LIFE

Who or what is God?

God is:   the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit

I was once accused of being a Methodist (and their guess was right !) I suppose because I am opinionated, blunt and fairly black and white. It was meant as an insult, but I took it as a compliment. The 10 commandments for example, are black and white and so they must be. The Law is the Law. No sitting on the fence. Romans 12.2: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. However, as mankind is not perfect, its a lifelong activity trying to obey the commandments and in reality our lives are shades of grey.

1 John 5:5-13 New International Version (NIV)

5 "Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God".

Index:

Joy

When considering the size of the known universe, we are not even specs of dust but a vapor, here one moment, gone the next. Life is very short, and it works best for us when we have something to make our life work. A purpose and a goal gives meaning and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. 

Joy is the more powerful motivator than fear. So what brings joy to your life, is it a reason to live beyond yourself? In these days, we life in a self-centered narcissistic culture, we are fixated on ourselves. When we are only focused on ourselves and 'things' that provide false hope, they soon let us down and we are left worse than before, sometimes turning to alcohol, drugs, sexual immorality etc.  True joy is found in something beyond ourselves, when we give of ourselves and we all need to find that door. Christ said: "I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, ............." John 10:7.

Even a dog needs a purpose in life. A good family movie is: 'A dogs Purpose'.

Dreams

What is a dream?  In the context of this web site heading ('Dare to Dream'), its clearly about acting on an indulgent daydream or fantasy, a 'wish list' in our waking moments about something desired. In the context of sleep however, a dream is something that happens in our deepest REM sleep moments and usually over which we seem often to have little control.

Is anyone able to recognise that they are in a dream, I suspect not? If you were able to recognise being in a dream, perhaps you would wake up and never get enough REM rest? 

A dream can be a course facsimile of real life and could come about as a result of our own thoughts, what we hear others say, or perhaps from material we read or watch (movies or videos). Some dreams may simply be caused by mental or physical stress, the pressures of daily life. The Bible reveals that dreams may result from an upset or overly stimulated mind (Ecclesiastes 5:3). If one has had a very troubled or busy day, then one might be more likely to have vivid dreams that night. Ill health or memories of unpleasant experiences may also cause such dreams. Spirits also intrude into our dreams.

God, through the prophet Isaiah, instructs us how to test these spirits: "When they say to you, 'Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,' should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony [the Bible]! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:19-20). Unless a dream or vision agrees completely with the Bible in its message and content, we can know it is not of God.

It’s true that God spoke through dreams to some people in the past, but even then, it was a rare occurrence. Hebrews 1:1-2 Hebrews 1:1-21 God, who spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; American King James Version indicates that the principal way in which God communicates with people today is through Christ via the written Word (the Bible) that God inspired, not through visions or dreams. Additionally, the Scripture advises Christians to be on guard against spirits (fallen angels or demons) that attempt to mislead (1 John 4:1 1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

In situations where an unpleasant dream causes distress, fear, physical sickness, or any such thing, you cannot go wrong seeking God's intervention and healing. Test your dreams against the 10 Commandments. If satan bothers us with bad dreams, we should ask God to rebuke him (Jude 9). We should also stay close to God in prayer and Bible study so that Satan cannot bother us (James 4:7-8). God will grant us peace of mind if we walk with Him each day (Philippians 4:4-9; Isaiah 26:3).

ME:

I find it quite disturbing that I am not aware that its a dream until I wake up and then realise it was a dream. Its disconcerting that I am not fully in control.  On some occasions, I am able to reject an action which my spirit knows is wrong, and I wake up.  Sometimes however, I (unfortunately) encourage a sinful dream and the direction it takes. Generally, I am more and more realising that in fact I am interacting with demons or evil spirits disguised as people. I discovered this because they sometimes overplay their act and I recognise them for what they are. Nowadays since I started to recognise what was going on, I regularly pray for God to keep these demons away from me in my dreams. Increasingly, I now notice that 'beings' come along (again in the form of humans) and where a dream is becoming disturbing (sinful), they step in and break up the flow of the dream, and I usually wake up. I typically find that Ihave half a dozen or more dreams a night, but cannot remember most.

Inclusivity and Mediocracy

Inclusivity and mediocracy are rapidly becoming the norm and even a virtue in our Australian society.

Definition of 'Inclusivity': 'policy of not discriminating against members or participants on the grounds of gender, race, class, sexuality, morals, religion, education, attitude, behavior (in fact anything)'. 

Sadly people are selling their birthright by embracing inclusivity and mediocracy, where everyone becomes a winner, no one is offended and no one misses out. When right and wrong go out the window and when the truth is no longer the most important thing for a society, that society is doomed. 

We all discriminate ! We discriminate with every decision we make throughout our entire life. 

and The things that matter most .....

If you say I believe in a God , but my own version of a God, I would ask you to describe your God. The reality would be that you would describe your God to suit you and your code of ethics. Perhaps an entity that did not ask anything difficult of you but always blessed you and everything you do? Perhaps an entity that would agree with your own code of ethics as to what is right and wrong?  However, would you be able to provide facts, history, witnesses accounts? The answer is No. In other words, a false god.

Thousands of years of history cannot be ignored. Hard to believe from what we  often hear about Muslims, but even some (Messianic) Muslims recognise that Jesus Christ is God.  Its a complicated world.

The doctrine for Life. From sermons by my local Anglican Minister:

  • Grace alone (Grace wins every time),
  • Christ alone,
  • Scripture alone, and
  • Faith alone

Grace alone: Here is a something most important to understand, and its spelt out very clearly for us, see Ephesians 2: 1 to 10:    We are saved FOR good works (that God prepared for us in advance), not BY the amount of good works nor the amount of our faith. We are saved by Grace ALONE. It is a 100% gift from God, SO THAT NO ONE CAN BOAST and ALL glory goes to God.  If however it were by the amount of our faith or the amount of our good works, then we could boast  that we have contributed to saving ourselves.  Unfortunately some of the major (third world) alternative religions seem to subscribe to the latter and some may die never knowing whether they have done enough 'good works' in this world to achieve 'sufficient' forgiveness and therefore 'life' in the next. This is just plain wrong teaching.

Jesus promised eternal life. Grace is offered in Jesus Christ alone. Jesus offers blessings such as adoption, forgiveness of sins, eternal life and the Holy Spirit to come into us and change us. For some, the change is immediate, for others its a long slow but progressive and positive change.

Christ alone: In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. Hebrews 1:1. 

The way God mostly speaks to us is through the scriptures.

Scripture alone: The bible has proven to be more historically and archaeologically accurate than any other ancient book in the world. It has been subjected to the minutest scientific, textual and archaeological analysis possible by humanity (often by those trying to refute the Bible) and has been proven to be authentic in every way. Some stories are literal, some are allegorical. For example: Jesus is the “door,” but He's not made of wood. These stories are messages to us, written in a manner such that ALL generations for ALL ages past and future can understand the message. The message needs to be understood in the context it is intended. 

Many millions of man-hours of research and evidence analysis and archaeology has repeatedly confirmed the reliability of the Bible. The Bible is Gods self revelation of what He has done, what He is doing and what He plans to do.   All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16

Faith alone: The Reformation (~500 years ago) was about whether we are justified by faith 'alone' or by faith plus good works. It was the split from the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church believes that justification with God is about faith plus good works. However, if faith plus lots of good works could save you, Jesus would not have needed to die. True faith will however lead to, and is often expressed as, good works. Abraham for example, was justified with God by faith alone and not by good works.

Faith is about trusting something reliable and comes from hearing the Word of God from the scriptures. Its not about how strong your faith is, or whether we have been a Christian for 5 minutes of 60 years, as we are all just as equally justified before God. We all have our ups and downs, the important thing is to continue trusting God through all of life's calamities.

We are reconciled (justified, blessed, made good, friends) with God, through Christ. How do we receive Christ and his blessings? By faith (belief, trust to call on the name of the Lord) 'alone'. Faith in Jesus is the difference between heaven and hell. We need to recognise that we are not worthy of Gods free gift and faith in Jesus sets us free of guilt.

By God's standard, we have all sinned, every one of us, and therefore fall short of Gods glory.  Sin is described in the Bible as transgression of the law of God (1 John 3:4). For example, we sin when we transgress the 10 Commandments, (and here's one for the men), we sin for example (particularly if we are married) if we have a lustful thought at the provocatively clad tart we lay our eyes on, or even a sexual dream not about our wife.

Sin is any action, feeling, or thought that goes against God’s standards (Ten Commandments). It includes breaking God’s laws by doing what is wrong, or unrighteous, in God’s sight. (1 John 3:4; 5:17) The Bible also describes sins of omission—that is, failing to do what is right.—James 4:17. "If you want to enter life (eternal life), obey the commandments" (i.e. the 10 Commandments) Mathew 19:17.

In the Bible’s original languages, the words for sin mean “to miss a mark,” or a target. For example, a group of soldiers in ancient Israel were so adept at slinging stones that they “would not miss.” That expression, if translated literally, could read “would not sin.” (Judges 20:16) Thus, to sin is to miss the mark of God’s perfect standards.

As the Creator, God has the right to set standards for mankind. (Revelation 4:11) We are accountable to him for our actions.—Romans 14:12.

The less we are prepared to call sin, sin; the more sin becomes a problem in our life and the more problems we will have.

God has called us out of the darkness in the Lord Jesus Christ who, for a little while, gave up the manifestation of his divinity to be here as a human. When it comes to how we should live, there is no sitting on the fence, no shades of grey. Even the 'if it feels good, it must be ok' philosophy usually eventually turns out not to be quite so good or quite so ok as we originally thought.

Some may have heard this saying, that the Lord  knows His sheep and on the last day (judgment) He will separate the sheep from the goats. The analogy here, is that sheep and goats might look the same to a casual observer from a distance (but the shepherd knows the difference). Note: Goats are usually separated from the sheep in a flock because they torment the sheep. 'But surely there must be another way to heaven, I'm a good person and what about my good works?' the goats ask, (because they are too proud to accept that Jesus is the only way). Many have hardened their hearts against Jesus Christ as the Messiah.

(John 10)

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.  14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”  19 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”  21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?  22 Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”  25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” 

And the things that really matter in this one very short life, are to love the Lord your God and your neighbor with all your heart and all your being.

It was only at the age of 32 that I came to a state of mind where I seriously went looking for something more, and calling out to God, Sometimes in our lives, we are too proud and too confident of our own makings. God will sometimes need to bring us to our knees, as He did with me, so that I could discoverwho Jesus was. I still remember the day. I was reading a plain english version of the new testament  on a train, when suddenly my eyes were opened to the fact that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one. It was as if a fog had been lifted from my mind and so started the life long process of being refined and reconstructed, sometimes by fire. Its been a progressive and wonderful change over the years, as the Holy Spirit continues to chip away at a lifetime of bad habits. Despite my tendency in later life towards being a grumpy old man, the more God changes me the more I realise I've an even longer way yet to go. I recall a clever saying I borrowed from either Peter or Phillip Jensen (I cannot remember which, as both are great speakers) and which seems to well apply to me, 'Reconstruction in Progress'. I liked it so much that I had it printed as a car bumper sticker: 'Please be patient, reconstruction in progress', to remind me that I am in an on-going state of reconstruction (as in being born again). 

The barbarians are here

"The barbarians are here!". The world is in trouble as history repeats itself 'Find out why'

We in the western world now live during and within one of the most crooked, perverse, self indulgent and depraved generations seen since the fall of Rome. Its one of the main reasons why ultra-fundamentalist Muslims hate us so much.

I never studied history, wish I had. Now in my later middle age I find it amazing to discover that history actually repeats itself and humanity learns very little from each cycle. The repetition is of a society losing their moral compass, trying to become independent, turning their back on God, and eventual rejection of God. After incredible tolerance and patience comes the punishment that we deserve by letting us have our own way for a time, because that's the only thing we stubborn people seem to understand. Then intervention to stop our own mad rush to oblivion.

Just like Rome (the known world at the time), in a.d. 410 (a pivotal moment in Western history)  it fell to the barbarians. The pagans were quick to blame the Christians, claiming that the old gods had abandoned Rome because many Romans had forsaken them and taken up the new faith. So this present period in history is subject to its own barbarians from within who worship their own gods (the love of money, looks, fame, etc). Like Rome, we are now a multi cultural global community where most live by power, pleasure and self indulgence. Since Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, the fall is always the same, a cycle of rebellion/independence, a fall and then coming back to God. People say, 'we are not sure Gods word written thousands of years ago is so relevant to todays situation', or 'we have natural hormonal urges which God cannot understand'. No wants to admit the truth or submit to any authority other than their own, especially that of a so called high moral ground party pooper like God.  As in the present/near future, just like Rome there is a ground swell against the Christians by the pagans.  

Like most of us I suspect, we can clearly see the signs of enormous unwanted changes happening within our own lifetimes.  With things like gender fluidity being pushed on our children, the general perversity of society is continuing to degenerate as the moral deviants continue to push boundaries. I suspect its going to get way worse before God sends Jesus back to sort us all out. Here in Australia like all Judeo-Christian western societies where the common law was based on the 10 Commandments, we have to date, enjoyed the blessings. But just like America, things are changing, our once blessed society is drifting away from the truth, and now the punishment may be starting. As in past cycles the barbarians are at the gates, so be on your guard.  An interesting book by Augustine written in a.d. 413 on the topic of the fall of Rome is 'The City of God' .  I have not yet read it but understand that its a history very closely paralleling what's happening in this current period.

Christians are the most persecuted peoples in the world. I suspect that this because they and don't conform to the 'normality' of this increasingly wicked heathen world.

on Marriage and Children

Partner or Spouse, which is it?

Is your better half your ‘spouse’ or your 'partner'? The terms are not the same and not interchangeable.

The term wife or husband is normally used to describe a life long marriage commitment to a person of the opposite gender under a covenant (contract) with God. Its a biblical union (as in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony).

The term 'Partner' implies either a business relationship or perhaps a relationship of convenience by consensual adults?

Common Definitions:

Partner: One of the most common definitions is: 'A partnership is an arrangement in which two or more individuals share the profits and liabilities of a business venture'.

Spouse: Wikipedia definition of 'spouse': 'A male spouse is a husband and a female spouse is a wife'.

Marriage

Marriage is not only good for a man and a woman in creating companionship and one-ness; it also serves the critical function of being a safety net for children.

Gods word from the Bible is clear on the matter of marriage. There is no wriggle room, no alternative interpretations, and little or no shades of grey. Biblical ethics are the instructions for living that God has revealed to us through his Prophets. They are fairly black and white (the 10 Commandments for example). There is no sitting on the fence, no having it both ways to suit yourself no matter some Church ministers or even Bishops supporting homosexual marriage in a misguided effort to smooth the waters (more inclusivity). Sin is sin, no matter how you try to candy coat it and you cannot hide anything from God, and we pay a price in terms of our own self-regard when we fail to reject things we'd otherwise consider vile.

More than 2,000 years ago the prophet Malachi said, "and why has God made the two one? In flesh and spirit they are His. And why one? Because God is seeking Godly offspring" (2:15). For the family, it is in a child’s best interests that they be raised under the influence of a father and a mother. This rule is confirmed by the evident difficulties faced by the many children who are orphans or are raised by a single parent, a relative, or a foster parent. There is nothing unique about same-sex marriage when it comes to family breakdown. Its just one more way that children find themselves without one of their biological parents.

Unfortunately, we have drifted from seeing marriage as Gods protection for children. According to Katy Faust, the assault on marriage began with the normalisation of no fault divorce, when we sent the message that marriage basically exists for the emotional fulfillment of the adultsWhen you take away the idea that marriage is a permanent union, then the other norms of marriage, like complementarity and exclusivity, also wind up on the chopping block. If children are to become Godly, the union needs to be permanent and faithful, that is, with one partner. This is what children need too: the stability of a permanent relationship, a mother and a father as the primary caregivers, and the complementarity of two different gendered parents so children can experience both female and male love throughout their development.

'Marriage' since Adam and Eve (since recorded time began) has always been more than just a legal agreement under local laws. It is a biblical union and not two identical people being joined together but two different but similar and complimentary beings coming together as one flesh in the children they produce for the stability of society. It is intended as a special union blessed by God.

Note to Husbands:  'Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives with an understanding of their weaker nature yet showing them honour as co-heirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered'. (1 Peter 3:7)

Gender

Apparently a persons brain does not stabilise (mature) until the late 20's, and often much later for men than women. The younger we are, the smaller our perceived universe, and vise-versa, the older we get, the broader our understanding of the world becomes. As a child, the world revolves around us, our perception slowly extending out to us and our immediate family, and eventually when the brain matures, we start to think about responsibilities outside our own family circle, we start to think of companionship and children and even our wider communities and the country and then, the world. So our sphere of awareness/consciousness expands as we learn and as we mature. So where am I going with this, well, I recently read a newspaper article where one government party was promoting allowing children to decide their gender. The article was quoting doctors who advised that gender confused children don't have the mental capability to fully understand the often irreversible changes being made, that parental control is being further undermined by the 'state' and that politicians should leave these things to psychologists and psychiatrists.

One needs to respect and love all people but we don't need to promote things that can be potentially disastrous for the individual later in life.

For more formation on marriage: Click here http://australianmarriage.org
For more formation on defending marriage: click here https://ccl.moore.edu.au/2016/10/10/defining-and-defending-marriage/

Shed Night

Across Australia around 2000 men a month attend Shed Night. These are God’s men who are striving to become ‘better blokes’. For more information click here: 'Shed night'

God made men different than women (and how wonderful that He did).  In the traditional home setting:
My own observations indicate that, men often dropped dead shortly after they retired from their job. I can only assume that it was because they (subconsciously) felt that they no longer had a purpose in life. For the wife in the traditional setting however, little will change for them except for now having an annoying hubby at home underfoot.
Forget the modern psychobabble. A mans job (yes I'm a traditionalist) nearly always defines him, especially when he has put his life and soul into it over a lifetime.  The primary purpose of women, even those with a career, is usually defined by child rearing and nurturing. Men after retirement, often continue to need a 'project' or a 'hobby' or such, to give them a continued purpose in life after retirement. It might be simply maintaining the home or the yard or the car and for this, they will usually need a 'shed' to potter around in.
A shed is also good for the wife, in order to get hubby out of the house (and out from underfoot). Men traditionally do not live as long as women. This is often because they have traditionally carried out dangerous jobs, and these have been health damaging over a working lifetime. I know my lifetimes work in heavy industries has damaged my body significantly, exposure to asbestos dusts, heavy metals, toxic fumes, physical damages, etc. Luckily, times are changing, and safer work practices are helping men live healthier and longer.  Would you rather hubby wasting away his remaining years down at the TAB or pub, or home pottering around in his shed and potentiallylearning to be more supportive?

The Meaning of Life

The Meaning of Life and the Purpose of Life are essentially the same thing.  Life is uncertain, yet God is certain.

Strangely enough, some may be surprised that the meaning of life is not Monty Pythons version, nor is it to be found at 'The Restaurant at the End of the Universe' (and no, the answer is not '42').  The Book of Ecclesiastes provides us with some insight. As a wise person (possibly King Solomon) also struggled with this issue many thousands of years ago (nothing is new under the sun). The title Ecclesiastes is a Latin transliteration of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Kohelet (meaning "Gatherer", but traditionally translated as "Teacher" or "Preacher"). Ecclesiastes is saying, in effect implicitly, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

The purpose of this life is simple; to know Christ and to make him known to others. We need to be renewed (born again) and 'fit for purpose' both in this world and the one to come. God wants us to be useful for honorable purposes, fit and ready for any good work. Ephesians 4:23 .... that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, ....   Christ becomes our passion, our purpose and our joy in life.

Paul in his letter to the Philippians (4) Church states:

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

The Bible is a guidebook, a blueprint to living and a roadmap through the maze of confusion in this complicated modern world. There can be found purpose and meaning, clarity and fulfillment in this life. In knowing Christ you can have peace from that inner turmoil of guilt and feelings of being lost. One of my biggest fear at the time I became a Christian and acknowledged who Jesus is, was, what would God ask of me? what was going to be expected of me? would I have to give up everything and go out to remote places? But no; whilst its been an interesting ongoing transition, each person has a different calling and contribution to make. The bills must still be paid, food and shelter provided for, and life enjoyed. For some, that calling may be simply doing your job to the best of your ability honestly and efficiently as if you were employed by God. For others it may be to uproot and go off to far flung corners of the earth as missionaries. Our career however, must not be our sole source of meaning, identity and esteem. Our greatest achievements may be fine, but in the eternal scheme of things, Paul says, they are rubbish compared with the value of knowing Christ. Once a person is born again, God wants that person to grow in the knowledge of Christ and be conformed to his likeness. God has a unique purpose for each of us, and this relates to our distinctive temperaments, abilities, experiences, spiritual gifts, education etc. Whilst outwardly we waste away in theses bodies, inwardly we are being renewed day by day by the Holy Spirit and our momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

So we fix our eyes not on what we can see in this world but what is unseen in the eternal world to come. When we die, the world will still go on without us, like the millions who came before, we will soon be forgotten as if we never existed. This may be a cause to feel depressed and feeling alone in a big and often cruel world with no point to life, if it weren't for the fact that God calls us to place our hope in that which lasts, the gift of his Son. We need to view this world from eternities perspective and place more value on people than material possessions. Hard to do in this material obsessed world.

Many try to cover up adversity by alcohol, sex, gambling, etc, but only in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ i.e. trusting in Christ, can adversary truly become an opportunity and not an obstacle. Trusting begins with confessing your sins and accepting in both your heart and with your mouth, that Jesus is Lord of all. Jesus, the son of the Father, came to save us from eternal death.

Prayer is a shield against worry and Gods promises give hope in a hopeless world.

For the meaning of life, click here: Life

Manners

What is the purpose of good manners and what constitutes good manners in western society? One definition is: 'a person's outward bearing or way of behaving towards others'. Its about how you show respect for others and for yourself, by behaving in a manner so as not to cause offence to others. Luke 6:31 - And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

Unfortunate it seems that some cultures know little about how to behave in western society. I observe that in particular, one far northern asian society has money as their god.

Here is a list of 10 good manners which will hold all of us in good stead, particularly when in public:

  1. Eat with your mouth closed (no one wants to see or hear the accompanying noises),
  2. Try not to eat odorous foods in confined spaces as some odours such as rotting fish can cause offence,
  3. Not sniffling. Learn the habit of taking tissues with you every day, so that you can clear your nose instead (preferably in the toilets and not in public),
  4. Talk quietly on public transport (no one else is interested in your issues),
  5. Not swearing #,
  6. Not using the name of anyones God in vain,
  7. Getting up from your seat to allow someone to move past you,
  8. Getting up for frail, disabled or pregnant people to give them a seat,
  9. Not placing your shoes or work clothes on seats (other people have to use those seats after you),
  10. Not shoving past people. You are no more important than anyone else. Learn to wait your turn in queues.

#  and on the matter of swear words;

Some people (mostly the younger crowd) seem to have no consideration (or just don't care) of the offence they may cause others by using foul language, or they think its a joke to cause distress to others. Here's something some people do not quite seem to understand; Swear words only came into being for the sole purpose of causing offence. Foul language remains a form of assault. It was, and continues to be, designed to be an assault, one step short of a physical assault.

Those people who think its ok to swear at any officer of the law, need a metaphoric swift kick in the pants and a few days in jail.

Are good engineers born? 

For some, engineering is in the blood. They seem to be born with an innate thirst for knowledge and curiosity of the material world and its relationships. Add to that a lifetimes hands-on experience, and you generally get a good engineer capable of making pragmatic decisions without being forced to revert back to working out everything from first principles. I have noted a trend of recent decades, that some of the newer generation of engineers seem to be increasingly risk averse, unable to (or not permitted to, more likely) make pragmatic decisions without numerous stakeholder reviews, even for those decisions that one would normally (in past times) have called a 'no brainer'.

Risk taking is not wrong. We all need to take somerisks and sadly, the abilities to make good decisions and being prepared to take responsibility for those actions, are fast disappearing in our nanny state. When one person behaves in an irresponsible manner in an organisation, all are now deemed irresponsible and treated as such to ensure we don't/cannot make the same mistakes. However, on a positive note the improvements in safety over my 40+ years working in heavy industries are remarkable. Every year it was expected that a significant number of people would be killed on the railways and in the refineries and the mines etc, all places where I worked. Its become very rare now in Australia for someone to be killed rather than the norm. Safety must continue to be our priority wherever possible, as every life is precious. There is a price however, to pay for safety and unfortunately in this fallen world, its only affordable whilst we live in this very unusual perhaps brief golden period between wars.

There are times in history (usually during a time of severe stress ) when people need to step up to the plate with confidence, using their experience and competence to make the correct decisions without necessarily having all of the facts available. Mankind would never have gone to the moon and we would still be living in caves if everyone remained afraid to take risks and to accept the responsibility for their actions.

If you are not taking (calculated) risks, you are wasting your life.

Movies

I recommend the following movies. Some challenged the mind, some the spirit, some are depressingly sad and some pure escapism fantasy:

  • Under the Tuscan Sun
  • Gran Torino (a story of understanding and sacrifice)
  • A.I. Artificial Intelligence
  • Interstellar
  • After earth
  • The Best Exotic Hotel
  • The Railway man
  • The Nun's Story
  • The Fugitive
  • Steel Magnolias
  • Star Wars series
  • Star Trek (movies and the various series)
  • Out of Africa
  • Serendipity
  • Phenomena
  • The secret life of Walter Mitt
  • Ghost in the Shell (a sad sad future scenario)
  • Orders to Kill (1959) A sad reality of war
  • Exodus (Paul Newman) 1960
  • The Train 1965 (very good WWII train movie with  Burt Lancaster)
  • Pleasantville (a bit odd, a bit coarse, having a go at traditional 1950's life in America)
  • A Dog's Purpose (family feel good movie)
  • Overcomer (family feel good movie about a young black american girl finding her purpose in life)

Anger

Anger can lead to hatred over time.

'A hot-tempered man stirs up conflict, but a man slow to anger calms strife.' (Proverbs 15:18).

'....... Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for mans anger does not accomplish God's righteousness.' (James 1:19-20).

'The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.' (John 3:36).

Options: Confront your anger or hand it over to God.

I learnt recently that its ok to be angry with God. Tell Him about your anger and why you are angry with Him. You don't need to hold it all in and try to be a perfect Christian, because one day in a moment of weakness it may all come out at the wrong time in the wrong way.

Stroke

Apparently, stroke is currently the leading cause of disability and is projected to pass heart attacks as the leading cause of mortality worldwide. Note: I have no medical knowledge and am not passing myself off as having any knowledge. I simply write about my own experience and what I have read to date.

At age 60, one night in March 2017 I had a stroke out of the blue !!   I am thin, energetic and very busy with hundreds of things on the go at any one time. All my health parameters were/are within the normal healthy range (nothing obviously wrong) in fact the only thing, was that I get colds and the odd migraine. Then one night whilst sleeping, I had a stroke to the cerebellum and spent 1.5 weeks in hospital. It turned out to be a relatively minor stroke compared to what can happen. At the time, the stroke was unexplained (as in, 'no cause found'). Investigations eventually showed that I have a ~15mm hole in the heart (since birth). Its called a Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) and is a hole in the wall of the heart that separates the two upper chambers or atria. Apparently PFO’s are fairly common and occur in approximately 20% of the adult population.  According to one web site, unless one suffers from severe migraine headaches or have had a neurological event such as a stroke, chances are that one wouldn’t normally need to seek medical treatment for a PFO.  Everyone apparently produces small clots (often from the legs), but they normally are filtered out and dealt with by the lungs.  If you have a large hole in the heart, clots can bypass the lungs and go direct to the brain (as in my case). Big clots can even break up causing blockages in multiple places of the brain. I believe that my minor stroke was a warning of something potentially worse to come, and an opportunity for me to deal with it while I can.

Interestingly, it was only seven years ago, that a PFO defect had to be repaired by open heart surgery. As at 15-6-17 the hole was closed by Professor R Allan. In my case, the heart was reached via the insertion of a catheter in a leg vein, maneuvered to the heart, and then a titanium/nickel (memory metal) implant device inserted (like a large mesh rivet). This newer method is called 'Percutaneous Trans-catheter PFO Closure'. 

Well, I was having heart palpitations, thumping feeling (which I often get for no obvious reason known yet) and was feeling a bit crook due to a cold, so my wife sent me off to the local doctor who was surprised that I was missing heart beats. It was then off for an electrocardiogram and what do you know; its 'Atrial fibrillation (AFib) with rapid ventricular response (RVR). Now I'm on drugs to keep the blood thin and reduce risk of another stroke. Side effect is that every time I put a hole in myself, it tends to bleed a bit.

If you have AFib with RVR you’ll experience symptoms. RVR can be detected and confirmed by your doctor. It can cause serious complications and requires treatment. Interesting to read that approximately 2 percent of Americans (probably same for Australians) under the age of 65 have either intermittent or permanent AFib. In people over the age of 65, the incidence apparently rises to about 9 percent'. 

It now seems that the AFib is the likely source of the clots. The next step was a new procedure called 'Cryoballoon Pulmonary Vein Isolation' where the part of the heart (suspected of) triggering the AFib is cauterized. I had the operation in November 2017, and they took me off some of the stronger drugs, and all is good.

But then: I drank a bottle of wine over a Saturday and my heart went back into fibrillation for about 24 hours. Ended up in the local hospital where they put me back on the strong drugs for a while, to sort it out. Seems that I, like a lot of people get what is called 'Holiday Heart', where alcohol is the trigger.

For some great simple information on PFO, click here: PFO


12. Leadership 

I and the rest of our technical team recently attended a team bonding/building forum at work, run by a young (under 50) human factors/psychologist. The issue of which attributes make for good leadership came up?. The project team listed positive and negative attributes. The leadership attribute of 'authoritarian/authoritative'  (not autocratic) was seen by the under 50s as a negative attribute. I was  shocked (still am).

Its an undisputed fact based on thousands of years of historic evidence that: 'authoritative' leaders are the most effective in vision casting, as well as providing clarity for the vision. Such leaders know how to motivate people by showing how their work fits into the company’s bigger vision. They also know how to maximize the commitment of their people to the goals and strategy of the organization.

Authoritative leadership is one of the first six leadership styles introduced by Psychologist Daniel Goleman in his Authoritative leaders, according to Goleman, are those who can articulate a vision, and mobilize people toward that vision. Those who are working under an authoritative leader understand the importance of what they do and why.  Hay McBer, a consulting firm, conducted a study involving thousands of executives all over the world to understand their behavior and their impact in the workplace. It revealed that authoritative leadership has the most positive impact, and is most effective in almost any business situation. This leadership approach allows people to take calculated risks, as well as to innovate and to experiment. However, a company that has no clear vision, or is adrift, will benefit highly from this approach because this leader knows how to create a new method and motivate his people. This type of leadership works best in situations where control is vital and there is little margin for error i.e. a transport engineering organisation, war, pandemic control, natural disaster relief etc. Rigid rules set by the authoritative leader will keep the group out of harm’s way.

Who is my hero, it would have to be Florence Nightingale. A most amazing Christianwoman. An excellent example of authoritative leadership.

This hits the nail on the head for me, as to exactly why today's society is having such problems with lack of respect for authority.  The more recent generations seem to have an expectation that they should be able to do what they decide, and simply don't like being told what to do. We are all very lucky that there has not been a war here lately, as they would be in for a rude shock to say the least. Their life would suddenly depend on how well they obey orders.

The opposites of [an] authoritarian [leadership style] are: resigned, lenient, modest, irresolute, unassuming, restricted, humble, yielding, lowly, restrained, meek, gentle, docile, conditional, obedient, constitutional, indecisive, amenable, limited,mild, compliant, ductile, submissive, passive, acquiescent, amenable, circumscribed, compliant, constitutional, docile, indecisive, irresolute, lawful, liberal, limited, meek, modest, resigned, restrained, restricted.   Apparently these attributes are now considered good leadership qualities by our younger generations !!

13.Guilt

There is emptiness in our lives that we often try to fill with 'things'. We all eventually discover that the brief enjoyment with the new 'thing' does not last long and before we know it, we are looking for another 'thing' to fill the void in our life. Possessions can only fill the void for a little while and when the lights are off and you are all alone with your thoughts, no one escapes that inner feeling of guilt. People will often try to deny sin in their life by looking for distractions and the more they seek human distractions, the deeper they sink into despair.  

We all know when we do wrong (sin) even whilst we are busy justifying our own set of rules (morals).  We all know when we do wrong  because the law of God is written on every ones heart (whether you are an agnostic, Muslim, Hindu, etc).  

A strange thing happened to me when I learnt of Gods moral codes; I realised that my moral code was very selfish. I also discovered that the joy of Gods forgiveness  is for all time, and it has actually washed away most of the stress associated with the guilt of my sins. This does not mean that I may continue to sin, but that when I do sin (in thought or deed or lack of action) I am much more aware of it now, and know that I need to ask for forgiveness as I strive to not repeat my sinful behaviors. I still sin, but am trying to do so less.

14. Forgiveness

God has always had strict laws. We can see that though the history provided to us in the Hebrew bible. The Bible says that Jesus paid for believers sins by his one time, all atoning, sacrifice, in lieu of regular payment for sins by means of sacrificing expensive animals etc. The Bible says that when we ask for Gods forgiveness through his Son Jesus, Gods ears (so to speak) are turned towards us and He forgets all our transgressions past and future. If God can forgive us, why do we keep beating ourselves up over our past and ongoing failures. God does not define us by our mistakes but refines us by our mistakes. Therefore if God  does not define us by our mistakes/failures, we need to learn to not define ourselves that way either and forgive ourselves. If we let failure define us, we may miss out on what God has planned in our future. When we go through what we think of as a failure, perhaps a quiet season or perhaps a wilderness in our lives, sometimes its Gods plan leading us to something else.

For a major portion of Moses's life, he likely thought he was a failure, but at 80, God had big things for him to do.

Peter wept bitterly after denying knowing Jesus and likely though he was a failure, but 50 days after Jesus was crucified, he started the Church which has spread across the world. Your failures / mistakes can make you more resilient or they can destroy you if you let them. You cannot change what is behind you, but God can get you to where you need to be, but it may take time time. We are so spoilt and often expect instant gratification and results, but our failures don't stop Gods plan, as He has taken all those into account. It might not seem impossible at the time, for anything good to come out of a bad situation when a door closes, and it might take 50 years for other to open, but we need to be patient.

Whilst some people may tag us with negative labels, a belief in Jesus means that we are redeemed, forgiven, a child of God, even selfish people like me, who constantly and daily do the wrong thing or fail to do the right thing

 We are not perfect (otherwise we would be God) and God clearly knows that we are sometimes weak feeble creatures.