Tuesday, February 28, 2012

CP 165 What doesn't kill you...

CP 165 What doesn't kill you...

I have a young (Dutch!) friend who seems to be a magnet for funny / clever sayings. Here’s the first one he ever told me. “You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose!” The second one he deigned to share with me is a ripper. “You can always tell a Dutchman, but you can’t tell him much.”

Proverbs and colloquial sayings can be witty and wise and sometimes you and I can live by the truth they carry. However there are some sayings, in common use, which are not only unhelpful, but straight out untrue and therefore the lie they proclaim is destructive of soul and spirit. I want to highlight just two in this blog.

The first is straight from the schoolyard. You no doubt know it well. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” The insecure little boy called ‘Freddy’, who lives inside me, has always known it wasn’t true. The part of me which has been ‘Pastor Fred’ for the last 33 years confirms that reality. Having sat with countless people as they revisited their deep pain it has always been about words, spoken or unspoken. The deepest and most persistent pain of all has always had to do with being ‘named’ in some way. Try ‘loser’ or ‘dumb’. Perhaps ‘slut’ or ‘poof’. Maybe ‘gutless’ or ‘wimp’. Or, ‘You’ll-never-amount-to-anything’, ‘not-as-clever’ and stupid idiot’. Each name carries rejection, and broken hearts and crippled spirits are always linked to rejection.

In a 4-Corner’s program last night women as old as 80, whose babies were forcibly adopted when they were unmarried teens, wept as they recalled how they were named as ‘shameful, bad, selfish and unworthy’ all those years ago. Some had clearly never recovered. Their personal agony and unrelenting grief was etched in their faces and written all over their body-language. Every one of those women would have chosen broken bones ahead of the loss, not only of their sons/daughters but also of their lives, their personhood and their meaning.

Lies kill! Only truth gives life. I can only pray that the wounded are found by the truth which sets free.

The second saying, recently trendy, is this: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” It may be a great line in a movie, or some popular hero’s stirring account of recovery from adversity. But many people do not recover or ‘get over it’. Try telling it to women who were raped and denied justice. Or the elderly whose homes have been burgled. Try telling that ‘proverb’ to still-traumatised Vietnam Vets, let alone the wives and children. Try saying it to those permanently debilitated by strokes and heart attacks, or their families and carers. Or those betrayed in their marriages.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” In the macho world of high-intensity ‘positive thinkers’ there are no doubt some for whom it has panned out that way. For those who live in my world of the wounded, crippled and broken, it is simply pious, triumphalist, new-age rubbish.

Finding healing and a future will never begin by believing a lie. It can only begin by acknowledging the truth of the brokenness. The admission of ‘inability’ allows us to tap into the true source of healing and recovery. Jesus Christ declared, “Come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28) He declared, in the face of the self-help saviours, “Come to me all who are thirsty…” (John 7:37) Paul the Apostle wrote, “…when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12: 10) Just before that phrase he had written, “…my power is made perfect in weakness.” (verse 9)

Comfort one another with these words…

Have a good week.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

CP 164 Defying the mob's bloodlust

[Friends, this piece below was sent to me after the recent item on the day the neighbourhood changed. It forces me to think of who I am in the face of a mob situation. I am grateful there is a forgiving Father and a forgiveness-winning Son!].


Elbowing our way, we run.
Someone is being beaten up in the market.
You wouldn’t want to miss it!
We pick up speed, racing to the uproar,
scooping up water in our felt boots
and forgetting to wipe our sniffles.

And stood stock-still. In our little hearts something tightened,
when we saw how the ring of sheepskin coats,
fur coats, hooded coats, was contracting,
how he stood up near the green vegetable stall
with his head pulled into his shoulders from the hail
of jabs, kicks, spitting, slaps in the face.

Suddenly someone from the right by the handcart
pushed his teeth in,
Suddenly someone from the left bashed his forehead with a
chunk of ice.
Blood appeared - and then they started in, in earnest.
All piled up in a heap they began to scream together,
pounding with sticks, reins,
and linchpins out of wheels.

In vain he wheezed to them: 'Mates,
you’re my mates-what’s the matter? '
The mob wanted to settle accounts fully.
The mob was deaf with rage.
The mob grumbled at those who weren’t putting their boots in,
and they trampled something that looked like a body
into the spring snow that was turning into mud.

They beat him up with relish. With ingenuity. Juicy.
I saw how skilfully and precisely
one man kept putting the boots in,
boots with greasy flaps on them,
right under the belt of the man who was down,
smothered in mud and dungy water.

Their owner, a guy with an honest enough mug,
very proud of his high principles,
was saying with each kick: 'Don’t try your tricks with us! '
booting him deliberately, with the utmost conviction,
and, sweat pouring, with a red face, he jovially called to me:
'Come on, youngster, get in!'

I can’t remember how many there were, making a din,
beating him up.
It may have been a hundred, it may have been more,
but I, just a boy, wept for shame.
And if a hundred are beating somebody up,
howling in a frenzy - even if for a good cause -
I will never make one hundred and one!

1963 Yevgeny Yevtushenko
Translated by Tina Tupikina-Glaessner, Geoffrey Dutton, and Igor Mezhakoff-Koriakin (revised)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

CP 163 Near-death by phone call

CP 163 Near-death by phone call

This story is from a bloke I know well who recently had a near-death experience on Narellan Rd near where I live. He was driving toward the Hospital at Campbelltown. As he was approaching Narellan Rd he became aware of yet another huge black storm coming from the northwest. Remembering that he had left the lawnmower out he rang his wife to get her to pop it back in the shed. Surely there would be no harm in a quick call while stopped at the traffic lights. He made the call, ended it, noticed the lights had changed, and headed across the intersection. At least he thought the lights had changed.

They hadn’t! Cars braked furiously as he drove straight through the traffic coming from his right. Tyres screeched and many horns blared. One vehicle stopped just a metre from his car door. Shocked, he had the presence of mind to check for traffic on his left. Fortunately there wasn’t any. He kept going, all the while nominating himself as the biggest idiot on the planet while simultaneously thanking the Lord for preserving him. And swore that he would never again use a mobile-phone while driving. The episode shook him to the core.

The next day he passed the scene of an accident where a car had slammed into a tree and the driver, seriously injured, had barely escaped with her life. That shook him even more.

There are lots of issues here, not least the illegality of that phone call. Then there is the personal morality question of recklessly endangering the lives of others, let alone his own life. I also found myself wondering whether he viewed what happened as important in his relationship with his Lord. He certainly didn’t intend to cause an accident or endanger life. Was it an innocent mistake? There certainly was no malice involved. But can he engage in the sophistry of the Pharisee in saying that his intentions were good but he got it wrong? “I aimed to do my very best but failed badly”.

I felt obliged to remind him that the beginning of this near-tragedy lay in the unlawful and dangerous use of the phone. That was an ungodly action bordering on evil. The commandment is unambiguous… “You shall not kill”. He blanched at the thought.

It has been a salutary lesson for that man. He is grateful on two counts. First, no physical injury or death happened as a result of his actions. Secondly, he is grateful that he knows his heavenly Father forgives him in the mercy of Jesus the Christ.

He has resolved, with fervour, never again to use a phone while driving. Let’s join him in that resolve.

Be blessed in your Lord.


Thursday, February 09, 2012

CP 162 Kings Cross recall announced

RECALL NOTICE: The Maker of all human beings (GOD) is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to a serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart.
This defect has occurred due to a malfunction in the original prototype units code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. The defect has been technically termed "Sub-sequential Internal Non-Morality." It is more commonly known as SIN. The Manufacturer warns that continuing to exercise the unit without repair will render it permanently inoperable.

Diagnostic symptoms include:
1. Amnesia of origin
2. Foul vocal emissions
3. Loss of direction
4. Absence of peace and joy
5. Selfish or violent behaviour
6. Depression or confusion in the mental component
7. Fearfulness, shame and guilt
8. Idolatry and rebellion
9. Unbelief and stubbornness
10. Sluggishness, unresponsiveness and constant tiredness

The Manufacturer, who is neither liable, nor at fault, for this defect, is providing factory-authorized repair and service free of charge.

The Repair Technician, Christ Jesus, in a spirit of astonishing generosity, has offered to bear the entire cost of these repairs. All units must be presented at his Kings Cross workshop for the remedial work.

The access code to call for repair in all areas is: FATHER/PRAYER/JESUSCHRIST.

Once connected, please upload your burden of SIN through the REPENTANCE procedure. Next, after entry into the GRACE chamber via the FAITH switch, the Repair Technician will download ATONEMENT into the heart component, effectively re-creating it.

Regardless of the nature or size of the SIN defect, urgent attention is required to prevent catastrophic breakdown. When installed, the NEW HEART component, carefully cross-checked, re-tuned and re-charged by Christ Jesus, will then deliver outcomes with new power and performance:

1. Love
2. Joy
3. Peace
4. Patience
5. Kindness
6. Goodness
7. Faithfulness
8. Gentleness
9. Self Control

It is essential that users check the operating manual, the BIBLE. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth), for further details on the use of these fixes. It is vitally important to internalize the segment with the heading GOSPEL. (Grace Overcoming Sin Promising Eternal Life). This allows ongoing free cross-checks and will enable constant refreshment, care and strengthening of the new heart.

WARNING REPEATED: Continuing to operate the human being unit without correction voids all Manufacturer warranties. Inaction exposes the unit to the risk of permanent breakdown and removal. Entry into heaven will be impossible for any human being units which have not accessed the authorised repair for the SIN defect. You are urgently advised to act now. The Repair Technician is available at all times for free emergency service.

Thank you for your attention!


PS. Please assist where possible by notifying others of this important recall notice. You may contact the Father at any time by knee-mail.