Mathematical Uncertainty

It is estimated that it took a workforce of 12,800 to build the Khufu’s pyramid in Egypt over a period of 23 years. This was calculated by working out the potential energy of the pyramid and dividing it by the number of days spent constructing it. It is all guesswork because nobody actually knows how they did it, but after all that effort and all that time the king buried there, although mummified, is still dead.

Jesus was given a borrowed tomb, a natural cave in a rock face, it took nothing to build it, and he is alive. Many worldly religions honour their dead because they are dead and there is no hope of seeing them again, but with the Christian that is now reversed because Jesus is eternally alive.

They reckon it took 14 men per cubic metre of stone a day, to cut and lift it above the quarry bottom and move it into place. By current day percentages if it were built in England it would take five hundred thousand men to do it. The average size of a congregation is 75 and that is equivalent to 6,666 churches – I wonder why its 6,666?

All those churches trying to build a grave; a monument, or a grave monument to celebrate death when Jesus is alive. I wonder if there is a message here.  You go into many churches and there is a lot of activity but I wonder if they are building life or death. It makes me view HICC circumspectly, and ask what we are doing.

Early this morning I awoke to find my bedside radio clock flashing on and off – there had obviously been a power cut while I slept. I didn’t know it, but power had gone. Silently it had failed. That is possible in church life. The Holy Spirit can depart, as he did in Ezekiel, and we don’t notice it as we sleep in contentment.

It is a serious question to ask, “What are we building?” or perhaps another one “are we building anything of value, or just making sand castles, soon to be washed away?” The wise man built on rock, the foolish man on sand; good foundations are essential. Jesus is a low, laid and lasting foundation who can stand the rigours of the ages with its raging storms of adversity.

He built the universe that is still working properly and he holds it all together by His word. He could if he wished screw up the world and spit it into the eyeball of a fly, make an ocean from a dew drop on a rose leaf and make a forest from a cocktail stick – that’s my Jesus. The greatest builder there is.

Too many by their lifestyle build death, but Christ builds life, life eternal, life overflowing and life super-charged. The magnificent decaying pyramids of a past civilisation speak of a dynasty that was built for death, let us all build for life. We don’t need any wondrous edifice to do that, but let Jesus Christ dwell within our hearts and establish his dynasty there. Every life so energised is a brick in the temple of the living God.

 

 

Cut the string

When we face  disappointment, sorrow, despair  and outright  opposition that leaves us bewildered with hurt, pain and hopelessness, then  there is a  Biblical  text that will  help us. We  all need  a jerk into  action at   some time in our lives; an applied force that will redirect our focus when  worry and sorrow turns our noonday into midnight.

In the film “The Sound of Music” the children of Captain Von Trapp perform a puppet play jerking the strings so that the puppets respond to the music as they sing along. Often we feel as if someone is jerking us around like a puppet. We don’t want the strings to be cut lest we fall like a sack of potatoes, but God comes inside us and gives strength so HE can cut the strings and set us free with enabling power to work on our own with inner divine strength.

Saul and Jonathan were dead, killed by the Philistine forces, and in particular felled by their archers. As David was sorrowing and lamenting his pain he speaks a word of wisdom that echoes to us all, “And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son: Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.” [2 Samuel 1:17, 18]

David’s sorrow manifested itself in remedial action. Out of that grief there was a need to redirect the attention of the people of Judah. The king and the crown were dead and David wrote a song that the daughters of Israel might sing, but beyond that exigency there was a need purge their sorrow in constructive labour.

We will all face sorrow at some time and the tendency is to shut oneself away and browse on what might have been. Out of that negative attitude there can emerge a critical spirit against God.  David, when he sinned with Bathsheba, was faced with a dilemma and as the resultant child lay sick unto death, he prayed upon the matter, he said this: “But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” [2 Sam 12:23]. In other words, the situation cannot be altered, life must go on. “History does not correct itself in its own sequence,” something new and refashioned appears.

Rather than contemplate sadness and misery we need to cut out some new destiny; become industrious in the things of the kingdom. The healthiest thing in this world is work, it is the highest therapy. We may have undertaken some work for God and it seems to have failed, then throw yourself into something akin to it, and consume your time. Get away from the known and humdrum and do something special that excites you.

From personal experience work is the best therapy for crisis situations. To bury oneself in one’s work is better than being prematurely buried through worry. We all need distractions to help us cope with heart-rending ghettos of emotional deprivation.  I was employed in secular work until I was fifty, and only then became a full-time minister. After the weekend services were over, it was work as usual on Monday morning, and so if it had been a bad day, I didn’t have time to become miserable and worry, and if it had been a good day, I didn’t have time to purr with satisfaction and boast in achievement.

There is health in an 8-hour day of regular disciplined vocation. The straight jacket of such confining yet necessary work is beneficial in many respects, not least to take one’s mind off oneself and onto greater demands.  There is a tendency for most of us to think too much about ourselves.

When I was superintendent of the Metropolitan Region I visited many ministers where the wife went to work to supplement their income because the church was too small to keep them. My recommendation was always “why don’t you go to work and let your wife look after your children?” Their response was consistent, “I’m Bible College trained and need to be about my ministry” — but Paul was a tent maker! If they could learn the value of an eight-hour day in secular employment they may have understood their flock better, and many of the minor problems of church life would have been resolved automatically without intervention!

Prison

Two university studies have unearthed two alarming yet inter-related facts. “Boys who grow up without a father are twice as likely to be jailed later in life as boys who grow up with their dad. Boys who grow up with a stepfather are three times more likely to be incarcerated.”[1]  The second area of investigation revealed that couples who live together before marriage are 48% more likely to get divorced than those who do not. Also, living together almost doubles the risk of wife-battering and child abuse. Unmarried couples also register lower “happiness levels” than married couples.[2] So, singleness and remarriage are the causes of delinquency in male teenage children and unmarried couples fair far worse than married couples.

This is a solemn and sobering revelation, but the Bible knew all about it centuries ago. It teaches about family values and the necessity of marriage for life, especially for our children. Modern lifestyle applauds singleness, single parent families, mocks fidelity and scorns virgins who refuse sex before marriage, but God didn’t set laws in motion to amuse himself, but to benefit mankind. Whatever he rules is for our ultimate benefit.

Those people who say that they stayed together for their children did a wise thing. It prevented their offspring developing criminal tendencies. If our modern young people would take advice from past generation Christians, and not count them as old fogies, it would hold them in good stead. The more we learn in the secular world the more we find that biblical standards are not only valid but health imparting.

When couples intending to get married visit me I take them through a booklet I have had printed. I cover the various aspects of marriage with the last chapter dealing with sex in marriage. As I introduce this subject quite often a deadly hush settles on the room, and I am convinced that they are convinced that they know more about the subject than I do – they may be right. But pre-marital intercourse is called fornication and after marriage adultery, both carry God’s displeasure and curse. Such teaching today is absent from many pulpits, as it is on heaven, hell and the second coming.

Recently a preacher on Premier Radio said that the last generation biblical text was “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) whereas today it is; “Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1). Political correctness is the order of the day. A speaker on Radio 4 recently said that those churches that preach a black and white standard are those that are full, although I am sure there will be those who huff and puff about the expression “black and white” well, let them!

Someone said to me a few years ago “your preaching has changed, you seem more confrontational; you will preach HICC either full or empty” – it wasn’t empty last time I was there! It is certain that I do not intend to be politically correct for the fear of man brings a snare. One thing is sure, those who do not compromise the eternal and divine truth will eventually suffer persecution, but will always have an audience.

Now I am 80 I can look back 60 years on developing trends in preaching and notice an absence of life changing teaching and a reduction in biblical exposition. Six decades of experience in spiritual matters have only reinforced the accuracy of God’s word, and the value of keeping those written statutes. “All things work together for good” says the word, “for those who are called of God.” Our calling through the living word can only lead to the eternal blessing of future bliss. The materialistic humanistic people of today have nothing to look forward to, but we Christians know that death is the door to life. Impatience circles the globe and generates excess that leads to dissipation. The failures of history are being repeated with similar results and unavoidable consequences. Britain was at its highest in world influence when the Bible was a core element in life, now the world brushes past us and we are unnoticed. As it says: Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone!” [Hos 4:17]. To be ignored by God is fatal.


[1] Article in the New Scientist

[2] Article in the Daily Telegraph dated February 3rd page 15 by David

 

Pigeon Sense

A group of Zoologists now believe that the phrase “as the crow flies” no longer means the shortest most direct route between two points. “They say it is likely that the crows and other diurnal birds choose AA-suggested routes even though it makes their journeys longer.” It seems that some birds are so rigorous in following the road network that they even fly around roundabouts, before leaving by the right exit. Fortunately for them, unlike us, they don’t have to pay road tax. “For long-distance navigation and for birds doing a journey for the first time, they will use their inbuilt compasses and take sun and star bearings. But, once homing pigeons have flown a journey more than once they home in on a habitual route, much as we do when driving or walking home from work.”

Oxford University animal behaviourists, led by Professor Guilford, are stunned by this discovery. They have conducted tests for over a decade by attaching tiny GPS tracking devices to the birds’ backs to track the routes, and found that most of them flew home down the A34 Oxford bypass. “As the crow flies” (e.g. in a straight line) it would take 2 miles to navigate the course, but as the pigeon flies along the main road it takes 6.7 miles.

One wonders what happened before man cluttered the landscape with roads; no doubt they followed coastlines, rivers and linear profiles that were obviously on route. However, it appears it is easier to follow a road rather than their instinct!

God’s guidance is often a hesitant subject to many Christians, and some wish there were roads to follow with traffic islands, traffic lights, T junctions and suitable signposted exits in pursuing His will. Unfortunately there is no A-Z map in God’s will, but there are five principles or signposts that help in determining the life-route we should take.

First PreceptsGod’s Word. Each day we rise and read His word, and in that daily reading find revelation inspired by the Holy Spirit that fastens onto our soul. We cannot shake off the anointed word once it penetrates our spirit. It speaks clearly as God’s voice, confirming His will for us.

SecondPrayerGod’s Ear. “Let your request be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6). Everything is wrought by prayer, which many Christians fail to grasp. When talking to God we change, He doesn’t. Whatever a man prays for, he prays for a miracle. Every prayer reduces itself to this: ‘Great God grant that twice two be not four.’ “[1] Often in searching for God’s will, we will that it will not be so.

ThirdProvidence God’s hand. The wise men visited Jesus with gold, frankincense and myrrh, just in time for Him to go into Egypt, and his parents to sell the goods in an embalming country, and live off the profit. That was not an accident, it was divine providence. The jigsaw pieces of apparent unrelated happening fitting together.

FourthPurity God’s heart.  Our motive has to be pure; to really want the dovecote of divine appointment. Often there are no short cuts to home. All the signposts have to be aligned, and whereas birds can simply follow the AA signs and prominent profiles, in our case they may be slightly more obscure, only discovered by diligent pursuit, for the large trees of self-will can shade the signposts of His directional love!

FifthPeaceGod’s rest. The centre of the flame is God’s place of tranquility. We know we are in God’s will when peace pervades our decisions. Even if the route is unattractive the inner resolve rests on a certainty underwritten by the serenity of knowing.

The instinctive compass God has put within the Christian is to find His will, the rest is up them, for they know that living in the centre of that will brings contentment. Seeking His will through those five principles will help them reach home by the right route, perhaps not the shortest?


 

[1] Ivan Turgenev (1818–83) Russian novelist. Prayer