Monday, April 30, 2012

Chapter 2

Hi Everyone.
I have just uploaded the first draft of Chapter 2 for you to explore, examine and exorcise.

I have spent some time reviewing and reducing what I had first written some months ago, and now have finally passed this "first draft" on to you.
Please be as harsh as you can, with suggestions for improvement.

You can get it from  -  all lower case.
Let me know if you have any access problems and I can send it individually as an attachment to an email.

I will leave it up there, available for your consideration, for the month of May.

Thanks in advance of your valued comments.
Blessings, Barry

Lord May I Be Like You

Here is a prayer I bumped into in my devotions time this morning.
It was in the "Power for Life Bible" published by "The Crystal Cathedral."

I thought it was so powerful, I wanted to share it with you.
Be blessed.  Barry

Lord God, Almighty, Creator,
As my heavenly Father, you knew me
    Before I was born.
You knit me into the person you love
    And wanted me to be.
Help me to accept and, yes, even love
    The person you created - me.
When I wish I were more or less than I am,
    Help me to treat me the way you do -
    With love and care and pleasure.
Give me the grace to see me
    Through your eyes . . .
    A father's eyes that see . . .
        A special order design . . .
        A child made in your image . . .
        Someone made to look
        And be just like you!

Awaken in me the ability to appreciate
All the good you have created in me.
Increase my confidence and courage
To go out and help others
        To see themselves . . .
        As unique, amazing children of God!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Promises from Paul

The good news from Paul is sooooo extensive --- it just goes on and on.
Paul asserts that, by God's grace, everyone will be justified, raised to life, saved, be friends of God and reconciled to him.
What more could anyone hope for?
Let me illustrate with just a short quote from each of five of his letters.

All will be justified, declared just or righteous, be given right-standing before God.
Just as one offence resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.
[ Romans 5 : 18  BSV ]

All will be vivified, enlivened, raised to life.
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
[ 1 Cor 15 :: 22  NIV ]
The last enemy to be abolished is death.
[ 1 Cor 15 : 26  BSV ]

All will be saved.
This is why we labour and stive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, and especially of those who believe.
[ 1 Tim 4 :  10  NIV ]

All are God's friends.
God was in Christ befriending the world to himself, not counting people's sins against them.
[ 2 Cor 5 :  19  BSV ]

All will be reconciled to God.
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Christ, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
[Col 1 : 19 - 20  BSV ]

And none of this should catch us by surprise when Paul reminds us that
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
[ Romans 11 : 36  BSV ]
God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.
[ Ephesians 1 : 11  BSV ]

There's too much from Paul to ignore, don't you think?
Blessings, Barry

BTW.  I will be uploading Chapter 2 of the book for you to read and pull apart early next week.
Please attack it for me.
(I can handle anything from people who love me.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Willy Wonka

Have you ever seen the movie "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?"
Yes?  How long ago?
Do you remember the closing scenes in the 1971 version (with Gene Wilder playing Wonka)?

Grandpa Joe and Charlie Bucket are meeting with Willy Wonka in Wonka's office (where everything is cut in half).
During the previous tour of the factory, each of the children had been given an everlasting gobstopper as a gift from Wonka on condition that they not give it away.
Grandpa, in his anger, threatens to give Charlie's gobstopper to Slugworth, the character who had been so desperate and cunning in trying to get hold of one to duplicate.
Instead, Charlie places his gobstopper on Willy's desk.

Willy excitedly bursts out with ....
"So shines a good deed in a weary world. 
Charlie . . . my boy . . . You won!  You did it!  You did it! 
I knew you would; I just knew you would. 
Oh, Charlie, forgive me for putting you through this.  Please, forgive me. 
Come in, Mr Wilkinson. 
Charlie, meet Mr Wilkinson."

As Mr Wilkinson enters, Charlie immediately recognises him and exclaims, "Slugworth!".
"No, no, that's not Slugworth.  He works for me," replies Willy.
"For you?"
"I had to test you, Charlie.  And you passed the test. You won!" announces Willy.
"Won what?" asks Grandpa Joe.
"The jackpot, my dear sir, the grand and glorious jackpot."
"The chocolate?" asks Charlie.
"The chocolate, yes, the chocolate, but that's just the beginning."

Charlie's disobedience in drinking the fizzy lifting drink was not counted against him.  Because he had clung to his everlasting gobstopper and had not betrayed Wonka, he was given chocolate for life AND inherited the chocolate factory as well.

Willy had used one of his employees (Mr Wilkinson portrayed as Slugworth up until now) to help him sort out who would be worthy to win this prize and to run the factory the way he desired.

Isn't this just like God in the Job story - and so many of our stories?

In God's realm, Satan is no more than one of God's employees. 
God uses him to determine how we react to the thoughts and temptations that are whispered into our ears.
Those who pass the test, and hold on to their everlasting gobstopper, not only get the chocolate (life in the age) but inherit the factory (the kingdom) as well.
The Bible calls these the overcomers.

Clearly, both God and his employees (including Satan) play for the same team, with God as the captain.
God is truly sovereign over all.

It's amazing how many Biblical themes are lurking in unexpected places - even in Hollywood movies.
Blessings, Barry

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I have attended more funerals in the last two years than I have in all the previous years of my life. (We have so many relatives and friends down here who are/were a bit older than us.)

And I have been fascinated with the content of the funeral services.
Although these funerals have been for a mix of believers and not-yet-believers, their themes have not been that much different.
In all cases, two points have come across quite strongly.

1.  All those whose bodies we buried were expected to go to heaven and be re-united with their loved ones, who had likewise gone to heaven before them.
No mention of hell, or punishment, and certainly nothing about everlasting punishment.
It didn't matter who the deceased was, or who was conducting the service, no-one was even considered a possibility of missing out on heaven.
Universal salvation was the standard, unchallenged theme.

2.  All were expected to have gone to heaven immediately.  They were all "in a much better place now."
No mention of going to Hades, or to hell, or waiting for a resurrection, or any other delay or stopover on the way.
Immediate, conscious transition from here to heaven was a given.

When I questioned one Christian celebrant who had led the service for a not-yet-believer about these themes in his service, he said that he didn't care "which route anyone took to get to the post office."
I quietly marvelled at his inference that everyone was eventually getting to the post office, one way or the other.
And this from a man whose personal beliefs for such non-believers include everlasting punishment in hell after waiting somewhere for a damning appearance before a "just" God at the Great White Throne.

It seems that the standard church system message is taught and encouraged in church circles, but a more loving, gracious, comforting message is given to grieving relatives and friends at gravesides.

Which reminds me of the testimony I recently read of a Palliative Care Pastor in the United States.  He said that the people who showed the most fear when approaching death were Christians, who feared they might not have done enough to avoid everlasting torment in hell.
( Wow, hasn't that statement a load of issues to deal with? )

So if you want to hear the best sermons preached, avoid church and attend funerals !!

Blessings, Barry

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Paul's Secrets

Paul says on several occasions that some of God's secrets, or mysteries as most translations call them, that had been hidden from previous generations in previous ages, had been revealed to him.

And he revealed these secrets to those to whom he wrote his letters, and therefore of course, to us.

Unfortunately, many who read the Bible haven't seen these secrets revealed, and are totally in the dark about some of God's most exciting plans.

One of these is God's plan to bring unity to all in heaven and on earth under Christ.
[ Eph 1 : 9 - 10 ]
And because it includes all, it means Gentiles as well as Jews.
[ Eph 3 : 6 ]
And because it includes all, it means unbelievers as well as believers.
[ 1 Tim 4 : 10 ]
And because it includes all, it means the whole world as God is no longer counting people's sins against them.
[ 2 Cor 5 : 19 ]
And because it includes all, it means the creation itself will be brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
[ Romans 8 : 21 ]

What a plan!
And it's no longer a secret.
Everyone can know about it, by just reading the Bible with open eyes.

Blessings, Barry

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Hot Tomb Buns

One of my hobbies is baking yeast breads and buns.
In the weeks leading up to Easter I baked a few batches of Hot Cross Buns of various sorts. 
Some we ate, some we shared with others, and some are stored in the freezer.

It is now Resurrection Sunday, and the buns we will eat today still have the crosses on their tops.
How ridiculous!
We have moved on from the day of the cross to the day of the empty tomb.
And so we must.

Although many people suggest that the cross is the central event of the Christian faith, Paul tells us that our faith is futile without the empty tomb.
Both Christ's death AND his resurrection are essential to our faith.
Without the resurrection, we are still in our sins.  [ 1 Cor 15 : 17 ]

So I am going to bake a batch of hot buns with a cut in the top which I hope will have a "bursting out" or "gaping hole" appearance once they have fully risen and cooked.

That ought to get the conversation moving on from the cross.
What do you think?

Hope you are having a great time of reflection, thanksgiving and fellowship with your family.
Easter blessings, Barry