Sunday, May 25, 2014

Bible Fools#2. Rich, Self-centred and Senseless

The musical group ‘Abba’ sang it. Untold millions want it. ‘Money, Money, Money.’ That song could well be the anthem of the soul. It certainly must be for Prosperity teachers, Mafia cartels and other unscrupulous people. The Head of the Christian Church, Jesus, had a lot to say about money. He didn’t dispute the need for it but He certainly showed the human heart’s fascination addiction and corruption to it

In the Parable of the rich farmer (Luke 12:16-21) Jesus put things about riches in perspective. The unnamed farmer (therefore it could apply to any of us.) had just reaped an abundant crop. His elation and bank account seemed to take over his senses. His eyes saw ‘gold’ and more of it so he planned to build bigger storage sheds and to enjoy the party life.

One major crisis would ruin all his selfish plans. In the parable God called him a fool, the word means senseless one. Why? Because that very night the farmer became a death statistic! There are however, other reasons I believe behind why Jesus portrayed the farmer as senseless. I would simply like to list them.

1. In Israel under the covenant arrangements the nation, therefore the individual, occupied the land as tenants. No other piece of ground and nation has been earmarked by the Lord God. In Joel 2:18 (and elsewhere) the Land is called ‘His (God’s) land’. Therefore the farmer was a tenant and therefore should have considered his obligation to the owner. He had a duty to offer ten percent (the agreed sum) back to God. It never seemed to enter the farmer’s mind. There’s a lesson in there surely for us to heed.

2. This newly rich man could only think about more storage for more produce. Then he could party more and be self indulgent. However one of the principles of God’s word was not to forget the poor and needy. From out of his abundance others’ needs could be satisfied. The Bible is saturated with such injunctions and commands. The farmer wasn’t interested. His navel’s passions occupied his mind. God was offended again. ‘Who cares’, may well have been the man’s attitude.

3. He must have had a sense of good health and young enough not to be concerned about death. Diagnostic services weren’t anywhere as good as ours in his day but even in our time death still can strike unawares. Rich he was but he wasn’t lord of his life. Senseless he was, although a good farmer and business man, for he had no time or place for God and God’s commands. Now this unnamed ‘tycoon’ of Israel would stand accountable before the Lord God Almighty.

Money is an honourable servant. It is however, a heartless and voracious tyrant when it rules the heart and drives the will. It makes people senseless to goodness, integrity the needs of others. It also kills the sense of accountability to God. We all need to remember those things. It is also worthwhile to understand there isn’t any prize at the end of time for being the richest person in the graveyard.

Jesus urged His hearers to seek first the Kingdom of God. Only then will Money or ‘Mammon’ be tamed. The Bible uses the term ‘filthy Lucre in reference to money. Why? Not because of the material from which it is made but by what it breeds in the soul. Only a heart and mind with higher motives, a sense of discipline and integrity will prevent money and its offspring from polluting one’s life. The Lord also called people to build up treasure in heaven, not simply to focus on the earthly realm. Money has no hope of being transferred from one’s bank account into Heaven’s vault. It has to be transformed into Heaven’s currency by meeting the needs of others and honouring the Name of the Lord Jesus.

The Scriptures uphold the Lord Jesus’ teaching which will make you wise regarding life and Truth. He has no pleasure in seeing men and women wearing for all eternity the description ‘Senseless’.

Friday, May 23, 2014

It's just between you and me, Lord

What’s a man doing reviewing a book written mainly for women?
Guess it’s because I’m part of a team who review books. I don’t do novels but I do review devotionals. So, I gave this a go.

As you read further down, Marion Stroud is a prolific author of this genre as well as Children’s books. My wife Mary has some of these devotional/meditation books and has been blest by them.

There are six main headings ranging through ‘A Woman within’ ‘A woman and her children’ and ‘A woman growing older.’ Under each heading are a number of prayer conversations with the Heavenly Father. I admit I appreciate that style. As you read you can sense the honesty of the heart being expressed. From a man’s standpoint we would phrase things differently but hopefully as honestly as Marion has penned the words.

There are some appropriate snippets and quotes from such people as ‘Mother Teresa and Brother Lawrence, Charles R. Swindol and others. I always find them interesting.

I have to admit I haven’t read it all (I’m a slow reader). What I have read I’ve sensed a woman’s heart laughing, crying, waiting and seeking after God in various situations. Any guys reading this should buy it for your wife but read it before you give it to her. Could be a good conversation starter.

Reviewer Ray N. Hawkins

I did receive this book to review from ACBRA.

19th - 23rd May 2014
is introducing

About the Book

Women are most likely to express their deepest thoughts to a trusted friend. At its best, prayer is simply that; a conversation with a friend who is never too tired, too busy or too pre-occupied to listen and respond.

From personal prayers to prayers about family,friends and the wider world, interweaved with Scripture and thought provoking quotes, this inspirational resource helps women of all ages to genuinely connect with God,and build and maintain a strong prayer life.

About the Author

Marion Stroud has written 3 children's books, and 23 non-fiction titles. She lives in Bedford UK the town in which John Bunyan wrote his famous Pilgrim's Progress. She is a cross cultural trainer for Media Associates International [] which works to help Christian writers, editors and publishers write and publish culturally appropriate material in the 'spiritually hard places' of the world. You can contact marion at

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Passion in Writing

The following blogspot is a world away from my usual Monday serving. I was invited to be part of a Writing Process Blog Tour. It was similar to a relay race where one writer would do his or her article on how they write and then pass the ‘baton’ to another.

I received mine from Shirley Corder from South Africa. Shirley is a prolific writer and you should check out her site on So today is my turn to share with you about my writing. After that I was to pass the ‘baton’ to others. Sadly the ones selected for my ‘team’ have either fallen over, failed to turn up or been handicapped out of the race by overwork. So my race ends here.

However, now you can watch from the ‘grandstand’ of your computer as I do my solo run.

I have been asked: What am I working on?It is the second Devotional book in a series begun when I wrote ‘Bethlehem’s Warrior Baby.’ That was, of course, about the Christmas event of Jesus Christ. He was promised. It was
portrayed. It was fulfilled. Jesus is no tender meek and mild wimp. He is the Warrior Lord of Micah 5:2. Jesus was born with a ‘Sword’ in His mouth’. It is described in Hebrews 4:12 as the Word of God.

Therefore the 31 day devotional I’m working on now is called ‘The Warrior Lord’s Sword’. This is a look at what the Scriptures reveal about itself and why it is called ‘The Sword of the Lord’. Too many people inside and outside the Church view the Bible as a pleasant read, nice moral code or permeated by myths. It can be taken or left. When viewed as ‘The Sword’ and alive and active people need to take it seriously.

I am also working on the third in my ‘Warrior Lord’ series entitled ‘The Return of the Warrior Lord’. As is evident by the title, it is a 31 day devotional about the second coming of the Lord of Hosts, Jesus Christ.

How then does my work differ from other Devotionals?Devotional writing spans from the sweet and sentimental to the rugged and challenging. Some are short and others more detailed and longer. Devotionals cater for all ages, tastes and spiritual maturity.
My devotionals centre upon a specific theme. I research what the Scriptures say about the particular subject and after selecting the material, weave within it life related events or insights. I enjoy drawing out and presenting from the Bible the word pictures associated with the theme. I’ve been told that my writing is geared for those who are interested in knowing what the Bible says, rather than anecdotes about Scripture. Some of my themes have been ‘Children: God’s Special Interest, ‘From Eden with Love’ (re Marriage), ‘Capture by Calvary’, ‘Dynamic Ageing’ and ‘Signposts to Happiness’ (about the word ‘Blessed’ in Scripture).

You may wonder ‘Why do I write what I do?’
The apostle Paul in Philippians 3 used the phrase “I want to know Him (Christ Jesus).’ That is my heart also. As a Christian and as a writer it is also my goal to offer to people and readers the opposition to know Him.’ The best way I believe this can be done is to unleash the Scriptures to the mind of readers. As they read the day’s set devotional my prayer is that they discover how meaningful Christ is for their life and circumstances.

Finally ‘How does my writing process work?’Once my theme is settled I search my Concordance for the information about it. After sifting it, then selecting the appropriate passages, I jot them down. Pens and papers litter my desk as thoughts, ideas, experiences and relevant material are collected. Bit by bit under headings, material is sorted, shaped, compiled, rejected and then roughly drafted.

I’m a plodding type of writer so it takes time. To be honest I rarely lose motivation but interruptions can be frustrating. After the initial draft I wait (impatiently) read it again and usually share it with my wife Mary. She is also an author and is better at English things such as dots, commas, hyphens etc. than I. After that it is off to an editor. That’s the scary part. Then may come some redrafting, pruning or explaining. When all that is done it is off to my publisher.

Whilst the manuscript is away does this author play? Does he pray? Does he pursue other pastimes? Maybe ‘yes’ could be said to them all. More than likely however, I just pace up and down waiting for a reply or I’m restless because I’m at a loose end.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Fools, from a Bible's viewpoint. #1

A stand up comedian in the U.K. has helped establish the godless church. That’s no joke. He is expecting many other such assemblies to spring up in the course of time. He was quoted in ‘My Christian Daily’ as saying: ‘We are born from nothing and go to nothing. Let’s enjoy it together.’

That intrigued me and saddened me at the same time. What have they to celebrate? Nothing! What, apart from ego and trying to prove nothing, can possibly hold a diverse group of people together? Nothing! Will it last? Time will tell.

Looking up my concordance on the subject of ‘fool’ I was informed that in the Old Testament 5 Hebrew words are so translated. In the New Testament the Greek uses four different words. In Psalms 14:1 and 53:1 such people as the comedian are defined as an ‘empty person.’ Why? Because they say there is no God. In what way would the Psalmist consider them ‘empty headed?’

In both psalms the writer contrasts them with those who he sees as wise. The wise are those who seek to find and know the God of Creation and of the people of Israel.

To make mindless chance and at the same time presume billions of years as the creator of the universe is beyond belief. Nothing can only beget nothing. How much greater is the Psalmist’s words from psalm 19:1 ‘The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.’ It is this Creator the Bible reveals. Paul uses a similar argument in Romans 1:18f. The word he uses for such thinkers is ‘moraino’ which means ‘to make foolish.’ It is their lack of a seeking heart and a seeing mind which has emptied their head and made them foolish.

Those who deny the reality of God say ‘Where did He come from, who created Him?’ That doesn’t demolish God’s existence. It merely brings us to the realm of the unknown. The same can be applied to ‘chance’ as the cause of creation. We are brought before the unanswerable. Both are faith matters. By faith the ‘fool’ says ‘Nothing’ created all that there is’ and by faith Christians state ‘it is by the power and word of the Lord God.’ He has also made Himself knowable in His Word and in the person of His Son, Jesus the Christ.

The Psalmist also says such ‘fools’ are very aggressive against God’s people. He implies that these ‘empty headed ones’ want to make null and void the Scriptures God’s people treasure. Why? For it was by the creation of this particular people that God would work with to give us all His word and commandments (check Psalm 147:19–20). His plan of salvation required His Son, the Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ to come to earth. We call it Christmas which culminated at Easter (Passover) and the resurrection. The ‘fool’ not only rejects both premises they want them banned. This is being pursued in law courts and media especially in Christian countries. In the graphic words of the Psalmist ‘they eat up my people as they eat bread.’

In Psalm 53:5 we are given an insight into the sadness awaiting those who imagine they are on the way to ‘nowhere’ and into ‘nothingness.’ They are actually on a date with the One they don’t believe in. It will not be a picnic. It will be a time of terror and they will be put to shame.’

The Bible is Christ Jesus’ gift to us all so as to prevent any and all from being ‘Empty Headed’ towards Him. What He offers is better than ‘nothing’ it is defined as ‘abundant life’ in time and eternity.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Happiness which Endures Tough Times

An old saying goes ‘There’s gold in them thar hills.’ Only trouble is you have to go and search for it.

It is a similar in regards to happiness. It isn’t found in the hills or valleys or in things although many can find enjoyment in such things. They can be likened to ‘fools gold’ for they look like the real thing but haven’t the value or lasting worth of real gold. Happiness is something that possesses the heart and mind. It proves its worth and lasting power in tough times.

Can people in Syria, Algeria, Hungary and any number of strife ridden countries know true and lasting happiness? If so, where can it be found? Strange though it may sound true and lasting happiness is founding a Person and His book. This person is Jesus Christ. His book is the Bible. The word we write as ‘happiness’ is translated ‘Blessed’ in this sacred book. In the closing letter called Revelation this term is used at least seven (7) times. That is strange when you think of it for the letter is one dealing with the future and warfare, judgement and conflict. Even the writer, John, when he penned this epistle was a prisoner of Caesar on the isle of Patmos. Yet he was happy! This is his opening words: ‘Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and keep what is written in it; for the time is near.’ Revelation 1:3

The promise to the reader about experiencing happiness from this book is there for the receiving. Unfortunately, between the eye of the reader and the mind there can be many distractions or causes of ‘blindness.’

Happiness cannot be framed and put on the wall as a certificate of merit. To be blessed by God has its high moments of exhilaration and the quieter times of delight. Our defence against a loss of happiness is explained by John in: ‘… blessed are those who hear and keep what is written …’ It’s all in the word ‘keep’. In the NIV translation it says, ‘take it to heart’. The idea suggests a believer should be a watchman on a castle battlement keeping a lookout for enemy infiltration. Our telescope to spot danger is what is written. At the same time God’s word is a microscope. We turn it upon our soul’s attitudes and behaviour. Are we being true to what is written?

In Revelation John takes us through current and foretold events which threaten the happiness of God’s people. This explains why he joins happiness to keeping what is written. Revelation begins with the majesty of Christ and His ability to thrill the hearts of the faithful. Then it presents the judgements of Christ against all that corrupts, oppresses and denies godliness. The book concludes with the glories of Christ’s victory and the new heaven and earth. As we face uncertain times in a turbulent world, the Bible nourishes faith and strengthens hope. It also warns and informs us about coming events. As we read our understanding about God being in control grows. That’s happiness. From even a casual look around the globe there is more tears than laughter, more fear than cheer. How can any reasonable person experience the fruit of happiness which is peace, hope, love and a sense of eternal safety in the face of death? It comes from knowing that Jesus is Lord of your life and that nothing can separate you from Him. (Romans 8) Happiness is the confidence that Jesus Christ keeps His word and will share your trials and troubles and bring you ultimately into His presence. Happiness is the contentment which fills the heart knowing He has set aside a day when Justice will be meted out.

How can we be sure?

more about happiness as promised
by Christ
in my latest devotional.

Read the letter of Revelation and realise this has been given by the risen Lord Jesus to guard us, guide us and bless us. If we face life’s madness and people’s cruelties without Him and His word we have no foundation for happiness, now or in eternity. However st the end of the book promise’s ‘Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed (happy) is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.’ (Revelation 22:7)