Two terms I am removing from my vocabulary.

Everyone knows that chefs use a lot of colourful language. I am guilty of it. I am working on it.

The reason I allowed myself to get into the habit of swearing, was simple: I told myself that it was only words. If it’s only words, then it doesn’t matter and the ‘offensive’ or ‘bad’ part about it was defined by the people whose company I was in. If I was in the kitchen, or on a fishing trip, it was all just part of every conversation and so it became part of my regular use in those situations.

However, in an entirely unrelated situation, I began to see that words and in particular names and titles, have genuine power, greater than letters on a page or vibrations in the air.

I wont go into what that situation was as that would be an unhelpful sidetrack, but it was key to my realisation that inappropriate words draw a heart away from what is good and right, even when they appear to be entirely arbitrary and not even used in a negative or derogatory way. I have found it true that the more you say something, the more you believe it. In the case of specifics, or simply attitudes. The more you believe it, the more you see it and act accordingly. This is a dangerous perpetual cycle. The above situation is a psychological one, a training of the brain if you will. I have found that words are even more than that. They also have effect, or power in the spiritual realm. Biblically, names are very important and I think that is because they are more than simply something to identify someone with. It’s another paradox of the spirit, but although speaking the ‘right’ name doesn’t necessarily bring the power associated with it, changing or not using a name can strip someone or something of their power.

So aside from the actual swear words, which I have realised are harder to remove from my cultural vocabulary than I expected, here are two that I don’t (or at least try not to) use.

 

Trash (In relation to a person ie white trash, trailer trash etc)

Trash is American for rubbish, just in case you didn’t know. Trash is what we throw away. It is stuff that is of no value, only to be lugged off to somewhere far away from us to rot.

No person is trash. None. No one. Never.

We like to think that we would never think that of a person but… still we call people trash and we don’t care what happens to them when they leave or presence. Now, I’m not saying that we should be trying to look after, or even concern ourselves with what happens to every person, but I am saying that we should never be wishing them harm, nor even uncaring ambivalence. A human life wasted is always a tragedy. Even the lives of those who take the lives of others. It may be just, but it is still tragic.

If we call people trash, whether it’s someone we know, someone on the street or a celebrity that we actually have no idea about, we devalue human life. If we devalue one human life, eventually we will find ourselves devaluing huge chunks of human lives for one reason or another. Human life is priceless, it should not be devalued.

People are never trash.

 

Luck

This is my big one. My current big step in my spiritual growth, is to remove ‘luck’ from my life. I don’t believe in it anyway. There is no luck, only providence, blessing, skill, practice, fallen nature and punishment. That is not an exhaustive list, but the point is this, luck is unguided and uncontrolled,  the world is not. Think you can live without using the term luck? How about lucky? Fortunate or unfortunate? There are a myriad of synonyms and antonyms that I keep finding myself using in what can only be an unconscious effort to undermine God’s control over the events I see. I am learning to give God the credit that He is due, people the justice (or credit) they deserve and sin the respect it deserves.

An interesting application of this that I have run into is when I find myself having to give God the credit for ‘lucky breaks.’

For example, whenever I talk about unexpected good things that happen in my life, I endeavour to use the terms blessed, or the Lord provided. Ie: when talking about the job I now have, which is spectacularly more family friendly that almost every other chef job ever, I will say how much of a blessing it is or that the Lord certainly provided for us rather than how lucky I was to get it. Not only does it remind ME how good the Lord is, but it is testimony to what He has done in the presence of whoever I am talking with.

Let’s say I am ‘lucky’ enough to win lotto. Woo!!

Take out lucky and replace it with blessed.

If it is money that I have randomly acquired, I can therefore do what I like with it. Suddenly when it’s a gift from God, at the very least, it will produce gratitude. However, what I have found, is that it reminds me that I am a steward of what God gives me. Whenever I find myself with an unexpected windfall, I begin looking around for what God has planned for it. In my experience, part or all of it has usually immediately gone to something that came up at the same time. This has led me to believe that ‘luck’ and money especially do not go together.

Another example: earlier this year I caught a large Sampson fish. It was the peak of my year as far as fishing is concerned. An exciting capture, but it was unable to be released so I found myself with a large amount (around 10kg) of fillets. I gave nearly all of it away and in the process heard a couple of stories of people who were really blessed by the unexpected fresh fish.

The same happened with a snapper I caught in September.

My ‘lucky’ captures are part of Gods plan to bless other people.

It would also be remiss not to mention the converse: sudden windfalls (especially money related) can be ‘unlucky.’ How many stories are there of people suddenly finding themselves with money which has produced, directly or indirectly, only bitterness, anger, malice, rage… Etc

Good luck, good fortune, call it what you want, can quickly become misfortune if it is not seen in the light of God’s providence.

Removing ‘bad luck’ from your life is even harder than removing good. What can it be beside ‘bad luck’ when a person gets cancer or eaten by a shark? It may be personal judgement, but what if it’s not? It may be a result of their own foolish actions ie: swimming at dawn at a known shark hot spot, or not wearing sunscreen or getting skin checks, but what if it’s not? The fallen nature of this world is the cause of both disease and predation meaning that both cases are part of the overarching judgement on creation, but why Timmy? Unlucky? My inclination is to say that every day that you don’t die, or find yourself diagnosed with a terrible illness is only because the Lord has protected you. Death and judgement is the purest justice on Adam’s descendants, every day we live is because we are shown mercy and grace.

Finally a very personal story which I debated whether to include…

My mum had the ‘misfortune’ of dying of breast cancer. I was 11 at the time. She was a disciple of Jesus Christ with no doubt that, to paraphrase, “for her to live was Christ and to die was gain.” Physical death is a consequence, but not a punishment. By her attitude and the attitudes of our believing family and friends as her health failed I saw the strength of her faith and that was to eventually become a pillar in my own faith. She may not have taken a bullet, but by her death, she saved me. By which I mean, her physical death, which is ultimately inconsequential for her in light of eternity, had a huge consequence as part of my eternal salvation. I doubt that I am the only one for whom her death had eternal consequence either. Again, if we remove ‘luck’ from the equation, what are we left with? No, I don’t think God gave her cancer to save me (or anyone else) but a necessary consequence of sin was used as providence for eternity. For the record, no I don’t think her death was all about my salvation either. However, unguided, arbitrary luck can evaporate as I give God praise for the marvelous way that He used the fallen nature of this world in my mum, who was already eternally saved, to save me for eternity to. The Lord is good, who can fathom His infinite wisdom?

From huge life changing events, to the little things of the everyday, luck doesn’t even come close.

 

This just scratches the surface of terms that can cause us to brainwash ourselves in the way we think and act. There are plenty that are only a hazard in certain circumstances and plenty that are not single words or even phrases, but attitudes driving whatever the words we use that we need to think about what we are really saying. I started by mentioning the power of names and titles, that is another area to watch closely, especially if you start to change them. Hopefully this will get you thinking about your own choice of vocabulary and we can all learn to speak more love and peace, wisdom and providence. Who knows what effect it might have in the spiritual realm?

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The Joker within

My two favourite movie characters of all time are Smaug, the dragon from Tolkein’s “The Hobbit” and The Joker, as portrayed by Heath Ledger in “The dark knight.”

I know. Who has a villain as their favourite character?! Well it’s not like a” hey, he is pretty cool. We need more Jokers in this world. I want to be just like him.” kind of favourite. I love the concept of the characters. The anarchists. We have people in the world who claim to be anarchists, but generally they are just insubordinate and or civil disobedient. These two are slightly different, but both true anarchists. They just do what they want, because they want to. To entertain themselves, no other motivation necessary. Smaug does what he wants because he believes he is above everyone. No one can harm him, not even challenge him for he is so mighty. Where asin the case of The Joker, it is more that the rules are for everyone else, to keep people in line, but he is “enlightened enough” to see that they only need to apply to the majority to achieve their purpose. An individual can flaunt them without consequence.

The Joker has a characteristic that makes him even more sinister I feel than Smaug and indeed, than Satan himself.

He has no motive.

He just does things, because. Even Satan is predicable in that he will try to steal glory from God. Claim for himself what is not his, lead others away from God. A motiveless villain is entirely unpredictable. I love the simply terrifying concept of such a dissociated bad guy.

Guess what? Sometimes I wish I was the Joker. Surely that would be freeing? Sometimes I even think I am to some extent. Perhaps we all have something similar in our character.

From time to time, I do and say things purely to see what response it will draw. Especially when interacting with strangers on the internet. Sometimes purely for my own entertainment at the reaction. Or sometimes, just to be different. To go against the flow.

Ahh… Uh oh Suddenly my uber bad guy attitude is sounding like something we encourage in church circles.

Got it?

We are to be “counter cultural.” I have heard that in many sermons, some of them good and some of them bad.

Counter cultural.

What does that even mean?

Is it acting like the Joker? Or is it acting like Jesus?

The answer is of course: both.

In both cases, the prevailing rules can be thought not to apply. However, when we are being counter cultural as followers of Christ, it is because Jesus is counter to the culture. No, that is not a circular argument.

As a bible believing follower of Jesus Christ, I understand that at present in the world, God has allowed satan to rule. Ergo, the basic culture of the world is following it’s leader. I am not. I am (or at least should be) counter to that culture. The important distinction however, is WHY I am counter to the culture.

If I am doing it for my own amusement, satisfaction, self gratification, pride etc etc then I am The Joker.

If I am doing it because my King is counter to the culture and I want to be obedient to, and become like, Him then I am becoming more like Jesus.

Are you creating your own culture that is divergent from the masses, or are you diverging from the masses in your pursuit of a Holy God whose eventual victory will usher in a culture so far removed from the dominant one of this age?

You can paddle your own canoe against the raging tide of culture, blaze your own trail like the Joker or seclude yourself away with your treasures in your fortress under the mountain if you want. I will endeavor to assimilate with Jesus’ culture and allow Him to let me know when to go against the flow.

How much are you forgiven?

Luke 7:36-48

36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[c] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

 

First up, let me admit that this is a passage that I have personally used to waive away a lack of passion for the Lord.

I was born into an actively Christian family, was raised with biblical morals, never really had any sort of rebellious streak and came to believe in God and Jesus Christ and made my own choice to follow Him in my early teenage years. Ergo, I felt that I had not done that many things I was ashamed of or needed to be forgiven. I have never experienced the wave of forgiveness that many “worse people” (in the eyes of the world) describe. So I explained away my lack of passion as such, “I have only been forgiven a few things, so no wonder my life hasn’t changed as drastically, see its right here in Luke 7.”

However, what I, and I am sure many evangelical Christians overlooked is that just as sin is digital, so is forgiveness.

In the eyes of God, you are either sinful or holy. There are no degrees of sinfulness. The worst sinner is as the best sinner: sinful. There are no degrees of sinfulness. In my experience, that has been taught quite thoroughly, but I feel that the implications of it are not so much.

If we are either sinful or not, then it is not possible for forgiveness to be any less than complete.

It is not possible for forgiveness to be any less than complete. 

You can’t be forgiven one sin without being forgiven of them all. You are forgiven of sin, not forgiven of A sin.

That in itself is a glorious thing to ponder.

But I want to look at how it applies in this passage.

The key fact is that “Neither of them had the money to pay him back” In the same way that it doesn’t matter what the debt is if you can’t pay it, it doesn’t matter how few sins one has committed they are still sinful.

We are all forgiven the same debt.

Our individual ‘value owed’ is irrelevant as we couldn’t pay it anyway.

So now we must be careful of semantics as it’s starting to sound like I’m saying Jesus is wrong/exaggerating/lying and of course I am not. Nor am I saying that this the only interpretation of this passage, but what has been revealed to me.

The implication is that if we are forgiven the same but our responses are different, then the difference must be in us.

I said earlier that we have been taught well the nature of sinfulness as digital, black and white, sinful and righteous, however our actions and attitudes belie the fact that we also think some people are more sinful and others less. The consequence of this belief is the attitude I mentioned earlier: “I have not been forgiven of much, that is why I don’t love much.”

That is of course a cop out.

I  want to be righteous in accepting my unrighteousness, or at least a little less unrighteous than the next person, so that I have an excuse for why I am a little less active in my thanks. At it’s worst, it is the private equivalent of the Pharisee who prays “‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector.” (Luke 18:11)

What I now realise, is that it’s not so much ‘how much’ have I been forgiven, with a little column graph of sins disappearing, resulting in a little column of gratitude appearing, but how much do I realise I have been forgiven. It’s a direct relationship of revelation of sins to thankfulness and love.  For some it is a one sin forgiven to one portion of love, for some every sin they know they are forgiven of results in a double, triple or hundred fold increase in love. For the prostitute, there was a sudden realisation of forgiveness of many sins, perhaps she only knew she had committed because society told her she had, and there was an outpouring of love. For Simon (and Joel), there was little love since he believed he had little that needed to be forgiven.

Whatever the case for you, I believe that the faith journey with Jesus is one marked by continual realisation of sinfulness, but also continual realisation of forgiveness and therefore a constant increase in love. Love for the One who forgives and love for those who are no better or worse than us, but sinful and forgivable all the same.

Shrinking your circles

Hands up who has ever used the phrase “There’s just not enough hours in the day.” or something similar.

How about “I can’t afford to donate to everyone.”

Or “I can’t remember to pray for everything.”

There is legitimately only so much that we as humans can do. For example, you can’t maintain a firm friendship with everyone that you are Facebook friends with. They might all be great people, people who you would love to be close with, to catch up more, to share every important detail with, but it literally is not possible.

This took a long time for me to accept, but trust me, it’s very liberating. What the Lord has been teaching me over the last couple of years has been about letting go of stuff. And by stuff I mean the desire to do His job of overseeing the running of the world.
For example: a lot of Christians, myself included, have this idea that we can’t let go of a friendship (even if its actually only an acquaintance) just in case God has it in store for us to be part of them coming to faith in Him. It’s a compelling thought. Maybe someday down the track they will have a crisis and our actions to help them out will show them Gods grace and they’ll go from there. Maybe they will have a question about Jesus raised in their life and we will be the only Christian person they know to ask.

Maybe maybe maybe.

But then, how little credit do we give to God for their salvation? How small of a God will be thwarted by our clicking the ‘unfriend’ button on someone that we haven’t spoken to in 10 years? Surely He has a plan B. Surely the plan B was actually his plan A all along, we just thought that ‘maybe’ story that we came up with was plan A but now He will have to go with His backup.

Although decreasing my FB friend list was where this started for me, and that was also a branch into some other important stuff in my relationship with God, that’s not the main thrust of what I want to get at.

What I want to say to you is to go for quality over quantity in so many more ways than one.

It’s about simplifying life

But not in a cheesy hallmark kinda way and even less so in a buddist/hippie/earth child kinda way.
This is about removing the overwhelm.
The information saturation
The need saturation
The sheer amount of information that we are assaulted with each and every day in every area of life.

I have said before and will say again, no time is harder to live in than any other, but each has its challenges and malaise. The data overload of the internet/social media/instant worldwide communication is the challenge of our time.

Why?

I believe it is because it has cause a shallowing of everything that we do. Relationships are weak because we have so many that we cannot invest in them what we need to. Neighborhoods are week because we are so busy trying to get inside to see what our 875 facebook friends on the other side of the country/world are up to, that we don’t say hi to the person next door who could actually help us when we are in need.

Ok, need to bring this around to a point because this is not a rant against social media…

The solution is to invest in what you have.
For me, it always comes back to investing in people in one way or another. Shrink your circle of friends so that when a genuine need arises, you are free to provide. Invest in a few select relationships. By no means am I saying that you should throw the rest away. I am simply saying don’t expect to be close to everyone. Don’t even try. This comes back to trying to run the world for God. Just because you are not someones best friend, doesn’t mean they are alone. No, believe it or not, they will have another person who will become their best friend. Of course when an acquaintance needs help that you can provide, provide it.
An analogy perhaps… Imagine a bunch of small bubbles on the surface of a large sphere. All of the bubbles are being slowly inflated so each must eventually envelope the whole sphere.
One of the bubble is you, the sphere is the earth. Will you make it?
Of course not!
But with the knowledge of what is going on all over the world available at our fingertips, that is kinda what is expected of us these days. Everyone has to care for everything. So the value of care available is practically zero.
Now imagine a similar scenario, but each of the small bubbles is just holding strong in its little spot, side by side with all the others, perhaps even with a little overlap. Can you see the picture? In both cases, the whole world will be cared for, but not everyone has to care for everything.
Each of us has to let go of some stuff that we can’t control. In the analogy, it appears that we are letting it go to the locals to sort out, well, yes and no, that is why its only an analogy. I am saying that when you let it go, let it go to God. He alone is all knowing, all powerful and sovereign. I’m going to try not to sound callous here, but the problems on the other side of the world are not mine to sort out. I couldn’t anyway. So I use the one powerful tool I have, I go to my hotline to God and say ‘hey this stuff is not cool, could you please sort it out.’

That’s it. Then I move on.

It’s not that I don’t care, just that I realise that is the most powerful thing I can do.

However: when the rubber hits the road and God has something for me to do in my own little bubble… A physical need that I can physically fulfil… I can’t shy away.

Our ability to help is more powerful the less it is stretched.

Ok, so now we are focusing our efforts into cases and causes that are closer to home, but there are still a myriad of things I need and want to do for my own entertainment.

Guess what? My advice is the same.

Start cutting back.

I was a member of a couple of dozen fishing groups on facebook, they alone would over fill my newsfeed. I left nearly all of them. Now I see every post that goes through the groups that I am still in, not just the ones that get lots of hits.

I had several hobbies. If I had some spare time I had to choose, will I go for a ride or take my kayak out? Neither of those is better or worse, but I made the choice that kayaking would be my number one. Not only does that mean that suddenly I was doing a lot more kayaking, but it freed up a bunch of $$ that were being split across different hobbies. I now spend more on kayak/fishing gear, but still spend less overall.

It also flows into that relational aspect from earlier. I now have much more time and energy to input into building relationships in the yakfishing community.

When Amy and I renovated our front yard, a large part of our thought process revolved around making a usable space where we could interact with our neighbors, both immediate and those passing by in the street. We wanted (God wanted us?) to be open to meeting those around us. The people who one day might knock on our door and ask us to meet a need. Now I’m mindful that this sounds like the ‘maybe’ stories that I started with, but the difference is that this is real world, hard and fast, assistance. I don’t want to belittle those of you who do maintain excellent relationships via social media, but far more common is the ‘arms length’ connection. It’s kinda like the bystander effect (bunch of people see an accident but no one helps because they assume that someone else will) but with social media there are literally thousands of ‘bystanders’ at every ‘accident’ and we feel under little or no obligation to assist and no guilt for doing nothing because ‘someone else’ will.

The worst effect of this is on the ‘victim.’

How lonely does it feel to know that you have 875 friends and not one of them came to your aid?

I’m certainly guilty of lacking in social media compassion.

That is why I want to build strong personal relationships with people. That in turn is why I have let some relationships go. That is why I had to remove those who I knew I couldn’t help in a time of need. My ‘presence’ but lack of help would just be another tiny cut to add to their pain. Don’t get me wrong, if you turn up on my doorstep with nothing but the clothes on your back, I’ll still help you, but I don’t want to be a bystander in a world of pain.

Now I, as one person alone, cannot remedy the situation. I hope the people ‘nearby’ those who are suffering will help them, but I cannot be certain of it. However, what I am certain of, is that if I spread myself too thin, I won’t really help anyone.

Ever.

So I pull back and build those places where I can strengthen, encourage and assist.

I implore you to do the same.

Tussling with Sampson

With the impending birth of child number 2 due in a fortnight, saturday was my last fishing shot for quite some time.
I was driving westwards at 430am admiring the setting (almost) full moon. An hour window between moon set and sunrise seemed to me to be an ideal bite window if you believe in such things.
For a variety of reasons no one else could come with me so I launched alone at just before 5.
Something of a zigzag track to the spot as I rigged a soft plastic on one rod and baited up with a whole small squid caught near the launch area a fortnight before. The rig I had tied at a yakfishwest get together on thursday night as a demo of an FG knot and also basic snelling.

The breeze was strong and meandering, swinging from ESE to ENE every few minutes making a predictable drift a bit tricky, but certainly manageable.
I was happy to see a few significant markings on the sounder right from the get go and I was feeling confident that I would be heading home with a feed of snapper.
It didn’t take long to start getting bites and the voracious smacks of small snapper are unmistakable. However, I was fishing 8/0 circles. I’m after the ones that will inhale that little squid whole.
I did manage a hookup and quickly brought in a bait destroying undersize snapper. Nice to see and at least have a fish in the yak in good time even if it did have to go back.
Although the squid had been shredded back to just half a white tube I dropped it back down again, though when I got no further bites in the next few minutes I decided the short window was too precious to waste with sub par bait.
I swapped to a bigger squid tube and was back in the game, and quickly got the hookup I was looking for. The fish fought strongly and I was convinced I had my snapper. After a couple of runs and relatively short fight It began to appear out of the darkness. I briefely thought I was about to be sharked as it was shadowed by a large brown shape, however that then broke off into two distinct fish. Ahh sambos are here.
It was only then that i realised that what I had hooked was in fact also a sambo. I was going to release it after a quick pic for the record, but then decided I would keep it as I’m actually quite fond of a bit of seriola.

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6:03 am I was on the board.

Next bait was the head of the same squid and my final piece of local squid.
Hoping for a snapper and knowing there were sambos in my current spot I patrolled around the area a bit looking for more arches. After a few drops for no bites I thought, this is silly, there are fish over there waiting to be caught, go catch them.
Back to where I caught the sambo it only took a couple of drops before the rod loaded up, loaded up, started giving line and then started screaching line.
It was a pretty safe bet that it was a big sambo, anything else that I might hook here that would take that much line that fast would have bitten me off for sure.
Although I did briefely consider the mate of that GT that was speared in the sound a few weeks back…
Fortunately it was headed for what I considered to be open water so I let it go, even backing the drag off a tiny bit, and just keeping a little forward motion in the yak.
It was probably less than 10 seconds in that initial run but how much longer does it feel when its happening!
When it slowed I started peddling towards it and gained line quickly as it had done a 90 degree turn so I headed it off at the pass as it were.
Knowing that Tuckers big sambo fight was in the vicinity of two hours I noted the time, 6:25 and settled in for the long haul. I doubted this would be that long as I was fishing almost double the breaking strain Paul was, but wanted to know how long it actually took, not just how long it felt.
It’s amazing how much you recall of little tips here and there over the years.
WDS: When fighting big fish, don’t always hold the rod close to you with a bent arm, it will tire you out. Straighten your arm so you are doing no/less work.
Brett: Let it run!
Assorted: ‘Walk the dog’ to control where the fish is going.
All of those flooded through and I relaxed into the fight.
I briefely made the error of putting myself upwind of the fish which meant the kayak was being pushed across the line, but quickly realised and corrected.
I didn’t so much “Walk the dog” as hitch up the horse and cart. The fish was pulling me about 45 degrees off the angle of the drift so I just hung on and let it tow me for a bit. That worked exceptionally well until I decided that I didn’t want to get any further from where I hooked it. I tried twice unsuccessfully to turn it.
By the third attempt it was obviously spent so I chose rather to work on lifting it. I suddenly realised that my ‘wrong’ choice when I bought the heavier model rod was going to be a Godsend in this instance.
More advice, Paul (in his latest Wangler column): Raising the fish by just a few centimeteres at a time may feel like it takes forever, but you will get it to the surface.
When it finally appeared I started getting very excited but was still well aware of the tendancy of overexcited angler plus fish making last ditch effort to result in disaster.
That was not the case. The fish was spent and I stuck the gaff through it’s bottom jaw first shot.
Brief hesitation to check balance before leaning back and hauling it aboard.
Ok, now what?
I sat with it on my lap for a moment just taking it in and then turned it head down past the side of the mirage drive. That was a mistake.
I got my phone out of its waterproof case and took the obligatory photo. The time code on that shot says 6:40, making it a 15 minute battle.
It felt much longer!

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I began to consider the possibility of release… The fish had not moved, not even a twitch of the tail since I pulled it into the yak. As much as release sounded like a good idea, I really wanted some proper pictures to remember it by and the final straw was back to that earlier error of pushing it past the mirage drive, I physically couldn’t man handle it’s head back to me, even to take the hook out.
So I bled it where it was and tried to iki jimi it, though I’m pretty sure the knife never actually pierced it’s skull.
So now I still had the problem that it was wedged under my peddle and the south easterly just kept pushing me out.
Then I had an idea to kill two birds with one stone, there was a boat anchored up about 200m inshore of me so I set about peddling with right foot half strokes only back into the wind.
“how’s it going mate? ” they yell

” yeah, pretty good hey! Would you mind taking some pictures for me? ”
” hey? ” (I guess they were not that observant)
I pulled up beside them and started pulling the tail up… Which got the desired reactions of shock.
I passed over the phone and they got some shots while I struggled to get the fish up for a photo.

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The second bird was to push the fish around onto the back deck of the kayak, where it perched precariously close to sliding off with the head right up near the back hatch.
I got my phone back and with laughter at how funny it looked, we exchanged thanks and congratulations and I was on my way.
I decided that I had better lash it on just in case and threw a couple of loops of my flare tether cord around the tail.
I was back on the beach just after 7. A passer by took a couple of nice pics for me (after asking if I found it washed up!)

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And then I waited about 15 minutes for the sun to clear the dune and give me better lighting for a couple more pics.

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I had to move the fish from the back deck to the mirage well in order to get off the beach as I couldn’t move the kayak with the weight over the wheels. It still took 5 minutes and several rests to go 50m!
By the time I got home I was already wrecked.
But still the best picture is this one of my 4 year old. I think it will be getting printed and framed.

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Filleted on the front lawn, frame given to the local tackle shop and offers of fresh fish sent to many. By Sunday it was all given away or at least allocated away.
I ate some in the form of medallions on fresh home made bread toast

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and then made some yellow curry.

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Excellent in both forms and I wish I had saved more for myself. Ahh well, better catch another one.

Post script:
This is the FG and snell that I tied as part of a demonstration at the get together on Thursday night.

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Note that a few of the half hitches have come undone, hence the tag of braid and exposed leader. The knot is still strong and I wouldn’t hesitate to keep using it.
The snell is now a single hook! Don’t ask me where the other one went. My thinking is, given that the remaining hook was on the outside of the fish’s cheek, the bottom hook probably hooked it in the mouth and then the second stuck in the cheek. The fish then opened its mouth, breaking the line between them and then shook the unattached hook free. I’d say lucky, but I don’t believe in luck, I prefer to call it providence.
Again, if I hadn’t cut it off and wanted to keep fishing, I probably would have happily stuck another bait on that hook and trusted it to hold.
That is 30lb leader.
I measured my drag (out of curiosity really) when I got home and found I was fishing about 2.3kg. So I had plenty more I could have used without fear of breaking the line. However, it would then have presented a very real risk of getting capsized especially once I was fighting the fish straight up and down and in choppy conditions.

What a rush! I knew it was my biggest yak caught fish, but after a little thought, I realise it was my biggest fish outright, with the exception of a shark and a ray which were both bigger. I’m now happy to pack the gear up and settle into family routine until KCSG comp in september.
Maybe a snapper mission or two…
I’ll be back soon!

Balance in the end?

If you’re not a star wars fan, you’ll have to bear with me… I get to the point eventually.

 

Through the first (as opposed to original) star wars trilogy, the main story is that of the foretold one, conceived of the midiclorians, who would bring balance to the force. The story of Anakin Skywalker.

The majority of the Jedi are looking forward to this, and why wouldn’t you? Everyone loves a good messianic prophecy. The hero we are all waiting for to come and save us from the evil ones.

Of course, some are cautious but still they proceed. As the story goes on however, it all goes wrong. Or at least not as expected. This may be my spin on it, but what I see is Anakin/Vader bringing balance to the force, the equation is becoming more even as foretold.  Although evil was present, good was by far more prevalent. With the messiah turning to the dark side the balance perhaps overshoots, but the point is this: ‘balance’ is not what we seek.

What we really want is the victory of good.

However, I think the hollywood world portrays quite accurately what most people believe, that being, there can be no complete victory. How else do we have sequels? Or in the words of Mr Incredible “You save the world only for it to get back into jeopardy again! Can’t it just stay saved?”

So to follow Star Wars (story chronologically) just a bit longer, we role into Rogue One. Evil has taken power and extreme oppression has come. Now the theme of this movie is Hope. “Rebellions are built on hope.” Is the catch cry. Even when the balance of power is swung right away from good, as long as there is good there is still hope and vice-versa. Which of course roles into the first of the original trilogy which is of course called “A new hope.” That trilogy is the story of the victory of good over evil. We are (were) to believe that at the end of episode VI Return of the Jedi, the empire was defeated and good would reign forever. Here we see that ‘balance’ was never the hope. Luke, son of Anakin, is the victor, not only over the evil empire, but also in saving his own father who had turned to evil. He did not balance with him, he converted him.

Yet, we want episodes VII-IX so suddenly years later, somewhere along the way, evil has found its way back to dominion. You see, evil has the same chance as good. As long as there is evil, it can still come back to power. I am yet to see what ep VIII “The last Jedi” brings but I hope my point has been made.

If you are seeking ‘balance,’ you must accept evil as part of that. It’s fairly clear that unlike balancing an acid/alkaline reaction, good and evil do not neutralize and cease to be. You can either accept both and hope to see good prevail in your little corner of the world for your lifetime. Perhaps even choose evil and use it as a weapon to build your own empire. Or you may see The Way that will eventually see all evil destroyed.

 

I love it when people say to me “What is the world coming to?” I always think, though rarely say, “The end!”

People from all walks of life struggle to see and understand the trajectory that the world is taking. Some see elements as good that others see the same thing as bad. Some things are condemned by almost all as bad. But I think that if you asked most people to summarise whether the world is getting better or worse, most would say worse.

And I joyfully agree.

Joyfully?!?! you say? Well yes. The world is turning evil at an ever increasing rate and I am overjoyed. It is what has to happen. It is what we have been told in the bible will happen. Revelation is filled with catastrophic events, both for the world as a whole and for the followers of Jesus specifically. Just putting a few up by randomly flicking through…

12:17 “Then the dragon (satan) was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring- those who obey Gods commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”

13:3b-8 “The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. Men worshipped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshipped the beast and asked ‘Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?’ The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander His name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast – all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.”

9:13-15 and 20-21 “The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the horns of the golden altar that is before God. It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’ And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind.”

“The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the works of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood – idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.”

Or even 2 Timothy 4:3

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”

Not quite as cataclysmic as revelation but certainly something you can see.

Perhaps I should rephrase: I am not actually happy about the horrible things that are/will come as the end approaches, what I am happy about is the way it confirms that the end is coming.

The glorious end. Not like the end of a movie where there is balance. Where the balance has tipped back to good for now. Good has won: until next time.

No, The End. The final one.

I’m scared for many people I know, and even those that I don’t, but I also trust that God is righteous and just so it will be fair.

Here is the kicker: God is not bringing balance, he is bringing complete victory! On the flip side, complete defeat for evil.

THAT my friends is what we must teach this world, teach our children and teach them to teach their children.

The world is dark and hate filled, angry and blasphemous, but we have hope. The darker it gets the closer we know we are to the end. An end we can have certainty will be God’s final victory. Better still, if we know God has the final victory, our only role is to tell people that He will triumph no matter how dark it seems.

In the meantime, live in the joy of knowing that there is nothing evil can do to remove our hope.

A new hope? No, the Ancient One, who was from the beginning, is now and will be in the end.

 

Related reading :https://stephenmcalpine.com/2017/12/10/the-slippery-slope-was-a-precipice-after-all/

 

What’s really gone wrong with Star Wars.

 

https://tinyetti.wordpress.com/2016/06/07/the-prophet-in-todays-society/

On contentment and desire.

“Contentment defeats desire”

I boldly proclaimed it on my facebook page. It was a concept that had been rolling around in my head for a while, mainly in the context of money, power and relationships. However, I was challenged by the comment

“How do you feel content in the moment but still have the drive to achieve more?”

 I revised my statement to the perhaps more apt but less succinct phrase and explanation
“Contentment defeats the entrapment of desire. Desire is only a problem when it is overwhelming. Wanting to achieve more is fine, satisfying a desire at any cost is not.”
We had several more back and forth comments following that (see my facebook if you’re interested) but it prompted me to continue to think on the subject. I came to the conclusion that it is still not a satisfactory statement as sometimes desire is a good and even necessary thing. My final choice of wording is this:
“Contentment constrains desire”
There are a few possible synonyms that could be used instead of constrains, but it conveys the concept best in my opinion. You see, without contentment, there is desire but conversely without desire there is contentment. The two work in balance with one another.
If I desire wealth, I will not be content until I acquire it. However at what point do I cease to desire it? Perhaps I set myself the goal of becoming a millionaire. IF (and that is deliberately both in capitals) I do not revise that goal, then I will be content to make my million and let it be. However, and this is where the IF comes in, I may realise that I don’t just want to hit $1 000 000 for a moment in my life, but actually want my bank account to stay there, I have a new desire. Or perhaps by the time I get to $900 thousand, my lifestyle has followed me and a mil just ain’t going to cut it anymore, I desire more. You will only cease to desire more when you are content with what you have.
What we must realise is that to be content requires at least one of two things, a conscious choice on our part, or being gifted it by God.
To choose contentment is a part of choosing to follow Jesus Christ and as such it comes under the same requirement to “Take up your cross daily.” You can choose to be satisfied with what you have, but the desire will always be lingering, waiting for a break in your contentment. This is why I suggest that it could require God gifting it to you as well. Your personal choice may be asking God to remove the desire and then He gifts you with it. Thirdly, we all have things we are content with. No desire for more or less. Everyone does not desire everything. I choose to see that as God gifting each of us with contentment in the things others desire.
That is only half the story though. Did you notice that in all of those examples contentment was the good guy and desire was wrong. However, there are many cases where contentment is the wrong place to be.
The saying goes: what we walk past, we accept.
Those things we walk past, we are content to allow. Perhaps it doesn’t affect us, perhaps we don’t see it as our problem, but there are plenty of times where we should desire change.
This is where that term ‘constrains’ comes in.
Wisdom is knowing when to constrain your desire with contentment and when to unleash it in your discontent.
 It is true to say that it takes a certain level of dissatisfaction, irritation or offence to stir us into action. The lack of desire for change is when contentment turns to apathy.
Desire to see exploitation of people stopped.
Do not be content with people being exploited.
Desire more awareness of God in our lives.
Do not be content with your knowledge of God.
Do not be content to let evil win.
Desire the triumph of good.
I guess ultimately I have just played around a circle of semantics here, but the inverse relationship of desire and contentment stands regardless of which is right or wrong and that is something worth being aware of.

Shooting fish in a barrel.

Aka Cockburn sound snapper season.

For those of you who don’t know, every year at the end of winter and beginning of spring large numbers of pink snapper begin to congregate in the waters of Cockburn sound to breed. Realising this, they were fished very heavily for many years until conservation minded anglers worked to get a closed season brought in for this relatively small area for the peak period of spawning, starting from the 1st of October.  This occurred a few years ago and along with changes to size and bag limits has resulted in excellent stock recovery.

The approach of the closed season however does induce what we anglers now like to call pink fever. Throughout September, large numbers of mature (read,  large) fish gather in an area of under 3 square kilometres, close to shore in the protected waters of the sound, thus making them an easy target for anglers, especially kayak anglers, wanting a taste not only of their great fighting ability, but also premium white fillets. What happens next can become very messy as large numbers of boats and kayaks fish a small area in the dark.

What I have written so far implies carnage on the fish stocks, but in fact despite the number of fish available, they can be surprisingly hard to tempt. There are many reasons for this, not least the number of noisy vessels moving around dropping and pulling anchors, but also the fish themselves tend to have settled in to lock jaw as they prepare to do their fishy baby making deed.

This year was the first time that I have experienced this month long event and I thought I would share some of my thoughts on it.

Fish in a barrel.

Well, yes. The sounder showed an awful lot of fish were in the area where I was fishing. I am not very practiced at using a sounder, but those schools were unmistakable even to an amateur.

However, unlike the proverbial “easy as shooting fish in a barrel” there are no projectile weapons in this story. The busiest night that I fished, there were at least 15 kayaks and 20 boats in about 500x500m square, the sounder was lit up with arches indicating fish and no one was catching any.

No one.

About an hour and a half we all pottered around trying different techniques, lures, baits, faster, slower… And I did not see a single rod bent to a fish. They simply were not interested. I eventually got one in a dark, secluded area away from the crowds, where I had nothing showing on my sounder.

What I found interesting was the discussion around weather it was ethical or sporting or not to target such ‘vulnerable’  fish.

First of all, regardless of fish or not, I’ll probably be back there next season at least once or twice, simply because it is fun. With that many yakkers in a small area, it is very social. Catching up, having a chat, showing the newbies the ropes, hopefully seeing the beaming smile when they get their first snapper, or their first crash and burn because they are totally unprepared for what they are doing. It is almost a carnival atmosphere with high expectations and excitement in the air. Then there are the boaties… From laughably rude, to downright silly, to the satisfaction of bamboozling them while this mob in little plastic craft catch fish after fish while they watch on without a bite. There is always something going on.

The big negative for me is: I am always on edge about what others (particularly boats) are doing. By the same thing that makes it good, it also sucks: crowds. I am one to maintain etiquette to the best of my ability and the crowded nature of this activity makes that hard and you can also be sure that plenty of others will not show you that courtesy. I like a little celebration when I catch a good fish, but do that here and whoosh! A dozen other vessels suddenly crowd you. Don’t even get me started on safety! I make my safety, my problem. Mine alone. Aware of what is going on and proactively avoiding danger even when someone else is obliged to do so but isn’t.

The other negative is the lack of by catch. If the snapper don’t play ball, you catch nothing.

I also realised that many of us were championing this area as a guarantee of catching fish, which sounded dull. To be certain, you lack challenge. Now catching a fish is never a sure thing, but upon reflection, I realise that I have often said, and still stand by, “if I really wanted to land a fish, then I could.” I have enough spots, techniques, skills that if my life depended on it, I could go out tomorrow and be almost certain that I could catch something to eat.

The sound is not the only place where you can have high expectations of catching large fish. Yet I don’t consider these other spots boring. Quite the contrary, the joy is in the entire experience.

So to sum up: at times, the Cockburn snapper fishery is definitely like shooting fish in a barrel. By sheer number of fish encountered, the odds of having one or more that will take your offering go through the roof. However that is still no guarantee.

But, I can find the same odds of hooking fish elsewhere, where there are less crowds and silly/rude/dangerous behaviour. Invite a friend or two or three and the social aspect comes back into play.

As I said above, I certainly plan to do it again, but it ain’t the be all and end all of fishing in perth and it definitely ain’t always shooting fish in a barrel. It is good fun to be part of though.

 

Cheers

Joel

Want to see God move?

In my last post: Walking with the teacher, Here: https://wordpress.com/post/tinyetti.wordpress.com/845

 

I wrote about the fact that Jesus Christ, God, the creator and sustainer of all things is alive and active in the world today, just as much as when Jesus was a man walking on the earth. I paused that post as I felt this was big enough to write about on its own. Really, this post is an application of that realisation. Ok, enough preamble.

 

So we have ascertained that a logical certainty of any biblical faith is that God is indeed active in the world today and we should be expecting to see and hear from Him. I now want to expand that into what and how we pray. How we interact with our King who can do anything.

Put simply, He can do anything! We are talking about the One who created us out of dust. Who controls the processes that build us inside our mothers womb and miraculously brings us to consciousness. The one who created the world by his word.

Yet most of us pray the most feeble prayers. “Oh God please let it all be ok” sort of prayers. I, for one, know that I was afraid to commit to any significant prayer for a variety of reasons.  I say “was” because over the last 15 weeks or so, we have done two different study series on prayer (alpha prayer course and war room bible study series both of which I will shamelessly plug as I thought they were both very good) plus heard several sermons on/around prayer and the power of God. Certainly got my attention and showed me a weakness,  so I want to share it with you so you too may be strengthened.

I am struggling to put the chicken or the egg first, so lets just wade in…

We have a lack of expectation in our prayers, because we haven’t seen responses to our prayer.

But Joel, you said that if our faith is worthwhile, then we should expect to see God working, so if we don’t see responses, are we not justified in losing faith in God?

Bang on correct!

So where am I going with this? God doesn’t exist? You know that is not what I am saying. What I am saying however is that we are asking the wrong questions and looking for the wrong responses.

So coming full circle, we pray weak, undefinable and sometimes even unanswerable prayers, then, when we don’t see a response, we assume God has not answered and our expectation of Him answering the next one decreases. It truly is a vicious cycle that at least destroys our desire to ask God to act, and at worst can in fact cause complete destruction of our faith.

Lets smash this circle!

Here are my key ideas for seeing God responding to your prayers.

 Pray for the definite.

If you are asking God for something, or to act in something, give Him KPI’s. Ok so my phrasing is irreverent but I certainly don’t intend to imply that our relationship with God should be. What I want you to see is that “Let it all be ok” or “Please be at work in…” is going to be completely subjective in whether God acts or not and you will NEVER, in fact CAN NEVER see a definite and undeniable response. So at least have the decency to ask for something that God has a realistic chance of giving you an answer to, and that you will be able to see that answer with certainty. Get specific. God doesn’t mind. The whole point of prayer is for you to build trust in Him. That happens when you ask stuff and He responds. If you can’t see a response, you won’t build trust, but what if you can’t see a response, because there is no visible way to respond to what you ask?

Gideon asks that God leave a damp fleece and dry ground, then (possibly) unconvinced, he asks for a dry fleece and wet ground. (Judges 6) There is no way he could misread Gods response.

Pray Big

This could also be called Pray for Miracles. I find no greater joy, than when I find out that God has responded to something I (generally as part of a group, but sometimes just me) have prayed in a way that is undeniably, indefinably, sometimes even unimaginably an act of God. Yes, it has happened in my life. When I think about it, it has happened many times in my life, plus a few more that I could excuse with naturalistic explanations, but I still believe they were acts of God.

Seriously, I said it before: We are talking about the God of all creation!

He

Created

Us

From

Dust

And you think he can’t heal your illness? I tell you the truth, if He desires it, your leg could go from broken to perfect in the blink of an eye. Cancer: gone. Wallet: filled. Dead: Raised. Mountain: moved.

Why the heck not!? Think about it! CREATED THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING IN IT IN 6 DAYS! Heck, make it 4 days as he wasted one just separating light and dark before even creating anything, and another actually separating the earth from everything else.

I even feel that there is a biblical story that involves teleportation (though clearly not using that word) but I can’t think where it is, feel free to reference it in the comments. TIA

Point is, Stop praying feeble. Ask for what you want.

Remember we are in a broken world.

On a slightly different tack but very important so we don’t get disheartened.

Sometimes (most of the time) our prayers, particularly for miraculous healing wont be answered with a yes. We live in a world tainted by sin. If healing was as easy as asking for it, no one would ever die. The consequence must endure, so sickness and death will endure until the final day.

But

Sometimes, God will glorify both Himself and us by answering our miracle prayers. That is up to Him. He has divine sovereignty to occasionally overrule the power of sin, to remind us that He has ultimate control over it.

That applies to everything, remember that God is sovereign. He chooses who, how and what to answer, miraculously or other. He is entitled to ignore you altogether, but usually wont.

For this reason, I like to pray first for a miracle, reminding God that it will be to His glory if He does it. Which also helps me to remember that I should be telling others of His glorious act if He does. But then continuing my prayer for wisdom, understanding and thanksgiving for the situation and the reminder that our world may be broken, but in the end, this will pass away and there will be a glorious new heavens and earth.

Point is, ALWAYS tell God that you WANT to see Him work through an undeniable miracle, so then when He does… well… I hope you get the point.

Pray with expectation

I have a friend, who always uses the phrase “We thank You that You have done this,” in their prayers.

I love that.

It’s not hopeful, it’s not please, please, please, please, and it’s not could you, maybe, if it’s not too much trouble….

There is an expectation that something will happen. Even that something has already happened. When we pray with no expectation, we don’t look for an answer. That brings us back into that comfy vicious cycle.

I prayed for … and God didn’t answer.

Well actually He did, but you were so busy getting back to your life that you forgot to wait on His response and when it came, you didn’t even see it.

For the first while, this is hard. So I want you to commit to giving God the benefit of the doubt in a way. Commit to looking for the answer to your prayer. Commit to expecting to see God move. If you really need to, pray that he will shut down the computer/tablet/phone that you are looking at right now and stare at it until He does. Make sure you remind Him that running out of battery doesn’t count though.

 

Remember: It’s not too much trouble.

Ok this sounds like the ‘pray big’ section, but slightly different.

Let me use an analogy close to my heart to show you want I mean.

Your best mate, Gordon Ramsey, invites you over for dinner.

Gordon: “Hey mate, what do you want to eat? Seriously, I am feeling creative, I am in the zone and I want to make you the best meal that you have ever eaten.”

Us: “I’ll have a toasted sandwich thanks.”

Gordon: “Ha, good one. No seriously what do you want?”

Us: “I don’t want to be a pain. I really am happy with a toasted sandwich.”

Gordon: “Yeah Ok, I love a good toastie to, I can make you anything you like, but since you insist, how about a speccy toastie. Avocado, the finest proscuitto, some excellent racclette cheese, all between the best sourdough bread in all of France.”

Us: “How about coon tasty between supermarket white bread?”

I seriously feel that our prayers go like that. Why? What is wrong with us? How stupid can we be!

We have a God who loves us enough to sacrifice Himself for us, to save us from ourselves, and we ask the lamest things of Him.

 

All of this I feel stems from not realising we can ask for real things in the first place. If you take nothing else from this post, hear this: God has, does and will answer your prayers, BUT, you will only know that He has, if you ask something that you can see His response to.

If we ask too general, we will not notice His response.

If we do not ask for things that can have a definite response, we are weak and sinful and will pass the response off as nothing more than coincidence.

My final addition is this:

Pray with others.

While I still believe that the prayers of one person are powerful, (look at the old testament prophets) there is something indefinably more powerful about praying as a group. I feel that scripture backs this up with examples of calling believers together to pray for things. It certainly makes logical sense in the context of the growth of the Kingdom. We pray together and see God at work, we are built up together and as a group give more glory to God. But more than all of that, I have experienced it. It took my wife pointing it out to me for me to see it I confess, but WOW, when you see the answers to every prayer you have prayed as a couple, or as a group

 

 

Sorry, need to tell you that i stopped writing for a minute there as I broke into worship and confession…

 

it becomes absolutely undeniable. God is at work. God responds to the questions, the requests, the uncertainties in our life. Give me your psych babble about the human brains ability to see patters and responses if we look for them and I will give you the LIVING AND ACTIVE LORD OF ALL CREATION! I cannot deny Him, for I have seen His hand, His certain, supernatural hand, at work all over the place in my personal experience and so I believe others when they say that He has worked in theirs.

No wonder Paul tells us to be continually in prayer, it gives God glory as we become more certain of His hand and more trusting of His response in care of us.

AMEN and AMEN

Goodnight.

Living with the Teacher

I am willing to bet, that just about every follower of Jesus who has ever lived, has thought about how amazing it would have been to be there when He was on earth. Imagine walking around with Him, being taught every day by the One who created heaven and earth. How amazing would that be?

Jesus was on earth as a human for 33 years or so right? Of those, He spent 3 in solid ministry. With the exception of the one incident we are told of when Jesus is teaching as a 12 year old, which I am sure the scholars were totally taking seriously.

3 years the disciples got with Him. In which, they went from being ordinary members of society from several walks of life, to being the leading fathers of the Christian faith. Not only them, but Jesus went from 0 followers to thousands (10’s of thousands?) in the general populace. That is how powerful the presence of Jesus was on the earth.

Well, one simple fact was revealed to me in a sermon a couple of weeks ago.

If we take our faith seriously and honestly, then one thing that we believe, is that from the moment we accept our salvation, accept Jesus as Lord of all, that the Holy Spirit fills us and Jesus lives in us.

John 14:15-26

(Read the full passage to check my context if you like but just grabbing a few phrases for emphasis)

“I will ask the Father and He will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever- the Spirit of Truth.  …  you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

“On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”

“My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

This is your moment… let that filter through and think what the implications are if that is reality…

I’ll give you a few blank lines to think for yourself…

.

..

….

….

…..

……

 

And you were longing for the three years that He was here as a man? You have the same contact with Him, from the moment of your conversion until the moment of your death.

I can hear you saying, yeah, but I can’t have a conversation with Him.

I can’t ask Him to touch my dodgey leg and heal it.

It’s not the same now

No judgement from me, I am trying to wrap my own head around the reality of this. But I am certain that it is true.

You have the same contact with Him, from the moment of your conversion until the moment of your death.

He is just as living and active in the world today. Perhaps more so, if you consider that as a man, He had given up some of His power. (Hebrews 2:9) He was constrained to one place at a time, couldn’t be with people all over the world at the same time.

Jesus is with you, with more power than when He was on earth as a man, all day, every day, your entire faith life. For some of you, that might be 70 years or more! And we quibble over the three that He wandered around the middle east?

I feel, though I am uncertain of it as a definite theology, that the reason we don’t have that type of relationship with Him is purely due to a lack of faith. I know that I struggle with considering the living active person of Jesus being with me all day every day, even sitting here with me as I type this.

Wow…

excuse me while my mind blows while typing…

If I believe that what I write here is inspired by God (and I do) then Jesus is with me saying “why don’t you write that you’re not sure if I am sitting here next to you inspiring you to write about not believing I am here.”

I guess that’s a bit of humility and a bit of brotherly encouragement for y’all that just because I am writing about Jesus being alive in my life, doesn’t mean I understand or even completely believe it.

Ok, back from that side track…

The application that I took from that was that in those three years, there were any number of things that Jesus told the people around Him, which made no sense whatsoever to them.

Sometimes that is because they were blinded to the meaning, some of which was revealed later.

Sometimes it was that Jesus was giving them a lesson that they would need later, but at the time, it was nonsense.

Now for me, that says, “Listen to what you are being taught, but don’t assume that it’s because I want you to use it right away.”

I don’t know about you, but in my walk with God, I tend to think that He gives us lessons immediately before we need them. So if I feel that God is teaching me about generosity, I will have my eyes peeled for the person/cause that He wants me to donate something significant to. Now lets put that into context. Jesus and I are walking down the road, (always with us remember) He starts talking about depending on Him for our every need and how that relates to a freedom to give. So I empty my wallet to the next homeless person that I find. Good?

Well it’s certainly not bad, but sometimes I can imagine Him looking at me and just saying I never told you to do that. The reason being that now, I forget about the lesson. He told me to do something, I did it, end of story.

Well no.

What about the depending on Him part? What about the next homeless person?

The lesson wasn’t intended to cause a single action, it was about becoming more like Him in every way. In fact, if I have given only because I think He told me to, that is not generosity at all, that is religiosity. That is the righteousness the pharisees sought.

 

The other application which was mentioned in the alpha prayer course, and I admit I find this kind of amusing, is where Jesus is just extolling His own creative genius in order to bring us to worship and giving Him glory.

To paraphrase the story: I am walking down the road and God says “Check out that tree!”

So I stop and stare….  “Is there someone/thing I need to rescue from its branches?”

Are you going to make it burst into flames but yet not burn up like you did for Moses?

Is this some kind of parable, like when you withered the fig tree?

 

“Umm, no Joel, it’s just a really cool tree that I made and thought you might appreciate it.”

Don’t expect that everything that God ever says to you is a lesson. Remember that He is with you all the time. Yes, given that He has all the knowledge, He could be teaching you all the time but He doesn’t. Do you have that friend who is always trying to teach you? Does it annoy you? (Stop laughing, I know it’s me)

Well why would God do that? We are told that Moses spoke to God ‘face to face, as with a friend.’ That doesn’t just tell us the intimacy of the relationship, it also speaks to the type of relationship. What do you talk to your friends about? Do you talk to God like that? Why not?

*Disclaimer: There is a lot to be said for reverence towards God. Do not let me take away from that. Like I said at the start, we are talking about and to, the one who created the heavens and the earth and holds all things together from now until eternity. I am not suggesting any lower treatment than the King deserves, but the eternal tension between Lord, King of creation and Abba Father remains. As with Moses, although the relationship was as friends in type and intimacy, he was still well aware of whom his friend is.

Take your beliefs seriously, the Lord of all creation is with you, now and forever and He is mighty to save.

Next application… praying boldly