Monday, March 30, 2009

The time of the end

For well nigh on sixty years I've not only believed these to be the "end times" but have taught it and preached it. I knew every Bible verse that proved it. I could teach the book of Daniel and Revelation together and show how it was all stacking up for fulfillment in our lifetimes.

I can still do that though I stopped it some time ago. This is a process that has taken several years of study and reflection. Several very good books by excellent Bible teachers have been an enormous help along the way.

The upshot is that I've added another unorthodox belief to my already-full book of questionable doctrines: I believe we're living in a "world without end" as the Bible puts it. I believe that Jesus is already reigning from the throne of God right now and that "of His kingdom, there will be no end".

It's a long story but it seems to me that so much confusion hangs on a few little words that were unfortunately slightly mistranslated many years ago. Modern versions of the Word have long ago set this right but in the popular mind, the conception lives on.

For example, the Bible never once mentions the "end of time" but only ever the "time of the end" — a big difference, you'll agree. And so the next logical question must be "The end of what?"

The mistranslation comes when we read the "end of the world" whereas what was said was the "end of the age" and here again there is a big difference between the two ideas. First-century Jews knew only two ages and Jesus referred to them several times: the present age and the age to come.

My mind is made up and I rest in the peace of knowing the although the end of my age may be any day now, I have no scriptural reason to live as if the "Antichrist" (that John said was already upon the scene in his day) is on the horizon nor to think that America is somehow "Babylon the great" when this city is clearly identified as being Jerusalem (the place "where our Lord was crucified") and so on.

Well, think on it, as I have done and still do. Christians have been living with the firm belief that the world would explode in flames any day of their lifetime — for over two thousand years. What if we got the whole thing wrong? What if the predictions of Matthew 24 were really talking about the end of the Jewish / Mosaic age of the Old Covenant? (Read it again with that in mind and it makes a lot more sense, I'll say that!)

And incidentally, I am quite sick of all the modern false prophets (Hal Lindsey, Tim Lahaye, et al) who have seen date after date fail only to revise them towards another one simply because they can't see any other option: the world has to end because Jesus said it would.

I now have much the same reasoning as them. Except that I now say, The end of the age had to be a first-century event because Jesus said it was (See Matthew 16:28 and 24:34 for starters).

To be continued ...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday

This will be a simple journal of events of the day so you'll all feel a part of our life.

We got up at the regular time and had another Bible study with Don Preston. Right now we are working through Acts and the Restoration of Israel and it's proving to be really feeding. We did lesson 5 this morning (out of 51) which touched on Ezekiel 37 and Joel 2. Becky and Claire both seem to be enjoying it immensely.

I joked to Raph that we'd let him sleep in an extra hour this morning since we didn't ring the bell until 7 but it didn't fool him long (we changed to summer time today). He started a fast last week (with Laurent and Nathalie) just for health reasons and apparently it's going quite well, though he feels a bit weak, I think, sometimes.

Yesterday the Sallès came over to give us a hand dragging branches to the feild as fast as Raph could cut them down from the overgrown hedge on the street side. It's now about 2.5 metres tall which is plenty and we have a lot more sun on the grass. That hedge was just neglected too long and had taken over.

This morning we had a nice meeting together and studied Matthew 15 and discussed our position in the new covenant. Andrea left for Italy last week so wasn't here today. We're not sure exactly when he'll be back but it should be soon — he had some paperwork to sort out.

We got an email yesterday from an English teacher in Poland wanting to come and stay here over the summer months so that will be nice. The brother in Germany postponed his visit till the middle of May so he'll miss the conference but we're starting to get reservations from others who want to come.

Michel was here yesterday morning with his big van to pick up furniture and supplies. Apparently he and Lilly are making do where they are and fixing up his old place that he calls "la grange" — though it must be more than that.

Claire has taken to doing a little translation lately and today announced that she'd just finished chapter three of a girls devotional book (don't remember the name) that both she and Becky were very impressed with when they read it last year.

After the meeting we had three or our young chickens that Roo and Debbie had slaughtered yesterday for us. They were about six months old and exceptionally good.

This afternoon we may go to the field next door and start a bonfire to get rid of all the branches and trunks we cut down yesterday. It's been a bit cloudy but quite a mild day with the temperature right now about 15°. We lit the fire this morning but we're on our last days. We're talking of cleaning out the hearth next week and stopping for the first of April. It's been nice and warm for weeks but the mornings are often quite chilly. It's been a long winter this year.

Healthwise, I am feeling quite better and try to get out for a walk when I can but this is not always feasible. This morning I went with Mum to get the meat at the butcher's and while she was doing that I walked up to Intermarché which was maybe a kilometer — not much but it's a start.

You'll never guess who we met at Intermarch& — Princesse, whom we hadn't seen for ages. She's now 18 and living by herself in Le Mans, apparently, and was down in Château for the day to see her brothers. She said he mother, Lucy, had moved to Corsica but didn't offer any other details.

We got her new address and Mum wants to keep in touch with her since she was greatly influenced by the gospel at one time and always quite open. I believe she was even baptised as a believer half a dozen years ago. Lord help us to help her.

Well, I think that is most everything for the moment. Did I tell you Becky is studying for her driver's licence? She does some online tests that help and should have it this summer, I hope.

Well, to all we know and love, go in peace and may God give us wisdom to guide our lives in honesty and love toward each other.



Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Death of the Dollar

This is a quick but perfectly accurate overview of the mess the US is finding itself now in and thus I wanted to share it with you all. The author is an evangelical Christian Zionist who is not good at reading the signs of the times (I've read his stuff before and he's a rabid dispensationalist).

So it makes you realize just how obvious the current situation must be when even people like him can see it coming!



The Death of the Dollar
By Jerry Robinson


At the end of the 19th century London was the capital of a global superpower. Through aggressive colonization the British Empire then controlled more geography than any previous world power. By the end of World War II, however, Britain’s excesses had plunged the country into economic devastation.

In July, 1944, a world economic summit was held at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. This groundbreaking international gathering included 730 delegates from over 40 Allied nations. Established at this conference were the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the General Agreement on Trades and Tariffs, later known as the World Trade Organization. The United States linked its dollar to gold at $35 per ounce and all other currencies then linked to the U.S. dollar. This gave America and the U.S. dollar global economic supremacy, all backed by gold.

Then along came the Vietnam War of the 1960s and 1970s, placing a severe strain on America’s economy. Inflation grew, the country faced its first trade deficit in the 20th century and other nations lost faith in America’s ability to maintain its economic strength. In 1971 President Richard M. Nixon officially detached the U.S. dollar from the gold standard established in 1944. Ours became a fiat currency based on faith in the system and faith in the federal government.

Recognizing the potential decline of the U.S. dollar no longer backed by anything except faith in America, Washington moved quickly to ensure a global demand for our currency. The federal government obtained agreement from the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) that oil would be priced exclusively in U.S. dollars, regardless of whether it was sold to European, African, Asian, South or North American countries. The “petrodollar” system bolstered faith in the paper-only fiat currency.

Today the mighty U.S. dollar is still the world’s reserve currency, but its days are numbered. I firmly believe that we will witness the downfall of the U.S. dollar system within the next decade. [I will be surprised if they get through this year] There are several reasons why the dollar must collapse, and 3 specific threats to our endangered U.S. currency:

* Excessive printing of money
* The lack of a strong dollar policy
* A growing aversion by foreign nations to hold U.S. dollars

Assume at the beginning of 2002 you placed $10,000 into 3-month U.S. Treasury Bills. At the end of 5 years the buying power of your dollars would have decreased by $116.19, or 1.2%. If, however, you had put only $5000 into Treasury Bills and bought gold with $2500 and silver with $2500, your buying power would have increased by $5,977.28, or 59.8%.

Today America’s deficits are hitting all-time highs, the credit crisis worsens daily, and the money supply expands at a record pace, triggering fears of widespread inflation. Clearly, a financial day of reckoning awaits this country and its arrival will become a rude awakening to all who are not prepared. Unfortunately, the U.S. government is doing little to prevent this impending dollar collapse.

Seeing what lies ahead should make Christians glad our true investments are safe in Heaven where “neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:20)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

China calls for a new international currency?

You didn't know I was a political animal, did you? I'm not. Not at all.

But you thought this was a safe blog to check from time to time. Well, every once in awhile my mind goes over-active and I start putting two and two together and don't really like what I end up with.

Well, an article I read today says that the chief of the Chinese Central Bank has publicly called for the world to adopt a new "reserve currency" and to "dump" the US dollar as the present reserve currency of the world. China has now joined Russia in making such calls publicly.

If you know your history enough to know about the establishment of the Federal Reserve in 1913 and how the Bretton Woods agreement was formed in 1945 well then you'll know that if and when the world dumps the dollar, no one will be able to use that currency to buy much — if anything — from the rest of the world because the world is increasing now viewing the dollar as worthless.

If more countries adopt the view of China and Russia, the whole US economy will cease to exist and the US Government will collapse within months. Of course, I've been wrong before but this is what I'm reading and this is what I'm seeing. (Never mind the time element, go for content.)

There you are, for what it's worth. (Maybe that's what they're trying to get you prepared for, Wendy, in that government-sponsored web site about stocking up food and "being ready". What was funny was they never said just what you were supposed to be preparing for!)

Still, like good boy scouts, be prepared anyway, kids.

Read about it in the Financial Times by clicking here.

The site Wendy called my attention to is here. Take a look!



Monday, March 23, 2009

Infanticide video inciting hate?

One of the feeds I follow to keep (somewhat) abreast of world news — besides BBC on-line — is the news syndicates Reuters.

This morning a title caught my eye which said, Infanticide video said inciting hate. This article turns on an apparent practice of a native South American tribe to bury their children alive! This had to be read to be believed! Well, it turned out that even after reading it, the news stayed resolutely unbelievable — and apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so.

Some London-based organization has claimed the film was "faked" and that the film "incites racial hatred." But that's not the end of the surprise. Apparently, the video was made by an "American missionary organization" called ... wait for it ... Youth With a Mission! And the country is Brazil, if you please!

To complicate your emotions, you then read that YWAM has actually admitted the film is fake. But they say the practice is real.

Then the real punchline (for me) came at the end, where I read that part of the purpose of the film is to support a "proposed Brazilian law, known as Muwaji's Law, which would abolish infanticide by indigenous groups." Does that strike anyone as strange? Is infanticide legal at the moment in Brazil if carried out by indigenous groups? Or is this a typo?

Cassie, do us a favour. If it ever comes up, vote 'Yes' to Muwaji's Law!

(If you want to read the article, it's here and if anyone wants to see the (faked) video, it's here)

Peter Schiff's greatest speech

Last Monday Peter Schiff gave a speech called Why the Meltdown Should Have Surprised No One. It lasts nearly an hour but you'll learn everything you never knew about the current economic crisis from an expert in the field who has been right, time and time again for several years now.

You know I'm not an economist but I think I know honesty and competence when I see it. I laughed along with the audience to hear him explain what went wrong and why.

I have Peter's two books and am getting to be a bit of a Peter Schiff fan, in my own way, but this world has its values so mixed up that it is really refreshing to hear someone tell the truth.

Click on the link above, or go here. Enjoy as you learn!



Saturday, March 21, 2009

A busy day

Today I got a blood test first thing and was supposed to call the doctor with the results at noon. I completely forgot so he won't get them in time to adjust my medicine till Monday. Too bad for me.

Nat took me in and since I was finished so soon I went down to the Saturday market in Château du Loir. I always like the market and know everyone and there's a lot of goodwill and general fun — especially now that the cold season is well and truly over and the sun is up and feeling warm on your back by nine o'clock.

Since Nat's parents were visiting the region (as they do from time to time) it had been decided that she would go with Olly and Raph & Camille and their three children for lunch and afternoon, so it's been quiet around here. Camille said that if they have a boy (due July, I think) they like the name Amos. Quite original, in French or English! Don't know if Debbie and Roo have picked a name yet.

Jonathan and Debbie killed a three-year-old he-goat that had been causing a nuisance for some and eating his way through almost a bale of hay per day! A male goat has to be more useful on a farm to eat that much. So he went.

Meanwhile Andrea helped Christopher and me to cut a few of the thuya hedge bushes at the bottom of the garden. We just did about half a dozen, chain-sawing them off at around 2m50 to see how we're going to like it. Meanwhile it was so sunny and warm that Claire and Becky sat outside at the stone table and read and worked on Becky's composition. Funny to be so few of us!

We heard from the Shepherds this morning, a nice long letter that they'd promised us in an email a couple of weeks ago. They want to come for an extended visit in September so that sounds nice. They've decided to cut out email and Internet access for their family which is why they seemed to go silent on us for awhile. I can understand their position entirely and have been tempted myself with something similar but with twelve children I can see it could be very detrimental and difficult to manage.

Still no photos for you all. I'll try to take some with my phone tomorrow (our camera is on the blink). This is a rather drab diary-type posting today but there you are, some people like that.

The team from St Martin le beau just walked in so I'll have to sign off. Nat, who tested our camera today with her father, who has an identical one, says that it is the battery that needs to be replaced. Rather that, than the camera, a nice one.

More tomorrow, God willing. I appreciate those of you who comment when you read. It provides a little feedback and knowledge of who is following. You know who you are: thanks.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Leaving well-enough alone

Don't you hate it when people constantly change, update and otherwise "improve" the look of their web site or blog? All of a sudden, regular visitors feel lost. Nothing is quite the same.

If we only knew that nine times out of ten the poor blogger has changed so many parameters that inside half an hour he really hasn't a clue as to how to get things back to where they were before. So, to save face he pretends he did it all on purpose.

Sorry! And all that just to add a little clock! (Ha! Well, at least I didn't touch the photo!)



Thursday, March 19, 2009

TVA is done for another month

My monthly bug-bear TVA (taxe sur la valeur ajoutée, or value added tax, in English) is done. I have to have it filed for the 21st of each month and there are absolutely no exceptions — even one day late will cost you a 10% fine so I try to be on time!

I guess I'm more or less in a routine by now but the twenty-first still creeps up on me all too quickly. I've heard it said by American economists that the European VAT system is the cleverest taxation system in the world and by far the easiest to administer and collect, since it is little people like me who do the (free) collection for the state.

Another bright and sunny day again today. It's supposed to continue into the weekend. After the winter we've been through spring is not too early! I am feeling almost as good as new lately, thank the Lord, and spent all day in the office.

Tonight I worked on translating Raph's blurb on our upcoming conference into English. I'll tidy it up tomorrow but it's readable. Another clear night with millions of stars visible. The studio faces south so I can clearly see the little dipper upside down (it seems to me, with it's handle pointing to the horizon) and other bright stars. There's no wind so we ought to have another warm spring day in the morning. This is going to be one great conference and we're all looking forward to meeting David & Deborah Bercot for the first time.

Pascal has just left — God bless him — he was working late with Raph on a project that is a bit behind time. We should get our year-end results for 2008 soon but I think we did fairly well.

Raph and I are planning on spending the day in Paris the week after next to attend the annual Linux World Fair, which we've been going to faithfully for years. This year Becky ane Claire want to hitch a ride and spend the day at the Louvre and there seems like no way to dissuade them so we'll have to see how things work out.

Nat has been taking over a lot of the teaching of Olly and 'Tine this week and it's a great blessing as the mothers can now spend more time with their younger ones and in the kitchen. All this is possible, of course, only because Becky has come on board: she's now working half time with Nat and enjoying it immensely.

I wish Ammi and Eva could make it for next month or the conference. This will be the first time in many a year that Zak & Ammi have not come but I realize the expense that is involved. I wish we could do something to help. We haven't really seen Eva for years. Life is what you make it.

In the studio bathroom we have a text on the wall that reads,

"One hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had, nor what my clothes were like. But the world may be a little better because I was important in the life of a child."

It's hanging right over the scale so I see it every day and it always makes me think. I think we bought it in America in 2000 when we visited Bryan in North Carolina.

Anyway, it is late here and I must close. I wish all I know God's blessing — if He is still inclined to give out such things on such a whim.

Much love ... sleep well!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bats

I was going to write this yesterday but couldn't find the time.

Last night Sarah and I were sitting outside the studio around nine in the evening after everyone else had gone to bed and the children had had their story time and were tucked in. Night was falling after a lovely sunny spring day and a couple of bats were flying around as they do.

I started thinking that I always see them – when I do – at the same time of night; early dusk. Within fifteen minutes they'd gone. I guess they do their hunting for bugs and whatever they eat at that time of night. It also seems to me to be a sign that summer is well on the way.

We've been having glorious weather every day this week with not a cloud in the sky and temperatures around 17 or 18 at the beginning of the afternoon. It's forecast to continue all week like that.

Tonight I was out too late to see the bats but the sky was perfectly clear and all the stars shining so brightly I was glad to be living where I am. I never did learn the constellations very well but since the studio faces south I could see the little dipper and several bright stars – as well as the odd plane on it's way to Paris blinking red on one side and the even-brighter satellites here and there.

I was trying to make some order in all the papers that litter my office today and so brought a stack that Wendy (or Bryan) had Xeroxed for me when my mother died over ten years ago. You can only take so much of that kind of stuff at one time so I go through it bit by bit.

Copies of my father's correspondence and my mother's last letters to me. Very sad in so many ways and it makes one think of the brevity of life and our overall worth and value. They did what they thought best – we all did – and only eternity will sort it all out in the end. But I regret my father didn't live longer than he did. I'd love to be able to talk to him now.

So I'm off to bed now. I want to try to take a couple of pictures of what I'm talking about to show you. If you're interested enough to read what I'm writing, you might as well see what I'm talking about, especially in this day and age where such things are so easy.

Good night!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday: Shortbread and Sauvignon

I wish for all you readers that I had something more consequential to write but that'll have to be on another day. (Got a catchy title though, didn't I?—I'm a sucker for alliteration.)

Today, it's Sunday afternoon, the ides of March. We had a good meeting this morning with 19 of us (Sallès, Catherine, Andrea ...) and a good meal together (curried pork done by Camille with a few bottles of Raph's cider, of course) and to top it off it's a glorious sunny day afterwards.

Now the children are all playing outside, Raph and Laurent are bottling cider and Mum is taking a nap. I had been reading Gerald Celente but now I'm sitting in the studio armchair with my laptop nibbling a piece of shortbread Raph brought me back from London and sipping a nice cold glass of white wine—a sauvignon blanc, to be exact. (I'm supposed to be trying a high-protien regime but ...)

All this should make me feel on top of the world but life is not like that. What has happened to me lately? Is it the "death in the family" syndrome? I really don't know but it is so out of character for me that I wish I did.

Nat is the only one missing today: she went up to Lille yesterday just for a quick visit to see her grandmother since Gilles and Catherine were going up anyway and she got a free ride. She's due back late tomorrow morning—around noon, I suspect—and we'll sure be glad to see her. She called me last night to say she'd arrived safely but I was too busy to talk long.

Grandma is doing well but it doesn't take much for her to get real ornery, like last night when Mum went to put her to bed and she started throwing things around the room and cursing. Mum won, though.

Raph is wonderful. Both Claire and Becky have told me how they despair of ever finding a husband "like Raph", which is nice. He and Camille had everyone playing a great game of pictionary last night at the living room table. I heard him take Andrea back to the hotel just after 10:30 so they didn't get to bed early.

I read an interesting article today from Jock Doubleday about aspartame and how it is actually a poison that does a lot of internal long-term damage. He said to type "aspartame parkinson's" into Google and take a look at what you get. Rather scary since I take my vitamin C flavored with this stuff every morning. I'd better look into it.


Friday, March 06, 2009

I think you'll like this...

Two months ago we stood here, in the Colosseum in Rome.
(For you purists, sorry I can't seem to get the thing a little smaller! Just enjoy it.)

[Updated two weeks: for some reason the video I embedded here no longer works and you'll have to click on the link below to watch it. You just can't keep up with our technological advances, can you?]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMVxzEueJ6A

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Birthdays and weddings

Well I'm glad to cover up that last post by something a little less ... personal.

It's Thursday morning and I'm in the office again for the second day in a row – exactly one month after my famous appointment with the surgeon. This week I am feeling practically normal and am very thankful for that.

When I opened the mail a couple of hours ago I saw this large envelope like a card from my sister Cynthia. I always get rid of all the cheques and bills and business mail first and save personal mail for the end. Today there was just this one letter so it had my undivided attention. It passed through my mind to wonder what birthday she might be sending me a card for.

Well, inside was a cute hand-made card announcing a coming marriage. My first thought was, It's not possible – is Cynthia marrying again? Then I looked more carefully and saw that it was from my long-lost niece who I remember as a tiny girl called Cassy. It turns out she is getting married to someone from Brazil named Mário. My goodness, how time flies!

We haven't followed the intricacies of the courtship but I think she went down to SA recently so that is surely where they met. The world is a funny place, to be sure! Who would have guessed?

I don't know how long they've known each other but the wedding is this Saturday so I don't think we're going to be able to make it in time! I shall have to write her this afternoon and send our congratulations. At the same time I think I'll ask for a decent photo of the pair.

Well, that started me thinking about birthdays and such-like festivities and I realized that I'd completely forgotten Cynthia's birthday, which was yesterday in 1965 (remember it well)!

I have a terrible track record for materializing my remembrance of these things (read, I don't send cards) but it is very seldom that the day passes with me not even remembering at all. I guess all that means is that I remember the day but don't do anything about it. Most of the time it's because I don't remember in time.

I always tell my brother that his birthday has never passed by unremembered but I almost never manage to "remember" it two weeks in advance – the time I'd need to get a card in the mail to him! Sigh. I don't know if anyone appreciates the power of that argument but I certainly do.

Don't you think greeting cards are funny things? Wishing people happy birthday is a funny thing to do. Saying merry Christmas is surely more of a tradition than a real conscious wish. (On the other hand, congratulating someone on their wedding anniversary strikes me as making a lot of sense – especially in times like these.)

I am neither pagan nor cynic and realize it is with such niceties that the wheels of our civilization are greased and we find ourselves meshing with each other with less friction and heat and so that must mean they are good things.

Lord help me. And Lord bless the happy couple – long may their commitment last.

Oh, and while I think of it: happy birthday, Cynthia.



Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Down

I don't know if it's age or what but I just can't seem to shake it off today; melancholy, just feeling like nothing is worth it, finding it hard to be happy about anything. It's a terrible way to be and I hate it -- it's never been my style till the past few months and now it's a weekly phenomenon.

Maybe my recent hospitalization has something to do with it; I don't know. Maybe I'm subconsciously fearful for the next round of medical visits I have coming up next week; I don't know. There's no logic to it but I just feel old, utterly useless and overall, a complete failure in my life.

But you don't want to read this and I'm sorry to write it. But this blog first started life as a convenient place for me to bare my heart and record my feelings, not a diary.

I hate myself and everything I've become -- which is not much. No one can help; God must see me through it.