The Majority are Always 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 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

Think on These Things (Phil. 48)

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, transliterated them into English 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.

Biblical Creativity: Summary

God’s creation is wonderful as any, even cursory, look over it will reveal.  I have really enjoyed meditating in depth about the 6 days of creation as it is literally revealed in Scripture.  It seems every day I spend some quality time with God on this subject I get a new insight.

However, I realise that it is hard for any reader to understand the journey I have gone on with Jesus to get to this point.  I doubt if anyone is as excited as I am about the connection between the Sea in Heaven and the water present at creation. Or the fact that quantum physics has been explaining (since the beginning of the 20th Century) some of the connections between the physical and spiritual creations (e.g. quantum entanglement – the relationship between two entities that transcends space and time including the speed of light).

But for those who are still interested here are a couple of mind maps summarising what I have written in this series so far:

God

Of course you may not agree with the above.  Personally I’m a young earth, 6 day literalist currently which probably means I’m mad as far as many people are concerned.  But I didn’t always hold this position and I would hope that I’m open to having my mind changed on such secondary matters.  The truth about these things matters but not as much as the truth of Jesus’ Resurrection for instance.

Either way I’ve really enjoyed taking the Genesis account literally, matching it with what I know of science and, as a result, getting some neurons connecting in ways they wouldn’t have otherwise done.  God knows whether I am discovering some of  His thoughts in the process, or whether I am, in fact, mad 🙂

Physical Creation

In my blogs on Biblical Creativity to date I have tried to understand what God would have had to do to create something from nothing.  This includes trying to understand what the word “thing” means when there was no such “thing” before any “thing” was created.

It seems that water was there before anything else.  If the spiritual was created first then that water could have been created as the Sea before God’s throne in Heaven.  Formless and void at first, it was the womb from which everything else physical had its birth.

Day 1: We now know that light is a phenomena which has an electric and magnetic component to it mixed in such a way (with a precise range of frequency and wavelength) that we can see it.  It is just a small part of a much larger range of similar possible EM phenomena much of which we use in communication.  Once light was created, we perceive its absence as night.

Day 2: Once God created objects He created the space between them as a immediate consequence.

Day 3a: It seems to me that the idea of physical movement is only introduced at this stage.  One of the most common movements is spinning and that could have been used to separate out the land elements from the overall watery mixture.

Day 3b: Plant life is created before the sun which is just a strong source of the narrow band phenomena called light.  I’m not sure why God did it that way (or got it recorded it in this order if you like) but maybe He couldn’t wait to start doing something that He knew we would enjoy.

Day 4: He stretches out the heavens.  The macroscopic and microscopic levels are the best places to look for contradictions to any simple mechanical understanding of the universe or ourselves. Einstein found them at the macroscopic level and described them in the theory of Relativity and Bohr found them at the sub-atomic layer and described them in quantum physics.  Quantum physics helps us understand free will through Heisenberg’s uncertainty theorem for instance (see Dr. Caroline Leaf’s excellent work for more details of this and other connections between quantum theory and the Bible’s descriptions of spiritual realities).

Maybe one day I’ll write a book about it all.

Well done if you’ve read this far.

The Abortion Debate

I’ve collected my thoughts as posted on Facebook below.  Hopefully, you will find it useful.

My Position

Just to be clear: I am for protecting babies from being murdered in this State whether in the womb or outside it. This means I support keeping the constitutional protection in place and I am against repealing the 8th Amendment under any circumstances. The current legal set up adequately protects the mother in all situations where her baby might endanger her life. Doctors and other medical staff who are put in the very rare and unfortunate position of having to deal with these cases are also well protected in the current set up. I don’t hold to the position that a woman who has been raped has the right to end the innocent life of the product of that union neither do I believe that a child with a life threatening condition or disability should have their lives deliberately shortened because of it.

Eugenics

One of my reasons for not wanting to repeal the 8th is the eugenics legalised abortion on demand encourages.  See this article from Christian Today.

Today’s Legal Position (while the 8th Amendment is in place)

According to Irish law it is a crime to murder an innocent person. It is immaterial what age that person is or who carries out the murder.

On the Irish Supreme Court Judgement of 7th March 2018

The phrase “the law is an ass” has taken on a new meaning for me after today’s Supreme Court judgement. How can seven learned people come to such a ludicrous conclusion: a child is not a child when it is in the womb? This means, that they have judged that a child at any stage in the womb has no rights at all under the constitution except the right to life guaranteed by the 8th Amendment. There is now every reason for keeping the 8th amendment in place.

Aontas.

Excellent statement from an association of bible believing christians which I fully agree with:

Aontas’ Statement on the Eight Amendment
As an association of Bible believing churches in Ireland, we are deeply concerned about the current proposals to repeal the 8th Amendment.
We hold that all human life is precious. The ultimate foundation of this is the Bible’s teaching that we are made in the image of God. That gives every human being immense dignity, worth, value and meaning, regardless of size, shape, nationality, ability or colour.
The circumstances surrounding this new life may be hard and difficult, but each life is valuable because God formed and shaped it for a purpose. We thank God for the life of every child, no matter the circumstances surrounding their conception, or the length of days given to them.
As a nation we have not excelled in living out the implications of the preciousness of all life. We have failed mothers and babies. We have created stigma and shame instead of creating an environment of grace and love. We need to do better at providing support: emotional, mental, physical and spiritual. And we need to do better in providing loving, long-term alternatives like adoption.
But our shortcomings do not give us the right to determine who should be born and who should not. God alone is the author of life. His word is clear that life begins at conception (Psalm 51:5). Modern science has only underlined the truth of the Bible’s ancient claim.
Since God alone is the author of life, only he has the right to determine who lives and who does not. Much is made of the mother’s right over her own body, but from conception a new and separate person is formed within her. She has the responsibility to preserve the life of this new person but never the right to take it.
We acknowledge that difficult medical circumstances may arise where the life of the mother and the life of the unborn child cannot both be preserved. However the wilful killing of an unborn child by abortion is indefensible.
In choosing abortion we would declare that all human life is not valuable, that discrimination is permissible; we would make ourselves the determiners of a person’s worth, and worse still, take God’s work of divine skill and destroy it—denying His wisdom and purpose in creating it (Psalm 139).
There are some things we shouldn’t be free to do—denying another person their humanity is one of them, defacing God’s artistry is another.
The Irish Constitution magnificently recognises the worth of both mother and baby—far in advance of many other countries. It is not backward, but progressive. It is God-honouring and person-exalting.
We therefore urge our churches’ members and our fellow citizens to resist the call to repeal the Eighth Amendment, and to continue to work towards a richer, better, more grace-filled society.

Please consider posting this on your Facebook page and church Website.

The Only Real Answer

All sorts of issues, including important ones like abortion, can arise throughout the generations and in our lives. Ultimately the same answer has stood firm in every circumstance and generation: Jesus Christ the Son of God.

But how do you find that answer in the religious confusion and hypocrisy of this age? Come along on Sunday to clearly hear how and to meet others whose lives have been changed by an encounter with the living God.

The Connection between Life and Light

Being for (or pro) life is a more fundamental issue than any religion. It is tied in with the very nature of God Himself.

Ending a Cripple’s Life

RTE carried two stories on Morning Ireland at about 0845 today and yesterday. Both spoke about fatal fetal abnormality, one was supporting the repeal the 8th side, the other was supporting the movement to keep the 8th amendment. Both woman’s testimonies stressed how difficult the situation was. However it seemed clear from the interviews that the person who opted to go to the UK to get her baby terminated had had a more distressing time than the person who decided to let God take the child in His time. It also didn’t seem to be the case that had she been allowed to do the same thing in Ireland that she would have found the experience much easier. Notwithstanding individual cases like these in which an interview on a radio station for 5 minutes gives no one a real insight into the trauma of it all, it does seem to me that there is a principle in action here: God is the only one who has a right to take an innocent life for He knows what He is doing and where the person will be going afterwards. When we play God we put ourselves in a position we were not designed for and add considerably to our grief. In cases of fatal fetal abnormality I cannot see any justification for allowing abortion at any stage of the pregnancy unless the mother’s life is in danger (which is covered in the present legal regime). It seems much better to allow the life involved to take its (i.e. God’s) course. What do you think?

Edge Cases

One of the things I dislike most about the current abortion debate is the way it pushes people into “us and them” camps.  It’s as if there was no one in the middle contemplating the very real difficulties that any law based argument brings up.  Since I have taken a very “pro-life” stance on this question I seem to be on the receiving end of only one side of the argument.  It comes as a relief to hear the other side sometimes.

I have taken a firm stance on this issue because we are talking about changing a very significant aspect of our constitution: the spelled-out right to life of an unborn child.  Anything that I am about to say does not change my position on this: I believe that the best thing to do is to keep the 8th Amendment in the constitution for the many reasons I have articulated in other posts on this issue.

However laws cannot legislate for all aspects of life and, on their own, are a very poor basis for conducting civil society, even if, for no other reason than they are just writings and open to interpretation.

The bible has this to say about the letter of the law: “It kills” (2 Cor. 3:6).  There has to be a spirit behind the law, a spirit that informs how people interpret the law.  If there is no spirit there is no life in the law.

The way this works itself out in most civil society is in the people who interpret the law, i.e. the judges and the legal profession mainly but also anyone who has to work with the laws such as doctors and others in the medical profession.  As a Christian I could wish that the Holy Spirit informed more of the decisions of these people.

However, I am not a doctor nor do I work in the medical profession.  I have been in court many times as part of my expert witness work so I am more familiar with the workings of the legal profession.  But I am not a lawyer nor a legal judge.

I have noticed that my doctor friends have by and large stayed quiet on this issue.  They have had to face the reality of the circumstances of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, the real flesh and blood behind the situations women find themselves in.  I think they are less inclined to be black and white about the issues as a result.

And there are some very difficult edge cases that black and white letter of the law approaches cannot legislate for.  For instance, if we say that life begins as soon as life is conceived then even the morning after pill should be banned.  What about IVF?  There are often several fertilised eggs which are not implanted in the womb.  They all have the potential for life.  Should we make every effort to ensure they are all brought to full term?

Then there are the difficult cases where the mother’s life isn’t necessarily in danger but her ongoing health is.

Finally, there is the fact that abortions are going to happen whether we legislate against them or not.  By making abortion illegal under many circumstances we increase the risk to those women who do decide to go ahead and have an abortion anyway.

In a way, saying we have clear answers to all these questions is also playing God.  You are welcome to your opinion, as am I, but in the end we had better be prepared to put our actions where are words are for those who face realities we may never have to.  It is easy for me to talk, I don’t have to judge in an “X” case or counsel a woman who may be seriously injured as a result of carrying a child full term.

God bless those working in the medical and legal professions.  May we have more of you who are led by the Holy Spirit.

But I’m still going to vote to keep the 8th Amendment.  For what it is worth, on balance, I think you should too.

Biblical Creativity Day 4: Sun, Moon and Stars

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,

It is the glory of kings to find it out.

Proverbs 25:2.

Of all the things mankind has done over the last few decades, the joy of finding out new things through space exploration and technology is, for me, something that gives us all a glimpse of the glory of God shining through the darkness of man’s moral decisions.

Since time immemorial the human race has stared at the stars looking for signs. One of the things the bible says about the Sun, Moon and stars that were created on the 4th day is that they would be used as signs.  We use them to determine years, months and days and set our clocks by them.

However when it comes to being signs in a broader sense there are two theories that I particularly like.

The first of these is more speculative and less verifiable than the second.  However I think it has enough support to justify a closer look by those who might be interested.  There are at least two books written by two different authors within a year of each other back in 1892/93 which go into the details.  The idea is that before Moses wrote the first five books of the bible, God had written the gospel in the stars and explained it to Adam who then passed it on to his descendants.

The first of these books is called: THE GOSPEL IN THE STARS by JOSEPH. A. SEISS (1892).  I haven’t read this one but I like the way it starts out.  The second book is called: The Witness of the Stars by E. W. Bullinger 1893 which I have read and found really interesting.  More recent commentators urge caution when following this line of reasoning.

The second, more easily verifiable, sign is the Bethlehem Star.  Click on the link and enjoy the science.  The reason it is easy to verify these days is because the stars and planets have always followed predictable paths through the sky.  This means you can use a computer program to predict where the stars were on any particular night any time in the past.  So when someone says that the Bethlehem Star was actually the placement of two planets (Venus and Jupiter) so close to each other in the sky that they looked like one star then you can get some off the shelf astronomy software and see for yourself.

Another fact about the stars that I really like is the deep space photos that the Hubble telescope took.  The Hubble telescope is the most powerful telescope we have ever placed in space where it can see far more than we can here below the earth’s atmosphere.  Astronomers controlling the telescope pointed it at an “empty” piece of the sky and left the shutter open.  What they saw is an astonishing amount of galaxies.  To say they weren’t expecting that is an understatement.1024px-NASA-HS201427a-HubbleUltraDeepField2014-20140603

Like most things they have found out about space, there are usually more questions than answers opened up by discoveries like this.  For instance there is no sign of a “big bang” here.

 

Biblical Creativity: Light & Life

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. (John 1:1).

John the beloved disciple or follower of Jesus was a poet.  He inter-weaved the creation account throughout the opening verses of his gospel speaking of the two main principles of creation: Light & Life.  He wrote:

“In Him was life and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not understood it.” (John 1:4,5).

According to John’s gospel, Jesus is for (or pro) life in the most fundamental way possible.  Like a pregnant woman He has life within Him.  Again, according to John, that life is intimately connected with light or understanding.  The life of Jesus gives understanding.

A few chapters later in the same gospel, Jesus ties together spiritual birth with physical life.  He says it is not enough just to be born as a human: “You must be born from above.”

The fundamental problems with our society stem from a lack of spiritual life.  The fact that so many otherwise seemingly sane people want to deny the rights of physical life to the most vulnerable members of our society can only be explained by this.  There is a darkness that comes over people’s minds when they refuse the light of Jesus’s words.

In Ireland many people have reacted vehemently against the hypocrisy of a religion which, on the one hand, promotes a pro-life campaign and, on the other, denies rights to women and covers up the abuse of children.  As a Christian with no denominational adherence I can fully understand that position.

However should we use that as a reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater?

Being for (or pro) life is a more fundamental issue than any religion.  It is tied in with the very nature of God Himself.