30 November 2016

Empty and filling: life lessons abundant

In the United States, President-elect Donald Trump is filling up his cabinet, his inner sanctum of strategic advisers, whom he will deploy to accomplish his wide-ranging agendas. Some serious Washington insiders are listed and there are more to come. Back in October, cartoonist Ben Garrison set in the American mind this cartoon of 'draining the swamp.'

The promises of P-E Trump include the removing of things unpopular in Washington, DC, and especially what might be titled 'swamp' but many are wondering if the choices of insiders like Steven Mnuchin. (Steven Mnuchin, a hedge fund manager and former Goldman Sachs executive, is President-elect Donald Trump's choice for Treasury secretary) What about Tom Price (HHS), and Elaine Chao (Transportation)? More about each as they come along here on Vox . They seem to be insiders from the swamp.

Here in Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (pictured) is set to reshuffle his front bench, as close to the US Cabinet as he can get. Here's a write up The New Daily reporting. We could see Attorney-General George Brandis removed, and we could see a return to the front bench of former PM Tony Abbott.

I read a Bible verse last month that spoke to me deeply. It was a saying of Yeshua, whom some call Jesus. The setting was the Jewish holiday of Sukkot (Tabernacles) and the great Water Pouring ceremony took place on the heights of Jerusalem. There are many meanings to that situation of course, but the words themselves are powerful. Yeshua said, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7.37-38) The scene involved water being poured out at the Temple (destroyed in 70, 40 years later) by the High Priest. Here is the encyclopedia entry on water pouring.

Each end of Sukkot featured this water pouring. It was also the day of the beginning of the rainy season in Israel. This is significant this year, as the bush fires all over Israel, were started by arsonists-enemies of the Jewish people. If the rain were flowing, the fires would be minimized. But of interest to me is that at the beginning of the rainy season, the priests would pour out the remaining reservoir. It was a statement of faith; it represented the belief of the Jewish people that God would provide (a major theme of Tabernacles). Emptying the reservoir gives opportunity for the Lord of life to fill it with new waters.

As December returns tomorrow here in Sydney, and many friends and colleagues join me to share Messiah's message of love on the streets, we are hopeful to find empty folks, that is, those who admit they are empty, and thirsty for life, for love, for God in their life. If people admit to needs, then God can supply. Here's the video from Israel
Admit you are empty.
Ask God to fill you.

26 November 2016

Howard Hughes, Rules Don't Apply: A review

I'm not an expert on Howard Hughes. I didn't see the 2006 movie about Clifford Irving, the fake Hughes biographer, starring Richard Gere in Irving's role in "The Hoax." Leonardo de Caprio's performance as Hughes in "The Aviator" (2004) featured his earlier life in Hollywood and in the airline industry from the 1920s and 1930s. Warren Beatty's 'biography' of Hughes picks up and ends in 1964, so there is no overlap with Aviator. Beatty's super-involvement included producing, directing, writing the screenplay, and acting as the lead character. Let me highlight a few moments of the film.

Four main characters feature: Beatty as Hughes, Lily Collins as Marla Mabrey, Matthew Broderick as Levar Mathis, and Alden Ehrenreich as Frank. (For those who follow this blog about many Jewish concerns, the last three of these listed have Jewish ancestry). Other characters are played by the likes of Annette Bening, Martin Sheen, Candice Bergen in more than cameo roles.

The ambling story concerns Hughes in conflict with the world: New York bankers (led by Oliver Platt), his own staff, and just about everyone. He makes Marla wait for her one-off appointment with him after her screen test. He makes us wait ... and wait. It seems interminable. Hughes doesn't appear as luminous as most would make of themselves if they were billionaires (or was he 'only' a millionaire?) In fact, he stays in the shadows most of the movie. The choice of lighting reminded me of "Citizen Kane" and even the mystery of Rosebud seemed to flashback on me in "Rules."

Beatty uses the ingenue Mabrey as a foil, and in the movie this Baptist woman is the daughter of Bening (Beatty's real wife). Too weird. Collins as Marla makes perfect sense. The real-life daughter of singer Phil Collins, has been in a few things, but this is her first major role. Her IMDB listing is here . And she's playing a starlet-wannabe coming to Los Angeles/ Hollywood for the chance of a lifetime. She comes from Front Royal, Virginia, still a rural town near Washington, DC. Her Baptist preacher has inspired her to know about virtues including sexual behavior and about abortion and such. Some surprises ensue as you might expect.

I will not spoil the ending, but will tell you that this is not an Irish tale. It's pure Hollywood. At least in its endings.

There was a momentous scene which seemed to turn the movie, but Beatty didn't stay black-to-white as I expected. In that scene he 'came out' and turned on a lamp near his darkened self. If I remember right, the background music of Mahler's 5th even changed its feeling. He caught a serious glimpse of his DNA-in-the-future, and that seemed to give him spark and lift. But Beatty didn't keep it going to my disappointment. By the way, for Donald Mitchell, perhaps the most important Mahler scholar writing today, the Fifth Symphony “initiates a new concept of an interior drama.” The idea of a programmatic symphony has not vanished, “it has gone underground, rather, or inside.” I wonder if that influenced the choice of the 5th throughout.

Perhaps Beatty saw in Hughes a great American enigma. A life of massive financial success and yet a life of wishing to be in relationship with his departed father. A desire to keep his father's legacy, or at least his name, in perpetuity. And utter dissatisfaction with those who disagreed with him, on any level, even about ice cream availability.

He lived as a recluse, see these facts about the real Hughes in this article from History.com I'm sure some of the real story influenced Beatty. And then there is the Hollywood add-on as per usual.

Hughes was a megalomaniac, but I'm not a psychologist, so probably shouldn't evaluate him as such with such little information. Still, Beatty made us think this in the very slow opening (at leat 45 minutes of the 2 hours) and Hughes' obsession with his own reputation and possible identification as crazy.

Someone asked me "Did you like the movie?" And honestly I never quite know if I liked some movies until I sit down to write the review of it. This one is certainly in that category. What I liked was clear...the parts by Sheen, Bergen, Platt, Ed Harris, Alec Baldwin... they all were subjugated to the great one. Beatty made it clear, in their deference, and their compliance, their opposition and their diminution, that Hughes was the greater. I liked the ingenue and her life choices she was continually forced to make. I liked the Radaresque Broderick in his subjugation to Hughes, until that one moment of confrontation. I liked the forward-thinking Frank, the chauffeur. I suppose there was enough in the movie to give it another look, down the road, on an airplane at 35,000 feet in a few months.

ABC News in the US gave it a moderate score, and finished with "When "Rules Don’t Apply" is good, it’s a delight. When it’s not, you just wish you were somewhere else." Oy, did I agree with that one!

And maybe then I will think of what I have to do to live in subjugation to my Greater One, the Almighty. No matter how I see myself in this movie, as I identify with one or more characters (at a time), I know that in the end, no matter how much I gain or lose, there is a Greater One. A God who gives of Himself that we might have life. I had a good relationship at times with my dad, but when I met the Eternal Father, the Lord God Almighty, I found my own darkness-to-light moment and the music changed from Mahler's 5th to Mahler's Resurrection!

No enigma now. Life comes and life lives on, because of the One who said of Himself (and which is a sign on one of the churches in the early part of the movie), "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life." (Yeshua, the messiah quoted by his friend and biographer John) Thanks be to God.

23 November 2016

Why do they 'celebrate' Thanksgiving?

I'm visiting in the US until Saturday, so I'm experiencing all the rituals of Thanksgiving, including but not limited to overeating, a glut of football games, times with family, overeating, raking leaves, watching the Christmas decorations light up, overeating (Did I mention that already? I was too busy napping from the tryptophan overload.) So maybe those of my readers in Australia and elsewhere might want a quick lesson in the holiday.

Click once on each photo to see full-size version
In 1621, the Plymouth colonists from the UK and local Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies which would later be called the United States of America. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted more than two months, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.

In 1623 they celebrated their 2nd such gathering, and a tradition was born. New York was the first state to make it a holiday and many others joined suit. The American south had no such intention, but later joined in. For all the date-by-date story of how Thanksgiving became a federal holiday, even related to shopping, see this website of history and for learning.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the day when retail sales put companies into the 'black' column, that is, out of the 'red' (debt) perhaps for the first time all year. Credit card sales explode and retailers are happy campers. After all it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And like many a Jewish salesman sings, "What a friend we have in Jesus" during this time of year.

On the day of the eating of the turkey, a parade takes place in New York City. The parade is 75 years old or so, and has been sponsored by Macy's, the great department store at 34th and 6th Avenue, in Herald Square. With marching bands, floats, and huge balloons it's a spectacular to be sure.

For others (and even those Yanks still reading this moment without the stuffing), a day to say thanks is a great idea. And not only to BE THANKFUL, which in itself is an excellent idea. Happiness expert Gretchen Rubin, also from my home town of Kansas City, said, "The nice thing about feeling grateful is that it drives away negative emotions like annoyance, resentment, or anger. I really find this to be true. I just spent some time reflecting on the vastness of what I have to be grateful for, and as a result, the usual, petty annoyances of my day have vanished."

And she's spot on. Gratefulness is Fantastic. And let me tell you one more thing, even better than being thankful.

Have an object of your thankfulness. In other words, being thankful needs to be a thank you card SENT TO SOMEONE! It can be a boss, a friend, a doctor, a neighbour, almost anyone who has done you a service or given you a product which gave you some pleasure. But WAIT< there's someone even more than this!

At the end of the day, a thanksgiving to the Almighty is appropriate. After all, the good book says, "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." (James 1.17) So everything we have which is defined as 'good' is from heaven, and the Owner of the Block above would like to hear those awesome words, "Thanks so much." Directed thanks makes Thanksgiving that much better.

Here in my hometown, on Thanksgiving night, they turn on the lights in the Country Club Plaza. It's always a crowd pleaser. When you give thanks to the living God, for all He has done for you, and for your country, for your family, for your situation-- a real enlightenment takes place, in you. And sometimes many will see that. Why not try that this Thursday? It could become a habit!

17 November 2016

Be seated. Another view on sitting in heaven. (Part 2)

In my first writing last year on this idea of Messiah here   being seated I majored on his victory. That is, that Messiah is seated like a priest who has concluded his work.  In this writing I want to ponder the idea of enthronement as judgment. That is, that when a ruler is seated, he is able to make decisions and rule from a position of authority.

In 2 Kings 19.15 we read, "And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said, “O LORD, the God of Israel, who art enthroned above the cherubim, Thou art the God, Thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. Thou hast made heaven and earth." (19.15)  God is proclaimed here as both Creator and the Enthroned One. Then Hezekiah continues, "the kings of Assyria have devastated the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire, afor they were not gods but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. So they have destroyed them. And now, O LORD our God, I pray, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou alone, O LORD, art God.”

His being seated is not from exhaustion, but rather from exaltation. It's the permission to sit AS KING that is to be seen here. A prince, an adviser, an associate, even a right-hand man, all of them are considered 'up there' with rulers, but until the one in charge extends the 'please, be seated' comment, then the 2nd, or 3rd, or... has to remain attending and upright. When THE authority extends permission to sit, then that authority is shared.

Note what the Psalmist says in Psalm 2. "Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed,
He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them.
I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.
Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!" (verses 1-2, 4, 7, 12)

And again the text in Psalm 110 about Melchizedek and the famous opening of at least two sounds-like deities,
The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”
The LORD will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies.”
The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
The Lord is at Your right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath.
He will judge among the nations, he will fill them with corpses, he will shatter the chief men over a broad country."

When God sets up His throne and invites the "Lord" to where no one can dismantle it, it is for the sake of seated-to-rule. Those enemies over whom the king will rule will be like an ottoman, a footstool. That final seating is for the sake of judgment. And who will be there?

Paul writes of this, as does the writer to the Hebrews.
1Cor. 15.25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.
1Cor. 15.27 For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him.
Eph. 1.22 And He put all things in subjection under His (Yeshua's) feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,
Heb. 2.8 YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET.” For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.

In other words, the sitting down by Yeshua, forecast in Psalm 2 and Psalm 110, is about subjection. Think of royalty and thrones. A king is established and everyone bows to him upon entry, and is not permitted to arise from that lowly bowing posture until allowed by the king. Sit...until...

I love the notion of Yeshua being seated. He is the authority, the head as Paul says, of the Body of his followers. And that session (seatedness) is not about exhaustion, but rather about victory and conquest. He will rule. He will make all things right. He alone is the hope of the world. Oh to Him we must plead for sanity in countries and in companies. To Him, all things will be put in subjection. I long for that day. I speak of that day. Come, Lord Yeshua, come!

15 November 2016

After the election...and a football game

Donald Trump will be the president of the US beginning on 20 January next year. Full disclosure: I was not a Trump fan ever, whether as a politician or even as a person. Still, he will be my president come 20 January. These are realities. I will not speak against him as our president. I will continue to pray for him as the Apostle Paul taught in his letter to young Timothy. "Pray for all in authority," was the instruction and I will comply.

A week ago the Seattle Seahawks played a grueling anyone-can-win football match against the Buffalo Bills. There was a lot of pushing and shoving, a lot of sledging (Yanks, that is Aussie-speak for trash talk), and much involvement by the 12th man, the Seattle fans in the stadium. The announcers on the television took issue with a defenseman, the cornerback Richard Sherman, and the Bills' coach Rex Ryan even called the decision by the referees 'ridiculous' when Sherman ran into the kicker for the Bills near the end of the first half.

After the game ended, the ESPN sportscaster, Lisa Salters, interviewed Richard both about 'that play' and about the demeanor of both teams after the game ended. The brutal manner on the field ended, and the opponents generally were high-fiving and embracing each other. He basically answered her that football is a leave it all out on the field activity, and then people matter more. NY Upstate reported here , "At the end of the interview, Salters asked Sherman how the two teams could get together after such a hard fought game. Sherman cited that during the game it's a dog fight, but at the end the teams should get together. The cornerback made a point to mention a few Bills players did not stick around postgame.

"Some of their players went in the locker room. They were talking a lot of mess, but they didn't want to see it at the end. Those are the opposite of competitors. Competitors come out and they shake it up after a game like that."

Consider this quote from Hillary Clinton's concession speech after the US elections last week. "Last night, I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country. I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans. This is not the outcome we wanted or we worked so hard for and I'm sorry that we did not win this election for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country.
But I feel pride and gratitude for this wonderful campaign that we built together, this vast, diverse, creative, unruly, energized campaign. You represent the best of America and being your candidate has been one of the greatest honors of my life."

Was this the man about whom she said so many dastardly things?

What about Donald's remarks about Hillary after she rang him to congratulate him on his electoral college victory. "I congratulated her and her family on a very, very hard-fought campaign. I mean, she — she fought very hard. Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country."

What? Is that the same person who fought so hard to dominate whom he called her 'crooked' and a 'liar' and dozens of other epithets?

Maybe this commentary about both football and elections says the same thing. Sherman says "Competitors come out and they shake it up after a game like that." And that's certainly the spirit the US needs in these days after the election. We need one another. We need to stop name-calling, stop the bullying, stop the hostility-- let's work together to make the world a better place. A dream? Nope-- the way forward is filled with hope and opportunities, and dangers. May we be gracious to each other, now and in 3 and a half years.

11 November 2016

Donald Trump: The first 3rd party winner

Let me first join in with both Hillary and Donald in their defeat/victory speeches on Election Night/ Day and wish the disunity would stop. Americans need to get beyond the hatred and strife which characterized the last 18 months of the circus of the elections. That is a base of reality which I will again mention at the end of this blog.

Over the course of months I watched, albeit from afar, the horse race which was the US elections this year. It was easy to get some updates almost hourly, certainly daily, on the big race for president. Hundreds of other contests were decided on Tuesday this week, of course, including local propositions and senators and congress people, but all eyes seemed to be on the two main candidates, determined by the longer-than-ever primary season and the rubber stamping national conventions. And by now, informed people know that Donald J Trump is the president-elect. He will assume command on 20 January as is the national custom at his inauguration.

I wrote the other day about the Bradley effect and how the pollsters got it so wrong, but today my thoughts go to the idea of a third party. So many of my contacts in the US (I've lived in Australia for 18 years) were polarized in support of, or fierce opposition to, either of the major candidates, Secretary Clinton or Mr Trump. I found a few, rare individuals who were supportive of a candidate and who were not strident. So much hostility; so little grace.

To be sure, there were those undecideds who seriously were stuck between what many called the two evils. Some said, "Better the devil we know than the devil we don't know." Some couldn't get beyond Benghazi or tens of thousands of chattering emails. Some could not accede to a man who guaranteed his genitals were of significant size and who demeaned others like a schoolyard bully. Back and forth the mudslinging continued. It was genuinely ugly and for me as an American in Australia (or wherever I traveled) and so embarrassing. But wait, let's go back a bit.

Some of my strident friends couldn't support Hillary because she was pro-abortion, even to the end of a pregnancy, as she said, if the life of the mother were at risk. They didn't voice the same concern when Donald said, “I'm pro-life, but with the caveats. It's-- Life of the mother (very important), incest and rape,” Trump said. Donald also said, ‘You have bad researchers’: when Bill O’Reilly questioned him on Planned Parenthood TheBlaze - Sep 9, 2015. In 1999, Trump stated to the Associated Press, “I believe it (abortion) is a personal decision that should be left to the women and their doctors.” OK, so he has changed his mind since then. People do that. And I'm glad he did, but I wonder, is he as dyed in the wool Republican as some think?

Read this report this week from Business Report on Donald and women's health issues.

The Donald promised to release his tax returns like every candidate of modern times. He didn't. He did say, "In terms of taxes, “I know people making a tremendous amount of money and paying virtually no taxes, and I think it's unfair.” But we don't know about his own record.

OK, as a businessman who has declared bankruptcy any number of times, do we want him to run the largest economy in the world? Too late now to ask that question, but some were thinking that.

His sexual exploits were another embarrassing theme throughout the final days. Women lined up to declare their being assaulted by him; video tapes from years ago revealed a person who was not the picture the Republicans would want, and especially for the evangelical Christians who didn't share those values. Yet 82% of evangelicals voted for him. Values aside, they voted party.

Many voted for him because they liked the platform of the Republican party which included a recognition of Christianity and prayer in school, an overturning of Roe v Wade, a lowering of corporate tax threshholds, etc. The platform called for a recognition of the rights of the unborn under the 14th Amendment. The platform calls for Keystone to be finished. You get it, it's a comprehensive exercise of classic conservative values and such.

I'm saying all this to say that I think Donald used the Republican party as his own and would have gladly renamed a new one the Trump Party if he needed to leave. I think Donald well represents what would have been a third-party if Cruz or Rubio, or any of the other 16 candidates for the nomination of the Republican party had won. I worry that Donald is the George Wallace of our day. Mind you, I acknowledge that he won and that he is to be our 45th president. I get that. And I support our process of elections and will pray for him to be good at being our next president.

Still I aver that he's the consummate third-party candidate. Forget Tea Party or Ross Perot, forget how Perot knocked Clinton into the White House. I may be wrong, but I think Donald J Trump is the real 3rd-party person of this election. He is as Republican today as he can be, but what will he be tomorrow? His erratic personality, and self-importance, and declaration that he could stand in the middle of Times Square with a gun and shoot someone and get away with it-- it's so non-Republican. His unwillingness throughout the primaries to listen to his handlers/ advisors was clearly displayed. People loved that he was non-PC. In fact he was anti-PC. He was a loose cannon. He could say to anyone at anytime that they were less, they were of little importance, they were insignificant. He propped himself up by knocking others down. Whether it was Ted Cruz or Ari Fleischer, Megyn Kelly or John McCain, Rand Paul, or anyone who challenged him. That's not Republican; that's not even American. That's self-consumed and classic misanthropic behaviour. I express my worry. It is not disdain; it is not disapproval of the process. It is worry and anxiety about the person.

I think people voted the party, even though the party had been coopted by the classic outsider. He boasted of his outside-ness. He is the first president-elect never to have held a governmental or military position. Yet, he is as sharp a politician as there is.

And thus I will pray. And hope. And challenge Americans to get beyond the hatred and strife which characterized the last 18 months and join together to make the world a better place with better people performing better acts. And that prayer should not be for a bullet to strike Mr Trump. It should be as the apostle Paul wrote to his mate Timothy what should be a wonderful guide for us in these days of putting aside the hostility, "I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Messiah Yeshua, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension." (1 Timothy 2.1-8)

09 November 2016

The Bradley effect and President-elect Trump

Donald J. Trump is going to be the 45th president of the USA. This was a shock to many, but not to the 37 million Americans who voted for him and Mike Pence, his running mate. He made promises over the last 18 months during his campaigns and even in his acceptance speech given in New York City at 7 pm Sydney time, which is about 3 am along the US East Coast. He promised to double growth in no set time. Will he build a wall between the US and Mexico? Will he practice what he preached about 'all Americans' and move from businessman to TV personality, to candidate, to statesman? Only time will tell.

The map of the vote (and the headline) on the New York Times website is fascinating.

Donald turned many historically blue states into bright red. He rode the waves of 'change' and 'anti-Establishment' all the way to the White House where he will find his oval office in less than 80 days. Americans are frustrated; let's see if this turns out better.

During the introduction of Mr Trump by Gov Pence, I did note that Pence's son's fiance Sarah was less than enthusiastic about comments about the president-elect. See the first few minutes of this CNN video online here

But I'm sure she'll come around in due course.

With all that now behind us, what awaits us? A Bible verse kept coming to mind today, as pundits spoke about the hidden Trump voters, those with a real desire for change, but who couldn't answer as such in polls before the election day. "For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light." (Yeshua recorded in the Gospel of Luke 8:17) Secret agendas are never completely secret. Hidden ideas eventually come out. Yeshua, that is Jesus, explained it this way. Everything will come out. Be sure of that.

The Bradley effect is a theory concerning observed discrepancies between voter opinion polls and election outcomes in some US elections where a white candidate and a non-white candidate run against each other. The theory proposes that some voters who intend to vote for the white candidate would tell pollsters that they are undecided or likely to vote for the non-white candidate. It was named after Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, who is black, who lost the 1982 California governor's race despite being ahead in voter polls going into the elections.

The Bradley effect suggests that the inaccurate polls were skewed by the phenomenon of social desirability bias. Specifically, some white voters give inaccurate polling responses for fear that, by stating their true preference, they will open themselves to criticism of racial motivation. Members of the public may feel under pressure to provide an answer that is seen to be more publicly acceptable, or politically correct. The reluctance to give accurate polling answers has sometimes extended to post-election exit polls as well. The race of the pollster conducting the interview may factor into voters' answers.

Look, I've tried to slip through some things. I've tried to hide my own wrong activities and I've been caught. And although at the moment I hated being caught, the reality is that I love the freedom of exposure. The reality train is a much smoother ride than one where one has to lie and cheat and duck and cleverly re-invent story.

So now we wait and see. What Donald said or what he will say and what he will do. Let's hope he does what he said in tonight's speech, "I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all of Americans, and this is so important to me. For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I'm reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country. As I've said from the beginning, ours was not a campaign but rather an incredible and great movement, made up of millions of hard-working men and women who love their country and want a better, brighter future for themselves and for their family. It is a movement comprised of Americans from all races, religions, backgrounds, and beliefs, who want and expect our government to serve the people, and serve the people it will."

08 November 2016

Fever heat of summer

I had to take this photo yesterday. It was stinking hot outside. 36 celsius is over 100 Fahrenheit. And it's only November. Early November at that! What does the summer plan to bring us? No matter what it was a tough day to be outside, not only to walk around and do anything.

The one phrase that kept popping into my mind while near Windsor this afternoon was "the fever heat of summer." Is that something from Shakespeare? From Milton? Dante, of course. Nope, it was none of those. It was written by a man named David. And he well knew something about summer heat. He lives in Israel. In summer and winter and all year at times.

The occasion for his writing this poem (named Psalm 32) is not known. But we do know some things about David's life and his religious practices. He wrote a similar poem in Psalm 51 after being caught out in an adulterous affair with his neighbour. This psalm is another penitential poem which might have been written at the same time.

David is pensive and deep in thought. He's pondering his options and comes up with only one which matters. He humbles himself and asks God to forgive him for whatever sin he had committed. But before he asks, he defines his feelings. They are deep and real. He is pained. He says, "when I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long." The angst is palpable. His pain goes to the kishkes. Then David says, "my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer." I think I get that. Drained vitality is exhausting. The draining I felt all day in the summer heat, even though I had an umbrella and other forms of shade over me, is what David must have experienced that day, or that season.

When your thermometre reaches 33 and above this summer, remember this phrase, and remember your sins, then do what David did. "How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered!
How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!
When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long.
For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.
I acknowledged my sin to Thee, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”;
And Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin."

That's it. He wants to forgive us for the sins we commit. Those sins prevent our relationship with Him and with others. The way back is the tough one. It's not easy. It's about admitting our sins and asking God to forgive us, honestly.

Maybe this will be a Pavlovian device for you. Or a catalyst for thinking about God. He really loves us and uses all kinds of circumstances, and people, and events and... to cause us to get in right relationship with Him. It's for our good that we admit such bad. You know? So when the temps rise, and you remember this phrase "the fever heat of summer", use this as a device to cause you to turn to face the Lord and to be part of His forgiven family. Hallelujah, what a saviour!

03 November 2016

Paid in full

Jeni B went to the pub Saturday night. On entry she paid the admission fee and enjoyed time with her friends. I met her on Sunday morning at her church in Cherrybrook, in Sydney's Northwest. She showed me this stamp on her wrist. That's customary for many places in town, to allow for entry and reentry. If you cannot read the letters, it says, "Paid" and the date "29 October 2016." Jeni made some comments that inspired me, and this blog is a reflection of some of her comments.

You might also notice the book on which her wrist is placed is a Bible. It's open to a section in one of Paul's letters. In verse 20, it reads, "for you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." In context, the reference is part of a series of considerations: 1) about justice and not taking fellow believers to court, 2) about food and living in the sufficiency of moderation, and 3) about sexual activity, and being faithful. The Bible is teaching something deeper than a set of rules and regulations. Verses 18-19 says, "Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?"

Paul says we should manage our own passions, control ourselves and live in peace and harmony with our neighbours. How? By the awareness of one singular reality: we have been bought with a price. Paid for in full, like Jeni's being admitted to the pub's party. When something is paid for it belongs to the purchaser. Whether this be a car, an entry ticket, or eternal life, once paid, the purchase price completed, the ownership is transferred.

No longer are we going to live in religious duties and religious rights or wrongs. No longer are we going to claim one spiritual leader or another (1 Cor. 1.12, 1 Cor. 3.4), because we are a temple of God's Spirit. God actually dwells in us. And He can actually dwell in us because He bought us. And has sanctified (cleaned) us from the inside. Hence his purchase, his cleansing, his indwelling-- all point to a change in our lives and in our behaviour. We are changed from the inside. We are HIS!

Note what Charles Spurgeon had to say, if you have a few extra minutes today. This was his sermon he gave after the death of a friend and deacon in his church in Newington. Here is the entire sermon online . Among other treasures Spurgeon says this of the price. "You will notice the text says, "Ye were bought with a price." It is a common classical expression to signify that the purchase was expensive. Of course, the very expression, "Ye were bought," implies a price, but the words "with a price" are added, as if to show that it was not for nothing that ye were purchased. There was a something inestimably precious paid for you; and ye need scarcely that I remind you that "ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold;" "but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." Ah! those words slip over our tongue very glibly, but we may well chide ourselves that we can speak of redemption with dry eyes. That the blood of Christ was shed to buy our souls from death and hell is a wonder of compassion which fills angels with amazement, and it ought to overwhelm us with adoring love whenever we think of it, glance our eye over the recording pages, or even utter the word "redemption.""

Thanks Jeni. Thanks Yeshua. Thanks be to God for His inestimable gifts.