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Saturday, 30 June 2018

Come on England! Go for it!

Midway through the FIFA World Cup tournament, it's time for the knockout stages to begin, with England against Colombia this coming Tuesday (July 3rd). So with me, after many years of hostility towards any prospect of England ever winning the World Cup, as the blog title suggests, what has brought such a dramatic change of mind?

Could it be that Italy had failed to qualify? Amazing too that has happened, as I have not only recall the much-maligned Italy playing well within the midst of each tournament, but actually won the cup four times in its history (in 1934, 1938, 1982, 2006) which is second to the greatest number of wins achieved by Brazil, which was five times overall, including a penalty shoot-out against Italy in 1994, after a goalless draw, including thirty minutes of additional playing time. And that particular match was watched on a foreign TV set - complete with Arab commentary - alongside other volunteers at a Christian Conference Centre in Israel. But with Italy failing to qualify for this year's competition was not the cause of my change of mind. Rather it was something else.

By contrast with Brazil and Italy, England has won the cup only once in its history which, as we all know, was back in 1966, more than half a century, which within many born and died without ever a chance of witnessing an England win, or were too young back then to realise that their home team had just made history. 

But I do recall having a favourable disposition for England during my childhood and adolescent years, second in favour after Italy. Even though I was born in England and grew up here, I was taught by both my parents that I have a pure Italian bloodline, and all our family members were Italian, not English, although after legalisation, I have always referred myself as British when filling in any important document, whether civic or otherwise. 

How the English see themselves...

It was the influence of other people who eventually turned me against the idea of supporting England. And this may come as a surprise to anyone reading this, but the churches around here must share the blame. But even before my conversion to Christ towards the end of 1972, I have suffered sneering from British work colleagues for no other reason than having Italian origins. Sure enough, those who did taunt me were mainly disgruntled war veterans who fought "tooth and nail" for our freedom and democracy, yet felt little or no appreciation or thanks from my generation, the Baby-Boomers who were born into this world not long after the end of the War. Therefore to watch someone like me growing up and living off the fat of the land, and then innocently making known my origins, did not exactly endear myself to them.

But I can understand the plight of these veterans. They fought for the democratic freedom of this country against the threat of German Nazism and its potential takeover of Britain. Then following the end of the war there was several years of food rationing, something we juniors did not have to endure, far less worry about. Such former work colleagues are easily forgivable. But when I came across this church-going patriot during the mid-eighties, who is a few years younger than me, and whose sense of inferior complexity swelling his xenophobic English pride out of all proportions - well, that was something altogether different. 

How incredulous it might have seemed for such contrasting people such as him and myself to share in the same Body of Christ, but such as both of us being true Christian believers. But not long after getting to know him, he made clear to me that the English were a superior nation, above the rest of the world, and certainly above the Italians, and how proud he was of that! Also a strong advocate of the British stiff upper lip, he certainly viewed us Italians with a sense of cultural backwardness. 

Therefore, it did not take me long to realise that his train of thinking and emotions stemmed from a sense of social inferiority - having never entered university, nor having any qualifications from school, and remaining perpetually single, yet this former kitchen porter mixing freely with church-going graduates and watching one after another pair up to stand at the altar. Therefore whenever England played internationally and won, the look of gloating arrogance became unbearable, and if ever the time came for England to play against Italy - the thought of the latter losing to the former, it would not bear thinking about. Therefore this Christian played a major role towards the hostility I felt towards England, which wasn't edifying or faith-building at all.

Happy to say, now attending a different church, his continual absence has dulled any ill-feeling I might have had towards England. On top of that, he too is forgivable, and to forgive is not only obedience to Christ's teaching but also beneficial to all mental, physically and emotional wellbeing. If England is to win this tournament, I would no longer feel so threatened as I did during the 2014 World Cup, or during earlier World Cup contests. How could I ever forget 1998, when I fled to New York to deliberately miss the final, which was won by France, after England was already knocked out by Argentina even before I took off from Heathrow Airport?

Alas! Such fleeing abroad to escape the Cup Final is not quite so easy now, being a married man whose wife is partially disabled. But with my English rival settled in another church, I don't feel so threatened as I did before, and to a certain extent, able to wish the England team good luck. But this comes after remembering certain Scriptures with which I have been familiar for years. Such as Isaiah 40:15-17, which reads:

Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust in the scales;
(God) weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.
Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.

When I posted this on Facebook, one friend commented that he doesn't sound like a good boss! Yet I cannot help read this as the appropriate rebuke to national pride. But to put the Scripture into its proper context, it is Lebanon which gives a clue to its meaning here. In Old Testament times, Lebanon boasted a forest of cedar trees covering the entire land, from which palaces were built and parts of the First Temple were constructed. It was also the source of firewood in abundance for sacrifices which were necessary for the covering of sins until the Crucifixion. Yet if Lebanon with its great abundance was still below par with its supplies, how less were all other nations? The context is to do with redemption, proving that absolutely no one was ever able to work himself up to God's satisfaction and earn Heaven after death.

Where salvation is concerned, every nation is worthless and less than nothing. By comparison, this is strikingly equivalent to the aprons of fig leaves Adam and Eve had made and wore immediately after the Fall. Despite its covering, those leaves still failed to enable them to stand before God, but instead they hid in a bush when they heard him approaching. When God was able to speak to them, he totally ignored their efforts and slew an innocent animal to provide the skins suitable to clothe them (Genesis 3). This involves only the work of God himself without man's help, and involves the shedding of blood of an innocent substitute, the forerunner of Christ's crucifixion.

Those aprons were a symbol of religion - a system of trying to attain reconciliation with God by self effort. It can take several forms, including a high sense of morality, but also through empire building - whether it was by means of the Tower of Babel, the Egyptian or Babylonian Empire or the British Empire, or any form of individual, family, tribal, or national achievement or glory. Indeed, any nation can excel in glory by comparison with other nations, but will never attain the holiness of God by its own efforts or self-promoting glory.

Which brings me to ask: Am I reading too much into the World Cup tournament? No, not really. The football competition is another way of seeking national glory, to stand head-and-shoulders above all other nations in the world by means of eleven men kicking a football across a field. Indeed, football is a religion, a means of worship into the heights of glory. Or in other words, like the Tower of Babel in the depths of history, an attempt to reach the heavens through the efforts of a team of players. 

The players themselves do the work, and if a victory is won by them, then the whole nation is glorified through them vicariously. There seems to be very little difference from the vicarious victory won by Jesus Christ through death by Crucifixion, Burial and Resurrection. There seems to be parallels between the England football team and Jesus Christ in the sense that both do the work on behalf of others, leading to glory for all - in one, for every Englishman glorified in winning the World Cup through the efforts of just eleven men playing on the field, for the other, every believer to receive glory through the work of atonement by Jesus Christ.

But there is a difference, maybe only one difference, but a major one at that. The Englishman's glory is temporary and will eventually fade, receding into memory, especially if England fails to win at the next contest. Neither does the Englishman's glory bring reconciliation with God or partake in his holiness. On the contrary, the glory awaiting every believer in Jesus Christ is eternal and will never ever fade or recede into memory. Furthermore, the death of every believer is defeated and is forever reconciled to God, eternal life is given, and made a partaker of his holiness.

Without the work of God to intervene, every nation is as dust, worthless and less than nothing as God sees them. Their struggle to attain glory through self effort or vicariously through means of a team of players, all is vanity, vanity of vanities, so wrote King Solomon in his book of Ecclesiastes. Therefore every Englishman (as well as everyone whose nationality are still in the World Cup contest) should think deeply, and consider that we are all dust and ashes whose breath of life in our nostrils is from God, who sustains us each day. We are the work of Divine Creation and we are not here by accident, neither a turn of luck on the evolutionary scale.

With this way of thinking, the football supporter is humbled, recognising the power and glory of God and therefore doing away with any feeling of superiority over those who had lost out in the contest. Apart from death itself, awareness of the glory of God is a great equaliser, it has that heart-cleansing power to eliminate arrogance and national pride and glory. With this in mind, I would like to bring to attention one marvel of Creation - the unique characteristics of the Earth. 

It was from a recent BBC programme, following our planet on its full orbit around the sun. Both my wife and I sat there feeling very humbled at the knowledge that our planet is tilted by 23.5 degrees from the orbital plane, giving us the seasons, which according to scientists, are essential to life, including a diversity of animal and plant species depending on the seasons for reproduction and sustenance. Furthermore, the orbit of the Earth around the Sun is not quite circular, nor is the Sun bang centre of its orbit, but rather elliptical, with the Sun nearer one end of the orbit (the perihelion) than the other end (the aphelion).

It seems ironic that the perihelion happens to occur around January 3rd, that is during our Winters here in the UK whilst the southern hemisphere, enjoying its Summer, also has the privilege of being closer to the Sun. On the contrary, around July 4th, at the height of our Summers, we are also furthest away from the Sun. And then I wonder why we have such lousy Summers here in England! But the truth, highlighted by the BBC, is that the Southern hemisphere is mostly ocean-covered, with just Australasia, Antarctica and South America being the three main continents down under. The result having far cooler and lousier Summers south of the Tropic of Capricorn, simply being a vast expanse of ocean, it takes much longer to heat up. If Southern Winters were on the peak of aphelion, chances are of a permanent Antarctic ice age. To me this was quite a revelation.

The position and gravitational moon is just right, causing solar eclipses as our satellite blocks out the sunlight and giving the impression that the Sun and Moon are exactly the same size. Then not to mention the tremendous effect tidal cycles have on marine life and climate. Finally, despite its eccentricity, the whole of our orbit lie within the Goldilocks zone, the only zone away from the Sun where water can retain its liquid form.

Although some of these facts I already knew from adolescence, the BBC unwittingly highlighted the very power and glory of God in his Creation. It caused me to humbly worship. Indeed, with knowledge of such revelation, the pride, strength and glory of every nation does appear as fine dust, worthless and less than nothing when compared to life giving and life-sustaining powers of Divine Creation!

But having said that, poor England, deprived of an international World Cup win for 52 years - go on, go for it, and bring the trophy home this time. I'll support you. But remember God and acknowledge him, for your very existence depends on him.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

A Lone Light Shines in the Darkness

I'm sure many go through times of darkness. What I mean is: Feeling terribly lonely, unloved, forgotten, isolated, even rejected or forsaken by God. And in the midst of grief, a tiny light shines. Perhaps like a pinpoint but nevertheless, light, whatever its intensity, has a way of dispelling darkness. 

Like within the past 48 hours when I had to call for an ambulance twice for my beloved wife Alex. The first time was a response for a very severe backache which no household medicine was able to alleviate. At A&E, although she was treated well by a friendly nurse who administered both Morphine and other painkillers, the doctor, who was apparently British, himself listened to what she had to say, then curtly dismissed her, telling her to go home and consult a neurologist if she wanted attention. 

And went home we did, by taxi, with my wife feeling very upset. Indeed, being a doctor at Accident & Emergency department of any hospital involves greater stress in dealing with a constant inflow of patients, but we felt that as a patient herself, Alex should have received a greater level of compassion. And I suppose this is what the first impression the NHS is about. It's not how decorative or level of aestheticism the hospital building looks, neither the sophistication of the technology found within. It is how the patient, such as my beloved, sees and perceives the attitude of its staff towards her, particularly from junior doctors. 

With her belief that she was "a nuisance patient" in the eyes of the medical staff, Alex spent the next day angry and upset, and without outright display of her feelings she spent most of her day sleeping, virtually immobile, and even falling unconscious. It was during this moment, in my failed attempt to wake her up, that I was gripped with a cold, naked fear. The terror of widowhood entered my mind, foolish this may look to the reader. Then again, with someone such as myself who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, these thoughts and feelings can be very real.  

Other thoughts entered my mind. Thoughts of the sheer unfairness of life with, together with the dread, also feeling gripped with jealousy of how one church member who is riding on a wave crest of blessing after blessing, thanks mainly to his university degree, and even boasting about it on Facebook. Alongside these thoughts and emotions lies the awareness of both of us feeling disliked and ostracised by a middle-class couple who also attend our church, and both actually adoring the said graduate. As I felt myself sinking lower and lower into the pit of hell, Alex slowly came to and whispered, Phone 111, before sinking back into sleep. 

The phone number 111 is for GP out-of-hours consultation with the NHS for non-emergency calls. Having dialled the emergency number the previous evening, dialling this number seems less distressing, but I felt a rush of relief to be told, after answering a series of questions on behalf of my wife, that they decided to dispatch an ambulance. After the paramedics arrived and accessed her, a discussion arose whether she should be taken back into hospital. They were keen to take her, I wasn't willing to return, but it was Alex, in her semi-conscious state, who made the final decision. So off we went - yet again.

At A&E, I found myself praying fervently beside her bed. I was calling on God the Father to first forgive us from any wrongdoing, then to break any adversary powers in the spirit realm which may be binding on my beloved, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth. I repeated the format over and over again, even with a sense of authority. Also included was a reference of the church couple who has ostracised us, in the name of the Lord Jesus, may their curses - if any were thrown at us by them - to be made totally ineffective. Not long after, Alex felt another highly intense pain coursing through the whole length of her backbone, intense enough to make her roar with suffering in the ward which brought the nurse running. With liquid Paracetamol fed into her bloodstream intravenously, her symptoms eased, and with Morphine also fed into her system in the same way, I watched her calm down to relaxation. 

Whilst in Hospital, this is how I looked.

A different doctor to the previous one arrived, who looks to be from the Middle East or from India. Far more compassionate than the last one, we talked. Fortunately, he knew the condition my wife was in, and he asked us why we desire her to be admitted for the night. When I answered that the suggestion was originally from the paramedics, as well as for further observation before returning home, he partially agreed. Then he went on to explain that in such a ward there are patients in distress, calling for the nurse, shouting, making noises, along with other factors which such a sordid atmosphere, would worsen Alex's condition, distressing her more. He then assured us that she would recover a lot quicker if we went home. We both agreed. We arrived home, again by taxi, at three in the morning, and happy to say that at present she's feeling better, although not yet fully out of the woods.

And so within this approximate 34-hour period of darkness and emotional distress, loneliness and feeling of apparent ostracism from local Christians, there was one beam of light, something of a lovely encouragement and of edifying quality. And it came from Uganda, in the heart of Africa. An email linked me to a letter written by a adolescent saying how much he and his family loved me. Yes, they loved me, even over thousands of miles distant.

With the risk of letting my left hand know what my right hand is doing, let me say that the family who once lived in poverty eventually became fully committed Christians. This was because of their alliance with a UK-based church organisation, Compassion, an offshoot of its parent charity Tearfund. Through Compassion, any Western Christian believer is encouraged to sponsor a child in the Third World, one child for each sponsor. The monthly payments, being by Standing Order made with the Bank, remains "invisible" in a sense that I don't have to keep doing it consciously. Therefore the payments remain ongoing for years, almost unaware, spanning the younger years of the recipient's life.

In return I receive letters written by the child, sometimes accompanied with his latest photo of himself, along with his full profile. He usually update on his education levels, his family, health and hobbies, and always included in the letter is a verse from the Bible which has been specifically helpful to him. A young child he was when I started sponsoring him, he is now a thriving teenager with a promising future. And he wrote that he loved me, an endearing message received in the midst of darkness. And this is not the first time either. Also in Uganda there is a university student and devout Christian who was also sponsored out of poverty by me during his childhood years. And like the present recipient, he too fondly keeps me in his memories.

To say that these African believers obey the Bible more seriously than our middle-class brothers seem to have an element of truth. One verse from the prophets come to mind here:
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoking flax he will not quench: he shall bring forth judgement unto truth.
Isaiah 42:3, Matthew 12:20 AV.

I will direct this mainly to the aforementioned middle-class English couple who have a fetish for graduates and for posh people, but who dislikes me and refuses any kind of reconciliation. As with me, I have forgiven them in a sense that if they were to change their minds, I would be eager to welcome them and enjoy fellowship. This has always been my desire, as I believe this is the right way to godly living. But when the husband is walking alone, sees me approaching in the opposite direction, and grimace in silence as I smile a polite greeting, then this can have a dramatic effect on the emotions, especially in a moment of crisis (as mentioned in last week's blog post). 

And now it's the time of the World Cup international football tournament. Like the Olympics, it is held every four years, and once again I see the great hope building up among others for the chance of the resurrection of England's glory after beating Tunisia by two goals to one in last week's opening match. Together with Brexit, if England happen to win the Cup this time round, I dread the sheer pride, optimism and national glory which would cover the land. And with it, that look of gloating as they glance down at me, an Italian, someone who lovingly cares for his wife in pain. Yes, something similar to this has already happened from time to time in the past. All by self-effort isn't it? Or rather, the glory attained by the combined effort of eleven men kicking a football across a field. Suddenly we're on top of the world again, regardless of whether our national economy is strong or whether it's crashing to the ground and facing a recession. No matter. In international football, we are the champions!

Of course, there is no room for the bruised reed or the smoking flax. Break the reed, throw water on the flax - as long as they remain standing in the way of England's prospective glory, they both must be removed, trodden underfoot, and left by the wayside. I suppose that what comes to having a victory from self-effort and glory-seeking. And so as I watch fellow Christians allowing themselves to be sucked into the mire, I feel that I just can't go along with them. And I think there is an important reason.

And that is found within the whole of Psalm 144. Here we read about King David praising God for all war victories against his enemies whose forces posed a threat to the welfare of Israel. David was a superb warrior, but instead of glorifying himself or his kingdom, he gave all the credit to God for his victories. And here is where I believe is England's downfall. Glorifying themselves rather than glorifying God, despite the nation asserting itself as a Christian country. Since England won the Cup against Germany at Wembley in 1966, the national team has been wondering around the wilderness ever since, with its lowest point reached in 2014, when England failed to reach even the knockout stages. 

Scripture indicates that all the victory of all battles and contests are decided by God, rather than by mere human effort or glory. In Proverbs 21:31, for example, a few words written by King Solomon blows all mere human effort alone to pieces:
The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.

At the moment it does look as if England can win this time round. But if it does, let's not forget that it's by the sheer grace of God. And the whole of England should acknowledge this, therefore admitting the glory and sovereignty of God and us as the workman of his hands, which includes both team players and their supporters congratulating all other teams for partaking in the tournament, and especially the runners up, a reasoning which looks to me to be in the realm of Divine Creationism - acknowledging that we are all God creation, as opposed to Darwin's theory of Evolution by chance, by natural selection, and by the survival of the fittest. Especially the latter, as survival of the fittest seems to go hand-in-hand with victory through self-glorification, a prize achieved by total human endeavour, which includes exalting the strong and crushing the weak and the lame onto the wayside. 

I am the one who feels small, inadequate, ostracised, lonely in a big world where I find difficult to cope. Indeed, I feel like dust and ashes or a mere flea. And trying to care for a disabled wife whom I love dearly. Then someone comes along and gently lifts me up, without breaking a bruised reed or quenching of a smouldering flax. Indeed, I can call him a Christian, a word meaning little Christ, and with no doubt has the spirit of Christ. And which will exceed in righteousness by leaps and bounds over anyone who seeks the glory of England above the needs of the weak or needy.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

English Bible Written by Foreigners?

I sat up last week when the morning service announcements were read out at our church. For it was announced that at the evening service, this graduate, whom I will refer to as Charlie, will be giving a talk about Creation. I was alerted. Creation is right up my street, and I was already interested on what kind of opinion Charlie will have to share on it.

And so that evening I made a special effort to cycle to our church at North Ascot. But my misunderstanding on the time the service actually commences meant that I arrived more than thirty minutes early. This half hour was designated for pre-service coffee and cake refreshments, and having had tea at home earlier, it felt to me to be a good idea to take a stroll into the North Ascot residential estate for the threefold reason of digesting my last meal, doing some extra exercise, and killing excess time. Fortunately the weather was fair, dry and warm, appropriate in Southern England on a typical June Sunday.

Our church at North Ascot.

About fifty metres further along the sidewalk, another regular church member was approaching in the opposite direction. It was unusual for him to be alone, not having his wife accompany him was not the norm. As we were about to pass each other, I smiled up to him and bade good evening. Instead of acknowledging my greeting as any polite gentleman would do to someone he knew well, he grimaced as he held his silence and walked on towards the church building, as he would to anyone he doesn't like. As for me, to forgive plays an important role in my walk with God. Jesus taught it, even to the extent that if a brother sins as much as seven by seventy times, he must be forgiven that many times, even whether it's 77 or 490 times a day! (Matthew 18:21-22). Even when considering physical health alone, to forgive will spare the merciful person from a multitude of illnesses.

I approached the road junction at the middle of the residential estate, where I paused to look around. Indeed it was quite a posh area, a layout of privately-owned homes, inhabited by predominantly middle class residents. However, the quietness of the traffic-free streets was sad in a way but of no real surprise. Back in my boyhood days it would have been common to watch boys playing football or cricket (without allowing the ball to break a window), while the girls were out playing hopscotch, house or schools. Kid's voices echoed through the street, from time to time a scuffle would erupt, and occasionally a boy could be seen running or walking back home in tears. Such was the rough and tumble of growing up, the excess energy well and truly spent, and given little or no chance for obesity to set in.

But as I stood at the road junction on a typical early Summer Sunday tea-time, the stillness and the quietness of the estate had somehow gotten to me. Imagining every family sitting in front of the TV, their teenage sons shut in their own bedrooms and glued to the play station, Facebook or whatever, the well-known but unbiblical phrase The Englishman's Home is his Castle looks very appropriate in North Ascot. And much more so as I passed one residence as I made my way back to the church, what seems to be some argument taking place at the front door between a female householder and a caller.

The grimacing pedestrian I passed earlier lives on or near the estate. Very English, as I have known him for a number of years, he has a tendency to look up in awe to graduates but despises commoners who may hold different opinions. He has already condemned me to an eternity in Hell - not because of any possibility of deliberately rejecting Jesus Christ as Saviour, but because I am not in the middle-class academic realm, and therefore my own tendency to hug other men is seen by him as a transgression of Englishness.

Crazy, isn't it? In truth, I wish that the risen Jesus of Nazareth would materialise in front of me and give me a long embrace, his nail-scarred hands tapping gently on my back and giving it a gentle stroke as he showers me with love and affection. I guess I have to wait until the afterlife before I can have that experience. Instead, I belong to a church which within includes a few middle-class eccentrics and academic weirdos, who either cannot accept the Bible as literal history or finding difficulty in doing so. As was the case with Charlie, whom the grimacing pedestrian adores.

Charlie is quite an academic in his own right, whose graduation on Middle East political history has enabled him to write books on the subject, although at this point in time still awaiting publication. With myself believing him to be one of many patriots who voted for Britain to leave the EU, I also have an awareness of the possibility of him being a supporter and follower of Jacob Rees Mogg, sometimes addressed as Moggy, the posh Conservative politician and fanatic Brexit supporter and a patriot with an Etonian and Oxford University Alma Mater, and having a plum tone of voice to boot. Such an ideal Englishman adored by many within the Centre-Right wing political circles, and whose active Roman Catholic faith has attracted comments from his critics as one politician being disillusioned with his imaginary pixie in the sky.

With his academic and political standing established in my mind, I listened carefully to Charlie's preach, and as I have previously suspected, he did not take the first chapter of Genesis as literal history, but as a poetical form parallel to an ancient Mesopotamian tablet, the Enuma Elish, a Babylonian text very similar to the Gilgamesh Epic, also from Babylon, the latter I'm more familiar with. The Enuma Elish and the Gilgamesh Epic are both very similar in context in a sense that they both relate to Biblical events as recorded in Genesis, the first dealing with Creation whilst the latter is about Noah's Flood. Both were to do with warring gods, bickering deities who initiated Creation out of war and revenge rather than a demonstration of God's love and Creative powers. Furthermore, secular academics have placed the Gilgamesh Epic above Genesis in literature status, insisting that Genesis was copied from the Epic, therefore granting the Babylonian text as having greater authority than the Biblical narrative. Therefore it was of no surprise when Charlie placed the Enuma Elish at equal standing with the Bible as being poetical and non-historical in context.

Fragments of Enuma Elish tablet

The Enuma Elish was something new to me, and in a way I thank Charlie for opening up a wealth of knowledge at my disposal. Checking on the Internet, it looks as though Charlie composed his preach from author Pete Enns, who has written books on Biblical history, as well as blogs to the website Bio-Logos, a site centred on Theistic Evolution, or as they refer to as Evolutionary Creationism. One of Pete Enns' articles is about Enuma Elish, and it looked to have been the bedrock for Charlie's sermon.

I have had a good look through several articles presented in Bio-Logos, and I came to the realisation that this website is more approachable than Creation Ministries International website, the latter which tend to have a cutting edge with its articles and general presentation, as if constantly defending itself from heavy opposition and even mockery from the secular world. Creation Ministries International has always been highly critical of Bio-Logos for compromising with Darwin's theories, with no fewer than 550 articles one way or another firing criticism at the website.

But despite Bio-Logos more gentle approach to the reader, I cannot accept Theistic Evolution as a bedrock for Biblical Creationism, at least for one very important reason. That is, if Theistic Evolution is a reality, then Adam and Eve had parents, and maybe thousands of brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles, and cousins too who all died natural deaths. If death was already at work among men before the fall, then that totally invalidates the Atonement made by Jesus Christ on the Cross, and also invalidates the Resurrection. That means that Christ is powerless to save us and our faith remains futile. Christ atoned for us because of the sin of our first parents, the sole head couple of all mankind. There is no alternative.

It is true that the course of creation as narrated in the first chapter of Genesis poses problems. For example, the land and the seas was created on the second day, the sun, moon and stars came to being on the fourth day, after all vegetation was created on the third day. Therefore where the source of light was from day one and how the dividing of day from night which occurred on the same day came to be, we are not told. But it is taught, and therefore to be accepted with faith. Later, God himself endorses and confirms the historicity of his literal six-day Creation to the Hebrews by ushering in the Sabbath day as the Fourth Commandment in the Decalogue, explaining a literal six-day creation followed by his rest on the seventh. I would go on to say that, after the completion of day six, the forces of Creation during those six days are not in force now. From day seven, which was in itself God's day of rest, the forces of creative power ended and it has not been in operation ever since to this day.

With the historicity of Genesis held to question, here is another opportunity to demonstrate the historicity of Holy Scripture by means of simple arithmetical calculations. In this case, there is another mystery which seemed to remain unexplained, and that is the mystery of Melchizedek, the king of Salem at the time of Abraham. Therefore, what does the writer of Hebrews mean when he says that this priest "is from everlasting to everlasting, without father or mother, he remains a priest forever."-? (Hebrews 7:3). Do we have two priests at work on our behalf, Melchizedek and Jesus Christ?

It was by coming across a Jewish quote about a Hebrew tradition saying that Melchizedek was actually Shem, the son of Noah, and of whom Noah blessed the Lord, the God of Shem (Genesis 9:26). So I decided to look into this. So with just pencil and paper, I was able to work out that two years after the Flood, Shem became the father of Arphaxad at the age of a hundred years (Genesis 11:10-26). In turn, Arphaxad became the father of Shelah at age 35 years. After this, Shelah became the father of Eber at thirty years of age (Eber is the original name from which the word Hebrew arose). And so right down to Abraham. By adding the ages of each father at his son's birth (and not their full age), Shem was already 390 years old when Abraham was born, and when the two met after rescuing Lot at the battle of the kings, Abraham was between 80-84 years of age, making Shem between 470-474 years of age. By the time Abraham died at the age of 175 years, Shem was 565 years old, and actually lived on for another 35 years until he himself died at age 600 years, according to Genesis 11:10, with the first 100 years already lived before the Flood.

This is where being without parents made sense to Abraham. After the Flood, Noah himself lived for a further 350 years after the Flood, making a total lifespan of 950 years - the first 600 years during the antediluvian age. When Noah died 350 years after the Flood, Abraham was already alive and he was already 60 years old. This was more than twenty years before Shem met Abraham to receive the tithe. The chances of Abraham ever meeting Noah, I guess, would have been very slim, if not at all, as Abraham did not travel that north. In fact, at 60, he was still in the Mesopotamian area, as he did not enter Canaan until 75 years old (Genesis 12:4-5). There would be no logical reason why Noah would have migrated from near Mount Ararat in present Eastern Turkey if, according to Scripture, he had planted a vineyard there. What I can make of it all, Shem being the same man as Melchizedek makes good sense and therefore re-enforces the historicity of the Bible, especially Genesis.

Which brings me to ask why, in the fifth chapter of Genesis, each patriarch, including Noah himself, was concluded with the words, and he died? For example:
When Seth lived 105 years, he became the father of Enosh. And after he became the father of Enosh, Seth lived for 807 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether Seth lived for 912 years and he died. (5:6-8).

But in chapter 11:10-32, with a full list of post-diluvian patriarchs, not one was concluded with the words, and he died. By doing the reckoning as discussed above, it became clear that all the post-diluvian patriarchs were still alive during Abraham's lifetime. This may explain the difference between chapter five and chapter eleven, where in the latter, the words and he died does not appear.

By doing a little bit of calculating, I can verify the historicity of the Bible, and not relegated into the realm of myth or mere poetry. I think it is a grievous error to mythologise Genesis, or come to that, any part of the Bible. But so unfortunate it is, when Englishness has that knack of playing down the historicity of Holy Scripture in order to exalt himself on a national level, is to play the role of supremacy, even if it is possible, to exalt himself above God. As I have come across over and over again, the Englishman has a tendency to think of himself above all foreigners in all nationalistic, cultural and academic circles. It may not be done deliberately or openly, although there are far-right groups who do just that. Rather, it lies in the subconscious. The Englishman cannot help thinking the way he does. Although I cannot claim to be a mind-reader, these set of ideas seem to play well with the grimacing pedestrian's rudeness.

The Bible is not an English book. None of it was written by the English. Instead it was written by foreigners, almost entirely by Jews living in the Middle East, and then much later translated into English. Maybe, just a thought, if the English such as the grimacing pedestrian, had a far greater awe and reverential respect for the historicity and truthfulness of the Bible than the awe he has for a fellow academic, then who knows, Darwinism may not have got to where it is now.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Self Worth? The Three Zeroes...

When retired, there are things I could do midweek which I had no time for throughout my years as an earner. Such as sitting at table at the Santa Fe Coffee bar located within a bookstore at the newly-developed Town Centre shopping precinct, with a newspaper spread out in front. This week was of no exception. One afternoon, I took a fleeting glance at a fellow customer sitting two tables away, facing me. Then I dug into reading the newspaper when a young and rather pretty waitress from Eastern Europe (going by her accent) arrived at my table to deliver my order. She was smiling with politeness, which is part of her duty etiquette. When all the items were set in place, she quickly left.

Then she went over to the other table to deliver the other customer's order. A conversation struck up between the two and remained ongoing for what could be for up to ten minutes. I couldn't help feel a pang of jealousy as the conversation progressed, with the waitress apparently swooning at the fellow's charms. I had to look up. The man, about half my age, sported some facial hair and was wearing a business shirt unbuttoned at the neck and without a tie. I could see straightaway that he has a university degree. His facial features radiated high intelligence and a scholarly expression - a far cry from my own working class background as a retired Window Cleaner. On his table, beside the coffee mug was a small laptop - most likely that one gadget which fired up the waitress's admiration, as if a confirmation of the fellow's intelligent facial expression.

Within my feeling of jealousy, I was thankful for my present status as a well-established married man. By continuing to read the paper following the end of the conversation, I was able to allow my pangs of jealousy gradually melt away. But supposing I was still single? True enough, I have male friends close to my age who remain unmarried to this day. Some of then did attend uni, others did not. But I knew perfectly well that such awareness wouldn't have added a crumb of comfort to a far more intense feeling of jealousy at that coffee bar. Indeed, the waitress was pretty, wearing a top with a low neckline that would stimulate the desire of any red-blooded male. I have often wondered whether such women serving the public deliberately dress provocatively to attract male attention. 

Santa Fe Coffee Bar, Bracknell, UK - where I call regularly.

As with me, I married later in life, in my late forties. Before then, especially in my thirties and forties, the opposite gender never gave me a second look. Any potential relationship which could have started up, especially when I was in my twenties, quickly fizzled out, thanks to my speech impediment and accent, which had nothing to do with having a foreign background. Rather, it was the result of something I was totally unaware of until I was already married and a father of two daughters - Asperger's Syndrome (AS).

AS is something so subtle and so unlike any physical disease or illness. It affects far more boys than girls, and sufferers often have above-average intelligence. I have a good, long-standing friend with AS, whose IQ matches any member of Mensa, and also fluent in at least two languages. Although quite good-looking in facial features, as far as I'm aware, throughout his sixty years of life he remains single to this day, never having an ongoing relationship with a female. 

Going by what I have seen, I don't think he had ever suffered personal rejection either. Although just a guess, I wouldn't put it behind me that my friend's extraordinary high intelligence, his office career and middle class English background each played a role in personal absolution from teasing or verbal assault. Unlike me, as already shared in a previous blog,* the verbal and vitriolic bullying whilst serving as a volunteer in Israel during 1994 was the nadir of rejection, ridicule and assault - an experience my highly intelligent friend would not have suffered had he been where I was at that time. However, my time in Israel was by no means a unique experience. I was teased by two other young women, especially during my mid to late twenties, and in my previous church. Indeed, exactly like in Israel, this verbal assault came from those who professed to be Christians, and one was influenced by the other.

Whether those two were Christians remains debatable. One eventually married, but not long afterwards, they divorced. The other left our church after such a short time and was never seen again. But even to this day, a couple of young married women from our church seem to feel uncomfortable in my presence, as if my tone of voice, caused by AS, is something of an embarrassment to them. Fortunately, I'm far more acceptable by other men, and particularly by the students. And talking about the students - as one who scroll through Facebook on a frequent basis, they often appear photographed in suits and ties, even bow ties for the men and evening dress for the women. Not only as if having an obsession with middle class status, but from a very different planet to the one I grew up on.

If only they realise how fortunate they are! Out of school into college - sorry, university - and then into some high-flying office career with a respectable income. Quite unlike me back in 1968. The year I left school on a Friday and started work in a family-owned furniture factory soon after. And my first task? Yes, picking up the broom handle. And not allowed to forget that I was at the bottom rung of the ladder, the small fry, the lowest of the pecking order, and I was treated as such as I pushed the broom across the floor. Such lowness none of the students at our church will ever be unfortunate enough to experience or even suffer.

No posing outside college in suits and ties for me as a teenager, no evening ballroom entertainment or posh dinners with close friends. And with a self-worth which is close to zero, if not already there. The temptation for suicide came and went but fortunately with conversion towards the end of 1972, such temptations faded and I began to see everything in a new light. This included making good use of my single status instead of moaning about it. Rather, I turned it to my favour. With the experience of being a lowly dogsbody already under my belt and the mental toughness which grew out of it, I was able to fulfil my adolescent dreams with world travel, especially as a lone backpacker.

How our church students appear on Facebook - Stock photo.

However, self-worth seems to be in short supply whenever failure at school occur here in the UK. Television interviews relates well with young teenagers who fear for their future unless they pass their exams and get the grades. What amazes me is that unless they graduate and get their grades, there is absolutely no hope for their future. I can't help thinking: I left school with zilch, but half a century later I'm still here, and with a story or two to tell. According to statistics, in 2016 there were nearly 6,000 suicides committed here in the UK, 75% of these deaths were men, peaking at the age range of 40-44 years of age.** Could a lack of personal worthiness be the bottom cause of these statistics? When considering the numbers being roughly similar year in, year out, such events as a divorce notice posted by wives after their kids fly the nest, or loss of a job, or financial difficulties with debt piling sky-high, addiction to drugs, any of these could link to failure in life and a resulting loss of any self-worth.

Therefore it came as a surprise to me that what I had to share at our church's recent "open" meeting seemed to have uncovered hidden feelings among those listening. An open meeting is a Sunday service without the normal sermon, but instead anyone in the congregation can come to the front and share what God has given. The whole congregation always praising God with such positiveness each week and looking contented, I managed to stand at the front and lifted the lid on what was really going on on a day-to-day basis, away from the church building and away from all other Christians.

I shared on the struggle involved with caring for a physically disabled loved one. Sudden intense pains leading to the need to call the ambulance for a trip to hospital, where she is treated with Morphine and other strong painkillers before discharge and a taxi ride home, often in the small hours. These "downers" - as I call them, are imminent  - each one can occur suddenly at any moment. After watching my wife go down with severe pain whilst on a day trip to London on Easter Monday and ending up at a London hospital, I felt that our planned trip to France later this year on the Eurostar had to be cancelled, as we take the National Health service, which is free to all UK citizens at the point of use, for granted. In France, we may be landed with a bill of several thousand pounds for the same treatment. Also "living on a knife-edge" would spoil the enjoyment of any holiday.

Therefore I shared my failing faith, believing that God has let us down, and prayer was a waste of time and effort. After all, God had more important things to tend to. Why should he deviate from what he is doing just to fulfil our wishes? How worthless we really are! Why on earth should God be concerned about us? I then shared what Abraham, King David and the prophet Isaiah had each said about their own self-worth in comparison to God's glory.

These were three of the greatest men of God recorded in Scripture. Here they were, alive between four thousand and 2,700 years ago, and we not only know their names, their genealogy, and their jobs, but we also know what they said and what they got up to, along with their experiences in their lifetimes. Over thousands of years. Contrast this to deceased celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, David Bowie or Priscilla Black. I doubt that much will be known about them in fifty years from now, let alone what they actually said. And us commoners? Taking myself as an example, nobody would know of me less than half a century after my demise.

Abraham was considered a friend of God. But one day he found himself interceding for Sodom, because God was about to destroy that city along with its sister Gomorrah. As Abraham was pleading, he also felt that he was putting the Almighty's patience to the test, so he confessed that he is nothing more than dust and ashes (Genesis 18:27).

King David, who was still a Prince at the time, was being pursued by King Saul with his desire to take the young man's life. At one point David felt exasperated, asking a question: Who am I but a flea or a dead dog? (1 Samuel 24:14, 1 Samuel 26:20). I understand that the flea is the smallest living creature which can be seen with the naked eye - just. Furthermore, a dead dog left lying on the ground, and unless consumed by vultures and other scavengers, will eventually stink and become the food for maggots and other disgusting things. So much of his own self-worth before God!

The prophet Isaiah I consider another example. There he is standing at the Temple of God in Jerusalem, and the Almighty reveals himself to him, his glory filling the temple. Isaiah then cries out:
Woe is me. For I am undone. I am a man of unclean lips and dwell among a people of unclean lips, yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty (Isaiah 6:5).

Along with the Apostle Paul, who wrote: For I know that in my flesh dwells no good thing...(Romans 7:18) - which corresponds well with the testimony of the other three witnesses. And before his conversion to Jesus Christ, Paul was an outstanding and dedicated Jewish scholar who also looked down upon all non-Jews and "sinners", yet his former religion is now considered as excrement compared to the glory of Christ living in him (Philippians 3:8).

This was the general trend I shared with Ascot Life Church during the open meeting. It must have had an impact. Before I returned to my seat, two men came up to me and started praying for me and my wife, and also praised God for my courage in revealing honesty, the truth of my spiritual heart condition. After the end of the service, one or two others came up to me and admitted that they often feel that way before God - that God has let them down or is too far away.

I am but dust and ashes. I am but a flea. And I have unclean lips. Without the Atonement made by Jesus Christ, these would be exactly a good description of myself as I stand before God. It is a dreadful truth but reality nevertheless. It's exactly the same as standing under the shadow of the Cross.

David Bowie (d. 2016) Would we still remember him after 50 years?

Under the shadow of the Cross, it no longer matters whether I voted for Brexit or to remain in the EU. Social class becomes irrelevant, as my occupation in relation to social status. All of these has lost all value or relevance. As with wealth. What use is it once we step off this planet? Or our high level of education. Would that add a single cubit to the afterlife? Like dry ash scattered by the breeze, a shrivelled leaf blown away by the wind, a dead dog's stinking corpse gradually eaten by maggots - what use is it campaigning for the sovereign of our country and the glory of England's future - if that what we really are before God?

Sometimes I question the wisdom of mankind - especially of my own countrymen. We sing for England's glory after Brexit, we also proclaim the salvation of our God through faith in Jesus Christ. But it seems, these are all cover ups of our own inadequacies, our lack of self-worth, regardless of what our education level or profession may be. Indeed, Sunday by Sunday, we may indeed hold our hands up in the air (but in reality we don't even do that - it's not British!) - but afterwards, when we are all alone at home or at work, we may ponder whether God is really with us, or are we after some ecstatic spiritual experience to boost ourselves up?

*For a more detailed account of this experience in Israel, click here.
** Office of National Statistics.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Both of Us in Need of a Miracle

Our present marriage relationship looks to be well admired by those around us, particular among other Christians. Over the past twelve months I was approached by two grooms for advice just prior to their nuptials. And I gave advice or guidance to one or two others since. I for one, would not hesitate to admit that the strength of our marriage comes from the grace of God. I have always been convinced that our time of meeting, our compatibility and even our age difference were not by chance nor by accident but by the foreknowledge and perfect plan of God.

Three daughters were born of our union. It was the firstborn who really changed my life. How much I loved and adored her! It wasn't long before she accompanied me wherever I went, that is of course, except to work. And during the morning small hours, whenever our child awoke and cried, it was always I who got out of bed to meet her needs, allowing my wife to sleep on uninterrupted. I became quite an expert in diaper change, bathing, and sometimes feeding as well. The latter more so whenever my firstborn accompanied me wherever I went, that is, except to work. The times I took her downtown, even on several train trips to Reading, and even on a day trip to London - just the two of us. How could I ever forget that afternoon when I took her to where I attended college on a weekly day-release some 36 years earlier, and watched her running freely in the gardens fronting the building located in East London, the same gardens I was familiar with as a student throughout the late sixties. These father/daughter outings came about mainly after our second daughter was born three years after our first. The general idea why I took my firstborn out was to give my wife some relief from raising both our daughters whilst I was at work. 

And there were times we went out all together as a family. Seaside day trips to Brighton were common, along with family trips to London and Reading. There was a time we took a catamaran for a week's camping holiday in Jersey, another time when we spent a week at a hotel in Penzance, yet another when we spent a week at a caravan at Par Sands, east from the Cornish town of St. Austell and also next to the magnificent shoreline of Polperro Heritage Coast. Another Cornish trip included the beautiful and rather quaint port of Mevagissey, on the Roseland Heritage Coast. And I just remembered a week at the Isle of Wight. Then not to forget our firstborn's first birthday when we spent the day at London Zoo. We have always believed that we did our best for our daughters, fed and clothed them well, took them to beautiful places, but most important of all, showered them with as much love and affection as we were able.

Mevagissey, Cornwall.

Indeed, as we love each other to this day, indeed, we still love our daughters to bits, as any parents in their right minds would regardless of circumstance.

However, it was later discovered that we both have mild autism, or Asperger's syndrome, a faulty wiring of our brains since gestation. But before then we were mystified on why the health visitor had concerns about the way we exhibited our character and parenting skills. In the course of time we found ourselves on the Child Protection Register for the duration of four months from November 2004 to February 2005, and looked upon as the worst time period in my entire life. I say these things now, after thirteen years, but not until after a decade later, because being on the CPR, I felt like a criminal. I was too embarrassed to share any of these things before 2014 or -15.

For convenience sake I'll refer to our social worker as Wendy. At first, I thought Wendy could be a help for us. We showed our hospitality by offering her refreshments such as tea or coffee. But she refused every offer. Whether this was her own choice or keeping with her job regulations, I couldn't tell. But it did not take long at all for her to reveal her true character, despite our first willingness to submit to her. For example, being on the CPR, Alex in particular was not allowed to be alone with our daughters whilst I was out at work, or out of the house in general. Wendy was quite strict on this, and can be prone to nastiness and impatience. What hurt me most of all was how Wendy treated Alex - like as if she was an imbecile - and together with her surprise that I happen to own a mobile phone, I found her to be insulting. To be truthful, I did leave Alex alone in the house with our daughters from time to time, knowing perfectly well that no harm will come to anyone. This was especially when I had to go out in the evening to meet some work responsibilities, for example, to collect window cleaning fees from customers who were out during the day - these fees when combined makes up our weekly income. It was when she discovered this "breach of the rules" that tensions between Wendy and myself grew to greater intensity.

Wendy, who back then was in her late twenties or early thirties, was a self-confessed atheist with a very short temper who looked down on us as social inferiors, probably gotten through her time at university, where she read on the works and research from well-known past psychiatrists and psychologists, some of them having had occult connections. A patriotic with a strong support for social class and Darwinism, she made sure that we knew of her superiority, even with her salary. A heated argument between Wendy and myself during February 2005 led to our two daughters taken from us when the Police and another social worker entered our home at three in the morning to take our daughters away for fostering. Leaving Alex screaming and prone to self-injury, our girls had never set foot in our house again. Neither was there any sympathy or compassion within Wendy's heart for us after our daughters were taken. Instead she spitted out hatred and anger. Not without reason. Her boss had given her several weeks notice to clear her desk.

This is one of life's great mysteries. How on Earth did someone such as Wendy land a job as a children's Social Worker? It was even admitted that her own office colleagues disliked her, just as our daughter's nursery school teachers disliked her as well. Her quick-tempered, impatient choleric temperament was definitely unsuited for the children's team. I even recall her at the Family Court after our daughters were taken from us for temporary fostering. She was accompanied by her supervisor, an older and a far more amenable woman. Also when Wendy visited our home for the very last time, after the children were taken, she arrived escorted by her supervisor. It all seem to confirm what I have overheard at our initial Conference back in November. Apparently the last family she dealt with fled to Scotland to escape her clutches. We were her last chance to prove herself, and sure enough, she failed. She had to go. But not before destroying our family. 

At the Isle of Wight with my firstborn.

Which led me to be offered a platform by the Berkshire Adoption Agency whose office was in Windsor. Here in my home town of Bracknell I was escorted to an empty office, quite likely the very room Wendy formerly occupied, and I became a key representative of the Berkshire Father's Group, a group of Dads across Berkshire who had all lost their children against their will for adoption. Why was I not surprised that all the Dads whom I met in that group were from a working class background? Not one middle-class father in sight. I was then interviewed by the agent. Here I explained that going by my experiences with Wendy, my opinion was that she was never suited for the job as Children's Social Worker. I also explained that whilst at the Family Court, I managed to take a peek at Wendy's CV lying unattended on a desk whilst she was momentary absent, perhaps talking to an official. She emphasised her attendance at a posh girl's school before attending university. She listed all her qualifications on her CV, school and college alike with much detail.

And there is the rub. Wendy, who was employed by an agency rather than directly by the Council, was hired because of her educational qualifications and her degree in humanistic studies, and not because she had an empathy towards families, whether parents or children alike. Or to put it another way, she wanted a job where she can be in control. I also blamed her employers for "bowing the knee" - so to speak - at her academic qualifications without taking into consideration that her character and personality remains incompatible with the job at hand. I then said that her employers must realise that such an occupation involves supporting people - people with lives to lead, with responsibilities, and with free will, thoughts and emotions, and not as mere factory-made products.

The agent was taking down notes. Did I make an effort to shake the whole local Social Service Department down to its foundations? I really hope that I did. I campaigned and pressed hard that such hiring of unsuitable candidates will never happen again. Social work is about empathy, not academic qualifications. So I said at that interview.

Over the years, to live in a deafeningly silent house took some taking used to. Fortunately, the use of both Hi-Fi and television, and later the introduction of the laptop proved to be immensely beneficial. However for months even years following our daughter's adoption, I experienced fits of intense rage. I had visions of the perfect murder! But there was nothing I could ever do. After her dismissal, Wendy disappeared completely, apparently out of our area entirely, for she was never seen again. Not only was I enraged at Wendy for destroying our family, but with the whole of England and with the English, because Wendy was the personification of England and its culture. She was a State official, representing the State. Her supreme boss was sitting as a member of the Cabinet at 10 Downing Street, home of Her Majesty's Government.

Then some three years after our first two daughters were adopted, Alex gave birth to our third daughter. The Social Services were then around us like bees around honey (informed by our GP). But this time, at the Conference to re-enter our names on the Child Protection Register, my wife and I both agree to give our daughter away for adoption, as long as we remain off the Register. It was agreed. The reason for this was not just for our welfare. Equally important, it was for our daughter's wellbeing as well. If being on the CPR means a repeat of Wendy-like experiences, then our daughter would have grown up in a very unhappy environment. She would have suffered mentally, emotionally, then later physically as well. Far better to give her away on a voluntarily basis to a couple who would provide her with a happy home and a safe environment. Fortunately, her adoptive parents are committed Christians.

Over the intervening years to the present, our marriage grew stronger as we learn to support each other. Much of this came by recognising the sovereignty of God, to give my wife all the love, support and comfort as she grieves over her loss. Also her mental state may be connected with her encroaching disability until, after spending four months in hospital during the Autumn of 2013, she now gets about in a motorised wheelchair I bought for her. However, I have committed all three of our daughters to God's care, and my prayer being that he will touch their hearts, just as he did ours. To hear that all three have trusted Jesus Christ as Saviour would be the best news we could ever hear.

So the reason for writing such a blog as this one? Over an incident which took place a few evenings ago. I told Alex that I have forgiven Wendy and her associates for what she had done. In actual fact, I have forgiven her a few years ago. Not for her sake but for my sake, and to allow God to have his will fulfilled in my life. Therefore when I made a passing statement to Alex that I have forgiven Wendy, she went into hysteria. Shedding buckets of tears, she asked how could I possibly do such a thing? What kind of a husband am I? They are our children. She then went unconscious, and because such emotions causes her breathing muscles to tighten, I had to enable her to breathe properly by manipulating her chest. I was that close to panic and the need to call an ambulance.

She eventually came to, but there was a coldness towards me. Instead of petting and affectionate talk, as was the norm, she told me to go to my computer because she just wants to sleep. I tried to persuade her that I'm no traitor. It was no intention to show her betrayal. Feeling lonely on the computer, I played a video on You-Tube, Cold As Christmas by Elton John. Has our marriage came to an end? The coldness remained for the rest of the next day. Only now our marriage is restoring itself to normality.

Alex is unable to forgive Wendy. To her, she destroyed our family and therefore cannot be forgiven for it. That may be the reason for her present disability. It is a viscous circle she remains locked into. As Jesus himself said,
Without me ye can do nothing - John 15:5.

Alex cannot forgive Wendy in her own strength. Only the Spirit of God could soften her heart to the extent in changing her mind. In other words, she needs a miracle. As a matter of fact, we both need a miracle. A miracle to reveal the power of God in our lives that would forever change us for the better.