Thursday, April 24, 2014

Quote by Jim Carrey

I read this quote recently by Jim Carrey, "I wish everyone could get rich and famous and have everything they ever dreamed of so they would know that's not the answer." I'm not sure what Jim Carrey thinks the answer is but I suspect it would be vastly different from my answer. Nevertheless he makes a good point.

Often we think that our problems would all be solved if we had a bit more money or a bit more status or that people took a bit more notice of us. Yet when we look into the research we find that the richest people are not the happiest people on the planet, sadly they are often the most miserable. Winning the lottery does bring people the happiness they expect.

In fact, research would tell us that some of the happiest people are the poorest. Though they are poor in material goods they often rich in relationships. They feel secure in their communities, they have a sense of belonging, and they have purpose in providing for those they love.

Pursuing money is not the answer to life's problems, however, pursuing enduring relationships, particularly a relationship with God will bring a satisfaction that money can't buy.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Review : Hello Mum

Hello Mum by Bernardine Evaristo is part of the Quick Reads series. It is written as a letter from a 14 year old boy to his mother to explain the circumstances that led to a street gang stabbing in London.

Evaristo skilfully describes the relationship between a mother and her son who is desperate for acceptance, belonging and security but natively makes wrong choices to achieve these things. Interweaved into the story is the nature of street gangs, the complicated lives of single mothers and siblings with different parents. Writing the story as a letter Evaristo convincingly portrays the thought processes of a 14 year old.

In some ways it is a cautionary tale for young teenage boys that shows how quickly and badly things can go desperately wrong.

An engaging story.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Christian Writers' Conference

I am one of the coordinators for the Christian Writers' Conference. In this role I wrote an update of our preparations which can be read on the Christian Writers Downunder site: christianwritersdownunder.blogspot.com.au.

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Devotional Thought : Daniel 7:13-14

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14

I often wondered why Jesus called himself the "son of man" but reading these verses explains why. Jesus, one like a son of man, has been given authority, glory, sovereign power and is therefore God. Jesus, of course, was very familiar with these prophesies. Ezekiel, another significant Old Testament prophet, was also called "son of man." So Jesus' contemporaries should have at least recognised Jesus as God's prophet.

However the Jews constantly overlooked passages like this one in Daniel, which would indicate Jesus claim as the "son of God" had a precedent. Yet they rejected Jesus' claim quoting Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one", without realizing the Hebrew word for "one" means "cluster," like a cluster of grapes, that is one bunch. "One" indicates a compound unity.

If Jesus had called himself "Messiah" it would have suggested to the Jews he was a political ruler who was going to overthrow the Romans and this was not the picture Jesus wanted to present at this time. Even today Jews rejected the idea of Jesus being the promised Messiah because he did not bring political peace.

Jesus mission was much bigger than bringing a superficial peace, that is, an absence of war. His mission was to bring peace to people's hearts through a restored relationship with God.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Married 72 years

I was listening to a news report on a couple who had been married 72 years. The most interesting part of their story was a couple of days after they married the husband left for war service and was gone for 4½ years.

When you consider that they were married for 72 years, four and a half years apart is not a long time but I imagine at the time it must have seemed like forever. They both would have wondered if they would ever see each other again. Would they be faithful to the vows they made? Would they ever share a domestic life together?

Eventually the husband came home from war and they set up house together. Looking back now those four years must be a blur, a mere 5% of their married life, a speck in the bigger scheme.

What a difference perspective can make!

Perspective can make a big difference to our lives too. When we consider the minor frustrations and annoyances we face we need to ask is this worth getting upset about? Will it matter in 10 years time? Am I gracious enough to let go of small inconveniences?

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Book Review : One good turn

One good turn by Chris Ryan is a well written story set during World War I. Ryan's own experiences of warfare help write a believable tale of courage and cowardice. The book describes the horrors of war and the different ways people respond in the midst of atrocious. For some, it brings out the best in them and others the worse.

I was disappointed however, with the ending and therefore did not grade this book (on Goodreads) as highly as it deserved. Ryan had the opportunity to conclude the story with hope and a small triumph over the injustices of war. Instead he opted for a brutally realistic ending. Probably Ryan believes fiction should not sugar coat the cruelty of war but I can read about these cruelties in history books, in fiction I want to come away with a sense of hope which Ryan denied me.

Nevertheless it was an engaging story.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Devotional Thought : Daniel 5:29-30

Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom. That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain. Daniel 5:29-30

Daniel had already told the king that he was not interested in his gifts, "You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else" (v.17). However the king was true to his word and rewarded Daniel for interpreting the writing on the wall, even though it predicted the end of his reign.

Daniel's blessings were short lived. He was proclaimed third in the kingdom but hours later the king died, calling in to question this appointment since a foreign power took over the Babylonian kingdom. And who knows if he got to keep the purple clothes or the gold chain?

Some spend their whole lives pursuing worldly gain without considering how short term these gains can be. Daniel's promotion only lasted a matter of hours. Some pursue promotions that last years but will it be worth it?

Fortunately Daniel knew how fragile and fading earthly rewards were and was not dependant on the king's favour. He had spent most of his life in the king's service and saw the king promote and dispose of those who pleased or displeased him. Daniel knew his true reward was with God. The last recorded word to Daniel was, "You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance" (Daniel 12:13).

Likewise we have an inheritance, "you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward" (Colossians 3:24). Our inheritance is not dependant on worldly promotions and achievements but rather on our relationship with Jesus Christ.

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