The Majority are Often Wrong

About 400 years before Christ came and made His rather dividing remarks about mankind, Plato wrote his book “The Republic” and called attention to the problems with democracy.  Many writers have done so since.  So Jesus is not alone in His thinking when He says:

“…..wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

These words from Matthew 7:13, 14 have a particular relevance when we think of how the majority of this country last Friday (25 May 2018) voted for destruction whereas relatively few voted for life.  One of the good things to come from that vote was this confirmation of Jesus’ words.  We would do well to believe Him when He says things.

He also said: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6).

You will do better to ignore and reject the “liberal” spirit of this age and believe this instead, however “intolerant” it sounds.

Here is another passage from the bible that says something equally unpopular but also relevant:

“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
And makes flesh his strength,
Whose heart departs from the Lord.
For he shall be like a shrub in the desert,
And shall not see when good comes,
But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,
In a salt land which is not inhabited.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

Jeremiah 17:5-8.

Black Friday

“Black …. day” is a term used for the day there is a major fall in the stock market.  The last “Black” day for the stock market was Black Monday Oct 19, 1987.

In contrast with the gradual and persistent climb in stock market values over many decades, days like Black Monday are sudden, precipitous and often unexpected.  They also cry out for attention and, in a similar way to all bad news, they can enter our consciousness much more than the gradual improvements that we experience over much longer time periods.

The results of yesterday’s referendum will have come as a shock to many.  They also represent an enormous blow to the efforts of so many people who have poured time and money into campaigning to keep the 8th.  Many of my friends will have lost sleep and spent money and time sacrificially.  They did what they could and now they should rest content that they have done all that could be done.  Their consciences are clear.

I know it doesn’t seem like it now but actually, if you take a longer view then things are getting better in this country as they are around the world.

Recently I have been challenged (by the Holy Spirit) to focus my mind on the things of Philippians 4:8: things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praiseworthy.  On a day like today this becomes more important than ever.  Here are some things to think about:20180525_115433

  1. God:  He is all of the above.  Think about how much He loves us in that He sent His only Son to die on our behalf.  The gospel is every bit as much good news now as it was before the referendum.  A relationship with God is the ultimate answer to any wrong attitudes society may have.  This referendum has led to many people thinking about God and the Good News in ways they haven’t done before.  Only God really knows the hearts of people but there are many indications that, as a percentage of the population, more people know God personally now in Ireland than in the past and that percentage is actually growing.
  2. Family: The basic unit of society still applies to 100% of the residents of this country.  All of us have (or have had) a father and a mother and many have brothers and sisters.  We love them and they love us.  Nothing in any referendum results has changed that.
  3. Friends: Everyone knows someone they can call a friend, someone who accepts them as they are without judging them.  We all need them.  One of the major plus points of this and the last referendum has been to encourage a non-judgmental attitude in the population at large.  More people are accepted by more people as people than ever before.  There will be a change in the constitutional status of many of those people and that is to be regretted.  But a society that accepts people more will inevitably accept them at whatever stage they are, in the womb or outside of it and in whatever condition they are in, disabled or well.  Most people voting yes in this referendum were not voting for abortion, they were voting for acceptance.  I wonder how the result would have gone if the referendum had been phrased in such as way as to say “Vote “Yes” to retain the human rights of the unborn and vote “No” to remove them”?
  4. Honesty:  People are not as afraid as they were in the past to be honest about what they really think on many formerly taboo issues.
  5. Creation:  The sunsets are still lovely, the rhododendrons at Russborough House are as beautiful in May as ever, of all the things you may see still few are as beautiful as a tree.  The increasing consciousness of everyone about looking after their environment has made Ireland a more beautiful place than ever.  I walk down to the end of my road and see beautiful eagles and kites which, only a few years back, did not exist here.  This is progress by this generation of young people.
  6. Excellence because of opportunity:  athletes, figure skaters, football players (even) and any sport you can think of has become more inclusive, better funded, less dangerous, more participated in and more attractive and available to watch over the last 100 years.  Consistent, upward, progress is the hallmark of the Olympics and many international sports and, again, is led by young people.

I could go on.

It is a bad day, but it is not the end of the world.  Actually that would be a good day too for many.  We need to concentrate on ensuring that these last days continue to be truly good days for as many people as possible.

I still don’t know a better way of doing that than telling them God loves them, unconditionally and at great cost to Himself.

Well done to all my friends who have gone to great extremes to get that message out there about the most vulnerable in society. People may have voted for compassion in a way that looks counter intuitive to many of us but they also know more about the preciousness of the unborn than ever before.  Let’s build on that.


Think on These Things

I have been taking a leaf out of Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book (sorry couldn’t resist that pun): “Switch on your Brain” and used a mind map to do a 21 day meditation on a single thought.

In this case the thought is Philippians 4:8:  “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable; if there is any excellence or anything praiseworthy; think on these things.”

In the mind map above I have taken the 8 words from the original New Testament Greek and put them in boxes around the central theme of the verse.  Then I have taken the most common translations of the Greek words and listed them against each box.  The words in a different colour (e.g. “true”) are the ones used most often, or, in some cases, exclusively by the main English translations (NIV, KJV, NKJV, NLT, NASB, ESV, NRSV).

I have also been spending quite a bit of time adding to the branches the things that are actually true, honourable, right, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praiseworthy.  It is quite amazing the amount of things that fall under those categories once you start to expand on them.  There are numerous elements to God, family, church, the bible, work, creation, music, books, films, etc. that fit into each category.  In other words, there are plenty of good things to think about.

Caroline’s basic thesis is that mind is over matter.  More specifically she says that thoughts are manifested in our brains as actual matter.  They grow on brain nerve endings like fruit on trees.  If we spend 21 days thinking on the same thing, that will turn it into a solid ripe piece of brain fruit that can modify your behaviour. Like it says in Romans 12:2: “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

She advises that you hear what the Spirit is saying to you about a toxic thought to replace and what to replace it with.  Her book is well worth a read and implementation.