 2014

Song Bird Songs

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This true story began many years ago. A friend while traveling with his family in Greece had come across a Kurdish refugee camp. There were 600 refugees and four water taps, garbage was everywhere and there was little or no organisation. Worst of all there was no doctor or clinic – some arrived with gunshot wounds and stories of atrocities abounded…

He was not a doctor, just a male nurse, but he couldn’t ignore their plight. Holiday adventure forgotten they stayed on to help making a tenuous living singing in restaurants over the weekends (he had a great voice). His pregnant wife had just had a baby and with two other small children they needed help urgently. That’s why we went.

The day I entered the city of squalid tents the Greek authorities decided to move the whole embarrassing populace out of the camp. It had been allocated in winter…

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