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'We know that God does not listen to sinners'

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Consider,

For Nathanael, it all began with those fashion magazines his sisters would leave around the house. The female body held mysteries for an adolescent boy. Soon, this gravitated to internet pornography to the point of becoming a firmly embedded addiction. He never felt good about himself afterwards. He would pray for forgiveness, but felt God was not there.

 *****

Ann goes into the supermarket. When no one is looking, she slips a bar of chocolate into her back pocket of her jeans. That evening, she prays to God to help her win the lottery.

*****

Sharon, was an evangelical ‘Christian.’ She would spend her days making sacrifices by going out preaching. However, at night, she would call her friends and relate the latest gossip — Gossip that often gravitated to slander.

There were considerable moments of doubt she often felt about her relationship with God, but that soon diminished when she had another day of preaching. After all, God would overlook the bad for the good, she reasoned.

*****

Sin will always put distance between God and us. When Jesus cured the young blind man in John chapter 9, in conversation with the pharisees, the man replied, ‘We know that God does not listen to sinners.’

How true, at Isaiah 59:2, we read, It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.’

We find in 1 John 3:9 that John writes, ‘No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.’

We will always find a listening ear with God so long as we put away sin and practice what is right.

 

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188.


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Kreng Jai and the feelings of others

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Thursday, 25 Jan 2024, 10:51


 Image by https://unsplash.com/@timwildsmith

Trying to get to the bottom of this Thai word is like herding frogs. There are so many angles of understanding linked to it. My wife and I have friends, the wife being Thai, so, the next time we see her, I will discuss this paradoxical word.

It’s a word that’s close to my heart. Like most of us, I don’t cope too well with tension in all its forms, including passive aggressiveness, toxic language, harsh words, and the like. I usually excuse myself. As I get older, that feeling has become more intense.

Empathy is a quality that is deeply lacking in society as narcissism, self-interest and selfishness have made inroads into this broken society.

My wife and I were reading the Bible this morning and afterwards, she asked, ‘What is your favourite Bible verse?’ This is our joy—the wandering musings of the mind.

‘Psalm15,’ I said. We read it. It’s all about being human. To be more specific, it is God’s message to humans regarding moral values towards God and our fellow man.

It speaks about being blameless. Speaking truth from the heart. Words that utter no slander. Who does no wrong to their neighbour. Who keeps promises. Who cannot be bribed, and so on.

This brings me back to that Thai word. Deeply embedded in Thai society’s consciousness is empathy for neighbour. I like that, it’s the way we all should live.

You can read more about Psalm 15 in the following link:

Psalm 15 (biblehub.com)


Have a good day.

Image by https://unsplash.com/@timwildsmith

 

 


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Eternal wisdom made all things in love,

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"Eternal wisdom made all things in love,

By love are all bewildered.

Intoxicated by the wine of love."


The quote above is by the 7th century poet Farridudden Attar. He compares love with wine; intoxication and pleasurable. However, he attributes God as the maker of love (Eternal wisdom). And so be it because there are no other explanations why we, as humans, love. It’s another aspect of the moral human. It may be argued that love is an evolutionary provision to bring tribes and villages together. But there is a major flaw in the theory. Not only do some humans love their neighbour, but some humans love those they have never met.

Consider the billions of pounds that are donated to charities that minister to orphans, cancer research, developing nations, homeless, Christian Aid, Oxfam, and many others. Take a short bite out your day and watch the work of the Mercy Ships.

Mercy Ships: The Next Chapter | TBN UK - YouTube


Image by https://unsplash.com/@neonbrand


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I was thinking of this Japanese word, Omotenashi

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Sunday, 8 Oct 2023, 13:21


Now, I was thinking of this Japanese word, Omotenashi and I’d like your opinion. I was in the Philippines some years ago and one day, a tricycle driver rode us to town. When we reached the destination, he invited us to his home that Saturday. Now that was a first for me. Can you imagine the Western taxi driver doing that? I'm sure some would, but I haven't experienced it.

Anyway, we went to his home which was no more than a corrugated metal shack with a few farm animals. Chicken was on the menu. I was moved by this hospitality and then overwhelmed when I discovered the family killed their only chicken to give us the meal that Saturday.

But you know this? Hospitality is not the correct word for this. I think what they did ran much deeper, because I invited them to a restaurant a few days later, but they were not having it. None of this quid-pro-quo on their part. It was entirely unconditional love. And I think we should get a hold of this omotenashi word. It's a good word for we Westerners who have slipped far behind our Asian neighbours on this matter of omotenashi. What do you think?



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The Simple Cost of Happiness

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Sunday, 8 Oct 2023, 12:59

I was talking to a stranger while hill walking. He was complaining about how stressful his job was and how it was impinging on his health.

“Can’t you find a less stressful job?” I asked.

“Too many bills, “he replied.

He also mentioned a recent trip to Disneyland that cost him and his family £6000 in all.

“What makes you happy?” this stranger asked me.

What I’m doing now; walking in nature, stopping with my lunchbox in some isolated place and communicating with the Divine. Being grateful that I can be here. Grateful I have the health to do so. Grateful that I will return home tired, but feeling I have accomplished something.

He looked at me as if I’d lost my marbles.

Conspicuous consumerism is as old as the Silk Road itself. The idea of purchasing of goods or services for the sole purpose of displaying one’s wealth is losing ground as minimalism gains power in the West. Happiness is not achieved through materialism. We only need to look at the West to see that depression, and other emotional and mental illnesses caused by debt and reaching out beyond our means, is robbing society of happiness. Happiness comes from the simple things in life that cost nothing.

© 2023 Writer's Notebook: On Being Human






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Love, the Appian Way

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Sunday, 8 Oct 2023, 13:10



Philia: the love among friends.

In 2009, I was returning home from Rome. On the way to the airport, I noticed the sign for Via Appia (The Appian Way). I was reminded of a Bible account where the Apostle Paul was being transferred from Jerusalem to Rome under armed guard to have his case heard in 58 A.D. As Paul walked along this ancient road, news of his journey came to the attention of his fellow Christians in the city. Luke reports Pauls words:

‘The brothers and sisters there had heard that we were coming, and they travelled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us.’

The Forum of Appius was a usual stopping place 64 km from Rome. The poet Horace described it as “festered with frogs, gnats, boatmen and stingy tavern-keepers”. The Three Taverns was a traveller’s inn 58 km from the capitol. What I find moving about this account is that the Christians of Paul’s day were prepared to walk all that way to support their spiritual brother. When Paul caught sight of them, he thanked God and took courage. The Greek word for courage (tharséō) from the source language of the New Testament, carries with it the warm-hearted thought of emboldening with inner strength.

I wonder, I just wonder, how many Christians would do the same for a fellow believer?


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The Dead Had Toys In Their Pockets

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Wednesday, 28 Jun 2023, 17:52

Some of my cosiest childhood memories for me is being tucked up in bed and my dad reading me stories. Peter Pan, Pinocchio. Oliver Twist. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrope and many more.

I often think, not occasionally, but almost daily, regarding the little children who must go to bed without the story because of absent fathers. This is no fault of the mother. Being a single parent is a challenging task.

When I was in my late teens, I became fascinated by another group of missing fathers. I read a book about HMY Iolaire. This was a vessel that was returning to the Island of Lewis on Scotland’s west coast on January 1, 1919.

On board were no ordinary group of passengers, but 283 men who were returning from WW1. As they anticipated returning to their families after much deprivation and discomfort of the war, they no doubt looked forward to catching up on the lost years of absence.

The waters were hostile that day and the captain struggled to negotiate a safe passage. Suddenly, the ship struck rocks and 201 of the 283 men perished.

When the bodies were recovered, in their pockets were toys. Yes, toys. Toys for their children whom they had dearly missed. Gifts that would re-establish the lost years with their relationship with their little ones.

In an ideal world, there would be no absent fathers. Many, if not most, are absent by choice. Some by circumstances beyond their control. And my sympathy goes out to the latter.

 Imagine the scenario, a charity organisation that organised fathers with loving family lives to volunteer to pop round to the homes of children of missing fathers and read them bedtime stories. But in today’s world with many child predators, the idea seems absurd.  On the plus side, I’m happy that literacy is high in the West and many children learn to read for themselves. And I’m sure many single mothers take time to read to them despite the challenges.

Image by Barrett Ward (Unsplash)

 

 

 


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Glasgow Street Scenes

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Wednesday, 12 Apr 2023, 12:10


That day, the street blushed with a force-ripe sun, but modern life made me wonder, how do I escape from humans?  —Jim McCrory


 How to raise a child

Her hair is dyed silver, euphemistically speaking. Fattish in tight pants that accentuate the unseemly parts and stress the stitching. The child in the pram has a Gregg’s sausage roll partially submerged in her mouth with the wrapper blowing down the street. The mother swipes her mobile phone to listen to the next track on her playlist.

The Indians are coming.

It's spring. The daisies are out the sun gently fills the air with a comfortable temperature. The High Street is busy with a conspicuous glee and the busker man in cowboy hat and boots spoils the mood with endless melancholy songs sung with a Nashville accent. Someone in the flats above hits him on the head with an egg. Perfect shot. He moves his kit up street and he begins disputing for performing space with the Peruvian Indians who have arrived with their pan pipes and charangoes.

 Protect the beer and fags at all costs.

The two men stand outside the pub with their half-empty or half full beer glasses; it depends on your viewpoint. They’re exhaling large clouds of cigarette spoke on passers-by with masks on. One seems too old for slim jeans and the grandad looks absurd with his saltire tattoo on his neck. They complain about the cost of living, the price of cigarettes and a pint. ‘The wife will need to go and get another job.’ The younger-old man says with a smirk.


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Enlightenment Now

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Wednesday, 28 Jun 2023, 19:34



When studying Social Science some years ago, I learned of the Kitty Genovese murder in 1964.

Apart from being chased down the street, sexual assault and then murdered, what made this case

more shocking was the bystanders that ignored Kitty’s screams for help.

This came to mind whilst reading Kathrine Boo’s shocking testimony to life in Mumbai’s slums in her book Behind the Beautiful Forevers.

She writes about a one-legged girl whose is set on fire by quarrelsome neighbours, many bystanders gather and watch like it’s the next episode in a soap opera. She writes,

“The adults drifted back to their dinners, while a few boys waited to see if Fatima’s face would come off.”

Fatima’s husband in a effort to get her to hospital is shunned by rickshaw drivers concerned about their rickshaw seats becoming bloodstained.

I see the expression "Enlightenment now" in books  and the media. Just exactly what do we mean by it? In what ways have we become enlightened?  


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Eternity in Our Hearts

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Wednesday, 28 Jun 2023, 19:48

Why is there something rather than nothing? Why do our hearts and minds think on terms of eternity? Why are we still young inside even when we get old?

A wise man once wrote that God has “set eternity in our hearts.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

I find this a very pleasing concept. Think of our brains, we have the capacity to take information into it indefinitely. We grow to love other humans. When out time comes, we never want to leave this planet. We desire to take knowledge in constantly. Is it all for nothing? Or is there something, somewhere in the unseen we do not know of? Many argue that we are bound in a material world, but the lived experience tells a different story.

I often wonder if the Chinese man I spoke about yesterday, found the answer.




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“Can you tell me, what happens when we die?”

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Wednesday, 28 Jun 2023, 19:49

 

I was thinking of yesterday’s post and wondered if the theme of death is worth a blog.

A friend, who was a charity worker that looked after the needs of refugees had a Chinese man walk into his office one day. The man never spoke English, so, with a video link to a professional translator they were able to answer the man’s query.

“Can you tell me, what happens when we die?” was his question.

The Chinese man is not unique. We all ask that question and believe me; the thought becomes more frequent as you get older.

Why is there something rather than nothing? Why is this lump of matter and electrical charge we call the brain aware of itself? Why are we so unique that we can explore these matters? This is the boundary of science. These are questions that will never be answered by science. Despite the grandiose claims, we are nowhere near answering these questions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IF54xqYhIGA&list=WL&index=17&t=29s

There cannot be a God, there’s too much evil. However, why is there so much good? And think of the statement, “There’s too much evil.” Where do we get that moral absolute? Where does this invisible standard of right and wrong come from? If we are products of blind chance, then why is there the demand for justice? Justice has no place in a blind universe.

I will return to this question tomorrow.



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“The Swedish he knew was mostly from Bergman films."

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Sunday, 8 Oct 2023, 12:18

My daughter's Swedish pen-pall invited herself over for a holiday in the eighties. The following year. her family reciprocated the hospitality and my son and I spent the year learning Swedish from Linguaphile cassettes and watching a Bergman film (The Best Intentions: Den goda viljan) and a Swedish copy of Dances With Wolves (Danser Med Vargar). Like Ann Pratchett's experience, I had pulled out Swedish phrases that were dark, or downright strange and to the amusement of the encountered Swedes.

I miss Sweden now.


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“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.”

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Sunday, 8 Oct 2023, 12:19

Ah! Robert Louis Stevenson, a man after my own heart. I go everywhere with my notebook and my current reading material. Chance favours the prepared mind. A random thought emerges. The thought is pursued and drafted into the notebook. Less I forget.


“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.”

― Robert Louis Stevenson, Essays of Robert Louis Stevenson

And current reading, if you're enquiring. The Penguin Book of Prose Poems

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The sharpness of the pen.

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Wednesday, 12 Apr 2023, 12:14

I was reading Richard Selzer's essay, The Knife whilst waiting on an X-ray yesterday. He had just performed an operation. Here is how he concludes the essay in a masterful manner. 

At last, a little thread is passed into the wound and tied. The monstrous booming fury is stilled by a tiny thread. The tempest is silenced. The operation id over. On the table, the knife lies spent on its side. The bloody meal smear-dried upon its flanks. The knife rests.




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‘Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.’

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Wednesday, 12 Apr 2023, 12:17

Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.’― Frank Turek 

Hello World. Did I miss the meeting?  The London bus, I mean. The one that read ‘There is probably no God. So stop worrying. Enjoy your life.’ Oh dear! The telling word is ‘probably’. It doesn’t inspire conviction, does it? The adverb sticks out like a scaled down version of Pascal’s Wager. Like ‘There’s probably no God, but if there is, he might just let me off the hook for my lack of complete denial and reverence.

And then there’s the ‘enjoy yourself’ part. It is so refreshing to see that the atheists are the only ones on the planet that are enjoying themselves. I guess the drug addicts, alcoholics and escapists must be believers. How strange, I never noticed. Someone must inform our secular neighbours who are swiping down the antidepressants at record levels that it isn’t allowed. They shouldn’t be enjoying themselves that much.


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