Money to burn? (very brief thought!)

_77539301_86531200Some countries (like the USA) have a law banning the burning of money. One wonders why this might be an offence, which might lead to a fine or jail, especially if you subscribe to the philosophy that ‘my money is my own, to do with as I wish’ and so burning it would be entirely within your rights.

Might it be that a government does not wish for money to go ‘out of circulation’? In order for any economy to work and thrive, money must be exchanged between buyers and sellers, from employer to employee, between consumers and the providers of goods and services. Yes? It needs to flow through the pockets of society like a river flows through a city, giving life and power to everything. That makes sense to me.

So… why then would it not be an offence to take money and place it ‘offshore’? Is that not placing it ‘out of circulation’ from the society in which it was created? May as well just burn it, if you ask me!

Grace be with you.

Advertisements

The sin of Sodom will destroy this nation!

This is something I’ve blogged about before, specifically. The overall issue is one I repeat quite a lot since it’s one of my ‘hobby-horses’ i.e. something that people who know me might say I bang on about quite a lot. Guilty! I keep saying it because it seems that nobody wants to hear it these days. Now I feel even more sympathy for the Old Testament prophets, the weird bunch of misfits!

It should be safe for me to say that in God’s eyes, all sin is sin, and all that we might think are ‘righteous acts’ are to him, relatively, no more than ‘filthy rags’ – thank you, Isaiah! (64:6). God cannot bear sin in his presence, and so crafted the master plan of the atoning blood of Christ for all our sins to be covered so that he can no longer see them… A MASTER PLAN INDEED! Praise his holy name.

However, might it also be possible that certain sins or vices anger God more than others? He really did get very irate at that idolatry thing in the Old Testament, for instance, so might there be some things that we should avoid in order to placate his wrath against us? The way many preachers rant about certain things, you’d think there’s something in that! If it is true that God will judge now as he has done before (but in an age of grace that’s a HUGE debate!), then we would be wise to take note. Take just one example: Sodom (and Gomorrah – it’s often forgotten, poor city). Sodom is a byword right through the Bible for God’s judgment; prophets of the Old and writers of the New refer to it as an example of how God can expunge an entire city (sorry, two cities) in one act of divine retribution for their acts of disobedience – he reigned down fire from heaven upon them! In these references, there are differing approaches or contexts; idolatry is mentioned (e.g. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos & Deuteronomy 29), as is ‘sexual immorality and perversion’ (Jude). However, Ezekiel is particularly specific – as with most prophetic utterances, he is actually addressing Jerusalem, and comparing ‘her’ with her ‘sisters’, the other cities:

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. Samaria did not commit half the sins you did. You have done more detestable things than they, and have made your sisters seem righteous by all these things you have done. Bear your disgrace, for you have furnished some justification for your sisters. Because your sins were more vile than theirs, they appear more righteous than you. So then, be ashamed and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous.

(Ezek. 16:49-52)

So in order to be careful we do not suffer the same fate (if we truly fear it may happen), then let us enact laws and campaign for such vices to be legislated against and hinder their development. Since one of the clearest ones is greed; Ezekiel said “this was the sin…”, we need to ensure our government provides for the poor and needy, and restrains the greed of individuals. If we let them become too arrogant and unconcerned (and let’s not forget overfed i.e. gluttony), we might incur such unquenchable wrath from God.

I find it incredible that greed (and gluttony) are hardly mentioned in evangelical pulpits. Well, no, I’m not surprised – the religious right mind control police have their agendas, and they are as clear as crystal to me. There are many Biblical references to the consequences of greed, or of not looking after the poor and needy – loads, in fact, and they are very scary (look them up)! Greed is even called idolatry in the New Testament (Eph. 5:5 & Col. 3:5)! We may think that idolatry is an ‘old thing’ but it actually still pervades everything today – it is when I see people making themselves very rich from “the preaching of the gospel” that I get irate myself and think of ‘the moneychangers at the Temple’, which is the only time we read in the gospels that our Lord Jesus let his anger get physical! Divine wrath indeed!!

But take heart, Ezekiel goes on to tell us in the rest of that chapter that God will restore the fortunes of Sodom (and Samaria), once the sin of his own people has been exposed and they are contrite and repentant for the worse things that they have done (and they – sorry, we – shall be restored too), and he foretells of the new covenant he will make for us. Praise him for his grace!

Let us repent of such things, and help ‘restore Sodom’s fortunes’ by showing the way of that new covenant.

Grace be with you.

50 shades of greed

greed1024x768I have always called for an even approach to sin. We need to define just what sin is (well, it’s the chapter I’m working through on my book right now, so maybe it’s just me!). Then once we have established that, we need an even-handed approach by not suggesting that any one sin is any worse in God’s eyes than another. I truly believe the 21st century church is guilty of such unevenness, and maybe the most prevalent example is the zero attention to greed.

I’ll not take the time here to outline all the Bible verses where it is condemned alongside the other ones we always hear decried from pulpits, like drunkenness, adultery, deceit, lust, nor do we hear the greedy person condemned alongside the sexually immoral or the slanderer, yet this is exactly what I read in my Bible! Here’s just one example:

For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Eph. 5:5)

Did you notice that little hidden word there? Greedy! Just that it’s not exactly hidden, is it? Some preachers, who may be millionaires themselves, and are telling their congregations that they too can become millionaires just by faith in God, seem to miss it when they read from their Bibles to proclaim their truth. And I have never come across it as a sermon topic!

8103018019_e3eb272a7b

 

“This is my truth, tell me yours.”

 – Aneurin Bevan.

 

Problem is that we all have a truth that is ours alone, and we all like to find the scripture that fits that personal ‘truth’ and ignore the others. I have yet to meet anyone who genuinely does not do this – it is a human trait and is practically impossible to throw off and be 100% subjective. However, when faced with an overwhelming amount of scripture that repeats the same thing, we must allow it to shape our truth, must we not?

Recently much of our media attention has been directed at a book & film that just should not have amassed an overnight fortune for its author, since it is so badly written (from practically every review that has been written about it). I am not fuming jealousy at the idea of a bad writer getting all the money… no, maybe I am, if I’m honest enough; if this book of mine only makes one percent of what that book/film made, I could retire a very contented man! Nor am I accusing the author of greed – she could not have known just how much she would make from a piece of sleazy chick lit, and I am sure she must have some idea that she is no Shakespeare! It wasn’t her fault that our media moguls fawned all over it, and Holywood came calling! Reports are that it has outstripped even Harry Potter in book sales and film revenues!! Whatever you may think of the Harry Potter stories, very few would try to say that JK Rowling is a bad writer!

50ShadesofGreyCoverArtIf you’re still not sure which book I am referring to, it’s ’50 Shades of Grey’. Did you not even see my title? Now this is a book I have never set eyes upon, nor do I wish to, and I have no desire to see any more of the film than has been shown in trailers. Fortunately, a brave female fellow Christian blogger has read and watched it, just to be able to critique it properly, so I’ll take her word for it. She’s a good blogger and writer and I have no reason to challenge her opinion (and it is refreshing for once to not find a Christian voice condemning something without actually having looked themselves!).

 

JamieBlogHeader

Here it is if you wish to read it:

A Missionary’s Position on 50 Shades of Grey.

The basic conclusion is interesting; this is a book about a stalker! Had anybody else acted as creepily obsessive over the woman in the story as Mr. Grey, they would have had an exclusion order slapped on them! It is just bad, for our 21st century emancipated women – the poor woman in the book is the pawn of a control freak! Just why and how does the male protagonist get away with his behaviour? Because he’s a handsome billionaire!! He’s such a great man, so successful, so wealthy, so revered by society, he just couldn’t really be a nasty criminal type, or any sort of mentally ill wacko! Surely not! However, that is the problem: with everyone falling over themselves to promote this work of crass sordidness, and throw their investment money at it, is it any real wonder when it is billionaires who are the ones who like what the book is stating?

Can I be allowed to cast a stone? While I am trying to promote a ‘condemn the sin, not the sinner’ attitude, there are times when it becomes pretty clear that a stone or five could be chucked. For instance, were I to meet a man who had cheated on his wife about half a dozen times, I would be justified to say “you’re an adulterer!” No? Really? I would try to understand just why they would come to behave in such a way, if I could, and offer counsel if asked, but I should be safe to say; they are an adulterer! Likewise, I think I should be entitled to say to a billionaire “you’re a greedy person!” The aforementioned JK Rowling was a billionaire, but she has now given most of it away! If such wealth is such a burden, as some of them try to make us believe, then let us relieve them of some of that burden… please!

We have got to stop revering greedy people, as a church of followers of Jesus: He, as our example, had “no place to lay his head.” (Matt. 8:20). We are called to “not conform to the pattern of the world” (Rom. 12:2), so let us renew our minds and recognise sin where it lies and be the example of ‘betterness’ – just as we should not be sexually immoral, so we should not be greedy.

“But,” you may object, “this is just a work of fiction, that’s not true in the real world! Billionaires are not given any more respect than the rest of us. They don’t have any real higher ‘status’!”

Really? My reply to that is that you’re living in cloud cuckoo land! A judge once said “the rich get justice, the poor get the law” since they can always afford the best lawyers. If you have enough money, you can get one of them to go through your arrest report for drunk-driving and search for the smallest mistake that can see you avoid court! Still not convinced that there is a culture of reverence for the rich and famous? Why was it that many called for Paris Hilton to not be sent to prison for a crime she committed? Is that just stupid uneducated people? No, it occurs in the well-educated judiciary too: Read this news report and then come back to me and try to say we don’t have a major cultural problem that the church is failing to address!

1396212401000-wildc5-6ehdlb201ybix4mc8ky-originalI am not saying in any way that all super-rich people are like this lowlife, but I am saying that we have allowed ourselves to disassociate greed from any taint of sin or wrongdoing and have in fact allowed people who suffer from this sin to not only go unchecked but to be exonerated in churches as much as they are in society.

Grace be with you.

Sympathy for the Devil

Yeah, I know! The Rolling Stones beat me to that title by a lifetime! I was originally going to title this “I think Satan gets a bum deal!” but something about that didn’t feel right.

Why do I think that? Well, he gets blamed for many things that have nothing or very little to do with him!

My son came to me with a video he came across about Satanic symbolism recently found… on an energy drink can! YES! I could not help but laugh, but not at him… I’ve been ‘around the block’ and seen it all… Proctor & Gamble… The Care Bears… Cabbage Patch Dolls… SpongeBob… Harry Potter… and that’s just off the top of my head! And who of our generation could ever forget backward masking? Though I did know a guy who turned his vinyl record player backwards by hand, and he did hear a message: “You are ruining your stylus!!

[For the younger generation: vinyl records were flat disks that rotated slowly and the stylus was the needle that ‘read’ the ‘memory’ on them.]

Ozzy Osbourne: The Prince of Darkness!! Huh? Have you seen his reality show? These promotions of the ‘dark side’ and the rebellious spirit that goes with it, flipping two fingers to the ‘establishment’ is just that – promotions! Marketing promotions aimed at a demographic, usually the younger generation. And such subtle (or not so subtle) images and ideas do work in advertising or else they’d be dropped.

Satan is showing forth his power over the world by getting his wee symbols on marketed products, yeah! And real witchcraft looks exactly like JK Rowling portrayed it in Hogwarts!

If you wish to go looking for symbols, it ain’t that hard. Only today I noticed one; if you have the new Candy Crush Soda game on your phone, look down at the lower left corner on the home screen – if you’re heavily into ‘Zionist conspiracy’ you’ll latch onto that one! No, I don’t see evil in these markings any more than I could hear ‘Hail Satan’ in “tsud eht siteb eno rehtona” or any other ‘wop woo ebb wah nyek’ sounding recording that those guys kept playing until I was supposed to say “Oh, I hear it now!” just to make them go on to the next church youth group!

Where do I see evil then? Where might the influence of the Devil be found? I see it in individuals and corporations who have ludicrous amounts of money yet spend half their life trying to avoid paying tax on their fortunes (which Jesus unequivocally commanded us!). I see it in politicians who care not one jot for the poor. I hear it when Bob Geldof swears, but not in those expletives: in the incredulity he has at how little major nations are giving to help beat the scourge of ebola! I see it in the relative apathy shown by our press at atrocities in our world when there’s a better headline about The X Factor or Big Brother – it’s only when there’s little to report on celebrities or wannabes that real news takes centre stage. And I also see the evil in wanting to promote bad news above even the slightest good thing that might be happening out there. No wonder Christians today think “it’s all getting worse!”

Now there is something to address: how much of this ‘evil’ is within our churches too? How many preachers promote forms of politics or certain politicians whose record may not be squeaky clean? Right away, I find myself reflective, and is that not how we are meant to be? Recognising the sin within ourselves? If I’m brutally honest, that greed that is so apparent in the billionaire is present in me too. Who would turn their nose up at inheriting a good amount of cash? The apathy that I decry is also right there when I find myself switching the TV channel over from pictures of suffering to see that comedy show.

What exactly is Satan’s role in the universe? What is his ‘job’? His aim? Is it not to ‘deceive the elect’? How did he tempt Eve in Eden? Was it not by saying that she could become greater than what God planned for her? He tempted her to take pride in herself, in her ability to decide between good and evil, and to find pleasure in being able to judge others. It is actually in that recognition of his intentions, that his aim is to get us to look at others’ sins and failings and not our own faults, that we can defeat him. If he wants us to be blind to our own limitations and our need for Jesus and his forgiveness, then surely each of us seeking to change ourselves first and foremost is the most efficient way to defeat him? I shall repeat myself again: Revival is never about them, it’s always about you!

On second thoughts… all those things that Christians love to find and point out, out in the world that show the extent of Satanic influence, all those symbols and children’s shows and pop songs, maybe they are actually his ploys! Carry on as you were…

Grace be with you.

 

P.S. Here’s a wee poem what I wrote as a younger me, many moons ago (forgive the limited blog formatting, please):

DARKNESS

When the darkness falls

The moon has gone

And the stars behind the clouds are hid,

The angel calls

My spirit on

And my anxious fears to death are bid

But will I stand

Against the tide?

Will courage fail me at the test?

Or fate demand

That flight will bide

And put my skittish soul to rest?

 

How can I know

If I’ll be strong

Before the day of judgement dawns.

Time will show

If I am wrong

To think I’m king among the pawns.

Through trying times

I’ll have to learn

To learn from every trial I face

And face my crimes,

Those crimes that churn

Within my darkest, hidden place.

 

The greatest voyage,

It is said,

Has to start with the first step.

But this wise adage

Has conveyed

A truth which in our minds has slept.

To beat the rise

Of evil

In everything I see

I must surprise

The Devil

By seeing the sin in me.

 

Shanky’s Hollow, Mourne Mountains

25/8/95

Who can we blame for ebola?

I’m waiting for the conspiracy theories about how ebola has been manufactured by some sinister supra-government organisation at the behest of the Illuminati. Somebody is bound to offer ‘evidence’ for it. However, while we may all just see this as a new virus that has appeared in nature, we need to ask just why it is spreading right now with little action having been taken against it, especially considering it first appeared forty years ago!

I refuse to join in the media circus of fear that looks like keeping us housebound for the next year or so until this blows over in case we contract a disease that for now looks like it might take the lives of a few dozen people here who have been to West Africa. Unless it really does get worse – there have been many scares of this type over my lifetime.

No, the question remains: why have we not tackled the disease up until now? Why are we now instigating lockdowns and quarantines after ‘the horse has bolted’ from its African paddock? Forty years could well have seen the development of treatments and vaccines, surely. A BBC news report admitted the truth, rather softly, that “big pharmaceutical companies have not seen a market for such treatments!” In other words, they take the position that “those poor black Africans couldn’t afford the costs we would have to charge for our R&D and production.” Much rather pour billions into treatments for chlamydia and the development of viagra – that’s where the money lies. At what point do we actually take on board this 2000-year old axiom: “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1Tim. 6:10)?

For me, our current crisis is squarely at the foot of capitalism. These companies never think of a need for cures, nor do they have a passion for research or for saving lives; no, the market is their mantra, the god they serve!

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matt. 6:24)

Such development should be done by our governments, you say? Well then, let’s stop slashing budgets and stop listening, yet again, to these capitalists who detest paying their fair share of taxes. Many experts are stating that independent research has been severely underfunded for decades:

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/10/nih-director-wed-have-an-ebola-vaccine-by-now-if-not-for-budget-cuts/

Grace be with you.

History repeats itself /or/ So you want to vote UKIP?

History repeats itself

 

History repeats itself.
Has to.
Nobody listens.

– Steve Turner

[And now a bit more explanation for those not politically aware enough to fully understand the above]

Between the wars:

Mosley was the leader of the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s, a friend and ally of Hitler and Mussolini.

In 1928, the top 1% of earners in the US (with similar figures in other parts of the world) took 23% of the nation’s income. This was a peak. Banks had been given a ‘laissez-faire’ attitude by governments, to allow them to ‘generate wealth’.

In 1929, The Wall Street Crash occurred, sending world markets into a downward spiral. Our grandparents never trusted banks or bankers again.

In Germany, Hitler managed to blame a lot of the condition they found themselves in on Germany capitulating to the wishes of the rest of Europe after WWI, and of course, the Jews.

[Many Jews had been involved in banking: simple reason – pre-reformation, the Christian church did not allow usury, or banking interest, to be charged between fellow Christians. This was an Old Testament law not to lend to compatriots, BUT Jews in Europe could fill this niche market and lend money to Christians, all and sundry, and funded kings and emperors in their warfaring and campaigning. Many pogroms against Jews were simply to oust the bankers from a country before the country’s ruler or government had to pay back their loans. Anti-Semitism, while truly abhorrent racism, is based upon the resentment of debtors towards their lenders. It became institutionalised due to the biggest debtors being the rulers!]

The vast majority of Jews were not in banking, but why just blame a few people when you can blame the lot of them?

The 21st century:

Farage is the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), a ‘single-platform’ party that claims leaving the EU will solve practically all of the UK’s problems.

In 2007, the top 1% of earners in the US (with similar figures in other parts of the world) took 23% of the nation’s income. This was another peak. Banks had been given a ‘laissez-faire’ attitude by governments, to allow them to ‘generate wealth’.

In 2008, The ‘Great Financial Crisis’ Crash occurred, sending world markets into a downward spiral. Maybe we should never trust banks or bankers again? This time around, though, they are still in control of governments and calling the shots, with many of our politicians just too scared to act against them. Some of them are so big now, compared to the many small banks in the 20s, that it was considered unwise to let them collapse. Taxpayer’s money was used to bail them out.

Now, Farage manages to blame all of the condition we find ourselves in, on the UK capitulating to the wishes of the rest of Europe, and of course, the immigrants. The fact that many of the cultural problems (and the perceived economic problems) are raised by immigrants with a different culture and/or religion who do not hail from Europe but from all the parts of the British Commonwealth means nothing to Farage – he’ll just go on blaming Europe and the immigrants for our woes until he can get enough people to take him seriously.

Just like Hitler garnered the will and emotions of the German people against the Jews… Farage wishes to emulate that ‘success’ with a new scapegoat.

This could end up with the same ‘solution’ to our problems with ‘Muslims’ and ‘immigration’ as Hitler enacted for his problems with the Jews. No way, you say? There are even ‘evangelical Christians’ advocating it!:

http://defendchristians.org/commentary/im-islamaphobic-are-you/

Grace be with you.

Clause 99, Catch 22 and Penning is telling lies.

Sorry to say that even I was unaware of these changes, and I count myself well-informed.

Politics and Insights

385294_195107567306966_1850351962_n
The Government are claiming victory because of a fall in the number of benefit tribunal hearings. Today, the Express boasts:
A HUGE drop in the number of people appealing against benefit decisions at tribunal hearings was yesterday hailed as a victory for the Government’s reforms.”
Actually, it’s a victory for the Government’s tyranny.
There were 32,546 tribunal cases between January and March this year, compared to 155,000 in the same period of 2013.
“Official figures” reveal an 89 per cent fall in people contesting the decisions to cut, deny or restrict Employment Support Allowance (ESA), long-term sickness and disability benefits.
Tribunals contesting Jobseeker’s Allowance decisions also fell 70 per cent this year.
Disability minister Mike Penning said: “Fewer appeals going to tribunal is welcome. Getting more decisions right first time avoids the need for protracted tribunal appeals.”
Under the Department for Work and Pensions reforms officials look…

View original post 965 more words