Thursday, 18 August 2016

Was Margaret Thatcher an Anti Christ?

This is certainly something that all Christians will have to think about, sooner or later. I don’t really mean thinking about Mrs Thatcher, I mean all this stuff about the Beast and antichrists and all that malarkey. Partly because I think it is obvious that we are in the End Times, although some may disagree, and also partly because Revelations in the Bible seems to be a very misunderstood book, and also one that has been often completely misinterpreted throughout history and also in recent times, too. It seems that it is so easy to misinterpret, or so hard to understand that I sense many Christians really don’t want to read it or really be bothered with it, which is a shame. I think it is one of the key books of the whole Bible, and probably pulls the whole story from the very beginning right to the very end. Stark and brooding indeed.


Now, I have to admit something. I wasn’t the greatest fan of Mrs Thatcher if I am being perfectly honest. I’m not alone in that view. I don’t think she was a particularly loveable woman, even though she definitely had strength, charisma, drive and was very principled, though many of us felt that all her principles were wrong. Way out of kilter. You can hold very deeply held principles after all, but they can still be completely wrong very deeply held principles. Abroad she was seen as a very strong politician, just like Gorbachev was seen as a very strong politician the further he was from Russia. But in Britain Mrs Thatcher was seen as either divisive, vindictive, prejudiced against working class people and their solidarity, determined to push through neo liberal economic ‘free market’ policies and abandon any kinds of social checks and balances that kept British, but particularly English, democracy fairly balanced and reasonably equitable, or she was seen as progressive, forward thinking and a necessary catalyst for change in a backward and stagnant economy. I think of her in the same vein as Elizabeth the 1st, or Cecil Rhodes, or Oliver Cromwell and strong people like that, empire builders and great generals, people who are often seen more fondly or looked at a little more wistfully with the obvious hindsight of history and the sharp edges smoothed off. But, does that make her an anti Christ? And, just what exactly is an anti Christ when she or he’s at home anyway?




What does the Bible say?  15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 18Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.  (1 John 2:15-19)


I believe that the key word firstly is antichrists and not some one individual antichrist. This is often where people who haven’t really read the Bible, nor studied or prayed about what they have read make mistakes and then make false assumptions thereon about what they have read, or what they think they have read, and then of course the utter confusion of so many different people claiming to know what this means or that means in the Bible, particularly when it comes to End Times theology. A veritable industry has grown up around this in America, and I have  heard about some of it, regarding the rapture, although admittedly I haven’t read any of the books doing the rounds. I do believe that if we as Christians want to understand Revelations and all the End Times theology, we need to read it without prejudices of what we may have heard outside the Bible, even if claiming to be biblical, and we need to pray about it and study it with an open but also focussed mind. God wants to reveal something to us.




Why do I think Margaret Thatcher was an antichrist? Because she presented herself in an almost quasi religious light when the Conservative party was voted in, in 1979 and quoted Francis of Assisi’s famous prayer, ‘Where there is discord may we bring harmony...’ etc. To many, she seemed to bring the exact opposite of what the prayer was. And, she was a ‘devout Methodist’ or certainly claimed to be. What exactly is an antichrist and what would an antichrist do, and/or represent? I think that an antichrist would be a counterfeit messiah, not necessarily someone pretending to be Jesus, although that has happened and may happen again, but someone who comes along promising complete solutions to all the problems at a particular time. In recent history, we saw this with Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Franco particularly, men who came along with a religious zeal promising either to change everything radically, or to uphold what they claimed was law and order, or a bit of both. What happened in those cases many of us know only too well. Their religious zeal, combined with dreadful Machiavellian political machinations caused more death and suffering and atrocities in such a short space than at any time in history. Hitler was actually believed by some to be a German messiah sent by God and was worshipped by some children as a god. I’m sure that many more didn’t believe he was literally a messiah, but millions of Germans believed that he was the answer to their woeful economic and social problems. This I feel is one of the major aspects of an antichrist, someone who seems to offer perfect or radical political solutions in desperate or extreme times, that some people feel uneasy about but many others find irresistible because of what they say or how they say it.


I am a Christian, as some of you may have noticed. I have no doubt that antichrists have been part and parcel of the world since Jesus came to earth and have been with us in the form of political leaders, ‘religious’ leaders, military leaders and many other powerful figures that hold sway over others. I think this means that whatever politics we hold, and whatever our views about current local, national and international events, we have to be careful about who we place our faith or solutions in that seem too good to be true. If they seem too good to be true, they almost certainly are too good to be true. I read in a Christian book recently that as Christians we should not actively partake in politics but remain spectators, which is something I really need to take on board. I do get too involved sometimes and I actively get angry at the injustice meted out to poor people and people who are already struggling whilst political and wealthy elites make more and more. As Christians, we know that the whole social, economic, political and religious system in the world is fallen and deeply flawed, and only works in a dysfunctional manner at best, and utterly chaotically at worst for the majority of people. There is enough money, resources and know how in the world to ensure everyone could work and eat, but the world system operates on a very selfish basis for a relative few, those small political, economic, political and even religious elites who claim to be acting in the interests of everyone else, but seem time and time again to make themselves wealthy and make laws, rules, regulations and political decisions that benefit the few over the many. This should come as no surprise to we who are Christians.  1 You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. 2 For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them!  (2 Timothy 3:1-5)


We know, as Christians, that the world is in the power of ‘the enemy’ so we have to hold on to God and His promises and we have to be obedient to God, not the whims of the world or our passions or faulty ideals, nor fear the future or worry about whatever negative circumstances we presently live in. We have a mighty God that can deliver us from all evil and suffering and seeming inevitable harsh realities. Just have faith. I say again, just have faith.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Far Off the Beaten Track...


The United Kingdom is quite small. I think that, even including the Republic of Ireland, which is not part of the U.K., the British Isles as a whole is about 100,000 square miles, which compared to the U.S. and Australia and India, and many other countries, is quite small. Consider as well that there are over 60 million people in the British Isles, too, and that’s a lot of people in a relatively small place. You would think then that we would be very overcrowded, but that is not really true at all. London is by far the biggest city in the British Isles, by geographic size and population, and then Birmingham, probably followed by many other similar sized cities like Manchester, Dublin, Newcastle, Liverpool, Glasgow and others, which though also varying in size and population with each other, tend to hold similar sway over the surrounding areas where they are. But once out of the cities and towns, there is a whole world that is very different. In England alone, about 88% of the population live on just over 12% of the land, which is incredible really. That means that there is a lot of land to explore, a lot of small towns and villages that even very few British people are really aware of, especially city dwellers like me. British cities definitely have a different feel from each other, and of course we all have different accents too, which seems to come as a bit of a surprise to many people around the world, even some Americans! But cities do have a tendency to start looking similar, the McDonalds, the Costa, the Caffe Nero, the expensive shopping area, the damn near impossible task to find a parking space, and so on pushing out any real regional identity in the process. But that’s another story.

 


I know that when I am stressed out or feeling under a lot of pressure, my default attitude is to want to disappear over the horizon to some lonely place far off the beaten track, and I suppose lots of people these days want to do the same with the stresses and strains of modern life, and the struggle with money and finding a job and settling down, and other things we all struggle with now and again. It’s more than a pipe dream, but always tinged with some kind of sadness or maybe more a sense of desperation. It may also be that I haven’t done a lot of exploring my own country and I have never actually gone camping in my life, either. But it is more than that, a whole lot more. We all get dissatisfied with our lives sometimes, and even when we have all we need and even all we want, it isn’t enough to satisfy. There is a sense of desperation in being two steps from real poverty, which I am not by the way, but there is also spiritual malaise in having everything in a material sense and still feeling empty inside. I have a dream of living in remote and sparsely populated North Wales, in a nice wooded area in a nice little caravan near hills and small mountains, where when it is night I can get to the highest point and see nothing but darkness with maybe the lights of a very small town or village dotted here and there far off on the horizon, but not too near. I realise that it is merely me wanting to run away from myself, and that will never happen. In some respects, I have been living in that mentality for many years. I felt a failure, everything I seemed to do either failed or didn’t seem to work out, and so for a long time I have dreaded every day and dreaded the future. I am also one of those people who need some kind of routine, but who also gets bored to some degree with routine and knowing where I will be on a particular day. For me, my Christian walk is and has to be on a daily basis. And, believe me, only the Lord can really deal with my moods. But what I like to do is take off for the day sometimes and walk somewhere like a lonely beach, or a country path, and I do take holidays in North Wales, which is very different from the city I live in. Beautiful small towns, often churches from the mediaeval period which have interiors from many eras, castles everywhere, nice pubs, loads of reasonably priced cafes, a great public transport system, lots of things to see and do, and you are never far from magnificent and isolated unspoilt countryside, where you can roam physically and also let your mind wander too. I could work for the North Welsh Tourist Board, I’m that passionate about North Wales, but they don’t need anyone really as they are very good at promoting North Wales anyway.




I need my space sometimes. I need to walk along empty and lonely beaches and see the rocks strewn here and there and the sound of birds looking for food among the shallow pools left behind when the tide has gone out. I need to walk along country lanes or lonely wooded areas surrounded by farmland and little villages with old churches complete with the classic spire far in the distance, set in gently rolling countryside, with birds singing gently and the odd insect buzzing here and there. It’s also that I can experience God alone and away from everything and everyone I know. It’s just me and Him. I believe that sometimes it is good to get away from all the things that are your normal routine, time and circumstances permitting of course, and being on your own, or just you and God. His Creation is magnificent and many of us certainly do not reflect on that anywhere near as much as we could or should. I love cities and all the amenities and shops and things we take for granted, but I thank God that even in the relatively small set of islands I find myself in there are thousands of square miles of beautiful, often remote and definitely unspoiled countryside filled with great things to see and do, and particularly long and interesting histories, with the odd dot of old blood here and there, and most of all places to walk for miles in tree laden hills, woods, little rivers, valleys and greenery at every turn.




I have been going ‘through the mill’ in the last couple of years with bouts of unemployment, bouts of depression here and there, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) for the last 15 years, which got really bad at the start of 2016 and has caused me so many physical and emotional problems. The only good thing that has come out of it is that I am focussing a lot more on God now, and I am in the process of asking for and being healed from the awful CFS I have. I wouldn’t wish CFS on any human being, as it is a raft of symptoms that includes muscle aches and pains, physical tiredness, headaches, stomach problems, neuralgic pain in various places, feeling distracted and agitated, ‘brain fog’ or memory problems and inability to concentrate and other things, with the icing on the cake for me being a problem with sleeping which can exacerbate everything else. In all of this, I have had to call on God in great despair and frustration at illness that comes and goes, and I have simply asked God, and I always speak to Him in the most normal and intimate way as if He is my ‘best mate’, because He is I suppose. At one point, a few days ago of this writing, I felt so physically and indescribably awful that all I could do was crawl to God on my knees and I sat before Him begging, pleading and just asking Him to heal me of this. I was there for 45 minutes or so, and I also asked Him what the illness was about, and even if He wouldn’t heal me, then why not. The worst of it lifted from me. I am not completely healed as of yet, and I understand that God is taking me through a healing process. I also know someone in my hometown who is a pastor who was healed over a period of 18 months from CFS, and he had it much worse than me. Before he was healed he was walking around, well hobbling, on a walking stick and was suffering other complications as I have. Now, he is completely cured and preaches the Gospel in our area and all over the world. God has the power to heal ALL ailments, physical and mental, but we have to dig into our faith, and that means making time for God. Got it? Good.  




6 Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.’ (Isaiah 55:6-7)

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Don’t be Afraid to Fail


What???!! Are YOU MaD, I hear you all shouting at the screen!!! Well, you there half reading, whilst watching some rubbish on daytime TV and the cat half arsedly chase a fly ....

 

No, I’m not mad. If you are afraid to fail, you will never really succeed after all. We put such emphasis on success and winning, competing and outdoing others, and little on the real chance of failure. But people fail every day. Do those people who fail just disappear in a cloud of embarrassment? I doubt it, not if they want to succeed in the end, they don’t. No, all people who move onward and upward have tasted the bitterness of failure. In fact, how can anyone really succeed if there wasn’t indeed the reality of failure itself?

 

Like many Europeans, and probably many other people throughout the world, I watched the recent Euro 2016 football (soccer) tournament and enjoyed it immensely, apart from England being knocked out by Iceland. Yeah, I know. Ahem. Anyway, for us Brits, we had four teams from these isles who qualified for the tournament (Scotland didn’t qualify): England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, so those not too nationalistic were spoilt for choice really. I have mostly Irish and some Welsh ancestry, but am also English born, so I could happily support all four teams, in a sliding scale. When England was knocked out, and the Irish teams weren’t doing so well, I decided to support the Wales national team, and fair play to them, they did really well. One of their secret weapons is the world’s most expensive footballer and one of the most talented and exciting to his credit, Gareth Bale, who plays for Real Madrid in Spain usually. He is a really exciting player, and helped push the Welsh national team to the semi finals, only getting stopped in their tracks by a 2-0 defeat to Portugal. But it was a great run whilst it lasted. When asked how they got so far, their manager Chris Coleman said he told his team “don’t be afraid to fail!” which I think was utter genius. It turns conventional wisdom on its head, because we are usually afraid to reach out for something simply because we think we will fail. I have spent times in my life being like that. Now, I am not afraid of failure or desperate for success either, because they are in some senses more a state of mind than a particular situation. No person a complete failure, and no person is a complete success either, we can just fail or succeed at something we do or something we want to achieve. I am of the firm belief that sticking it out, seeing something out to the end and seeing whatever we pursue as something to be pursued in the long term is where we find the best of life and the best of ourselves, too. The short term is where we all lose, in the end. Just look at our ultra capitalist globalised world economy to see what I mean. Do I really need to say more?



Being afraid to fail? Don’t be. In the world, the biggest failure was Jesus Christ, who went to a lonely death, deserted by His followers and He even asked God if it was possible not to face the painful, brutal and completely unjust death He faced, knowing it was not possible. In fact, He wasn’t an ignominious failure, but the greatest success story we have ever known. In the world, success is being cool, having money, being handsome or attractive, having everything going well for you. In God’s economy, success can be something completely different, and what the world sees as failure God may see as something else. All we do as individuals, whatever incredible things the most incredible and successful people in the world do and have ever done, whatever wealth the richest person has amassed, whatever amazing fame or success any individual or group of people have achieved, is just a drop in the ocean to God’s Creation. It is also, in the end, or often can be, an empty experience where the joy fades away and then the desire to find something else to fill the void that can appear.

 

Jesus was successful because He came to serve. Most of us do things for selfish reasons. Just ask yourself what is your idea of success, and then what is God’s idea of success?

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.’ (Thessalonians 5:18) 

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Time To Make.... a ...... DECISION??

Are you double minded? Wavering between two opinions, or indeed wavering between two lifestyles?

 

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.’ (James 1:5-8)

 

How many of us compartmentalise our Christian faith? How many of us are different with one group of people, as we were with another? How many of us change our personality, our accents, our whole persona depending on the person we are with? How many of us really live out our Christian faith everywhere we go, regardless of who is around us, and in an open and honest, even innocent way?

 

My friend told me recently that he read that most of us are only truly ourselves for 15 minutes a day, the rest of the time we hide behind carefully cultivated ‘masks’ that we present to the world, of how we wish to be seen and perceived by others. I understand this only too well. I struggled with being me, I would rather have been anyone else but me at one time. It’s probably why I am good at doing accents, and can play convincingly another kind of person when I need to. I’d make a good actor! Possibly. But what I see now is that hiding behind various masks, being different with different people, becomes wearisome, becomes tedious and ultimately just cannot be the abundant life God wants for us. It doesn’t make me happy anyway.

 

I find now, that what makes me happy is simply living out my faith in a practical and reasonable fashion, and just being me. Not trying to be cool, not trying to be smart, not trying to be ‘Mr Popular’ or anything like that, just me being me, no more no less. I’m beginning to like me, and I want other people to like me, too, because God evidently does. Isn’t that a kind of freedom, not having to put on airs and graces with other people, or with God either?

 

What Decision?

The decision to live completely for Jesus, right now, whatever you are doing, wherever you live, whatever circumstances God has placed you in. If you know God has a call on your life, then you need to get completely in step with His will so you can begin to find out the plan He has for your life. The closer I have got to God, the more I realise how sick, unjust, disturbed and deeply unbalanced this world is. You don’t think so? Still have illusions about how nice and fair, how balanced and generally good the world is?

 

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him...’ (1 John 2:15)

 

We are in the world, brothers and sisters, but we are not to be a part of the world, but set apart from it, its practises, morality, passing fads and fancies and the horrendous double standards that exist everywhere. We are set apart from other people, not above them, not falsely humble and below them, set apart. Whatever those in the world do or don’t do, we are to live out God’s will for our lives. You don’t know God’s will for your life? Ah, we have a problem...

Friday, 17 June 2016

Interested in the PaRaNoRmAl?? Part 3


So, we’ve come so far in our quest. Our quest, that is, to debunk the paranormal, the occult, or whatever else it may be. I’ll start with a real earth shaker in this part. My view, and it may seem narrow minded, is that all mystery outside of God, be it ghosts, UFOs, yetis, unfeasible monsters in strange places, mysteries that defy any rational explanation, and indeed anything that is weird and, well, paranormal, is illusion. Or delusion, if you like.

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  (Ephesians 6:12)

Now, in some senses, the dark world and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms almost sounds exciting, interesting and mysterious even. But if God warns us about this struggle against unseen foes, there is a reason. He is not doing it for His benefit, He is very much doing it for our benefit. What I can say as well, is that occasionally I read atmospheric ghost stories, not really bloody or extremely scary horror, just things that fire up my imagination, in the same way that someone might read Lord of the Rings, or Sherlock Holmes, knowing it is merely well written fiction. I can also say that I am a thoughtful and enquiring person, in fact I was extremely precocious as a kid in that respect, quite bright and I read a lot, too. Not bragging here, it was just the way it was. I had a lot of curiosity, in fact I still do. Now, I’m curious about nature, the universe, life, the nature of being and many many other things, but most of all I am curious about God. He created everything, so He has all the answers. He may not see fit to tell me everything I want to know, but when He reveals something to me, whether it is about the situation I might be going through, whether it is about human nature, just about me or just something in general, I know it is truth, plain and simple, or sometimes an amazing truth I could not have anticipated in a million years without His guidance.



So, I went, quite slowly and over some time, from being interested in the paranormal and wanting to mine the depths of all these mysterious, but ultimately unsatisfying and empty experiences, to turning my full focus and attention on to God. I ditched the interest in the paranormal many years ago. It was a good thing that I did. I have heard too many weird stories about all kinds of mystical experiences, and read many stories too, that just made me feel cold. I admit, I am biased, I am a Christian and I wish to serve God and seek His will and Him now before any other thing. I see this as being tribal, like many things. If you support a football team, you support them and want them to win and play well all the time. I’m on God’s team, He picked me, and I am going to spend the rest of my life playing as good as I can for Him. Above and beyond the football analogy, God is all about love, true relationships of all kind between all kinds of human beings, and there is nothing in Him that is false, or empty or weird. Oh, there’s plenty of mystery with God, a universe load in fact, but as He reveals His nature and who He is to us, we move towards truth and the true nature of who we are and to our true destiny, and not in to more empty mysteries that lead down rabbit holes of delusion.

 

If you are caught up in the paranormal, the occult, or something supernatural outside of God and His Kingdom, then however new you are to it or even if you have gone very far into it, get out. There is a way out. Get on your knees and start to pray to Jesus, the man who literally came down to earth to be a close and intimate friend, a mate in the British sense, to all who call on Him and will walk with Him. God will fulfil all your yearnings to understand the things you can’t understand, and as with me, He will surprise you with things you wouldn’t have dreamed of.

 

I now see the paranormal in this simple way: It’s like peeling an onion, very carefully and very precisely and very delicately, expecting to find something underneath your first perception of its mystery, or UFOs, ghosts, whatever, only to find another skin underneath which needs similar time and effort to peel. At the end, when the onion is peeled, there is nothing left but air and the sense that all that effort has been wasted and all you’re left with is a vain attempt to grasp air. Very frustrating and a complete waste of time, in essence.

 

There is truth in God. There is only unfulfilled mystery and delusion in the paranormal. I know, I’ve been there. I experienced enough of it to know it is empty. I’ve experienced enough of God to know He has set me on a straight course and is saving me for better things. I seek God and I find Him every day. I have no time or inclination to follow delusion anymore. Through Jesus, I know and I am known.
21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." 22 Then you will defile your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, "Away with you!" (Isaiah 30:21-22)

Friday, 10 June 2016

Interested in the PaRaNoRmAl?? Part 2


I can remember way back in my late teens and possibly through to my mid 20s staying awake throughout the night reading stories about ghostly encounters in Britain’s very colourful past. I enjoyed it, to be honest. Some of the stories were very atmospheric, whilst others were quite scary and yet others were more like local legends, many quite interesting. I filled my head with a lot of these stories, fairly harmless as they went. But with this, I kind of developed a superficial interest in demonology too, and tarot cards and really was not living as a Christian at all. I wasn’t practising anything too weird, just reading stuff and messing about with the tarot cards without really knowing anything about them. Perhaps I let something in I didn’t want, but who can really say? I have suffered depression, mood swings, social awkwardness, bizarre dreams, chronic fatigue, bad relationships, bad friendships, heavy drinking and the pursuit of a futile lifestyle that brought me nothing but pain, emptiness and ephemeral friendships and relationships. I had turned my back on God, quite simply. The journey back to God is and has been slow and painful, but slow progress is better than no progress. I am progressing. That is something. As far as East is from West God puts our sins. I see sin as going in one direction, and heading towards God going in the other. If we put God first in our lives, we have less and less time for sin and even the contemplation of sin. I wish to explore the mystery and wonder of God and not the dubious mysteries and wanderings of the paranormal.


 
There is in all people, or most people, a sense of dissatisfaction in their lives. It may not be overwhelming, but it is there. It can come out in many ways I suppose. Boredom, a search for adventure, drinking alcohol, taking illegal drugs of some kind, wanting to do something exciting. It can sometimes be a negative quest or sometimes even a positive quest. But many of us embark on some search for something more, or something that will make our lives make more sense. We read books, we might search through religions, we might ask clever or learned people deep questions, but even then something might gnaw away at us. This is how I was during my early and later teens. For other people it may start later, for some much later. We experience things we can’t comprehend, we may ask why this person died and why someone else lived, we may just start to want to make sense of it all, because quite frankly a lot in the world just doesn’t seem to make sense and on top of all this, when we start to look back at our own lives, we try to make sense of it, and wonder if there was any sense to it or whether it was just a collection of random events. Looking back on our own history we might then start looking back on history in general. Maybe even the origins of humankind and the universe and everything. I am very interested in the study of human origins, and although of course I read the Bible to try and glean history from Genesis, I also like to read (hopefully) unbiased scientific accounts of the first civilisations and how those first cities and urban centres started to develop, and how and why they developed.

 

The paranormal can seem to fulfil our desire to look into what appear to be fathomless things, and to interest ourselves not only in understanding who we are and where we come from, but also spiritual mysteries, and mysteries of all kinds that seem lost in the mists of time. Some of those mysteries are ones that have been mulled over for centuries like Atlantis, and the mystery of the Sphinx and many other things that may be more local or even more universal. But we want answers, and we go looking for them.

 

My interests encompassed particularly ghosts, UFOs, strange tales from England’s and Britain’s past, mysterious occurrences of all kinds and many other things that could be said to be filed under mysterious or unexplained and then I suppose the paranormal. I would also say that the terms occult and paranormal are synonymous and actually mean the same thing. I think occult sounds vaguely sinister, whereas paranormal almost sounds respectable. But I actually wish to debunk that. It isn’t even that we shouldn’t speculate on mysteries and things we can’t really understand or comprehend, it’s that we shouldn’t seek out the wrong sources to find answers. That’s the crux of the matter for me. If you were thirsty, would you rather drink from a fresh clear running stream from the mountains, or a stagnant dirty little pool that looked, and smelt, like something had died in it? To me, that’s the difference between looking for answers from God, and trying to find answers in the paranormal, which often doesn’t make sense when looked at straight on. I’m someone, who at least in this case, knows what I am talking about.

 

The more I sought answers in the paranormal, or the more interested I became in the whole shebang, the more it confused me. It seemed contradictory, and a lot of it, particularly the very deep, philosophical and intellectual stuff that seemed to answer something deep within me, at the same time made me feel empty or even more confused than I was before.
19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.  (Romans 16:19)

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Interested in the PaRaNoRmAl?? Part 1


I was very interested in mysteries at one time. I think it was because I was earnestly looking for answers to deep questions I had. That’s probably it really. I was just earnestly looking for answers that made sense to the many questions I had and the mysteries that seemed all around and everywhere, but somehow always just out of reach. Recently, I have started developing an academic interest in the paranormal again, not in an unhealthy way but just by reading about it online and from a book in a Christian cafe I go to in my hometown.
When I was a kid, and had just become a teenager I knew that God existed, and I started praying to Him and walking with Him. Side by side this, I was also very interested in witches, but not necessarily practising witchcraft, ghosts, UFOs, yetis and all those other kind of mysteries that in many ways always seem to be at the edge of our human consciousness, our human reality and also often in geographically distant and even romantic places like Everest or the vastness of the American wilderness or some castle ruin in the midst of Wales somewhere, or strange lights in the sky when someone is fishing on a lonely lake at night, and so on. These obviously stoke many people’s imaginations and sense of romance and mystery, and they certainly stoked mine. That in itself isn’t just a deep interest in mysteries and the paranormal, it’s also an interest in places off the beaten track and unpopulated places of beauty that many people are interested in. But it does seem to be that ghosts, UFOs, strange beasts and the like always appear in lonely places to a few people or to some lone individual here and there. I’ve heard so many stories of strange encounters that deeply interested me, fascinated me and some of them even scared me and made me feel a little shiver down my spine. I’ve even seen a ghost, and fairly recently experienced some kind of poltergeist activity in my house which wasn’t very nice at all. Not sure what that was all about but I can say with certainty that there is a paranormal realm. Only thing is now I don’t have a big interest in it, only in the context of writing about it in regards to my Christian faith and walk with God.
I have at many times in my life struggled with very strange dreams, and recently have had quite disturbing ones. Not so much horrific, just dreams that have unsettled me. I have also had a lot of very deep dreams and dreams that have made me question reality, but not in a really healthy way at all. I can say that I feel many of these dreams are delusion and obviously have no basis in any kind of reality. I suppose this is why I dismiss them. If a dream was from God, I would know it. But these dreams are definitely not from God. There is no confusion from God, and no weirdness or nastiness either. I see no reason why God would send me weird dreams about UFOs, being in my house and fearing being watched and dreams about my dad who died over ten years ago arguing with me in an extreme fashion. They are most certainly not from God, because they either upset me, stress me out or confuse me, or a mixture of all the above. God does not sow dissension. I have also suffered with physical and mental illness for many years. A friend of mine in my church suggested that it may have been my messing around with tarot cards that let something in that could be affecting me spiritually and emotionally and physically. Sounds weird? It does. But is it possible, even probable? Possibly.


Recently I have started to make friends with a number of very nice Christians in a cafe I go to. One of the people who works there has told me her testimony, and has repeated it again for other people when asked. She spoke about how her mother was heavily into tarot cards, and the strange things that went on in her house that seemed normal to her when she was a kid, including objects moving by themselves in the house and seeing apparitions of children running around the house, and other weird things. She was also into a lot of new age beliefs, too, and very anti Christian. Then, to cut a long story short, she felt Jesus was talking to her, not a voice but something inside. And her conversion was that quick and that simple. She never looked back.
But there is, I have to stress, a very serious message here. As I could tell you myself, and as many people who to whatever degree have had brushes, dalliances or have even been completely immersed in the Paranormal, or as it could also be called the Occult, there is something sinister about it all. It can be very subtle, twisting its way around you seductively and enticingly, or it can be very ‘in yer face’ and overwhelming and frightening. It can also be interesting and mysterious, as well as plausible and matter of fact. Some people see it as a load of old nonsense, and many others see it as something to be studied earnestly and with scientific methods and often great seriousness. Witness how so many people and scientific expeditions go to Loch Ness to find Nessie! To me, it stands to reason that if the Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie as she is often called, was a dinosaur, there are so many reasons why it can’t be there, but does that stop well funded scientific groups going there? No, not really. Good for the tourism, though. But, I came to the conclusion that such quests often involved people ultimately chasing their own tail, and not a great deal more. The Paranormal seems to be like delicately and intricately peeling a large onion, only to find another skin underneath.