DESIGN & ORDER amidst human disorder

 

Newscasts trumpet misery, scandal and chaos. BUT! As I wander down summDSCN5023 (3)er DSCN4962 (2)pathways and drive along our country roads I’m impressed by a recurring theme. Whether it’s the tiniest beetles I find on leaves or the rising of the moon, there is evidence of design–and of the Designer.

DSCN2805 (2)It’s the same when I gaze on the apparently bewildering display of creativity among flowers. Or the astounding intricacy of a snowflake. Or the various plumages of birds or even the blades of grass DSCN5204 (2)in a farmer’s field. Variety but not randomness fills our world with a richness and interest our busy lives usually lead us to ignore.

From sunsets to cloud formations, from eyesight to dandelion fluff all around us throbs the evidence of an omnipotent Creator. “Day after day they pour forth speech.”  Too often our ears throb with a cacophony of artificially generated sounds.

Lord, help us to pause, to look around, and to lift our hearts in worship and praise–and even appeal. DSCN3181 (2)Truly, “this is my Father’s world.” This Father can bring order and redemption to our disordered and broken lives.

January Sunset

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WHO WAS THIS ADAM GUY?

If we read literature of any kind we can’t escape references to Adam and Eve, Abraham, and Moses, Delilah and Bathsheba, Mary and Joseph. Who were these people? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All these and many more inhabit the Scripture’s story line. Depending, of course, on your view of Scripture they may be historical or mythological.

Personally, I believe that Scripture is the most comprehensive and accurate record of history that we have. Unlike Zeus or Ulysses, these were real people. There is far more proof for the Bible’s authenticity than for ancient Greek or Roman writing. But more important, the lessons they teach us about life, for good or ill, are of inestimable value.

Character defines who we are more than our stature, ethnic background or hair colour. And our family and the people we hung out with have influenced our character for good or ill. In this series of blogs, I invite you to hang out with Bible characters. Let their livDSCN2176 - Copyes impact you for good. Learn to embrace their good qualities and avoid their mistakes.

Of course, if your character is already perfect [tongue firmly in cheek] you might want to follow these blogs just to bone up on universals embedded in Western culture. Allusions to the ten commandments, the good Samaritan, Bathsheba, Samson, and so on.

Consider first Adam, who–as indicated by Jesus Himself–was not a type or symbol of humanity but a real person. God created Adam in His own moral image and gave him responsibility to steward the resources of earth at a time when the environment was ideal. “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). “The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed”(Gen 2:8).

Within the godhead, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit enjoy a loving and expressive relationship with each other. God knew, “It is not good that man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18). And so He created Eve as Adam’s companion to somewhat replicate the divine interaction of the persons of the godhead. Alexander Whyte in this book on Bible Characters describes Eve as “sweet, warm, tender, wistful, helpful, fruitful—a love full of 00008_s_15amtvyymk0021nice and subtle happiness.”

Loving relationships form the foundation of human experience. We were created to relate to others not to live as loners. In relating well to one another, in marriage and in other human relationships we reflect the image of God in us.

As divine image-bearers Adam and Eve possessed qualities that reflected on a limited scale divine qualities. Their intellectual ability qualified them to communicate and investigate. Their creative ability enabled them to originate things and value beauty. Their administrative ability prepared them to wisely care for the world. Their moral image enabled them to be and do righteously. “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.”

We should celebrate the amazing potential that God has created within us. That potential should move us to use our abilities to bless the places where we live. As a children’s song tells us, “God don’t make no junk.” As image-bearers we should honour and respect all people. Racism, prejudice, and arrogance are clearly sub-human, evil.

Adam and Eve were placed in an idyllic garden where they could enjoy fruit from all the trees except one–the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. One prohibition! They had free will to choose to obey or not. They faced thousands of positive, attractive, nutritious options. Delicious fruits. Only one temptation. WOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhat did they do? What will we do with all the healthy, constructive, godly options that we enjoy? Will we choose obedience or will we be drawn to harm ourselves by choosing hurtful options?

Satan slithered into the garden and temped Eve. He said, “You shall not surely die for in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen3:5). She “saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate…gave to her husband” (Gen 3:6). Temptation exerts a powerful appeal to us by enticing us through the lust of the flesh (an appeal to our physical appetites), the lust of the eyes (an appeal to something we want to possess) and the pride of life (something to enhance our ego). Let us ask the Lord to help us recognize temptation in these three areas and resist its downward pull.

Eve chose to disobey the one command God gave her. Adam knew it was wrong but yielded to Eve’s offer of the fruit. Both broke God’s command. But when asked by God what they had done they pointed their fingers instead of accepting blame. Eve blamed the serpent, Adam blamed Eve and God! Adam said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I ate.” Eve said, “the serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Gen 3:12,13)

DSCN4987 (2)Both Adam and Eve played the blame game. Eve blamed the serpent. Adam blamed Eve. Part of the fallen nature that we inherit includes the propensity to blame others for our sins and weaknesses. Our parents. Our education. The government. The environment we grew up in. The church. Our friends. God. If we would mature spiritually, we need to stop blaming others and accept personal responsibility.

From Adam and Eve we learn about our need for relationships; the fantastic potential enshrined in ever human; the importance of obeying God’s commands; the need to make careful, moral choices; and about our propensity to blame others for our sins.

(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca –  Facebook: Eric E Wright –   Twitter: @EricEWright1  –  LinkedIn: Eric Wright )

 

Is Fiction Inferior to Non-fiction?

Many of the people I meet at book tables explain to me that they only read non-fiction. The implication is that fiction is somehow inferior. Just give me the facts whether of history or engineering or finance—write it out for me in logical order.

Non-fiction writing has great value. I’ve written nine non-fiction books and many articles. But soon after my book, Revolutionary Forgiveness was published, a neighbour asked me a question. “Why don’t you write about forgiveness using the medium of a story with descriptions of characters dealing with bitterness and hurt?’

Good question. I still feel it is important to summarize biblical teaching on forgiveness [and other subjects] and give examples of those who have abandoned bitterness and resentment. But in some ways fictional characters and situations can illustrate more deeply the thoughts and feelings, the anguish and pain of unforgiveness. Fiction can also reflect powerfully on the subtleties of joy and peace that comes with forgiveness.Scan_20170327 (5)

Consider historical fiction. It is one thing to read the facts and figures of life and death, of battles and defeats that occurred in World War Two. But when we read, for example, All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doer, the effects of the war on allies and enemies become stark. We feel the story. A French family with a blind daughter open up to us the anguish and fears that reverberate deep inside the psyches of an occupied people. In the same book, a German family gives us an agonizing glimpse into the pressures and fears that drove many to conform and even resort to unbelievable cruelty under the Reich.

Rust Bucket jpeg, 288 pixOr take slavery. We are told that there are an estimated 27 million slaves today; men, women and children being trafficked for sale to brothels, farms, and businesses. Telling the true story of one or two who escaped can put a face on this evil. However, fiction, written, as I have done in Captives of Minara and Rust Bucket, helps to illuminate both those who traffic and those who are kidnapped. We can gain a heightened a sense of the unbridled malevolence of its practitioners and agony of the victims.

What about indigenous affairs in North America? The Back of the Turtle or The Inconvenient
Indian
by Thomas King, or Susan Cooper’s The Ghost Hawk probably accomplish more in raising awareness and sympathy than a dozen government studies.

Think of geogrScan_20170327 (6)aphy. In Christy, by Catherine Marshall, we journey back in time to an earlier day in t
he Great Smoky Mountains. We might be able to read depictions of the flora and fauna, the slang of the people and their superstitions in non-fiction books but we would miss the living sense she gives of people and place. We would not feel ourselves walking with Christy among spring dogwoods.

Consider terrorism and Islam. We have myriad books written about Islam, pro and con, but without fiction books such as The ReScan_20170327 (4)luctant Fundamentalist, or The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahanjan, we will miss insights into the influences moving liberal Muslims to become militant as well as the anguish of those affected by their militancy.

But let me hammer in the final nail in the coffin of those who restrict their reading to non-fiction. Do you mean to tell me that the method of the greatest teacher of all time is defective? That is, should we discount the parables and stories Jesus told to teach us about how to act and believe? The parable of the good Samaritan. The Lost Sheep. The Rich Man and Lazarus. I doubt any would go that far. Jesus not only taught straight-forward principles—the sermon on the mount—but a multitude of stories. He was the penultimate story-teller. It is an honourable calling.

Give fiction a try…but be careful of your choices. Not all fiction is created equal.

(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright  Also check out his books on Amazon.)

JoshRadleySuspenseNovels

The Crabby Old Lady

When an old lady died in the geriatric ward of a small hospital near Dundee, Scotland, it was believed that she had nothing left of any value.

Later, when the nurses were going through her meager possessions, they found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital. One nurse took her copy to Ireland.

The old lady’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas edition of the News Magazine of the North Ireland Association for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on her simple, but eloquent, poem. And this little old Scottish lady, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this “anonymous” poem winging across the Internet

Crabby Old woman
What do you see, nurses?
What do you see?
What are you thinking
When you’re looking at me?

A crabby old woman,
Not very wise,
Uncertain of habit,
With faraway eyes?

Who dribbles her food
And makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice,
“I do wish you’d try!”

Who seems not to notice
The things that you do,
And forever is losing
A stocking or shoe?

Who, resisting or not,
Let’s you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding,
The long day to fill?

Is that what you’re thinking?
Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse,
You’re not looking at me.

I’ll tell you who I am
As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding,
As I eat at your will.

I’m a small child of ten
With a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters,
Who love one another.

A young girl of sixteen
With wings on her feet
Dreaming that soon now
A lover she’ll meet.

A bride soon at twenty,

My heart gives a leap,

Remembering the vows

That I promised to keep.

At twenty-five now,

I have young of my own,

Who need me to guide

And a secure happy home.

A woman of thirty,

My young now grown fast,

Bound to each other

With ties that should last.

At forty, my young sons

Have grown and are gone,

But man’s beside me

To see I don’t moan.

At fifty once more,

Babies play round my knee,

Again we know children

My loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me,

My husband is dead,
I look at the future,
I shudder with dread.

For my young are all rearing
Young of their own,
And I think of the years
And the love that I’ve known.

I’m now an old woman
And nature is cruel;
‘Tis jest to make old age
Look like a fool.

The body, it crumbles,
Grace and vigor depart,
There is now a stone
Where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass
A young girl still dwells,
And now and again,
My battered heart swells.

I remember the joys,
I remember the pain,
And I’m loving and living
Life over again.

I think of the years
All too few, gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact
That nothing can last.

So open your eyes, people,
Open and see,
Not a crabby old woman;
Look closer . . . see ME!!

=========================================================

Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might
brush aside without looking at the young soul within . . we will all,
one day, be there, too! In fact it might be me.

On Portraiture

Steve’s portraits project character and depth

Steve McCurry's Blog

Portraits reveal a desire for human connection;
a desire so strong that people who know they will never see me again
open themselves to the camera,  all in the hope that at the other end
someone will be watching,

someone who will laugh or suffer with them.

Kashmir Kashmir

Yemen Yemen

Afghanistan Afghanistan

What could be more simple and more complex,
more obvious and more profound than a portrait.

– Charles Baudelaire

Kashmir Kashmir

Yemen Yemen

Baluchistan, Pakistan Baluchistan, Pakistan

A good portrait is one that says something about the person.
We usually see parts of ourselves in others, so the

good portrait should also say something about the human condition.

Afghanistan Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan Kabul, Afghanistan

The most difficult thing for me is a portrait.
You have to try to put your camera between the
skin of a person and his shirt.

– Henri Cartier-Bresson

Philippines Philippines

Pokhara, Nepal Pokhara, Nepal

Lambari, Brazil Lambari, Brazil

Madhya Pradesh, India Madhya Pradesh, India

Dubrovnik, Croatia Dubrovnik, Croatia

Photography and the genre…

View original post 76 more words

American Dream? – What about the Christian Dream?

We hear a lot about realizing the American dream, a dream which is shared by their Canadian neighbours. This dream involves having the opportunity to succeed; get an education, a good job, a house, money in the bank, being able to travel, live in comfort and security. Besides these, everyone longs for good health and friends. Who can discredit these as desirable goals?

But are these aspirations enough? Jesus promises his disciples abundant life. “I am come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b, NIV). The New KJV translates
it “have it more abundantly.” What is meant by abundant life?

No matter how close we are to achieving our dreams, we live with uncertainty. We cannot predict our future health, the stability of our jobs, or even the permanence of our relationships. We share common fears and anxieties. Something unpredictable may wait just around the corner.

But in the context of John ten, Jesus explains to his disciples that he is responsible for their care. As their shepherd, He promises to protect them from both a world full of thieves and the uncaring agents of all the institutions that affect our lives. In the Good Shepherd’s hand, what seems to us uncertain about the future is known and determined to work out for our good.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbundant life, in Christ, is a life that can be free from anxiety and fear. Jesus urges us, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body…but seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt 6:25,33). Peter challenges us to “Cast all your care upon Him who cares for you,” (1 Peter 5:7). Jesus promises, “Lo, I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20).

Also in the context of John ten, abundant life is life that is eternal in extent. As the Good Shepherd, Jesus gave his life for the sheep, securing for us life that continues beyond the grave into eternal bliss. Abundant life includes a home in heaven and a place in the new heavens and the new earth.

Sadly, this abundant life is not for all. Jesus explained, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved” (10:9). Only those who admit they have been wandering sheep and desire safety in Christ will enter. Only those who believe in Christ as “the way, the truth and the life” and receive him as their Lord and Saviour belong in this place of safety. There is only one door and one good shepherd.

Abundant life is only possible—not by works that we do—but through receiving “the fullness of his grace…one blessing after another” (John 1:16). It is enjoying rich, lavish grace what teaches us we are forgiven and loved (Eph. 1:7,8). It is to know “overflowing joy” (2 Cor. 8:2), peace that passes understanding, the fellowship of the redeemed, answered prayer, spiritual armour to live a victorious life, and so much more.

The promise of abundant life surpasses any democratic dream of success. Once we are in
Christ
, everything is brighter and more hopeful.

Heav’n above is softer blue,

Earth around is sweeter green!

Something lives in ev’ry hue

Christless eyes have never seen;

Lupinsclose(I Am His And He Is Mine, Wade Robinson)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).

(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright )

I’ll Do It My Way -the terrible harvest of moral relativism

The anthem of western civilization for the last 100 years could well be Frank Sinatra singing, “I did it my way.” Morality has become a matter of preference rather than principle. As the Creator God has been either denied or relegated to the closet of human thought, the Ten Commandments as absolute standards have also been rejected.

Indeed, if madscn1336-1nkind had an impersonal beginning there is no basis for absolute standards of right and wrong. If we are nothing more than an evolved combination of forces and elements, then we must do what our genes tell us to do. Why question any action? Cruelty will occur in some cases and generosity in others and there is no difference. As a result of such thinking, we have fluid and ever-changing ethics. Abortion is justified. Euthanasia will shortly be acceptable. Sex in any combination and situation is promoted. How can rape be defined? How can pornography in a free-speech society be curbed? Gender becomes what I feel I am, male, female, transgender, whatever.

Moral freedom defined by personal preference rules. Hugh Heffner, founder of the Playboy empire who brags about having slept with 1000 women, told the Daily Telegraph “I’m dscn4172a very
ethical guy. I’ve managed to live on the edge. But I’ve done it with a lot of class.”
Without a glimmer of irony, he said, “Moderation is the key.” When individuals like Heffner manipulate morals these ethical choices become nothing more than subjective personal preferences. The results are outrageous.

When Woody Allen was challenged about having an affair with the adopted teenage daughter of his live-in partner, Mia Farrow, he defiantly replied, “The heart wants what the heart wants.”  In other words, his heart’s desire determined what is good and his decision was no one else’s business.

As someone has said concerning letting feelings define sexuality: “Shouldn’t a 16-year-old teen-ager who identifies as a 21-year-old be allowed to purchase alcohol? Shouldn’t a 40-year-old who identifies as a 70-year-old receive social security and get a senior’s discount at the movie theatre? If we are going to identify people by their feelings, doesn’t anything go?”

But is moral relativism really morality at all? If there are no absolute, unchanging standards of right and wrong, why or how can we condemn human cruelty? On what basis can we condemn Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, or ISIS?

These approaches to morality fly in the face of the innate sense among people of all Greece, Parthenoncultures that certain things are right and others wrong. As Scripture declares, [Those] “who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law [of God]…they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness , and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them” (Romans 2:14,15). There are, whatever society might say, absolute, unchanging standards of right and wrong written into the consciences of all mankind and into the fabric of the universe.

Moral relativism has led to the horrific events of the twentieth century and continues to create a harvest of misery in our day. Millions of unborn people continue to be killed. Sexually transmitted diseases continue to thrive. The number of single mothers increases as does the number of fatherless children. Pornography and addictions will surge higher. Wars will increase.

If we are to see the disastrous results of moral relativism curbed, we must re-instate the Ten Commandments personally and socially. What may be impossible in society, without
revival, must at least be the absolute norm in the Church dscn1243-copyand in our Christian families.

We were created in the image of God as moral creatures responsible to him. And we should remember, “As it is appointed onto man once to die, and after that the judgement”.

(Much of this meditation came as a result of re-visiting Francis Schaeffer’s “He Is Not There And He Is Not Silent”.)

(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca –Follow him on Facebook: Eric E Wright; on Twitter: @EricEWright1; on LinkedIn: Eric Wright )