Friends, this is my review of the book an Awkward Commission by David Donachie which I read recently. This is book three in the series which follows the life and adventures of John Pearce.
As a landlubber he has been illegally kidnapped and press ganged into King Georges Navy. His desire is to free himself and his friends called the Pelicans. The trouble is Britain is at war with various factions in France. Having been promoted up the ranks from a humble seaman, in recognition of his actions, rather than having to free him he finds himself in the Mediterranean taking part in various actions there. Including acting as a spy, as he can speak fluent French.
John's arch enemy is the captain who original was responsible for his initial capture. John has to make the difficult decision does he help rescue him or not, as the captain has let the ship he was in be captured..
The book ends with a very dramatic account of the taking of a French warship which had seemingly been abandoned, but in fact was a trap. The French were on the shore with their guns and cannons all lined up on the deck and rigging of the abandoned ship.
This account is made all the more exciting to realise that it is based on a real account that took place during the war. Incredible to think that people used such bravery and skill.
A very enjoyable book, and I am looking forward to reading more of the series, in the months to come.
This was book 11 week 9 fiction 10 (audio books 1) non fiction 1
Split Second Decisions
This is a sneak preview of the draft of my talk for the 9.30am service tomorrow morning on 1 Samuel 24.
Over the past few weeks I have been helping with the Alpha meetings and during the discussions as part of one of these, we were talking about the nature of church. We then got talking about sermons. It is interesting that in the New Testament, teaching as a sermon is very rare. The teaching given, is normally in response to a situation, event or a question. We might think of the Sermon on the Mount but that probably took place over the course of several hours. The one place where a sermon type talk is mentioned is in Acts 20 v8-9 Here Paul is doing the teaching and the passage says - there were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered together. And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead.
Fortunately in v10 it says that Paul goes on to heal him .. Now I hope I am not too boring and don't send you into a deep sleep. In reality it is not what I say but how you react to what I say, that is important.
James 1 v22 says “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like”
Poor David – He is still on the run from Saul. He has gone from being the peoples favourite, Saul’s musician, anointed as the next king by Samuel, to now being chased by Saul and 3000 troops. They have ended up in the area called En Gedi by the Dead Sea. This is where there were plenty of hiding places and food and water. V3 mentions sheep. It is suggested that the shepherds used the cave complex in the area to house their sheep when needed – when the weather was bad or overnight. So the floor of the caves were probably pretty mucky.
We can now join the dots. Saul wanted a bit of privacy whilst he went to the loo. He was wearing the royal robe that marked him out as king. Though we do not actually know what the robe was like it was probably pretty smart. He would not have wanted to get it dirty so he could well have taken it off and laid it on a dry bit of stone before getting down to the business of relieving himself.
David and his fellow men were hiding at the back of the cave. They had probably gone further and further into the cave complex as Saul got closer and it became obvious as to what Saul was going to do. Saul has been chasing them around for a long time. Could this be the opportunity that they have been waiting for. A chance to remove Saul once and for all. Certainly some of David’s men seem to think so as it says in v4 The men said, “This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’
David then has to make a split second choice as to what he is going to do. Does he kill Saul or not.
Ok lets leave the story here and spend a little time thinking how it might apply to us. In all probability we are not about to make the choice of whether or not we are going to kill someone but we do have to make quick decisions in our everyday lives. They may be about money, relationships, affairs of the heart or perhaps more mundanely how we react to things happening to us or what we say and do. As we don't have too much time we will only consider the last couple that I have listed.
Imagine you are hammering in a nail and bang your thumb with the hammer. Or as I did the other day trying to walking through a door and don't see the glass and crash into it. Besides the cry of pain what else comes out your mouth..
Luke 6:v45 says A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. NIV
Ok maybe that is not really fair... What about what we say and do we do it. Are we truthful and honest. If needing to say something in a hurry does a little white lie just pop out. I have a Christian friend who has been in sales and marketing for long time and he is very good at it. Sadly he says he assumes that people are lying to him until they prove otherwise then he is not hurt..
Leviticus 19 v11 "'Do not steal. "'Do not lie. "'Do not deceive one another.
Proverbs 19 v9 A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish.
The Open bible info website provided me with 100 verses from the bible about lying. http://www.openbible.info/topics/liar I will not list any more but it evidently an important subject.
Yes but a lie or a falsehood can be both carried out by omission just as much by commission. So if you say you are going to do something and don't make any effort to do it then surely that is also a lie. For example you say you are going to tidy the house, it takes roughly 3 -4 hours to do it but only give yourself 15 minutes to do the task just before it needs to be completed, it won't get done however quick you try. Or you are going to meet someone at say 10am in the morning. It takes 15 minutes to get there and 5 mins to get ready. So if you are not ready to leave by 9.40 then you are going to be late. If it is an unavoidable delay say you have a flat tyre on the car then that is ok, but if it is because you were chatting till 10am to someone else then you probably had no real intention of getting there for 10am. So why say you are going to be there for 10am.
Ahh but does it really matter you may be thinking. When I left one of my past jobs, the people I worked with said a few words about me at a fair-well get together, you may have had something similar yourself. I thought they would say a few things about some of the things I had done as part of the job, but no part of what was said was that they had never heard me swear and I was a person of my word both of which were rare qualities in that organisation. People do notice the little things. I am not saying this to boast but to say that something which was my normal day to day behaviour all be it a little OCD, was more memorable to others than the bigger projects that I had done.
If we go back to the Luke 6 passage the Message translation gives us this You don’t get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. It goes on to say. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.
And Matthew 15 v8 says But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart
So our split second decisions reflect on our true being. There is not time to cover them up. We are fortunate as we have the bible as our handbook to life. If we now go back to David. He did not have the Bible, but he did have the some of the books of the Old Testament as his guide.
If we briefly look at a couple of these that he probably knew.
Deuteronomy 6 v1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing. This section goes on and if we jump to v5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.
So David would have been brought up knowing Gods laws. In Exodus 20 we have the Ten Commandments. One of these listed in v13 states that one should not kill
David also knows that Saul was anointed King by Samuel on God's instructions We read this in 1 Samuel chapter 10 where Samuel anoints Saul and proclaims him as the Lords Chosen King. So when David is given advice by his followers 1 Samuel 24 v4 The men said, “This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’”
David now has a dilemma - Does he follow the advice that he has just been given or does he do what he has been told all through his life.
You may have noticed that I have been helping with doing the overheads for the songs recently. Some of the songs have the words in a different order to how we sing them here in Kirkcudbright. In these cases I have to make a decision as to what comes next. Is it as the song says on the computer or something different. In each case I have to make a split decision as to what words come next. Do I rely on my past memories or do I use what someone else is telling me via the computer screen?
We read in 1 Samuel 13:v14 that David was “a man after God’s own heart”
David has to make a split second decision Does he kill Saul or not? This would stop all the chasing and hiding, and surely he could justify it by saying that it is really self defence as Saul is trying to kill him.
But no David's love for the God and his respect for God commands win. He does not kill Saul. We then get a lovely human touch, which is one of the reasons why David is my Old Testament heroes. I assume out of shear frustration at the situation, though it does not say this in the text David chops off the corner of Saul’s cloak, as we read in v4. If you recall this is the royal robe that marked him out as king.
We go on to read in v5 that Even that causes David grief after the event as he feels as if he has challenged God. David decided to spare Saul because he knew that he has God's promise for him which said, "You will inherit the throne of Israel." which we read about in 1 Samuel 16
David knew that Saul was in the way of that promise. But he also knew it was disobedient of him to kill Saul, because God put Saul in a position of authority and it was God's job to take care of Saul not David's. David wanted the promise to be fulfilled but he refused to try and fulfill God's promise by breaking God's laws and killing Saul
Sometimes when we have a promise from God we think we might be justified in sinning to pursue that promise. This is always wrong. God will fulfill His promises, but He does it it His way. Think of Abraham, who obeyed God even when it seemed to be at the expense of God's promise, willing to sacrifice his promised son, which we read about in Genesis 22. Or Satan's temptation of Jesus to "win back the world" at the expense of obedience which we read about in Luke 4:v5-8.
Ok so what is this saying to us today..You may have heard of the phrase Corporate DNA It is a metaphor for an "organization's culture and strategy" It provides a set of ground rules for one to work to. Another way of thinking about it is if you have ever been go-karting the track is normally lined with old tyres so you can't go too far off track you just hit the tyres and bounce back again.
The same should apply to us as Christians – The bible is our set of guidelines and how we respond in our day to day life should be defined by that. This can only happen if we apply it.
Fortunately we have The Holy Spirit as the helper keeping us on track as Jesus promised as recorded in John 14 v26 However, the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything. He will remind you of everything that I have ever told you.
In Matthew 5 Jesus compares us to Salt 2000 years ago salt was used to stop food going bad. Matthew 5 V13 -You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. The question for us today is are we still salty?
So in conclusion being a Christian is not just for Sunday mornings but something we should aim to show it in our lives every day as the saying goes a 24/7 activity. You may feel that I have used a lot of bible quotes in this talk but I believe we have the bible as our guide book to life, so I think it right that I refer to it. We are not just given a book to follow but we have The Holy Spirit as our helper.
As it says in Isaiah 40 v31 - but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
As I said at the start of my talk with the quote from James we don't just have to listen to Gods word we need to respond to it in our lives by how we live, and that includes our split second decisions.
Matthew 5 v14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
I will end with part of the quote from this Sundays inspiring text collection – This is how God works. He does not make spare parts. You are not a spare part. You have a purpose, a design that is central to God's dream for the human race. What you do matters immensely.
Friends, this is my review of the book The Bourne Sanction by Eric Van Lustbader, which I read recently. I must admit I really enjoyed Robert Ludlums books. He seemed to have got the mix of action, suspense and intrigue about right. Sadly I felt that in this book Eric did not get it right.
I don't think I have ever read a book where so many bodies pile up just like the chapter numbers. Also the plot line was not that complex. Generally a case of kill or be killed as each event came along.
Anyway this being said Jason is unintentionally caught up in a terrorist plot to blow up a major American city. The terrorists are a secret undercover group with links all across the globe. Good excuse for a chase across many countries, and of course not everyone is who they seem. Then we have the assassin who is out to kill Jason as well, along with several American agencies trying to capture him and lock him up.
All good fun as they say. An easy page turner. Quite appropriate really as I have not been able to concentrate too much as thinking about my Sunday talk
This was book 10 week 8 fiction 9 (audio books 1) non fiction 1
This is the review of the book Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, that I read recently. I have read a previous book by Steve Timmis I wish Jesus Hadn't Said That, but I'm Really Glad He Did and was very impressed with what he had written so decided to give this one a go.
The slogan on the rear cover says a radical reshaping around gospel and community. How does your church shape up? The book in essence goes back to first principles to consider what a church is and how it related to the early Christians. It then offers an insight as to how this early church has been transformed into the church that we have today.
Sadly so often it is not good news, personal agendas, social climbing, and a desire to build ever bigger and bigger buildings, are the primary role of the church today. Or even worse putting all the time money and energy into keeping an historic monument going.
The book offers an alternative for the church. That it should be gospel centred, focusing on the good news of Jesus that is shown in new testament. Along with that the primary role of being mission based. The truth of the gospel needs to be proclaimed. Locking it away in an ancient monument is not going to do this.
Along side this the book suggests that as Christians we need to share our lives as a community of believers, and be welcoming to no believers.
Having defined these principles they are then applied to all areas that the church should be involved in; care, mission, church planting, evangelism, leadership and discipleship to name but a few.
In each case the resultant view is very challenging, often turning the existing ideas on end. But as it says in one of the chapters, why is the western church in decline for the last 50 years, where as else where in the world it is growing. Maybe it is because the western church has tried to mould itself to the current social trends rather that standing firm for the principles it believes in.
The writers are very passionate in their argument, and it is not just hypothetical book. They give real examples relating to the Crowded House Church which is all about being a Gospel community, a shared life, a network of relationships, and a community of people.
A passionate radical challenging thought provoking book. Highly recommended, though it should come with a health warning as once read you may feel like doing something.
This was book 9 week 7 fiction 8 (audio books 1) non fiction 1
Dyslexic doodles on photography, food (growing, cooking & of course eating), faith and other fascinating things. This is a personal blog expressing my views.