Observations on life; particularly spiritual

Author Archive

There is no racism in heaven

Bookworm Claudette Colvin had two dreams when she was young. The first was to marry a baseball player. The second was to become President of the United States. Lofty dreams indeed for a teenager from the poor side of town, but she was an A-grade student and determined to make something of her life.

The thwack of a curveball rocketing over a baseball diamond or the patriotic stirrings of a big brass band on the lawns of the White House must have seemed impossible that one Friday in March, when the smart and pretty 15-year-old was hauled into a courthouse. She’d been yelled at by students, kicked three times by police and then taken across town crying and humiliated in a patrol car by the same officers, who made lewd comments about her appearance. (more…)


Experiencing God’s peace in the storms of life

Here’re four steps that will help you experience God’s peace in the storms of your life. (more…)


Crazy times!

Communal singing is prohibited in church in NSW, Australia!Singing prohibited!

Two weeks ago the Catholic church launched a petition for the limit on attendees at churches in New South Wales (NSW) of 10 people to be increased to the 50 person limit that applied to pubs and clubs, cafes and restaurants. This increase was granted on 1 June as the restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19 are relaxed slowly. Now a maximum of 50 people (adults and children) can attend a religious service at a place of worship. But there are other requirements to fulfill like:
– People attending a religious service at a place of public worship will be required to provide their name and contact details when they enter so that they can be used for contact tracing, and
– Communal singing is prohibited! And singing with facemasks is not a current alternative.
And there is confusing advice about how many people can be in a room (Appendix A). We’re going through crazy times! (more…)


Using a sledgehammer to crack a nut

Sledgehammer and smashed nut. COVID-19 control measures are like using a sledgehammer to crack a nutDrastic measures have been taken by governments around the world to control the spread COVID-19 disease. They are using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Or making a mountain out of a molehill. The measures are more stringent than are really necessary to solve the problem. They seem to be driven by fear and hysteria (Appendix A).

The control measures are justified by the saying that COVID-19 is caused by a deadly virus. But is this true? (more…)


God and COVID-19

Biblical answers to five common questions

This post comes from Philip Nunn who lives in The Netherlands.

Is COVID-19 a warning from God?This corona crisis affects all of us in different ways. Some are feeling tired of being quarantined or are losing patience with their bored children. Others are in hospitals, struggling themselves or helping those who find it difficult to breathe. Where is God in this crisis? What is an appropriate way to talk about our experience with COVID-19? We can learn from how the Lord Jesus dealt with a family disaster as described in John 11. Lazarus had died. When Jesus arrived, Martha went out to meet Him. “Lord” she said, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (11:21NIV). What follows is a theological discussion that ended with a deep revelation: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (11:25-26). Then Mary arrived. She fell at Jesus’ feet. She expressed her pain and frustration with the exact same words as her sister Martha (11:32). Towards Mary the response of Jesus was different. “He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” And then, “Jesus wept” (11:33, 35). That is what Mary needed to see: the tears of her Master. Which is more important: the theological or the pastoral approach? Clearly both are. But we need sensitivity and the Lord’s guidance to know which approach is needed in each situation. (more…)


Coronavirus lockdown

A video by Philip Nunn, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
“Making the best use of time, because the days are evil”
Ephesians 5:16ESV

 

 


Grief & loss during the shutdown

Stay at home to control the spread of COVID-19Grieving with hope

We’re living in unusual times. In order to control the spread of COVID-19 we’re staying home as much as possible. People are working from home and some businesses are closed.

Some people have lost their jobs and are now unemployed. There are travel restrictions. Social activities and celebrations are cancelled. There is physical (social) distancing. We have less freedom. It’s almost like wartime. There’s economic gloom with the possibility of a depression. These are unprecedented times for us. (more…)


What does the Bible say about a major disaster like COVID-19?

What does the Bible say about COVID-19?The disease COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the world. By 11 April 2020 over 103,500 deaths have been attributed to the virus and secondary pneumonia.

What does the Bible say about a global pandemic like COVID-19?

This post is based on an article by the US theologian and author, John Piper. (more…)


There is hope

The COVID-19 pandemic is an extreme situation facing the whole world at the same timeThe headline didn’t shout. It didn’t need to. This wasn’t a slow news day. It read, ‘In one week 10% of Australia’s workforce have lost their jobs’. In India, a nation of 1.3 billion people were given four hours notice to lock down inside their homes for 21 days. People found outside afterwards were subsequently beaten.

Always, in the world somewhere, there’s an extreme situation – a flood, a famine, a war. Less frequent, though, are situations involving the whole world. The COVID-19 pandemic is such a time. (more…)


Three lessons from COVID-19

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)The disease COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the world. By 4 April 2020 over 58,900 deaths have been attributed to the virus and secondary pneumonia. Governments have introduced stringent measures to combat it, which are having negative social and economic impacts.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus. It is contagious in humans and is the cause of the ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that was designated a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) in January 2020 and a pandemic in March 2020. (more…)


War on Coronavirus

South Korean soldiers spray disinfectant at Dongdaegu railway stationA message from Europe

The world is at war against the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19.

This post comes from Philip Nunn who lives in The Netherlands.

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. They have been causing problems for a number of decades now. The new version we are currently fighting was first transmitted to humans in Wuhan, China, towards the end of 2019. Since then it has remained in the headlines of all our newspapers and news bulletins. Last month the World Health Organization gave this coronavirus disease the new name COVID-19, and five weeks later declared it a pandemic. Presidents, Prime Ministers and others in authority are now busy closing national borders, events, shops and schools. They are imposing restrictions on our freedom of movement which have never before been used in peacetime. You may still think it is all fake news, you may think the restrictions are too strict, or far to slow and too lax. Like it or not, the world is now at war with this coronavirus! How are you reacting? Are you fearful or frustrated? Is your faith in God strengthening you in this time of worldwide crisis? Perhaps with a little more time on your hands, it may be worthwhile taking some time to consider what the Bible has to say about the spreading of bad things. (more…)


How to respond to the coronavirus pandemic

COVID-19 response measures include: social distance, wash hands, & clean surfacesToday Frank told me, “It feels like I’m in jail”. He is elderly and lives alone. But because of Government regulations, he is unable to attend the men’s social group at his local community centre. So he is now socially isolated because he has few opportunities for contact with other people.

This post is based on a message by Dave Sheath of the Lakes Church at Tuggerah in NSW Australia. It looks at how we can respond to the world-wide coronavirus pandemic. (more…)


Trials, struggles and COVID-19

The global distribution of COVID-19 on 24 March 2020

Another message from Ian Taylor in Winconsin, USA while he is in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What can we do when difficult times come? How can we understand what’s going on? We need to remember that God is still in control.

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1 Pt. 5:8-9NIV). (more…)


You don’t have to fear!

Reasons why Christians don't have to fear COVID-19A message from Ian Taylor in Winconsin, USA while he is in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

David: “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly” (Ps 5:3NIV).

David: “As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice” (Ps 55:16-17). (more…)


How to be a peacemaker

Sibling conflict in a word where disagreements can lead to conflict, strife and violence

What does the Bible say about conflict management?

We live in a world where differences of opinion are common. But these disagreements can lead to conflict, strife and violence. This happens in marriages, in families, in neighborhoods, at work and in churches. It happens in all kinds of relationships between people.

Conflict between nations can lead to war. In January 2020 Donald Trump announced a Middle East peace plan to solve the Israel–Palestinian conflict. And after more than 18 years of war in Afghanistan, the US has signed a peace treaty with the Taliban.
Peace has been elusive. These wars go on and on. There are so many barriers to peace. (more…)


The telephone game

Did you know that researchers are more likely to believe oral stories that have been transmitted like the telephone game than written stories?More orally transmitted Aboriginal stories

A message can become unreliable if it passes through many intermediate speakers between the original speaker and the final listener. This is demonstrated in the telephone (Chinese whispers) game in which one person whispers a message to the ear of the next person through a line of people until the last player announces the message to the entire group. What usually happens is that the statement announced by the last player differs significantly from that of the first player. Obviously, if a message (or story) has been retold by many people, some of it can change if people forget parts of what they are told. (more…)


A new harmful mutated virus

Many people wearing masks as protection against the COVID-19 coronavirusSo far there have been more than 67,000 cases and over 1,530 deaths from the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which is a 2% fatality rate. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak of the new coronavirus a global emergency that threatened to be potentially worse than terrorism. Previously swine flu and Ebola were declared public heath emergencies. Infection and immunity laboratories are in a worldwide race to develop a vaccine against the new coronavirus. But the first vaccine targeting the new coronavirus could be 18 months away. (more…)


Remembering Jesus

Remembering Bob - stories and memories about an ex-Australian Prime MinisterAt our family Christmas party, my Christmas present was a book titled, “Remembering Bob” (Pieters-Hawke, 2019). It’s a collection of stories and memories about Bob Hawke, who was the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) President in 1969-1980 and the Australian Prime Minister in 1883-1991.

They say he was an outstanding leader and a great storyteller. His achievements included:
– preserving the Antarctic for peace and science
– contributing to the end of Apartheid in South Africa
– significantly raising the high school completion rate,
– strengthening healthcare, education, work life, and housing, and
– elevating environmental issues in political decision-making

But he regretted failing to deliver a treaty with Indigenous Australians. (more…)


Unexpected good

Dear God, from all this pain, please bring unexpected goodIt seems cold and unfeeling to make lists of good things in the midst of all this pain – especially while things are fresh and even still happening. But part of making sense of what’s happened and finding meaning in despair is finding the good.

While the bushfires [wildfires] have burned in Australia the media have reported on all sorts of stories of hope and positivity. Which has been enormously encouraging. For example, bush regeneration that’s already begun, the heroism and selflessness of our amazing volunteer firefighters, the brilliant effort to save the rare Wollemi Pine, the fact that more people are now thinking about how to care for the environment and live with an unpredictable climate. (more…)


Misleading fire maps

Graphic visualization of Australian thermal satellite data in December 2019Australia’s bushfire (wildfire) emergency has been shared worldwide with images of devastation, injured koalas and confronting fires going viral. Some of these appear to show blazes all over the country. But these images are not realistic and have been flagged by Facebook and Instagram as “false information”.

For example, this image is not a photograph, but a graphic visualization of thermal satellite data. When a particular pixel is very hot, it is classified as a hotspot. But the area shown in the graphic may be significantly larger than the area of the hotspot. And the hotspot can be caused by other things besides fires. This image compiles one month of hotspot data (from December 5 until January 5) and the orange glow is exaggerated which makes the fires seem much larger than they actually are. In this case an artist’s visualization has been misinterpreted. (more…)


A new Bible timeline

Bible timeline - How to read the Bible in chronological order

How to read the Bible in chronological order

The Chinese government intends to rewrite the Bible to ‘reflect socialist values’. This order was proposed in November, 2019, during a meeting held by the Committee for Ethnic and Religious Affairs of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which oversees ethnic and religious matters in China. New editions of religious texts must not go against the beliefs of the Communist Party. Any parts deemed wrong or challenging by the censors will be rewritten to match communist values. They claim that this will prevent ‘extreme thoughts’ and ‘heretical ideas’ from eroding the country. In this post we look at the contents of this ‘heretical’ book.

The Bible describes events that occurred over a period of about 5,000 years. But the 66 books in the Bible are arranged according to categories like history, poetry, prophecy, gospel (good news about Jesus Christ) and letters. (more…)


How to overcome anxiety

Last night there were 26 emergency-level fires burning across NSW and VictoriaAnother difficult day for communities around New South Wales in Australia. At midnight, with the threat still not over, there are 7 fires at Emergency Warning and 11 at Watch and Act. Last night there were 26 emergency-level fires burning across NSW and Victoria. In NSW, about 3,600 firefighters were battling blazes while hundreds of others were pre-positioned to tackle outbreaks.

A state-wide total fire ban remains in place for Sunday, 5 January. The Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner said, “I don’t know the length but I imagine there would be more than 15,000 km (10,000 miles) of fire edge we’ve got to try and contain”. (more…)


An attitude of gratitude

Let's thank God for transient blessings and for enduring blessingsCharles Swindoll said, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life… Attitude is more important than success, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company, or a church, or a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past; we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you, we are in charge of our attitudes.” But how can we cultivate a lifestyle (or attitude) of thankfulness? (more…)


Genesis 1: Fact or fiction?

In social media it’s often hard to tell what’s real and what’s scripted. Storytellers often exaggerate the truth, embellish to make a point, and lie to make an imprint on people’s minds. The lines between fact and fiction are fuzzier today than ever before. Our information sources have multiplied and our stories arrive faster and with considerable urgency. And with all the noise, there is a greater opportunity for embellishment. While stories do not need to be real to be effective, they can be more effective if the truth (or the fiction), is disclosed upfront.

The most popular scientific explanation of the universe is that it has developed over billions of years. This is called the big bang model. But the first chapter of the Bible says that the universe was created in six days! In order to resolve this difference some say that Genesis 1 is mythical. A mytho-historical genre (literature style) is one where a grain of truth (the historical part) is embellished to convey some spiritual truth (the mythical part). In this case it’s assumed that the text is not to be read as literal history. It conveys a sense of truth about origins, but not a literal description of actual events. For example, the days of creation may represent long geological periods in deep time. And the biblical creation week is taken to be a figurative expression for gradual changes which occurred on the earth, perhaps millions or billions of years ago. But who decides what part is historical and what part is myth? And who decides what the myth means? This is a very subjective method of interpreting the Bible. (more…)