Blog Archive

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"Hunted and Harried" by R M Ballantyne


By Alexander Carse -, Public Domain,

An illegal conventicle. Covenanters in a Glen, painting by Alexander Carse.
I have just finished reading this book by R M Ballantyne.

I have many of R M Ballantyne's novels and indeed I sold a collection of them on Gumtree a couple of years ago.

I thought most of his books were Children's literature and usually with a Christian world view woven into the plots.

This book certainly has a Christian perspective but probably questionable material  for pre teens today.

It tells the story in a part fiction part real life saga of the "Covenanters" period of the struggles in Scotland in the 17th century endured by the Presbyterian Church.

Perhaps Ballantyne's most famous novel was "The Coral Island" which I first read as a pre teenager.

This book is about a period of history I really knew nothing of.

What a terrible "eye opener" .

It's parallels in modern times are probably similar to the recent troubled years of Ireland.

The Signing of the National Covenant in Greyfriars Kirkyard, by William Allan.
By William Allan (1782–1850) - City of Edinburgh Council, Public Domain,

It shows how people of faith,"covenanters" are persecuted by Dragoons on the order of the King of England who was according to history trying to re establish the Papacy in Scotland.

The Covenanters were Presbyterian Evangelical Christians.

They were forced to hold clandestine meetings in houses and open air meetings in secluded places in the countryside.

These were often attended by thousands.

The locations were called Conventicles.

There was a price on certain clergy and lay people's heads.

Many were forced to flee and hide in caves.

The novel graphically follows the lives of a core group of people,mostly fictional, but based on facts.

They are shown interacting with actual historical figures from both sides of the divide.

The treatment given to the Covenanters was totally anti Christian.

The Covenanters were peaceful people but driven to defend themselves and their families.

Eventually the king was overthrown and decrees were drawn up and signed to make sure nothing like what hapenned could ever happen again.

This was not before many years of bloodshed and martyrdom.

you can read the whole book at the link below at project Guttenberg.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Antique Pedal Organ to give away.

I have an antique Estey, American made Pedal Organ to give away.
It works well and is a nice piece of furniture.
A little bit of TLC would make it a feature for the right house.
If someone wants it free of charge and you live in Adelaide and are prepared to pick it up you are welcome to it.
We have had it for about 30 years and it was previously used in a Church.
You might have to be quick.

My phone number is 0417867476 or email

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Great Writers- H. Rider-Haggard

I have recently embarked on a programme of reading some of the books in my collection of classic stories by classic authors.

They tell us that too much "screen" time is really not good from a health perspective especially as you near bedtime.

So now each night I am determining to do some catch up reading.

I am currently reading "She" (She who must be obeyed)  by H Rider-Haggard.

(Finished this. Now reading "Hunted and Harried" by R M Ballanatyne)

When you read some of these books you can see the connection with modern filmaking such as "Indiana Jones" and "Pirates of the Carribean"

Some are books I loved as a young person and some by the authors of those books that I haven't read.

Some authors  in my collection include:

Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island)
Jack London (The call of the Wild)
H Rider-Haggard (King Solomon's Mines)
Rudyard Kipling (The Jungle Books)
R M Ballantyne (The Coral Island)
Jules Verne (Around the World in Eighty Days)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ( Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)
W Somerset Maughan ( Collection of Short Stories)
Charles Dickens (Oliver Twist)
Marcus Clarke (For the Term of his Natural Life)
Rolf Boldrewood (Robbery under Arms)
Robert Ruarck (Uhuru)
Ernest Hemingway (For Whom the Bell Tolls)
Johann Wyss (Swift Family Robinson)
Alexandre Dumas (The Three Musketeers)
Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe)
Sir Walter Scott (Ivanhoe)
Herman Melville (Moby Dick)
Lew Wallace (Ben Hur)
Charles Kingsley (The Water Babies,Westward Ho)
J M Barrie (Peter Pan)
James Fenimore Cooper (The Last of the Mohicans)
Jane Austen (Jane Eyre)

to name a few.

These are all authors I have read some of their most famous stories, but they have a great deal more
on offer than just their best sellers.

 They weren't just one hit wonders.

The  story of "She" is absorbing and very much in the genre of lost cities and tribes,Goddesses and Mummies and the like.

What strikes me about the book is that the writer is so good to paint word pictures that conjure up scenes just as good as any modern day adventure movie that  your imagination  supplies the images in vivid detail.

This is the art of any good novelist really.

In a 1930's movie of "SHE" which you can watch on youtube they have recreated a few scenes quite faithfully but have strayed from a direct retelling of the story.
 It does give you the gist of the story though.
I enjoyed it. 

My Aunty Alma was a keen reader and writer and student of literature.

She was always encouraging me to write.

She told me that any good writer's aim should be to point people to God.

I will write about Aunty Alma in a future post.

From reading Rider Haggard's books and about him on google it is not hard to conclude he was a Christian but had an unhealthy interest in re incarnation( which is not Christian).

There is much Christian or Biblical imagery in his writings and he ponders some of the great questions about faith,creation and existence in the book "She".

There is a scene in the book( I won't spoil it for you) dealing with the meaning of life  where there is a mighty rushing wind and flames of fire.

Evokes images of the day of pentecost.

The fire in this instance is also a purifying fire of Judgement.

Principal anti heroine, Aeysha, is really a very good metaphor for Lucifer which means Angel of Light.

Both amazingly beautiful,beguiling, evil and seductive.

The book really seems to point to a struggle with his faith going on in the mind of the author.

The themes of temptation, forgiveness and revenge and justification of our own sin are truly there.

Haggard would have done better in some ways,in my opinion. to write directly about the great themes of the Bible.

But then these classics of English literature would not have existed.

you can read the whole book on project gutenberg at the link below.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

"World Aflame"

"World Aflame"  That is the name of a book written by Billy Graham in 1965.
It was and is a Prophetic book analysing the world of 1965 and looking at Biblical Prophecy.
If you were to read it now the message is equally as important for today's world.
It is a challenge for Christians and non Christians alike.

Here are the chapter titles.
1.Flames out of Control
2.The Old Immorality
3.Our Psychological Jitters
4.The National Idolatory
5.The Searchers in a Flaming World
6.Who am I?
7.Man's Fatal Disease
8.The Inadequacy of Modern Religion
9. The Incredible Journey
10. How does God speak?
11.The Inescapable Christ
12. God's Foolishness
13. The Day Death Died.
14.The Possibility of the New Man(Woman)
15.How to become a New Man(Woman)
16.The Dynamics of the New Man(Woman)
17.Social Involvement of the New Man(Woman)
18.The Fabulous Future
19. The Distant Trumpet
20. Signs of the End
21. The Coming Judgement
22.The World on Fire
23. The World of Tomorrow

Human Beings have been always on a journey towards an individual destiny.
With or Without Jesus Christ.
The world is also on a collision course with it's end and its new creation.

If you have not examined these big questions don't delay.

I can assure you we are only here for a short while.

Then what?

Here is a link to the book online.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Reviewing your Photography Career

Shot on film, Pentax Super A
I first started taking photos in 1970.
That is apart from maybe one or two rolls of film when I was very young.
I started weddings in 1975, strictly as an amateur and progressed to charging for my work as well as the materials.
I last shot a whole wedding probably about 3 years ago. 

Just lately I have been archiving a lot of my wedding and other photography.
Some of it shot on film, some on both film and digital and some just digital.
It has been an interesting exercise.
Some weddings,where my memory said I probably didn't do too well,
they weren't so bad.
Likewise some were pretty low in overall standard but usually had some good thrown in with the bad.
Enough to save the day.
By today's standards, and if I was critically honest with myself, overall I would give myself an average score of 6 out of 10.

In the latter years with the benefits of digital capture I probably progressed to about 8 out of 10.

As far as what I have learnt over the journey there has been heaps.

Mastering film shooting and manually setting cameras.

Using an incident light meter.

Using bounce flash and fill flash.

Creative posing of people as couples,singly and in groups.

Shot on digital. Canon 400D

Interacting with customers and people.

Working out a timetable system that works on a wedding day.

The business side of photography.

Mastering digital photography and the necessary post processing.

If you want to learn some of the things I have learnt in more detail then visit my youtube channel and pick out the posts in particular on wedding photography.

I am available for teaching 1:1 or in small groups.

These posts are sourced from my course in Wedding Photography that I have taught to many over the years.

Also there are similar posts on this blog and my photography blogs if you search the archives.

What would I have done differently in hindsight?

1. Possibly used better lenses and cameras.
2. Improved my photography and charged more.
3. Not given away negatives which I did for some time.
4.Supplied more upmarket albums with my packages.

Looking back I think my decision a couple of times to stay part time and continue my day job was a wise thing. The desire is to be totally self supported by photography but that is a very hard gig if you have a family to support.

Shot on film. Pentax MZs

Minolta light meter 1VF, Pentax MZs, Metz 45CL3, Quantum Battery 2 power pack.Nat Rogers photographer.
Shot on film.   Pentax MZs

Wedding Photography while demanding is a fun thing when you have got to a certain level.

As the light fades a well earned cup of coffee.Pentax *istD. These bottom 2 pics by Nat Rogers

Monday, May 29, 2017

"Stealers of Sound"

"Stealers of Sound" sounds like a copyright issue over a pop song or illegal pirating of music.

Well the birds have been doing this for centuries apparently.

"Stealers of Sound" is a chapter in a book by the late A H(Alec) Chisholm , one of Australia's best earlier writers on birds and natural history.

The book is called "Bird Wonders" of Australia.

I have two editions.  1953(second edition), and 1952(fifth edition).

I am sure you can still pick these up in used book shops.

The chapter on this topic is talking about birds who mimic the calls of other birds.

The most well known in Australia is the Lyre Bird but many others do the same.

Chisholm wrote a wonderful book called "The Romance of the Lyrebird" where the habits and details of this bird are brilliantly written,.

Also I have written on this blog about "The Lore of the Lyrebird" by Ambrose Pratt.

The Mocking Bird overseas is famous for it's mimicry also and many other overseas birds do the same.

So here are some "stealers" that Chisholm talks about.

At the time of writing his 5th edition he claims that there were no fewer than 52 species in Australia that do this.

Below are some he mentions in the book.

The Lyrebird
The Spotted Bower Bird
The Golden Bower Bird and he says 8 species that construct bowers or "playing places" have the gift of mimicry.
The Toothbilled Catbird
Male Mistetoebird
Brown Thornbill
Yellow Throated Scrubwren
Rufous Scrub-bird
Olive-backed Oriole
Pied Butcher Bird
Starling(not a native bird)

I googled the subject of "Australian Birds that mimic others" and came up with the link below which also aludes to Chisholm's work.

Some more information can be found there.

For me, I like trying to imitate bird calls, my favourite being the Kookaburra.

I was photographing one in a park recently and I decided to do a mock call so he would turn his head and I would get a better shot.

It worked!

Alec Chisholm says the Kookaburra, in the early days of Australian settlement was called the "Giant Kingfisher" and then became the "Laughing Jackass" and the "Settlers Clock".  "Kookaburra" became its widely accepted name from an Aboriginal language.
Chisholm gives 45 other Aboriginal names used by different tribes for the same bird.
He says that is not an exhaustive list.

If you want to just listen to beautiful sounds of Australian Birds go to "Listening Earth"

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Old Film Bonanza- What to do!

I have just today received from my friend Terry a couple of plastic bags full of film and film containers.
Some years ago he used to do portraits of kids, pictures of show jumping horses amongst other things.
He told me he got interested in photography while still at school.
He set up a home darkroom and used to sell prints he developed and printed himself.
He specialised in black and white and used to also buy film in bulk and load it himself into whatever length he wanted.
His cameras of choice were an Mamiya RB67 and Mamiya TLR.
Some of these films are more than 30 years old.
They have been refrigerated until 4 days ago.
So my challenge now is WHAT TO DO WITH THEM!
So looks like a project coming on.
I can see  me loading them up and trying a variety of stuff.
But all my projects have a slow time span so you might see some results here when I have done something with them.

Watch this space.

If anyone can think of a good project for me let me know.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Whatever happened to Evangelism? A challenge for young Christians and not so young.

A Churches of Christ Tent Mission from way back. I think these were conducted by E C Henriksen.Note the blackboard at the front with clear instructions on salvation

I became a Christian in 1974.

My wife and I were a product of the "Jesus" revolution of the 1970's.

The signature symbol  of the movement was the one way logo with the hand with index finger pointed to the sky.
My wife became a Christian about 3 years before I did.

There was a world wide movement of God's Holy Spirit reaching out to young people fresh from the 60's cultural revolution.

There was a lot of rebellion in that time world wide. Check the stuff online.

There started to be a revival around the world that was complemented by a thriving Christian Music Industry and dynamic Preachers and Evangelists and testimonies of many people, some pop celebrities, telling how they had found Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

The paraphrased "Living Bible", which put the Bible in today's language, was a major tool in this movement.
I still find it my main "go to" Bible.

The Gospel was very enticing and  proposed without fear or favour.

Paul Stukey of Peter Paul and Mary became a Christian when a young "Jesus Freak" aproached him backstage at a concert and boldy presented him with the Gospel. Apparently Paul had been searching for answers prior to this happening.
Barry Maguire the famous singer of the Protest Era anthem ,"The Eve of Destruction" became a Christian.
He this day seems to still be a Christian but like many  he has changed his views on some things along the way.

He featured in a very popular Gospel Musical  called "the Witness".
My wife sang in the choir in an Adelaide production of this.

Keith Green, Christian Musician and Evangelist, a little bit further along the continuum, became a huge influence.
He made his albums of Gospel music free if you couldn't afford the price and his concerts had huge attendances and a strong challenge for Christian Commitment.
He met an untimely death aged 28 in a plane crash. 

To "witness", to tell of your faith and what Jesus had done for you and what was possible for your "witnessee" was the norm for new Christians in the evangelical tradition.
We were trained in how to do this and the booklet "The Four Spiritual Laws" produced by Campus Crusade for Christ was widely used.
In fact when I became a Christian my Pastor used it to help summarise for me what I was doing the night I responded to the Gospel invitation after an evening service.

I have seen many people both "famous" and "nobodies" along the journey profess Jesus as their saviour.
Sadly some fall by the wayside which is a "normal" happening when you take into consideration the parable of the sower.

These days, in the city of Adelaide,South Australia, I see little evidence of a vibrant Christian movement in our Churches.

Perhaps I don't get out much.

There have been many great revivals over the years but there seems to be a lack of anything like revival in these times.

People seem to have lost sight of the Power of The Cross of Christ and instead water the Gospel down with all sorts of promises of experiences and "connecting " with God.

We hardly connect with each other let alone God.

My wife and I and others were fortunate to be exposed to some very balanced and Biblical teaching.

What seems to be lacking today is for example:

1.  a spirit of discernment. The whole idea of if you stand for nothing you fall for anything seems to be well and truly operating.

2. A thorough Biblical understanding of the Christian conversion process and progression from there.

3. An accurate theology on the Holy Spirit and the Gifts of the Spirit.

4. The recognition of who the Christian's enemy is and the weapons God has given us to combat the enemy.

5. The need to preach the Cross only and to recognise that when you do that people are confronted with Jesus.

6. An understanding of the three most important things. The Book, The Blood and The Blessed Hope.

I have been going back through some of the writings of some of my predecessors in the denomination in which I have hung my hat.

One of our mottos was we are not the only Christians but Christians only.

A good motto I think.

About 130 or more years ago Adelaide people had a hunger for the Gospel.

Gospel Meetings were attended by large crowds.

See this written account by HS Earl who was a visiting Evangelist from America called to Australia by the Churches of Christ.

this was in 1866.

Editors of British Harbinger.--
      The past month has been one of unusual interest; indeed it stands without a parallel in the history of the cause we plead, or any other religious body, in Australia. Our audiences have been overwhelming, the interest most solemn and profound, and the results most soul-inspiring. Last Lord's day, August 26, I preached in the New Town Hall to the largest audience ever congregated for religious purposes in South Australia. It is estimated by the press and others, that upwards of 2,200 were present, and more than 500 were unable to gain admittance. All available space was occupied, and hundreds stood during the whole service. The most marked attention was given by this vast assemblage, and a profound interest prevailed. All classes and creeds were represented--The Mayor of the city, Councilors, Members of Parliament, Ministers, Lawyers, Doctors, Merchants, Artisans, and Mechanics--Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians, Congregationalists, Universalists, &c. At the close of the discourse several persons confessed their faith in Christ. Last week I baptized the largest number of persons ever baptized at one time in South Australia, and the meeting was one of intense interest. During the past month no less than forty-three persons "have been baptized into Christ" and added to the Church of Christ, and several others have confessed their faith in Christ, and will be "buried with him in baptism" to-night, (D.V.) Thus the cause of "Pure Christianity" is advancing most gloriously in South Australia, and would soon occupy the foremost rank in power and influence, if we could only get several able and devoted Evangelists in the field. The Brethren are very anxious to hear that the Evangelist sent for from America is on his way hither. We sincerely hope there will be no delay. Now is the time he is specially needed here, as also the one sent for for Victoria. "The harvest truly is plenteous but the labourers are few.
H. S. EARL,  "

People waiting to hear the Gospel

Indeed the labourers are few.

You might say today's citizens of Adelaide are a lot more "sophisticated" than the people of that day.

Mores the pity.

We think we have made progress with our technology, out theories of evolution, our anything goes type of society.

Our so called "wisdom" is our downfall.

We have been caught like frogs in "the boiling frog" analogy.

As the Apostle Paul puts it.:

1 Corinthians 1

Christ Crucified Is God’s Power and Wisdom

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[a]
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Young person or older person will you become a "fool" for God?

"For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength."

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"Listening Earth"-New Venture

"Listening Earth" is my favourite place to listen to and buy the sounds of nature.

Andrew Skeoch and Sara Koschak have now ventured into free online streaming.

This is a wonderful gesture by them in promoting wild life conservation.

I recommend you have a listen and purchase a few recordings to help the cause.

Geoff Thompson

Friday, May 19, 2017

Hair-Not the Musical. Not the soft stuff on top.

"Hair" was a popular musical back in the 70's.

It was groundbreaking with great music.

But this is not about that.

When our kids were young we used to pray with all three of them at bedtime.

They were all in the same room.

We were asking them to pray in particular giving thanks for something.

Our eldest son said he would give thanks for his hair.

We said why?

The answer: "Because some people don't have any"

Well this is not about Hair literally.

There are people in our lives who sometimes we wish would "get out of our hair".


Well Roland Brown wrote a wonderful little instruction for those of us who struggle with this.

Here it is.


1. See the sin in yourself.
Criticism. Faultfinding.Hardness.

Any wrong or un-Christian attitudes.

Confess.  Repent.  Ask for forgiveness.

2. List all their good points.

       See these when you think of them.

3. Don't ask for them to be changed.

       (inevitably we will ask them to be changed into what we want them to be.)

4. Set them free.      Don't bind their sin - or our feelings- or our judgements
                                 or our condemnations on to them.

5. Presume they too love Jesus.
     We have no right think otherwise.

      Pray three times a day:

         a.  Pray in love.

         b. Shoot flash prayers up to God for them.

         c. See them loving and responding to Jesus

6. Thank Jesus for them.

Do this for eight weeks and one of three things will happen:

    1. You will change.

    2. They will change

    3.  The situation will change.

There you have it.

A proposition to practice Christian love.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

"The Seal of God" reprinted and now available

I received this email today from our friend Trish.
It is self explanatory.
This book,The Seal of God, is a locally authored,South Australian book that talks and teaches on the marvels of God's creation.

The late Eric Finck was an elder emeritus at our church in my formative Christian years.
A wonderful wise Christian. 

"As promised (a long time ago) we are now advising that we have “hot off the press” a new edition of The Seal of God, which has been unavailable for some time. I am so thankful to God for all of David’s help to my sister, Fran and I, in enabling the promise we made to our Dad (Eric Finck) to make sure it was once again reprinted. Please rejoice with us and pray that God opens door of opportunity to once again distribute it to His glory.

A quick update.  In 1945, Cyril Payne (FC Payne) wrote the book “The Seal of God in Creation and the Word”.  In 1972, he passed the baton to Eric Finck to continue to update and distribute it.  He revised the book keeping much of Cyril’s content and adding more.

Over 230,000 copies have been distributed worldwide from Australia. Further to that, others have published and distributed the book in specific regions. We have now released the latest revision of the book. This 2012 Edition is now available (with more new content) by contacting my son David Dennis by email: or me by phone. It costs $10 a single copy including postage and you can pay for the book through Paypal on his web site.

The focus of the book is to make it very clear, that there is a God and He has shown Himself and His purpose for us in everything around us.  We simply need to open our eyes to Him. We trust that through its distribution people will to come to know God.  If you would like to add this book to your collection, we would be pleased to hear from you.

For any further enquiries, please contact David or myself.

Trish Lear"

Below is a link to my post about Eric's passing and funeral service.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Overcoming Agrophobia-The Agrophobic traveller.

I have never suffered from Agrophobia but I have known some people who did.
Those particular people managed to negotiate around it in time.
Here is a link to a young woman who has a very interesting approach.

Jacqui Kenny speaks about it on this video clip which I found on F Stoppers..

Sunday, April 30, 2017

"The Kiwi's Egg" -a review of sorts.

Inside Museum at Adelaide Botanic Gardens. Many specimens. Darwin was great collector of specimens.

I have recently finished reading the book "the Kiwi's Egg" by David Quammen about the life of Charles Darwin and the events leading up to his publishing his most well known book on the Origin of Species.
It paints a picture of Darwin in a much more personable way than I had been aware of before.

Very well written and lots of interesting information about Darwin's personal life and his seemingly troubled mind regarding when to publish his ideas to the scientific world of the time.

The book also reveals the outline of a classic star crossed lovers theme.

His wife Emma did not agree with his theories that took away the reality of God as Creator of all things.

They knew that they had this difference of opinion before they were married and virtually agreed to disagree because of their love for each other.

Darwin had initially been a student of theology.

He remained involved in his parish for some years but as an agnostic so it seems . Not an atheiest. 

They had many children and suffered loss of children due to the lack of medical knowledge prevailing at the time.

It reveals his painstaking efforts to research thoroughly his theories before publishing, wanting to make sure he had answered all the objections.

It seems to me also that he had people in high places who had vested interest in him publishing his work in time to not be upstaged by his much younger rival Alfred Wallace who was coming to similar conclusions to Darwin about Evolution.

There was a contrived meeting and presenting of papers by Darwin and Wallace before the Linnean Society as Darwin's advisors were seemingly worried that Wallace, a much less credentialled nobody, was going to beat him to the punch.

The Linnean society was a body representing the top Scientists/Naturalists of their day.

It still exists today.

Wallace was not present at the time and this book suggests he didn't know about the presentation which did not include  Darwin's complete ideas, just an outline or suggestion  of things to come.

According to the author this night seemed to cause very little reaction among the establishment.

The book does show that then as now there was a  battle going on between Creationists and Evolutionists.

I  found nothing in the book that even slightly veered me away from my position as a believer in God's special creation.

I found the author's style quite refreshing in that he did not ,as some do, try to belittle the creationist viewpoint and showed clearly the personal struggles Darwin was going through.

I find this book a good companion to my copy of "the Voyage of the Beagle" which I find is a fascinating book.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sunday-Parkrose United Congregation 16/4/17

This Easter Sunday I once again had the privilege of leading the worship service at the Parkrose United Congregation.
This is an outline of the message I gave.
On Friday we followed the scriptures of the events leading up to and the actual crucifixion of Jesus.
The Last Supper, the agony in the Garden of Gethsemene,the betrayal by Judas, the trial before Pontius Pilate and the horror of the Crucifixion.
“and darkness fell across the whole land[b] for three hours, until three o’clock. 45 The light from the sun was gone—and suddenly[c] the thick veil hanging in the Temple split apart.
46 Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I commit my spirit to you,” and with those words he died.”
Then there followed some strange things happening in the weather and many people rising from the dead.
The curtain in the Holy of Holies in the temple being rent, torn from top to bottom.
And so we come to Easter Sunday.
What happened next?
A day of celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus.
Jesus was taken down off the cross and was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Amirithea.
He was a member of the Sanhedrin who was not present at the vote by his fellow clergy to have Jesus done away with.
He obviously had a high regard for Jesus.
Jesus rose from his grave clothes from within the tomb that was sealed by a massive rock.
No one saw this happen.
It has been said that resurrection power is very quiet.
The rock was later found to have been rolled away and there was no one inside.
The guards who had been placed there were totally baffled.
Then we have accounts of those first at the tomb to discover Jesus was missing.
The core of the story is the same in all the Gospels.
The tomb is visited by a small group of women followers early on the Sunday morning following the crucifixion, and they find the tomb is empty.
They see a vision of Angels saying the tomb is empty.
Then there is a steady stream of witnesses to the fact that Jesus is alive recorded until the time of His ascension into Heaven.
He appeared to the two on the Emmaeus road, to Peter, to James,to all the apostles and the Apostle Paul and the a group of 500 of His followers all at once.
Many witnesses.
The resurrection has indeed happened and did happen.
People might say that it is medically impossible to rise from the dead.
To us from a human standpoint , a medical standpoint, that might be logical but we are not talking here  about our limit of human knowledge in the world of the flesh.
We are talking here about the power of Almighty God for whom nothing is impossible.
I have a friend who is intrigued by Faith and Jesus and the Christian story.
He brings Christianity into our conversations up every now and then, indicating to me that God is speaking to him,
 as he does to so many.
Many people hear the call of God but few choose to follow His voice.
My friend says he can’t believe what he can’t see.
“Unless I can shake His hand I can’t believe!”
Yet for all of us who are Christians this is not a stumbling block!
Why are we so convinced that Jesus is real?
That He is alive today?
That He can speak to us through scripture,(the Bible)?
That He can speak to us through our minds,
That He can speak to our spirit by His Holy Spirit?
That He can speak to us through prayer and we can speak to Him?
That He can speak to us through life’s circumstances?
That He can speak to us through a sermon?
A Christian Book?
Another Christian?
And the list can go on.
For many of us,
 as Christians,
 this is all true,
Not withstanding that at times we have doubts.
We wonder whether it is all real sometimes,
 usually when we are feeling a bit depressed
 or challenged by current circumstances.
There is no doubt that Jesus lived and breathed and walked this earth.
There is no doubt that Jesus was crucified on a cross.
These facts when scrutinised by un biased historians are found to be true.
The stumbling block for many is when it comes to the resurrection.
Our whole basis for faith in Jesus rests on this truth.
Rests on this as fact.
Any other means of us having a basis for faith could well be figments of our imagination.
Without the resurrection of Jesus and our promise of life after death through Him our faith is not going to do too much for us.
Some people think that if we are good and well behaved that’s as much Christian Faith as we need.
Being good of course is a wonderful virtue and can make us feel good and others, but without the resurrection it is just a way of living and not much else.
Some people like my friend,
and ,
like some of the frightened apostles when he appeared to them,
 say they need to touch His hands.
To know Him and Trust Him?
Our reading today says this:
“38 “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why do you doubt that it is really I? 39 Look at my hands! Look at my feet! You can see that it is I, myself! Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost! For ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do!” 40 As he spoke, he held out his hands for them to see the marks of the nails,[a] and showed them the wounds in* his feet.
41 Still they stood there undecided, filled with joy and doubt.”
“Undecided, filled with Joy and Doubt.”
And yet they had Him there in front of them!
Isn’t that a good description of how we are lots of times as we live out our Christian lives.
filled with Joy,
 and Doubt.”
There are many people who try to say the resurrection didn’t happen,
That someone stole His body,
That He did not really die,
He just swooned!
We don’t have the time today to go through the reasons,  why the resurrection did happen,
 or examine the overwhelming circumstantial evidence,
and what about the eyewitness accounts of all who saw Him after He had risen..
and the fact that a band of defeated Apostles turned the whole world upside down, as we read in the Book of Acts!
You would hardly think if Jesus had not risen they would have put their lives so much  at risk.
Some times, as we become Christians we do experience emotions and feelings similar to what the two on the emmaeus road felt.
“32 They began telling each other how their hearts had felt strangely warm as he talked with them and explained the Scriptures during the walk down the road.”
We might, or we might not have a warm and “fuzzy” experience when we encounter Jesus, but either way,
do we need to be able to see His hands before we will believe?
I think not!
The reason we don’t need to see His hands is that on the day of Pentecost as Jesus had promised the Apostles, He sent the Holy Spirit to be made available to live in the hearts and minds and spirits of all who put their trust in Him.
It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the assurance that all the promises of God are true.
We can’t see Him but we can see the evidence of his presence and work.
The Bible gives us the analogy that the Holy Spirit is like the wind.
We can’t actually see the wind but we can see where it is blowing.
So as we conclude our Easter celebration, let us be jubilant that the Lord indeed has risen.
That He lives today.
In us and His Church.

 Order of Service

Welcome and Call to worship
Hymn: 159  “Glory to God”
Announcements: Barrie
Bible Reading:  Luke 24:35-49
Hymn:  “There is a redeemer”
Communion: Geoff
Offering and Church Prayer
Hymn: 156 “Thine is the Glory”
Sermon:     “Do we need to see His hands?”
Hymn: 160 “The day of resurrection” Plus “He Lives”
Benediction and vesper

Bible Reading

Luke 24:35-49

35 Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread.

36 And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them, and greeted them. 37 But the whole group was terribly frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost!
38 “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why do you doubt that it is really I? 39 Look at my hands! Look at my feet! You can see that it is I, myself! Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost! For ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do!” 40 As he spoke, he held out his hands for them to see the marks of the nails,[b] and showed them the wounds in* his feet.
41 Still they stood there undecided, filled with joy and doubt.
Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”
42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he ate it as they watched!
44 Then he said, “When I was with you before, don’t you remember my telling you that everything written about me by Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must all come true?” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand at last these many Scriptures! 46 And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah must suffer and die and rise again from the dead on the third day; 47 and that this message of salvation should be taken from Jerusalem to all the nations: There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me. 48 You have seen these prophecies come true.
49 “And now I will send the Holy Spirit[c] upon you, just as my Father promised. Don’t begin telling others yet—stay here in the city until* the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”



Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday Parkrose United Congregation 14/4/17 Geoff Thompson

This is the communion address I shared with the Parkrose Congregation this Good Friday.

 The first communion, as we practice it today, came into being at the Last Supper Jesus had with His disciples prior to heading off to the Mt of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemene, and His trial before Pilate and then His crucifixion;
His death on the cross.
At the supper with the 12 disciples,
Jesus broke the bread apart.
 (as we will read in a minute,)
We can wonder even then was He feeling as He broke it, as it crumbled, as it was torn apart, 
“is this what is going to happen to my actual body?”
He may have been thinking and asking His heavenly Father is there another way that you can bring your people, mankind, back into a right relationship with you.
He knew also His father would not be there to comfort Him and make the pain go away as He hung dying on the Cross.
He knew His Heavenly Father loved the world and everyone in it so much that He was willing to sacrifice His only Son for the purpose of redemption from Sin.
For each one of us.
We read also that when Jesus and the disciples(now 11 as Judas had gone off to betray Him) were in the Garden of Gethesemene that
“41-42 He walked away, perhaps a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed this prayer: “Father, if you are willing, please take away this cup of horror from me. But I want your will, not mine.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him, 44 for he was in such agony of spirit that he broke into a sweat of blood, with great drops falling to the ground as he prayed more and more earnestly.”
The problem Jesus had was that for this sacrifice to be valid was that  He had to die as a man, totally human with all the physical pain and emotional and spiritual pain they we are all subject to.
He had to die as a human being with all the sin of each person becoming as if He had committed that sin.
Manifesting itself in Him.
He had to die in our place.
He took all our guilt on Himself.
He could have called on all the Angels to rescue Him but He had to resist that temptation.
He knew that He would not be able to be comforted  and strengthened by even one angel,

 as He was in the garden ,

as He sweated great drops of blood in anguish.

So we read this:

Matthew 26:26-30Living Bible

 26 As they were eating, Jesus took a small loaf of bread and blessed it and broke it apart and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take it and eat it, for this is my body.”

27 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks for it and gave it to them and said, “Each one drink from it, 28 for this is my blood, sealing the new covenant. It is poured out to forgive the sins of multitudes. 29 Mark my words—I will not drink this wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”
30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives."
So let us remember as we give thanks for this bread and the cup why we take it.
We do so in memory of what Jesus has done for us ,
and any who will receive Him,
and we give thanks that our Heavenly Father would allow His son to go through such agony,
 and that Jesus was willing to obey.