Saturday, 15 October 2016

Nelson's Rules

Rule 1: Never betray a friend, even if they betray you.
Rule 2: There are always opportunities to be kind.
Rule 3: Keep your mobile charged. Always keep it on you.
Rule 4: Be there if a friend needs you.
Rule 5: Big up the positive.
Rule 6: Always be ready to say your sorry.
Rule 7: Never lie. The truth is easier to remember.
Rule 8: Do not trust rumours and gossip. Check your facts.
Rule 9: Always carry pen and paper.
Rule 10: Courtesy is the oil of civilisation. Open doors, give way.
Rule 11: Always have your keys on the same side of the door as you
Rule 12: Always show respect to people, even if they don't deserve it.
Rule 13: Be merciful to other people. One day you might need mercy yourself.
Rule 14: Be the first to laugh at yourself.
Rule 15: Do not assume anything about anyone. Make sure.
Rule 16: Do not gossip or spread rumours.
Rule 17: Do not trust the internet for facts without checking.
Rule 18: Do not worry about looking like a fool.
Rule 19: Don't be offended where no offence is intended.
Rule 20: Don't get upset by insults or bad behaviour. Being upset reduces your control.
Rule 21: Don't judge a person until you understand them.
Rule 22: Don't take yourself too seriously.
Rule 23: Everybody makes mistakes. Live with it.
Rule 24: Get it in writing.
Rule 25: If someone hurts you, try not to take it personal. They may be in pain and you may be just a handy target.
Rule 26: Let people underestimate you. It puts them off their guard.
Rule 27: Never boast. Past victories do not guarantee future ones.
Rule 28: Ask for help when you need it.
Rule 29: Never make threats. You give too much warning.
Rule 30: Preparation is the key to success.
Rule 31: Save your anger for when you need it. Don't waste it on the small stuff.
Rule 32: Always give a person the benefit of the doubt, but take precautions anyway.

Rule 33: Truth is like a sword. It can set someone free or hurt them. Speak truth, but be gentle.
Rule 34: Take responsibility for your life. Do not blame others for your own mistakes.
Rule 35: Do not try to change other people. Change how you respond.
Rule 36: Do not provoke anger in other people. Especially, do not then blame them if they react afterwards.
Rule 37: Do not try to make other people look foolish. A cheap laugh is not worth being a dick.
Rule 38: Do not fear the worst outcome whilst the best is also possible.
Rule 45: Clean up your own mess.

*** Not the final version ***

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Sex, Gender, and Sexuality

Sex (physical)
Exclusively male sex organs
This includes true hermaphrodites, people with hyperandrogenism and other variations.
Exclusively female sex organs

This is different to sex. It is how a person perceives themselves.
Third Gender
Person perceives themselves to be male
Person perceives themselves to be without gender.
Person perceives themselves to be gender neutral
Person has a gender identity that is neither male or female.
Person perceives themselves to be female

Sex/Gender Relationship
Gender corresponds to sex
Person perceives themselves to be partially male or partially female.
Person perceives themselves to be several genders at once.
Person perceives themselves to be different genders at different times.
Person perceives themselves to be a gender that does not correspond to their sex. Identified by gender, not sex.

Attracted to males
Person does not experience attraction of any kind
Attracted to more than one sex/gender. *Biphile
*Panphyle *Omniphile
Attracted to transgender people.
Attracted to females

Degrees of Attraction
No Attraction

Appreciates appearance
Friendship only. Maybe as with brothers and sisters

Physical, but not sexual

Above normal sexual attraction

Attraction Fluidity
Does not experience attraction
Degree of attraction increases over time
Degree of attraction decreases over time
Experiences sexual attraction

The differentiation below applies to all levels of attraction, so a romantic may, for instance, be heteromantic in the same way that a sexual may be heterosexual.
Person is attracted to people of opposite sex/gender
Person does not experience attraction
Person is attracted to people of the same sex/gender

These are examples from the vogue community and other sources
Any person expressing ambiguous gender
Homosexual female expressing in a masculine way
Butch Queen
Homosexual man expressing as female
Drag King
Heterosexual woman expressing as male
Drag Queen
Heterosexual man expressing as female
Heterosexual woman expressing as female
Feminine Gay
Homosexual man expressing in a feminine way
Femme Queen
Transsexual woman expressing as female
Gay Bear
Homosexual man expressing in a masculine way
Lipstick Lesbian
Homosexual female expressing in a feminine way
Heterosexual male expressing as male
Masculine Gay
Homosexual man expressing in a masculine way

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Adult Colouring Books, Mandalas and Christians

I have seen a number of blogs warning about the fact that many adult colouring books depict mandalas. These are “spiritual and ritual symbol in Indian religions, representing the universe.  In common use, mandala has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe.” (Wikipedia).

These blogs warn that the act of colouring these in can put the Christian in a meditative state in which they are receptive to demonic influence.

There is some truth in this. Before becoming a Christian in 1978, my background was the Occult and Psychic Phenomena. Part of this included the use of complex patterns, sigils, and black mirrors in order to form a psychic conduit.

Now I am not claiming to be some kind of demon buster, ghost hunter exorcist, I have gained some knowledge from my attempts to understand my own experiences.

You can put most of what I have to say, now, as opinion and no more. That is fair. However, they may provide some insights for you to come to your own conclusions.
It seems to me that we have two channels that connect us to spiritual forces; Faith and Fear.
It is the faith channel that allows God to reach us, and activates many of the Spiritual Gifts. For instance, you cannot heal someone unless your faith tells you that you can. Also, faith allowed some objects to be used in miracles.
The fear channel is the conduit used by divination and superstition. It can cause a person to be enslaved to supernatural forces.  The fear channel is also involved when demons are attracted to a person experiencing extreme emotion, especially negative emotion.
There is also a negative version of the faith channel, which allows a person or entity to subvert another person's will. Some drugs can induce this, so can some people using techniques based on glama, where the mind is so confused it becomes suggestible (Used by conmen, some hard salesmen, cult recruiters and so on). Hypnosis and some meditation techniques can also do this. The person becomes susceptible to who (or what) they have surrendered to.
So, how do these apply to colouring books and mandalas? If they do put the person in a susceptible state, the negative faith applies. However, the fear channel may also apply.
Over the years, I have encountered people and situations where demons have (or seemed to have - not everything that seems demonic is demonic) used record covers, stains on the wall, strange smells and countless other media. To a susceptible mind, anything can be a channel.
So, what form does this demonic attack take?
Actual possession is very rare. The usual consequence is known as demonisation. In fact, this is going on all the time to everyone.
The Bible tells us that demons are fallen angels. There are many categories of angels, but the vast majority are messengers (the meaning of angel). They carry out this function by planting thoughts and images in our minds. They also cause emotion-laden dramas to play out in our heads.
This is our spiritual battlefield - our own minds. This is where we encounter the enemy, equipped with the Armour of God. This is where we use our Spiritual weaponry.
If you want to see the truth if this, consider your thoughts. Where did they come from? You could put it down to the subconscious, but what, exactly, is the subconscious, and how does it seem to come up with notions, thoughts and ideas that our conscious mind does not?
So, what is a Christian to do?
Firstly, close that fear channel. He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world. God holds the Universe in His Hand, yet is aware of every hair on your head. Demons are less than bacteria before Him.
Do not give Satan credit for every problem. Sometimes what you perceive as a problem is an opportunity for God to be glorified in your life.
Second, live a consecrated life. Everything you have and are is part of God's plan for you. His desire is that you have an abundant and fulfilled life. Tell God to do what He wants in your life. Ask Him to cause you to speak and act according to His Will (Jesus had to do this, how much more so us?). Ask Him to destroy anything in you that resists or opposes His Will. This is acknowledging that we are not our own, but bought with a price. It is also acknowledging that God designed and created us for this specific time and place, for His Glory and Purpose.
Third, realise that God is the only one who knows you and what you are capable of. Letting Him have His way will allow you to find out what your life is about than stumbling blindly through life or trusting self-styled experts.
Fourth, realise you are now in a position of power. The Bible says that, if you submit to God and resist the devil, he will flee from you. Take authority over your thoughts, especially the dramas (replaying old hurts or future encounters).
Finally, be aware of how the enemy attacks, but do not be fearful (equally, do not be arrogant about them). Realise the protection, power, and authority that God gives you. Do not expose yourself needlessly to possible channels of attack, but do not fear them either.  In all things, God makes you more than a champion.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

God's Masterpieces

When we are born, we are what we are. We did not choose our colour, race, or anything else. We have nothing to be proud of or ashamed of.

In a metaphorical sense, the Apostle Paul talks about one man sowing, another reaping, but God bringing the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). Similarly for humans, once conception has occurred, what happens next is in God's hands. God said He knew Jeremiah before He formed him in his mother's womb. In Psalm 139, the Psalmist says "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,  I know that full well."

Let me state here and now, I do not know the mind of God. I do not know why some pregnancies fail, or why babies are still-born, or have some condition or other. I do know that many babies with special needs have caused their parents to grow in all kinds of ways as they provide a loving and caring environment for their child. I do know that many people, born differently to others, have gone on to lead amazing and fulfilling lives.

The thing is, when we are born, we do not come with a handbook for our parents to follow. We are all unique, with unique needs, and unique abilities. There are no real experts to turn to. After all, what qualifies them as experts? How many children must a person raise to have the expertise to advise other parents?

What we do have is potential, but we do not know what this will be for. Some people are fortunate, and, very early in their life, they find something that fully engages their abilities. Others spend a lifetime looking and failing.

We are guided and changed by our families, our education, local culture and conditions. We may increase in knowledge and understanding, and learn what is right and what is wrong. The problem is that all this is coloured by tradition, opinion and prejudice. Instead of allowing us to find our place in life, that path may be cut off from us.

It does not matter how much we know, much of our knowledge is incomplete, imperfect, or just plain wrong. Our wisdom, similarly, is also flawed. There is so much more that we do not understand than we do. And our goodness, our righteousness, is also imperfect, because it is tarnished by selfishness, pride and other things. There is no-one truly good in this world.

Because we are so flawed, we do not have the ability to guide ourselves through life, let alone anyone else. we do not even know what will happen to us five minutes into the future. We do not know the consequences of what we say and do before they happen.

There is only one Person who truly knows us, and that is God. He designed and created us for a reason, and those reasons are His alone. He knows the heart of every person, and the future is as clear as the present to Him. It follows, then, that He is the only One able to guide us.

Now, Romans 9 says that God makes some people "objects of mercy" and others "objects of wrath". Only God knows who and why. The point is that those of us that choose to follow God do so only because He chose us to receive that ability, that grace. There are others who can never make that choice. Jesus said that only His sheep would hear His voice.

God provides us with the Holy Spirit. It is as if He plants a piece of Himself in us. To see how this helps us, you have to look at the life of Jesus Himself.  He put aside His human knowledge, wisdom and righteousness, and allowed God to speak and act through Him, guiding His every step.

The Apostle Paul reckoned all of his human qualities as rubbish, choosing to live subject to God's Will, just as Jesus did.

This does not make us puppets. We still have free will, but it is making a connection which gives us access to God's knowledge, wisdom and righteousness. Our lives, guided by Him, become a journey of joy and abundance. We will discover our fullest potential. Our lives will achieve their greatest fulfilment. We will be the people we were designed and created to be.

God promises that all things we experience under His guidance will be to our good.  If we let Him, He can override our human shortcomings with divine power, enabling us to do and say exactly the right things for the circumstances we are in, and to allow us to bring encouragement, healing, and freedom to others.

There is another side to this. What I have said above applies to all believers. Everyone who follows Christ was chosen by God. They were designed and created by God for His purposes, known only to Him.

This means that, if we judge another believer, we are judging God. It does not matter what colour, race, gender, sexual orientation, height, weight, level of education, physical or mental characteristics. If a person is a believer, they are chosen by God, and it is up to God to guide them into the life He has planned for them.

So, accept yourself as God's Masterpiece. Trust that He has a perfect plan for you, if you let Him guide you, and accept that the same is true for every other believer. They are all God's Masterpieces, and we must see them like this.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Zing Zang Zoonie

Courtesy The Gold Guys

Some people want, or so they claim
A life of international fame.
In music, sports, or TV screen
They smile, they wave, they pose and preen
When everybody knows their face
No privacy, no hiding place
They get their fame and then they try
In vain to shun the public eye.

Zing Zang Zoonie,
Life's a little loonie

Some want wealth, for a life that's high
A million or so to just get by
They have their jet, their cars, their yacht
Their houses, their servants, they've got the lot
But they fear to lose what they have earned
To thieves and tricksters and they've learned
To mistrust money grabbing friends
The paranoia never ends.

Zing Zang Zoonie,
Life's a little loonie

Others want to be the best
They work, they strive to beat the rest
They study and practice day and night
Always trying to get it right
Bur family and friends are left aside
For the sake of ambition and pride
So they claim the prize so dear
But have no-one to applaud or cheer

Zing Zang Zoonie,
Life's a little loonie

Power, for some, is life's goal
In government or business, they'd sell their soul
To be obeyed without a word
Their will be done. It’s so absurd
For every power there’s an assassin
With camera, gun or accusation
They fear and fret that somewhere lurks
The one to knock them off their perch

Zing Zang Zoonie,
Life's a little loonie

Then there are those who want the best physique
They nip and tuck and cut and tweak
That nose, those ears, those thighs, that chest
They spend their money to look their best
The smallest blemish is what they fear
But wrinkles and sags will always appear
For age and health cannot be cheated
And so their beauty is depleted

Zing Zang Zoonie,
Life's a little loonie

But then there’s the few who only strive
For what they need to survive and thrive
Enough money to pay their bills
Friends that stay true through good and ill
They are content to have enough
Without sparkly shiny stuff
Happiness is their only desire
And, for these folk, that’s theirs to acquire

Zing Zang Zoonie,
Life's a little loonie

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Wanted: Good Leadership

World War Two was over, the Korean War was over, and America was still fighting in Vietnam. There were new movements among the youth, who saw their parents way of life as a failure. Some saw Jesus as a revolutionary, bringing His message of peace and love - the opposite of what could be seen in the world.

The Charismatic Movement started and grew. Young people, unschooled in the ways of the established church, were a challenge. The churches wanted to capture this enthusiasm, but educate the new attendees in church teaching and behaviour.

One of the responses to this was the Discipleship, or Shepherding Movement. It promised an organised way for new converts to come into a structure of accountability and authority. Every person would be responsible to a Shepherd, who would teach and guide them. The Shepherd, himself, would be responsible to their own Shepherd, and so this formed a pyramid with the founders at the top.

Sheep would have to refer every decision - employment, finance, relationships - to their Shepherd for approval. Some Shepherds took advantage of their power, and many lives were ruined. I recommend Steven Lambert's book, Charismatic Captivation, for more information.

Although the Shepherding Movement as it was is largely discredited (one founder, Bob Mumford, publicly repented of his part in the movement), it still casts its shadow over the church today in the form of damaged Sheep and leaders who use non-Christian forms of manipulation and control over those they are responsible for.

So, what should we look for in a Christian leader? How do we tell the good from the bad?

The New Testament is not short of examples and instructions on who should be made leaders, and how those leaders should behave.

First of all, a Christian leader must be a servant as Jesus was. He should prove this in how he serves his wife and family. He should be prepared to do whatever it takes, whatever needs to be sacrificed, for the sake of those that look to him for leadership. The response of these people will be obedience, because they know beyond doubt that their leader will always be there for them when they need him. If a person cannot do this, they should never be considered for leadership.

The reverse of this is also true. Jesus made it clear that a Christian leader is not to be like a worldly leader. A person who insists on being treated with deference and respect, who maintains authority by bullying, threats and manipulation, who engages in gossip, false accusations, condemnation and name calling, has no place in church leadership. A person who "tries to toughen" people by abusing them should never be given a position of authority in the church.

Secondly, the role of Pastor is clear. Pastor simply means Shepherd, but the picture of a shepherd in the Bible is completely different to that depicted in the Shepherding Movement. In the Middle East, the shepherd led his sheep. They followed because they trusted him.  They trusted in his love and protection. Whenever a sheep got into trouble, the shepherd went to find and rescue it. He would get the sheep free from thorns, ravines, swamps and wild beasts, even to the cost of his own life. If a man does not show this kind of love to the people he is responsible for, he should not be called a Pastor.

A Pastor (Shepherd) does not leave his flock to resolve their own problems. He is active in making sure they have all they need, providing whatever help he can. He will contact or visit those that have not been around. He will go to them if they are in hospital or in prison. He will never desert them. Never leave them to fend for themselves. Always be there when they need him. Just like the shepherd is for his flock.

A Christian teacher must be on the path of Christlikeness and holiness. If he cannot show these qualities in his life, how can he teach them to others?

The same goes for the Fruit of the Spirit. These are evidence of an ongoing relationship with God. If a person does not have this, if their lives do not show love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, patience, humility and self-control, then they do not have this relationship with God. If this is the case, they cannot be a Christian leader.

As leaders, make sure you are serving those you are responsible for in the way Christ and His Apostles taught, not in a worldly or fleshly way. Have the humility to measure yourself against scripture, and have the integrity to resign your position if scripture disqualifies you.

To all people, make sure your leader is taking you in the right direction. He must show you Christ, not fleshliness or worldliness. When you agree to be led by someone, give that person your trust, obedience, loyalty, and support. What they are doing is hard. Help them however you can.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Two Dirty Words

Service and Obedience. What is it about these words that makes us uncomfortable? When we hear them, something inside us rises up to rebel. If someone says "Serve" or "Obey", we want to say "NO!"

Service is helping or working for someone else, but it carries a deeper meaning in this particular context. Service, in this sense, means ensure that the physical, spiritual, mental, practical, financial, medical needs of someone else are met. This is not in the form of control, but support. In this context, Jesus served those around him by teaching, healing, feeding them. Parents serve children in any number of ways.

Obedience is compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another's authority.

Taken separately they can be tyrannical and oppressive, but when taken together, something amazing can  happen.

Take the example of a parent and child. If the child knows that their parent loves them and provides for them, the child will trust the parent and obey them. This is especially important when it involves something the child does not understand, such as "Don't drink bleach."

The parent serving the child in this way is not a burden, but an act of love. Service is a natural part of being a parent.

The child obeying a parent is also not a burden, but an act of love. The child knows the parent has their best interest at heart, and obedience in this context gives freedom.

This model of service and obedience is used to illustrate a number of scenarios in the New Testament.

1) Jesus and His Disciples - As stated above, Jesus served those around him. He healed lepers, blind people, the lame. He cast out demons. He raised the dead. He fed people by the thousands. He even washed His disciples feet, one of the lowliest tasks a servant of that time could do. When His disciples obeyed Him, they experienced supernatural power and provision.

2) God and the Church - God serves the church through guidance, provision, spiritual gifts, wisdom and knowledge. The Bible says that God knows and supplies our every need. The Church's response is willing obedience, because that is the only way to gain access to the provision of God.

3) Marriage - "Obey" is rarely heard in marriage vows, with good reason; when did a groom last promise to "Serve?" If a husband cares for and supports his wife, this leaves her free to live her life to the full, knowing he has her interests at heart. A serving husband should be willing to do whatever chores were necessary to support his wife.

4) Church Leaders and Congregation -  One of the ways church leaders are to be chosen, according to the Apostle Paul, is how they look after their family.  A church leader should care for the welfare of his flock with the same care and dedication a parent does a child.

This is a powerful model. A business where the employer provides all the needs of the employees would be rewarded by the loyalty and commitment of those employees.

Service and obedience. Taken by themselves, unhealthy and oppressive. Taken together, a powerful way for building dynamic relationships.