Sunday, 4 December 2016
Bit of My Theology
It gives me some food for thought when people say ‘Its God will’ and everything that happens is ‘Gods Will’. I am not so sure. If that was the case, why does Jesus tell us to ask God that ‘His will be done’ if it’s going to be done anyway, seems a sort of waste of time.
Rather it seems to me that God will is affected by my free will. Can God change his mind, yes of course he can and there are lots of examples in the Bible of this. Can I go against what God wants or wills, most certainly, not a good Idea but it certainly can be done.
Does God change his Plans dependant on my pleas and of course the pleas of others. Yes of course He can and does. Does God give us sometime the things we ask for even though they are not good for us, yes certainly especially if you nag Him enough. Again not a good idea, but certainly it happens and it’s not good. For those who need Bible, to back up my theology, just check (2 Kings 20 or 1 Kings 11)
I think it’s very humbling that God will ask my opinion and he can change things according to my requests.
The thing we do have to note here, is that God does promise to make things ‘work for Good to those who love him and are called according to his purposes,’ even though the thing that maybe has happened was not His will, nevertheless He will make it good for some.
So how do we know that it was an answered prayer? That’s a hard one, especially when there are lots of people praying for opposite things. However it is much easier on the smaller scale, when one asks God for those things that are seemingly strange, out of reach, or just plain impossible, and He answers prayer. Many who do not believe in prayer put it down to ‘coincidences’ my delight is that when I pray I get a coincidence.
Seems like answered prayer to me. Check out just one of those answers:(http://adrianhawkes.co.uk/index.php/2013/08/the-answer-my-friend-is-blowing-in-the-wind.html)
So are these latest political events answers to prayer, I don’t know, am I allowed to say, I don’t know? Maybe they are, then again maybe they are not, or maybe I hope not, they are one of those Quail events we shall see.
Then of course we come back to those coincidences that I have harked on about many times on my Blog.
It seems to me that it’s possible to get a coincidence by praying, maybe that’s answered Prayer? Of course for those who cannot envisage a God who is personally interested in us, and will actually communicate two ways with us then all of the prayers, answered or otherwise are just part of the accident of nature?
There seems to me to be some great planning going on somewhere.
Edited: Keith Lannon
Friday, 11 November 2016
The Negatives seem too often to be in the Majority
Many of the best “How to be Successful” books will tell you that in order to move forward and be a success one needs to surround one’s self with either successful people, or, most certainly, positive people. Yet so often the majority seem to fit the “negative” criteria.
I note from the story of Israel in the Bible, that when they arrived at the land that God had promised them, they sent in twelve spies and - true to form - the majority, ten, to be exact, said we can never do that! We cannot win there! We look like grasshoppers, and they look like Giants! Only two of the spies said “It’s great. God is with us. We can take the land.”
The thing is that my experience of life shows me that for most people it seems that it is easier to be negative rather than positive. So many times in my experience I have been told, “You cannot do that.” “You won’t get there.” “You are finished.” One has to learn to stop one’s ears sometimes, before they get the chance to say, “You cannot…”, or move out of the immediate zone before the cold water carriers pour it on your internal fire.
The truth is that sometimes one cannot do it simply because the majority are so negative. So, Moses never did get to the land - because he needed the others to come with him, and they were too negative to do so.
I have been in situations where I know it was achievable, workable and doable and would have been great to be done and help others. But, the “ten” outweighed the “two,” so I lost out also.
It’s sad also when people do it to others. They are no good, they cannot do it, and they poor scorn on other human beings. Often they pull down others who are actually doing what they are not and doing it well.
I still remember a deputy head teacher calling me to his office one day. It was the days when people in that position sat in high and lofty desks and looked down on the students as if they were minnows. He looked at me and said, “Hawkes! You are so stupid, you will never be able to do anything in life. I can’t even think you could be good enough to sweep the streets.” Maybe that is why, when people ask me, “How do you get to be a leader?” my answer is always, “How well can you sweep up?
If you can do that job well, there is every hope in your other abilities, and the character to lead!”
I was very bad to that teacher. After I had left school, I took my new car - part of my successful job - and drove past the school as he peddled out on his rusty old bike. I pulled over and asked him with a smile, “Are you really still riding that old bike sir?” I guess that was not a good example to others, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit it was fun.
The other side to this “negative” discussion is often the mountain or the journey of achievement itself. “It’s just too big!” I get lots of knocks on my FB page and other writings as people tell me we should not be taking in Refugees. Many look at the problem, and, “Yes! There are around 60 Million displaced people in the world at the moment.” And: “No!” I did not make a mistake on the number. Many sarcastically say to me, “Where are you going to put all those millions of people in the UK?”
My oft reply is to refer them to the story made plain in the following web site: https://eventsforchange.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/the-starfish-story-one-step-towards-changing-the-world/ Have a look at it.
Even so, I do have answers for the bigger group, that is, the majority that are the “neggo’s”. But then I need more than the two out of the ten to see it also and come with me to take the positive action. I could climb the mountain, or enter the land, but others need to see it too. That is the problem with vision. What is obvious to the positive mind, is just negative fun to those who are of the negative mind.
As the Chinese proverb goes, “The longest journey has to start with the first step.” If we are not willing to get out of our easy chair. If we are just happy seeing only the negative. If we are always of the “half empty” rather than “half full” people. If we are always only able to see the problems and never see the problem as a “stepping stone” to success, then we will never see the view from the top of the Mountain.
I am a follower of Jesus, and he said to his followers, that if they believed, they would be able not only to see the view from the top of the mountain, but they would be actually empowered to say to the mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea.”
Personally, I would rather believe and see the success, than listen to the negativity of others. Or rather, I would prefer to have you join me in being positive, seeing what could be, taking steps, believing in a vision, and climbing mountains, or moving them out of the way, whichever is most appropriate.
Edited by K Lannon
Tuesday, 11 October 2016
Was very widespread in the 16th century, and in fact for many was carried over into the 17th century. The process was orchestrated by governments mainly to keep people in their place. So in England you had to wear a woolly hat if you were an apprentice, if you did not do so you could be arrested. If you were not at the level of Knight or Baron, then you could be arrested if you dared to wear purple.
The whole Idea was to keep a ‘moral line’ so you needed to be able to quickly tell a milkmaid from a countess, if you did not then the whole of society would unravel.
Greenwich, 15 June 1574, 16 Elizabeth I
Wherefore her majesty willeth and straightly commandeth all manner of persons in all places within 12 days after the publication of this present proclamation to reform their apparel according to the tenor of certain articles and clauses taken out of the said statutes and with some moderations annexed to this proclamation, upon pain of her highness's indignation, and punishment for their contempts, and such other pains as in the said several statutes be expressed.
None shall wear
Any cloth of gold, tissue, nor fur of sables: except duchesses, marquises, and countesses in their gowns, kirtles, partlets, and sleeves; cloth of gold, silver, tinseled satin, silk, or cloth mixed or embroidered with gold or silver or pearl, saving silk mixed with gold or silver in linings of cowls, partlets, and sleeves: except all degrees above viscountesses, and viscountesses, baronesses, and other personages of like degrees in their kirtles and sleeves.
Velvet (crimson, carnation); furs (black genets, lucerns); embroidery or passment lace of gold or silver: except all degrees above mentioned the wives of knights of the Garter and of the Privy Council, the ladies and gentlewomen of the privy chamber and bedchamber, and maids of honour.
None shall wear any velvet in gowns, furs of leopards, embroidery of silk: except the degrees and persons above mentioned the wives of barons' sons, or of knights.
Cowls, sleeves, partlets, and linings, trimmed with spangles or pearls of gold, silver, or pearl; cowls of gold or silver, or of silk mixed with gold or silver: except the degrees and persons above mentioned; and trimmed with pearl, none under the degree of baroness or like degrees.
Enameled chains, buttons, aglets, and borders: except the degrees before mentioned.
Satin, damask, or tufted taffeta in gowns, kirtles, or velvet in kirtles; fur whereof the kind groweth not within the Queen's dominions, except foins, grey genets, bodge, and wolf: except the degrees and persons above mentioned, or the wives of those that may dispend £100 by the year and so valued in the subsidy book.
Gowns of silk grosgrain, doubled sarcenet, camlet, or taffeta, or kirtles of satin or damask: except the degrees and persons above mentioned, and the wives of the sons and heirs of knights, and the daughters of knights, and of such as may dispend 300 marks by the year so valued ut supra, and the wives of those that may dispend £40 by the year.
And so on and so on...
So what France has tried to do with legislation on Burkini’s and other countries are trying to do in terms of legislating for dress, particularly woman’s dress is really nothing new.
It’s all about control, but let’s be upfront and know that this kind of legislation, power, instructions, do not just come from the hands of government – religions also use their power to try and control dress, again I say particularly woman’s dress. It’s about power, control and I think male chauvinism. I did read also that the Burkini had been condemned by religious authority too, as you could distinguish the outline of the female form – oh help!
Such laws that control our dress are facile, and actually should be resisted; but let us not think as has been widely published that the woman are free to chose how they dress, that too is a facile view. Also do not think that it is just Islam, or the French government that tries to control such things. My wife comes from a particular Christian group that also tried to list such laws as to what to wear and particularly what goes on your head – what is it with female heads, maybe it’s me but I just don’t get the problem?
Anyway coming from a background of working in the fashion industry, when I met my wife, and supplied clothes the family definitely labelled me as the horror that had turned their daughter into Jezebel, for those who know that meaning. There’s that moral prerogative again got to keep those morals right and its woman’s apparel that will do it isn’t it.
So back to that simplistic statement that the women who want to wear the Burkini should be free to do so. What does that ‘free’ mean? Now I do meet Muslim woman who tell me that they wear it out of religious choice. Some maybe are doing so, but I really don’t think the majority are.
I have travelled to the Middle East many times and watched groups of giggling young woman on my flight, and just before landing going to the toilets and coming back to their seat in a full Burka, western clothes disappearing.
I watched the same procession in the airport facility too; a lot of young ladies just disappear and out comes women in black. Are they free or what?
Let me tell you a story, I was in Kenya working with some churches, a young 16 year old helped me with translation, and came around with me. After working with me for a week he turned to me one day and said Adrian, are you telling me I can be a Christian without wearing a suit?
I was surprised, saying I haven’t mentioned clothing, but although I had not mentioned it I had noticed he was always dressed in a suit and tie, while I was my scruffy self. I then asked him, did your church tell you, you had to wear a suit, he thought for a bit and then said no. I then said let me come with you to your church, I did and as I expected I was the only one without suit and tie. Freedom to wear what you would like, I am not sure that I would call that freedom.
Of course in many Islamic countries they would go one step further and you would be at the mercy of the clothing police; who enforce Islamic dress-codes.
I once went to visit a house, a young Muslim lady was there having her hair cut, as I walked in she grabbed her head covering quickly covering her head, I asked in a long conversation what was the idea of being so covered in the presence of a male, her answer was well men need protection as they cannot control themselves, I am sorry but I am insulted, and I think the majority of men would be too (or should be)
So is it true that the males have no control? Which if that’s what is believed to be true then of course males have no responsibility regarding controlling one’s self. It can’t be done!
Again if that is the belief I am more insulted. What this kind of thinking does it transfers all responsibility to the woman actually that means those deciding on the women’s covering are the ones allowing men to shirk the responsibility of controlling their desires and behaviours. I do not for one minute believe that men cannot control themselves but I do believe that allowing both men and women to believe that men are not capable of controlling themselves then the responsibility for sexual propriety lies solely with the women, making men innocent of any sexual crime; Which is why I guess raped woman in some countries are then imprisoned for allowing themselves to be raped. Are we free yet?
So freedom, most of the time I think not, rather even if only symbolic the male chauvinism is the controlling power, and I think that control needs to be undermined if it’s coming from the national government of a country or the religious power house, it’s wrong.
Not the freedom that I call freedom.
NB.A great book on Fashion if you can get it is: Fashion and Style By Mike Starkey
Edited by Gena Areola
Saturday, 10 September 2016
Charity Starts at Home?
The amount of times I have had people say this to me, and on social media, and in other forums it’s getting tiresome. It’s used when I talk about helping refugees and asylum seekers, sadly Christian use it like scripture to me. It not! Scripture that is!
Can I ask what do we mean by this, where is home, your little house, your 2.5 children, your street, your country? What are you talking about?
I supposed I can almost forgive those using the phrase who would not claim to be Christians, or Followers of Jesus, but for those who make both those claims I do have a problem.
Jesus tells us what is commonly called the story of the Good Samaritan. Of course at the time when Christ was walking around in Israel, now self respecting Jew would ever go to Samaria, as the woman at the well said to Jesus, when he asked for a drink of water, “you’re a Jew and you ask me for a drink of water don’t you know that Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans”. Of course she did not know that Jesus had previously said to his disciples, “I must go through Samaria”; an amazing statement in of itself.
So let me counter that awful get out ‘charity start at home’ by reminding ourselves that Jesus said we are to love our neighbours, and then follows that statement by asking us to decided who are our neighbours, and the answer is not well pleasing to the people who never went to Samaria, as the neighbour turns out to be one of them.
In Africa I was speaking to a group and telling the story of the good Samaritan, I changed the story knowing that I was speaking to people of one particular tribe, and I knew that they hated another tribe so I made in my story the tribal member that helped a member of the hated tribe. People came up to after the meeting and said, you should not have done that, people hear hate the people of that tribe, don’t you know, err der! Maybe someone should have told Jesus that too.
Recently I had the privilege of going to a regular happening at a local Synagogue, where well over a hundred refugees where being fed, clothed, and financed by the local congregation, every nationality and religion turning up for help. I asked who is financing this and was told we are, at the moment its costing us about £30,000 a year.
The other very important point that I should make, especially to those who say they are Christians, follower of Jesus, is that Jesus commanded us to ‘love our enemies’.
So next time I say we need to be helping, caring for those pushed out by war be it from Syria, Eritrea or wherever, I know that I have responsibility for my family, but maybe that other statement of Jesus is apposite ‘that you should do but this you should do also’ please don’t tell me Charity starts at home it’s just plain the wrong response.
Edited Gena Areola
Tuesday, 9 August 2016
Help me why is it so?
Talking to my friends in the USA who know these things, and also to people in the UK parliament they tell me that the rudest letters, the most vitriolic complaints almost always come from those who say they are Christians. Why is that so?
Talking with a Christian Journalist friend, he tells me that the worst letters of complaint the most condemning and nastiest come to him from Christian readers, why is that so?
I know that when people find their way to Jesus, they are often not nice people, usually they know that and that is why they come to Christ for help, for change, for a new right life. I have often had people say to me you need to love me as I am God does, my often thought with such people is, that’s very hard because you are horrible, you are just not nice.
I do know that God loves us as we are, there would be no hope, or grace if He did not as a Muslim friend once said to me, if God does not show us Grace there is no hope for any of us. However it is very clear that the plan for those who follow Jesus is that we should not remain as we are ‘Horrible’ if you will, but the plan is to change us, make us more and more like Jesus. So his values become our values.
I constantly find that people who call themselves ‘Christians’ do not seem to haves the values of Jesus and although they claim to be following him their actions really give me a problem. Yet I find some who make no claim to be a follower of Jesus, having values, actions, grace and concern for others in a Christ like way. They may even call themselves atheists or people without faith.
Even Paul had those who were Asiarchs in Ephesus who did not share the 'Jesus-bit' but were ardent defenders of him even when their own future status and comforts were greatly under threat.
A friend of mine said ‘The tension comes when we view evangelicals as 'brothers and sisters'. I don't think my discernment is simply cultural - I think I discern it in the Spirit. But working together with a number of them is all-but impossible, or, there is a small uncomfortable area where we can work together. Then, with those who are not believers, I do not discern that bond, but find where they share the values of Jesus we can go a long way forward.’
Let me tell you a personal story, I was part of a church group, working with them I bought a house they provided the deposit however from then on I paid all cost mortgage, repairs everything. Then they fell out with me; silly me had put the whole property in the name of the group, it seemed spiritual at the time!
It did not seem so good when they issued an order ejecting me from the property, a life on the streets with wife and three young children did not seem a good idea. Fortunately God was there and I was able to buy back the property I had paid for, at a very inflated cost, my ‘brothers and sisters in Christ making a goodly profit out of my distress.
So reason for this story, well at the same time as all this happened I had entered into a seven year contract to rent a shop, we were about three years in. I read the contract carefully, should have done that when I signed it. I realised that I had signed away a lot and given the landlord great power over me. What to do,
I went to see them, one Muslim one Hindu owing the shop. I showed them my contract saying I realise you have lots of power to take me for everything. They both read it carefully, yes they said we have defiantly got you, however we are also in business, so we think we should be kind to you, you are released, and they ripped up the contract. I was happy but disappointed too; I was puzzle as to who was Christ like, who really were my brothers and sisters, who had the Jesus value.
So now can you help me understand? Maybe C.S. Lewis had it right in his last battle.
Emeth, one of Rishda's men and a devout follower of Tash, insists on seeing his god. Rishda tries to dissuade him, but Emeth enters the stable, and the dead body of another soldier, who was stationed in the stable to murder the rebellious Narnians, is thrown out instead. Aslan invites him into His world, Emeth says he cannot come as he has never severed Aslan, always Tash, Aslan say all you did was for me even though you thought you were serving Tash.
Saturday, 9 July 2016
My Place in the Sun
A lot of people have taken me to task because I have suggested that the E.U. referendum in the UK was very xenophobic. I do happen to think that in all areas both sides of the argument exaggerated and said things that were not true, but if you think sovereignty (whatever that is) economics, democracy or any of the other things swung it in favour of exit I am not sure where you have been. What swung it was we want to stop immigration. As I said before not all people who vote exit are racist, but all racists will vote exit. Sure some will have thought about the other arguments, though how anyone could cut through the noise to any factual knowledge I don’t know.
I said from day one, people will make their decision on this campaign emotionally. That’s how people make decisions; perhaps they shouldn’t but realistically that what people do. So what swung the vote were nasty racist posters, and we must control our borders. We need to stop people coming into the UK. It’s putting pressure on schools and housing. I wonder why no one ever asks how much pressure divorce puts on housing. How can we possible think or say that a lot of this rhetoric, posters and advertising were not xenophobic? I wish someone could explain that it was not a xenophobic campaign to my non UK friends, who work hard pay taxes, and were not allowed to vote but are quite afraid now; maybe sharing the fear of the two million plus UK citizens who live in other EU countries.
It seems perhaps surprising, but perhaps it shouldn’t be that London, which has the highest number of immigrants, and my area very, very many yet we voted to stay in. May be we understand the benefit of immigration. What is also surprising, but probably should not surprise me is how many of my non birth UK citizens voted out. Kenyans, West Indians, Sri Lankans, Bulgarians, who have UK passports, friends of mine, but voted out. It’s that yes I have my place in the Sun I have the sun bed and my towel is on it, say don’t you come in and touch it.
Let me tell you some stories which explain why I should not be surprised. Some years back I remember being in Switzerland, I was there with refugees who years before had come to the country escaping war, and lived in really hard conditions. But as is often with hard working, innovative, creative refugees they have done well. I’m glad, nice houses, nice cars, prosperous. I was aware that there were new wars at the time and new refugees coming into the country, so I asked my friends “how is the country coping with the new influx of refugees”. Their response; ‘Our country needs to do something to stop these people coming in’!
Story two, when we started helping refugees and asylum seekers in the UK we were advised to take some advice from an expert who was running a large half way house for people, not refugees but people with problems, we met the said gentleman, he was obviously from Asia and his turban sort of gave him away as not being of original English decent. His advice was most helpful, but then he asked what are you doing, my wife explained that we were setting up homes to help refugees and asylum seekers, his response to that was ‘we don’t want those people in our country’ my wife glanced up at the turban without saying anything, he obviously read her thoughts, and responded with ‘oh that, me I’m English’.
Story three, another friend of mine was running a youth club, arrived one day and asked the main worker where are all the young people today, they are not in the club, don’t know was the answer, looking out of the window he notice a whole load of young people kicking a football around, Oh he said I see lots outside, oh no came the reply they are not young people they are Polish.
I have all along during this campaign for in or out of the EU felt that the end decision was going to be made selfishly, we never once really asked will it hurt other Europeans, is it best for them if we leave, what do the immigrants hear in the UK feel about the anti foreigner rhetoric even the economic argument was always the selfish one.
Now, again not surprised, is to hear the Christians saying Gods will has been done, really? Why do people always think Gods will has been done, what a funny idea, why does Jesus tell us to pray that God will, should be done, if it always is? I am sure that often what happens is not God will at all. So we may say as the Muslims do Inshalla or as Christians say D.V Deo volente, "God willing". God may be willing but that does not mean His will has been done.
Well now going back to that Brexit, was it what God wants. I don’t know. Personally to be non selfish, with all the wrong of the EU I felt it was better to stay in for lots of other peoples benefit, influence, the protections that the UK gave in negotiations to smaller countries. I listened to others in Europe who worried that if the UK left it would hurt them, I did not want that to happen. Am I sorry that I have said it was so badly racist influenced, no and sadly the post exit decision seems to have raised a terrible dragon of permission to be racist; with people shouting in the street go home, to various non UK people; Sad.
So was God will done, I don’t think so, but I am not sad about that because I know God well enough to know he takes all situations to make himself known, and for those who love him He makes all things work together for Good. So I am happy.