Thursday, 14 March 2019

Knowing


Knowing

During my time in college studying theology, I concluded that many of the people whose opinions I had to study knew the Bible Scriptures much better than me.  However, I also concluded that they did not know the God who inspired it all.

I am concerned and have been for a long time about Religious Education in schools. It does seem to me that there is the possibility that what RE does is inoculate young people against the real thing, much like a flu jab is supposed to do. And I say that as one who has set up many “Christian” schools. I still believe in them, because I am sure that they are good educationally, and also put principle into the student’s character and good values that usually ensure that they do well in the journey of life.  However, I still hold that knowing about “Christianity” and having good values and character, is still not as good as knowing the “God who is there”.  Knowing God personally tops everything.

And of course, one can know God, and not be able to read and write!

What do I mean by “knowing God?”  Well, just that. You see, the whole of scripture is really about the restoration of relationships both with people and with God. We all know that making relationships with other people can be difficult, and sometimes they are not always smooth, and if they get Broken, very many are never repaired.  Good relationships.  Are they not the stuff of life? Are they not more valuable than money, success, fame or fortune?

Of course, scripture uses many forms to describe that bridge between a non-relations ship, and the knowing of the God who is there. Jesus talked to the Pharisee/lawyer and told him that he “must be born again”, he was duly puzzled.  Sometimes scripture talks about repentance, or a turning around and going in another direction, i.e. from walking away from the God who is there to walking towards him.  Sometimes scripture talks about salvation. Again, many of us get a bit puzzled with that one, as we think to ourselves, “I am not drowning. Why do I need saving?”  What we fail to grasp is that the whole purpose of life is relationship and the highest form of that is the relationship between humans and the God who is there.

When I was a young man living in Birmingham, and occasionally saw a person going down the street talking, and gesticulating, as a youngster I assumed, probably correctly, that they were slightly deranged.  Nowadays, walking down Tottenham High Street I see nearly everyone doing the same things, some angry, some joking, some in deep conversation, and all by themselves.  They do seem to have little things in their ears.

 Many years ago, I was in one of those meeting type things where people were being invited to know God.  There was one of those very intellectual young people from a local university studying I know not what. He seemed to me to be the kind of genuine person who wanted to know God but had some serious sensible questions he wanted answered. He moved around the crowd that I was with and one could see his questions were of the kind that most of us would find hard to give a good answer to.
 
Finally, some bright spark sent him, along with his intellectual questions to me.  It only took about two questions for me to know I was not going to be able to satisfy this clever young man with my feeble answers. That was a shame as I could see he really wanted to know things like: “Is there a God?” “Is He there?” “Can I know?” “Is He interested in me?” “Can I know Him?” Questions like the ones some of you lot are asking.

I confessed to him and said, “Your questions are too hard for me. I don’t know good enough answers to satisfy you. However, I do know that God is there, and is willing to know, communicate, meet with and talk to you and to  enter into a long-term stable relationship with you. Maybe He will even answer some of your complicated questions. I don’t know if He will, but He might.”

Jesus said, and its reported in the Gospel of Mathew and Luke, “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So, don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?”  Or put more simply in Authorised version of the Bible, “Seek and you will find”.

So, I said to my new-found friend, “Although I cannot answer your questions, I do Know that ‘God is there’ and if you are serious about seeking Him, I am sure, I know, you will find him.”  He was very polite and asked, “So how do I seek Him?”  I said, “I would find somewhere, and talk to God and ask Him, “Are you there?” But if you are going to do that, your seeking should also include the element of - if He is there, what does He want of me?”  This young man surprised me. He said, “Thank you,” and, “I will test your hypothesis.”  He turned on his heel and walked to the other side of the room we were in and sank to his knees by a chair, I must admit I was taken aback, I had not expected that.
 
From the other side of the room I watched him as he seemed to be in deep conversation.  After about twenty minutes he stood up and came towards me.  He put out his hand to shake mine and said, “Thank you”.  I asked, “What for? I still don’t have the answers to your many questions”.  He laughed and said, “Oh! Those? I don’t need the answers any more, I now know God is there, and I am going to get to know Him better, but He is there alright. Thank you again and good night”.

Do I have something in my ear? Or am I hearing from someone who is not there? Are all his answers to me just the coincidence of time, neurons and chance? Or maybe I am Mad. Or perhaps really seeking does equal finding!

So; is God there? Can He be talked to? Can He talk to me? Is it possible to seek and find Him?

ALH blogspot.co.uk
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Friday, 4 January 2019

Trying to Answer my Critics. (some who are my friends) …


Trying to Answer my Critics. (some who are my friends) …

This is something that I think needs to be said.  My hope is that it will be understood.
There was a great article recently about the fact that it is not Politicians, whoever they are and whatever their ilk, who have the responsibility to bring about change in the world.  Change in the world is down to the church. When we try to pass that responsibility on to Politicians we are going to come unstuck, for it is our responsibility, not theirs.

Having said that, where leaders take society in a wrong direction, whether they be Kings, Presidents, Dictators, Prime Minister or whatever else, it is the prophetic responsibility of Jesus followers to say so as loud as possible, even though that might get us into trouble.  One only has to look at how many prophets in the Old Testament ended up in very sticky situations for challenging the establishment.

When we start to talk about abortion, it is not that I am in favour, very much the opposite. However, I am also aware of the difficulty.  The difficulties of one-line agendas, or sound bite answers is too often missed in our instant re equipment culture. 


My question is: Do we only care about the unborn? Or: Do we care about the child dying in the sea running away from a terrible war?  Or do we care about the child starving, usually, again, from some war? Or do we care for the refugee Mother and child fleeing because they do not have the wherewithal to feed the child never mind give it medicine that it so desperately needs and is abundantly available elsewhere?

I also have a another question. I hear constantly the phrase, “This is God’s man”, in terms of a certain president. Well, wasn’t Obama God’s man?  And what about all the others before him? Was Hitler God’s man? what about Pol Pot and Stalin? Were they also Gods men? I see too that when people dare to criticise leaders, very “spiritual” people tell me, “You need to pray for them”.  and then they remind me that that biblical injunction was given when there was a terrible Roman Emperor that was burning Jesus’s followers of the Way using them as candles to light his gardens.  Well! Yes! I know I need to pray for leaders - but what do I pray? 

Am I to pray, “Lord, silence all the critics”? I wonder what those early Christians prayed. Was it, “Lord, bless this Emperor”? or was it, “Lord, move him out of the way”? I note that Paul said we were to pray for a quite life when we pray for rulers. Here is his Prayer: “For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (1 Timothy 2:2I)

I am also aware that when we use words to dehumanise people it is very dangerous. In Northern Ireland during the troubles they were not people on the other side. If you were a catholic the other side were “Prods”.  If you were a Northern Irish Protestant the other side were not people, they were “Papists”. So; when one killed a person from “the other side”, one was not killing a person but a sort of inanimate, inhuman you a …  -fill in the missing word. It could be a liberal, a snowflake, or vermin - but not a human being. I note that when bombs are dropped, they don’t kill “people” (which of course they do - civilians mostly). What they do is cause collateral damage. “Collateral damage” or, “dead people whom we killed.” Which do you think sounds better?

Another question: Why are liberals/socialists so evil? Again, maybe you should have a look at this if you think they are: http://adrianhawkes.co.uk/?s=Socialis+

Now, perhaps I should tell you what is wrong with the liberals.  In my opinion, what is wrong with the liberals is that they have ceased to be liberal.  What do I mean by that? What I mean by that is that you can only become a liberal if you think, speak, and believe exactly the right things.  If you waver, think and speak something different to the current perceived PC correctness then woe betide you. In other words; you are not allowed to disagree.  That is what is wrong with the liberals.

Thankfully some get it and much as I would often disagree with Peter Tatchell Britians top Gay campaigner, I am delighted when he became an advocate for a real liberal position. He said, on the cake issue, that when a Christian couple refused do take an order advocating a gay lifestyle and were taken to court, and then, at first, lost the case, Peter said, “Much as I want to defend the gay community, I also want to defend freedom of conscience expression and religion.”  Good on you Peter! However, sadly, that enlightened view is often missing.

I do think we should really shout when we think things are wrong, unrighteous and bad for society. The church is called to be salt and light, and that means we should be affecting for the good every part of our culture, Education, Politics, Business, Entertainment etc.,

I guess when it comes down to it, I would have to be with Jim Wallis who wrote a book on these issues called, “Gods Politics. Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It”. He also said, “We should note that a budget is a moral document.” Maybe governments in the UK and around the world should really take note of that statement.

As the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek said recently; “Why is it we can believe in sending a man to the moon or even mars, but we could not believe in putting 1% on tax to aid those who cannot afford proper health services?”  Makes you wonder doesn’t it?

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Tuesday, 30 October 2018

The Power of words…Watch your language!


The Power of words…Watch your language!

We do many things with words. The book of James in the Bible says so. Chapter 5 of that book tells us how difficult the tongue is to tame. It says no one can control it. It can start a fire. It can be destructive and, I guess - what I want to talk about now - is that it even makes a person into a non-person.

When I visited Northern Ireland in the times that people refer to as, “the Troubles,” I noted, what was to me as an Englishman a strange use of words.  If you talked to Roman Catholic people, they all referred to non-Catholics as “Prods” (short for “Protestants”). In fact, talking to a Jewish man who had lived in the South of Ireland, he told me that he was often in danger at school of being beaten up. When I asked him why, he said, “They would ask me am I a Catholic or a Prod, and I would say, “Neither! I am Jewish!” to which they would reply, “But are you a Catholic Jew or a Prod Jew?” (My readers can pause her for laughter, surprise or PTSD. It is a very funny story that isn’t funny at all from another perspective. It is a true story.)

He did go on to say that he would then get blamed for killing Jesus. I asked him how he got out of that one when he was a school kid, to which he responded, “Oh that was easy. I told them it wasn’t us that did it, it was the Northern lot. For my non-British readers, Norther Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, Southern Ireland is an independent republic and my Jewish friend was living in the South of Ireland or Eire.

When talking to the Northern Irish people, that is the non-Catholics, I noted that they did not refer to the people of the south, or Northern Catholic people, as “Catholics” but always as “Papists”. What happens with this kind of language is difficult in that it suggests to activist’s mindset that when you kill the opposite to your tribe, you are not killing a person, but an animate “thing” called a “Prod,” or a “Papist.”

I note in the war effort, when reporting on bombs dropped, the often-used phrase is that, “There was some collateral damage.”  I looked up the meaning of the term. “’Collateral damage’ is damage to things that are incidental to the intended target. It is frequently used as a military term where it can refer to the incidental destruction of civilian property and/or non-combatant casualties.”

Or let’s put it another way: “Dead civilians. Dead people.” But, oh dear! That’s a bit harsh isn’t it? So, let’s tone it down. What this language is doing is de-humanising people. Tragically in our tribal times (Tribalism is the most powerful force in the world today...more powerful than the entire military might of America, China, Russia and the EU combined. Tribalism is the basis of all relationships, brands, families, communities and nations, but is also responsible for the darkest moments in human history, and for many political "revolutions”. Dr Patrick Dixon www.globalchange.com/why-trump-won-how-tribalism-will-dominate-the-future-of-democracy-and-why-president-trump-will-struggle-to-deliver.htm

we as a society are becoming more and more willing to de humanise people, which, when we have done that, the next step is that it allows us to, not care if they (those not of our tribe) drown, or if they are put in prison because they come to near our tribe, or even if we separate them from their families, i.e. take their children away.  In fact, it’s not so bad if we kill them because – well! To be straight - they are not of our tribe. For that reason, i.e.: they are not us, they are not to be considered as human. 
So, what are our current words of dehumanisation? We might use words like: “An Illegal.” “A Refugee.” “An Asylum Seeker”, or maybe even use a colour to describe some.  We avoid the words, “human”, “person”, or, “person in need”. In fact, any word that would give dignity is wilfully avoided, because if we did that, well, god forbid!  We might have to treat them differently.

I have noted that politicians sometimes refer to other groups of people as, “dogs,” “pigs”, “infestations,” and even “animals.” I even had a Face Book connection tell me that “Jews are Pigs, and should all be destroyed.” They of course were immediately blocked from my feed. However, as  VANN R. NEWKIRK II, staff writer at The Atlantic,  says: “Dehumanization is not just a buzzword, but a descriptor of a  “specific and well-known psychological and sociological process, by which people are conditioned to accept inflicting increasingly inhumane conditions and punishments on other people.” 

Cairine Reay Mackay Wilson (February 4, 1885 – March 3, 1962) was the first Canadian female senator. However, prior to standing, she had to get a change in Canadian law, because when she first applied, she discovered that she would not be allowed to stand, because by Canadian law, females were not persons! (http://adrianhawkes.co.uk/zeitgeist/)  I wonder if, in some places in the world, they yet are.  - “Persons” that is. It seems that what is done by men in some countries means that females are certainly not equal persons.

Recently in an African country a law was passed to give people (men) in polygamist marriages legal status that did not exist, even though for some the practice did. On asking some young men if that also gave the right for the woman to enter the same kind of marriage, (i.e. several male partners) the answer was, “Of course not!  That is for men! It would be unnatural for women!” Maybe they are not persons, or at least, a lesser one. From that conclusion, I guess therefore we do not need to treat them with the same respect?








Adrian Hawkes
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Edited KL

Monday, 17 September 2018

Morals and Values 10 - What and where they should come from


Morals and Values for
Values. What and where they should come from.
ž They must take precedent above our culture –whatever culture that might be.
ž  They need to come from more than our upbringing or education.
ž The best place they should come from is from the heart of being a “follower of the way”.
ž Often times, issues that people say have “Christian’ values” do not. Often times people’s values have nothing to do with the Bible, or, more importantly, being a “follower of the way”, or of becoming like Christ.
ž Non-Religious Christianity removes any show or pretence from our seen value system and our inner personal value system. Our public and private persona should be identical.
ž That our values should come from relationships is paramount. Jesus died to restore relationships. Relationship with God as well as people.
ž In building our paradigm of values, relationship with each other and the well-being of others is central.
ž It is vital to hold to a Christological interpretation of the Bible, i.e. that Christ is central to scripture. It is more than helpful if we work back from who He is.
ž To grow in Christ- likeness, a theology of Grace and freedom is foundational to thoughts and actions.
ž It is important to have a strong theology of issues such as: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female,” so that the leadership of females is not an issue, neither is race, colour, or earthly nationality. These issues are contemporary throughout the global village.
ž Choose a lifestyle that reflects the character of Jesus. Thereby we take on the mantle of Christ.
ž Adopt a world view that creates a mindset where we consider all our human relationships as bringing and giving meaning to the whole of life.
ž Know that Christ is central in the story of God’s creation, because He is in the process of restoring all things to perfection.
ž Know that Grace fulfils and then surpasses law and brings freedom.
ž Value the equality of all. Hold tight to a value system, where all people are identified in the cross of Christ.
It’s a good idea to think about the differences in Values between what we see as Hebraic and what was Greek thinking at the time of Christ
ž Have a look at what is the difference between the thinking that was Hebraic, and what is and was Greek thinking and value.
ž This would be another way of checking our real Values. And I think it would give you quite a surprise.  You will find a comparison analysis of these things in my book, “Jacob. A Fatherless Generation.”
Scripture says:
ž Romans 8:29.  Amplified Bible (AMP)   
 29For those whom He foreknew [of whom He was aware and loved beforehand], He also destined from the beginning [foreordaining them] to be moulded into the image of His Son [and share inwardly His likeness], that He might become the firstborn among many brethren.
ž  Romans 12:2 New Living Translation (NLT)        
 2 Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Adrian Hawkes
3 min talk for UCB
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Thursday, 21 June 2018

What Mind?


Morals and Values .9.
Put on the Mind of Christ

Scripture tells us to “put on the mind of Christ”. How do we do that?
The story is told of a little boy who was coming home with his friends from school. The friends passed an apple orchard. The apples in the orchard looked red and ripe and juicy. The friends all said to each other, “There is no one else around. Let’s get some apples. We can climb over the wall and pocket a few.” In my day it was called “scrumping”.  The little boy in my story said to his friends that he could not do it?  “Why not?” his friends asked. “We will help you over the wall”.  “No! It isn’t that.” the little boy said. “I cannot do it because my mother wouldn’t like it.”  “But your Mother is not here”, the rest said. “I know that.” said the little boy. “But I know that she wouldn’t like it”.  “But your mother won’t know. We won’t tell”.  “That’s not the point,” said the little boy. “The point is, I cannot do something like this that I know my Mother would not like”.  “So”, said the rest, “How do you really know that your Mother wouldn’t like it. Maybe she would like it, and maybe she would like an apple.” “I know”, said the little boy. “But how do you know?” said the rest of the gang. “Well”, well said the little boy, “I know My Mother”.
That is the key to putting on the mind of Christ; how well you know him –Christ that is.  How well do you know what he said? What he did? What he asked his friends to do? What standards, values and morality did he set?
More than knowing about Christ, how well do you actually –really know Him?  Being a follower of Jesus is not simply reading the scripture. It isn’t even knowing your Bible well and what things are told us there about his life and work on earth. Neither is it the fact that he said, “I am showing you just what God the Father is like, and if you have seen me you have seen the Father.”  Jesus did, of course, go away. But before he went away, he said many brain changing and thought changing things to his friends. These are things that echo through the ages to His friends now. In other words, if you are a friend of Jesus, what He said is to you - yourself. “Yes. I am going away, but actually I am with you always. I am sending my Holy Spirit to be with you until I come again”.
So then, as we hear and listen and ponder what Christ spoke about, our actions, as well as our reactions, become the natural expression of having the mind of Christ.  How do know what Christ thinks? How do you know what He would like and what he would not like? Well; because I know Him well, and am getting to know him better every day, in that way I am putting on the Mind of Christ.  That is the great Lodestone to Morality, Values and just plain living right.
Adrian Hawkes
For UCB 3 min talks
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Friday, 18 May 2018

8. Morality and Values - What do we put into our Brains?


8. Morality and Values 
What do we put into our Brains?

We talked last time about the fact that it is our thinking that changes us, or should I say can change us.  If we are to change, then what we think about is the key to that change. We have to think differently to what we are thinking in the present for change to take place.
So, if we can change by changing our thinking, the big question is: What do we put into our head? What do we think about?  The computer people have a phrase, when working with computer programmes. They call it GIGO. Actually it’s an American derivative. It stands for “Garbage In Garbage Out”.  Of course, we wouldn’t use “Garbage” as a word in the UK would we? But you get the idea. “Rubbish In Rubbish Out” works just as well. But RIRO doesn’t sound as catchy or poetic as GIGO,  does it? 
What they are saying is, that when you put junk information into a computer, you cannot expect to get sensible things out of the computer onto the printer or to the screen - or these days – by means of a computerised voice. If you have put rubbish in then rubbish will come out. Simple!
Now, that is not that different to our brains and our thinking. So what do you put into your brain?
I have always laughed at people who tell me that they are not affected by advertising.  Do you really think the people who make the adverts for us to buy this or that are that stupid that they spend so much money on their thirty second TV advert because they know it will not persuade anyone?  Please!? They are not that stupid! Of course we are affected by what goes into our brains. Be it via TV Computer, poster, hoarding, newspaper or whatever.
I also laugh when the TV people and the film industry claim that what people see on film or hear via music, words or computer games, will not affect us.  How come the advertising affects us and persuades us to act in a certain way but film, words, books, TV does not.  Again: Please!?  
Have you ever watched a group of young children after watching, say a fight movie, be it cartoon, or film? The first thing they do afterwards in the playground is to try all the moves on each other, the punches, the wrestling, the kicking, whatever. Have they not been affected by what they have just seen or heard what has been put into their brains? If you think they have not, then, again, all I can say to you is: Please!?
What goes into our brains, what we think about, what we absorb into our thinking will affect the way we are and what we do.  Running Christian Schools, I am often accused of brain washing children. My answer irritates people, as usually I will answer, “Yes! Of course I am. Most people’s brains need a good wash.”
Going back to those Bible verses I have mentioned before, scripture tells us to think about good things, think about lovely things, and think about things that are helpful to our development and progressesion.  Let me tell you that if you think rubbish, then rubbish will come out of your life. Why are people’s lives in a mess? Well there are other factors such as upbringing and things that have happened on the way. However, if change is to take place, thinking is the first place it will have to happen.
We live in a world where it is almost impossible to avoid negative unhelpful things being put into our brains, be it from newspapers, radio, road side hoardings or whatever. For this reason we have to take time to readjust our thinking, or, as we have noted how the scripture says it; “Put on the mind of Christ”.  As someone once said, “You cannot stop birds from flying around your head, but you can stop them nesting there.” So, take hold of those bad thoughts. Push them out of your head, and think about those good things instead. Activate the change process that God plans for us, that is, to make us into the Image of His only begotten Son.

Adrian Hawkes
For UCB
Edited By Kirsty de Paor
W. 699


Tuesday, 24 April 2018

7. Morality and Values - Thinking Controls Everything


7. Morality and Values 
Thinking Controls everything.
Well first of all:  Any answers to my question of last time? My question was: What is it that is used to change us and develop our consciences? Is it God? Or is it us?  Lots of answers come to me. The Bible, Church, Prayer, Spirituality, other people - oh and lots more.  They are probably all correct - and yet probably all wrong. In fact none of them are the answer that I am looking for.
But first of all let me tell you a silly story.  Not so long ago we changed offices for work. That is, we used to rent an office in one part of London, now we rent it in another part of London.  What happened I reckon, for a whole week, is that each morning I got up, showered, dressed, got into my car to go to the office as is my usual practise, and the silly car went to the wrong office. It even parked in my old car park space. It really did.  I got out of the car and said to it, “Why have you brought me here you silly car? This is not our office any more. Our office is in the new place.”  I had to get back in the car and let it take me to the new office. 
Of course - you know I am being silly. However, it is strange how, with some things, after we have done them for a while, we do them automatically, like driving, like going somewhere and wondering, “How did I get here?”  In reality of course it all comes from our brain and even though we are not that conscious of doing it, we really are thinking and our thinking is directing our actions be that washing, cleaning your teeth, walking, driving, or playing the piano. 
So there is the answer to “How do we change?” We change by first of all changing our thinking. So the real answer to the question is: “Thinking”.  Thinking is everything.   Scripture has a lot to say about thinking, going right back to proverbs “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is”. I often say to people, “If you think you are ugly, you will be ugly. If you think your good looking, you will be good looking”.  Now that’s a bit silly too, but you know what I am getting at don’t you? 
Our thinking is that which makes us what we are.  Scripture also says things like, “Think about good things. Whatsoever things are good, lovely, of a good report, think about these things.”  It even tells us to be foolish about some things. Scripture, again, says “I would that you were foolish in your knowledge of evil”. Or, put another way, “I would that your thinking about evil was at the foolish level, or the ‘I don’t know position’”.
Then, in scripture again, it tells us to think about good things.  I know I have said that before, but it’s worth repeating. “Whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are good, and whatsoever things are of a good report then think about these things”.
I often wonder what people put into their minds.  I have this argument with my grandchildren when I think they are listening to rubbish, be it music words or speech or drama.  What you put into your mind will affect your actions. Usually they say things like, “O grandpa, it won’t hurt me”.  The trouble is that if we put bad things into our head, ultimately it does hurt and damage us.
And to end today, again with Scripture, it says this; “Put on the mind of Christ”. So now, if we do that, we will get good thinking and good actions won’t we?
Adrian Hawkes W.622 For UCB