Monday, April 27, 2009

Claire and Christine

Coming down the hill after picking flowers to press, I caught this lovely shot of the girls with the colza field in bright yellow behind them. I thought you'd like it ...


Grandma getting a little sun this afternoon on her birthday.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dining-room quotes

"The secret of salvation lies in unceasing prayer."
— Gregory (XIV century)

"To know Christ is our only absolute necessity."
— Timofey Zandonsky (XVIII century)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lord's Day at Courtiron

We have just finished a restful Lord's day here with a wonderful time together this morning and even more meaningful communion this evening.

In the afternoon we all got busy washing bottles and caps, cutting and glueing labels, and sorting cases as Raph bottled another 90 bottles of cidre fermier as he calls it — as different from commercial cider as it is possible to be, to hear him tell of it.

We also got the old phone hooked up to verify it works on our system but there was no problem at all. Tomorrow we'll draw out a cable, hook things up, and I'll take a picture of it in place for you. Everybody loves it!

Mum spent a little time today down at the river and took a couple of shots of it. I wanted to show them to you since I think they are quite nice. She has spent hours making stone walls and planting flowers — if you had seen it before, you'd quickly see the difference!

Taken from the opposite shore

Taken from the bridge

May God bless every one of you and grant you the simplicity and love we enjoy here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

News and fellowship

Marçon, le 17 April 2009

Dear Brother,

Thanks so much for your letter last month. Don't worry one bit about the “times and seasons” it takes us to write each other – know that we think of you often with much affection. We, too, know what it's like to be just too busy to sit down and write!

It was good to hear from you all and to get your news. The children too are particularly having a good time communicating. It was funny to hear some of your news about being on television and in the newspapers. It's a very strange world where a Christian family with twelve children makes the news just for being. Time was not too distant that most families were the size of ours, if not yours. Still, we are the ones with the blessings, not them and their foolish comments expose their selfishness.

I'm glad you liked the book. It came so strongly to me that it might be a help to you last time we talked. It sounds funny to hear it described as a “refreshing and non-religious view” because, of course, it was written by a minister with a real heart for God. Yet I know exactly what you mean and that was the very thing I appreciated, too! Leslie Weatherhead had a real heart for God in honesty and as a result he understood something that most nominal Christians have never grasped: that you cannot love God without loving people. And to the extent that you love people, you love God.

I used to tell my children to look around the room and see God because that was the closest they would ever get to seeing Him on earth. I believe it. No man has seen God but he who has seen me has seen the Father. To the extent that you show people love, you are showing God your love for Him. Whoever gives to the poor, lends to the Lord.

I even say that you cannot show God any form of a love that is real without expressing it in actions to others. I'm sure I don't need to quote the scriptures from James, John and the Gospels that go hand-in-glove with that point of view and I don't think we can exaggerate it too much.

As true believers, it is one of the very most important things we can learn. And I think that even though we think we learned it years ago and know the doctrine well, on paper, it does us good to renew this spirit within us. Because we are always tempted and drawn to return to religion in all its forms and with all its heresies simply because religion is the “way of the world”, the way of Cain, of Babel, of Esau, and of Ishmaël. How many people are trying to please God and utterly failing? God help us.

How many raise their hands in holy worship, swaying with the rock music and overwhelmed with the beauty of their emotional production and call that “worship” that pleases God? How many? Thousands, in every city, surely. How many of the same crowd spend time giving to others? (I speak not in judgement for I speak with self-conviction). We must remember Samuel's rebuke to Saul and David's prayer in Psalm 51. Will it be obedience or will it be sacrifice? This is not the rest He has chosen for us. We thought He was altogether one like unto us and tried to please Him in our way, but His ways are never our ways.

You talked about the lonely walk of the true Christian life and you're right. Jesus had twelve but one of them was a devil. And poor Paul, for all his trials, stood alone before Nero at the end of his life knowing that everyone had forsaken him. We don't judge Paul on the number of his converts, do we?

We must be encouraged! We must encourage each other and we must be encouraging to those around us. We walk a pilgrim way. It's a lonely way but it is entirely a voluntary pilgrimage. Thank God we have each other, even though it be at a distance!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on telephones and your Internet access. Rest assured that I understand you very well. I've often said that if my trade were different I'm not at all sure that I'd have computers in my home either. We know how easily they waste one's time and draw us away from the love of the brotherhood.

Regarding your proposition for another visit, September is just fine. Our life is too complex to allow us definite projects that far into the future but come on over whenever the Lord makes a way and you'll be welcome and I know you all will fit in just fine.

Right now we're pulling out all stops in preparation for our Spring Conference in May. David Bercot – author, lawyer, and Patristic scholar – is coming to be the guest speaker, the theme being “The Kingdom of God”. This will be his first speaking engagement in France and it's a privilege for us to host it. I hope you've already heard all about this and this is not your first invitation because it sure would be wonderful to have you down here for this event. Already we're getting a lot of interest because his Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs is well-known and very well respected.

Before then we're trying to relocate the bookshop to the former café at the near end of the hotel. I have a plasterer coming on Monday to start the first efforts then we'll get into some serious painting. Right now the Bibles and books are in boxes all over the floor but once we get the walls done I plan to build some custom-fit shelves myself. It'll be nice to have at least that one room done by conference time!

Well, this has been long enough for now, dear brother; I must be about other things. May the Lord Jesus bless and keep you all in His love and peace.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Well said!

From time to time I run across worthy reading coming through the world's press. Knowing that, as a community, we have very limited contact with these sources – and rightly so – I like to reproduce for your benefit articles that I feel are of some edification.

The True Haters

by Patrick J. Buchanan

On Good Friday, John Demjanjuk, 89 and gravely ill, was ordered deported to Germany to stand trial as an accessory to the murder of 29,000 Jews — at Sobibor camp in Poland.

Sound familiar? It should. It is a re-enactment of the 1986 extradition of John Demjanjuk to Israel to be tried for the murder of 870,000 Jews — at Treblinka camp in Poland.

How many men in the history of this country have been so relentlessly pursued and remorselessly persecuted?

The ordeal of this American Dreyfus began 30 years ago.

In 1979, the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) at Justice, goaded and guided by Yuri Andropov’s KGB, was persuaded that Demjanjuk was “Ivan the Terrible,” a huge, brutal, sadistic guard at Treblinka, who bashed in babies’ heads and slashed off women’s breasts, as he drove hundreds of thousands of Jews into the gas chambers.

Demjanjuk’s defense was simple: I was never at Treblinka.

Yet, a dozen survivors, shown a photo spread, identified him as the beast of Treblinka. In 1986, OSI had him extradited to Israel. In 1988, he was convicted and sentenced to death. The greatest Holocaust monster since Mengele was to be hanged.

His family, friends and lawyers did not give up. They scoured Europe and, in the last days of the Soviet Union, struck pay dirt. In Moscow’s files on Treblinka they discovered a photo of the real “Ivan,” a far bigger, more mature man than the 23-year-old Demjanjuk in 1943.

Ivan Marchenko was positively identified as Ivan the Terrible.

To its eternal credit, Israel’s Supreme Court threw aside the verdict and stopped Demjanjuk from being the first man hanged in Jerusalem since Adolf Eichmann in 1961.

A humiliated OSI, through its Israeli friends, now asked the court to authorize a new trial, charging Demjanjuk with having been a guard at Sobibor — during the same time they previously charged he had been at Treblinka.

What OSI was admitting was that its case against Demjanjuk, to see him hang from the gallows as “Ivan the Terrible,” had been based on flimsy or falsified evidence and worthless or perjured testimony.

Replied the court, we don’t do double jeopardy here in Israel.

Demjanjuk was released. And the grin of the jailer who opened his cell testified that many in Israel never accepted the charge that this simple man was some unrivaled devil of the Holocaust.

So, after 13 years, the last four on death row reflecting on his hanging for horrors he never committed, Demjanjuk came home to Cleveland, a free man. His citizenship was restored.

Though disgraced, OSI was not ready to throw in its hand. For it had been dealt a new card by its old comrades in the KGB.

The new evidence was a signed statement by one “Danilchenko,” who claimed to have been a guard at Sobibor and had worked with Demjanjuk. As this document would have blown up the Treblinka case in Jerusalem, OSI had withheld it from the defense.

Another document turned up suggesting that Demjanjuk had indeed, after training at Trawniki camp, been assigned to Sobibor.

When the defense asked to interrogate “Danilchenko,” to verify he had made and signed the statement and to question him on details, they were told this was not possible. Seems Danilchenko had died after signing.

So, after the first 13 years of his ordeal took him right up to a gallows in Jerusalem, Demjanjuk has now been pursued for another 17 years by an OSI that will not rest until he has been convicted, somewhere, of genocide.

And so we come to today.

Demjanjuk is to be taken to Germany and prosecuted as an accessory to the murder of 29,000 Jews at Sobibor — though not one living person can place him at that camp and not even the German prosecutor will say that he ever hurt anyone. One witness in Israel, who was at Sobibor and says he knew all the camp guards, says he never saw Demjanjuk there.

If Friday’s ruling is upheld, John Demjanjuk, who has been charged with no crime on German soil, is to be taken to Germany, home of the Third Reich, to be tried by Germans for his alleged role in a genocide planned and perpetrated by Germans. He is to serve as the sacrificial lamb whose blood washes away the stain of Germany’s sins.

But if Germans wish to prosecute participants in the Holocaust, why not round up some old big-time Nazis, instead of a Ukrainian POW.

Answer: They cannot. Because the Germans voted an amnesty for themselves in 1969. So now they must find a Slav soldier they captured — and Heinrich Himmler’s SS conscripted and made a camp guard, if he ever was a camp guard — to punish in expiation for Germany’s sins.

The spirit behind this un-American persecution has never been that of justice tempered by mercy. It is the same satanic brew of hate and revenge that drove another innocent Man up Calvary that first Good Friday 2,000 years ago.

Same gang goading the soldiers on, too!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Eva's call

Yesterday, we'd just sat down to lunch and the phone rang. In our house we don't take kindly to phone calls during mealtimes since experience has taught us that they are invariably some salesman cold-calling, wasting our time, and interrupting the most enjoyable part of each day.

Well, Becky got up to answer the phone and I heard her speaking English which made my scowl relax a little, since, when time zones are involved, a little indulgence must be given to people's choice of times. In a minute she brought the wireless phone over to me saying it was a lady's voice but she couldn't make out who it was only that she'd asked to speak to me.

Well, surprise! it was Evangeline calling from the mountains of Nepal! That fact alone must be left to explain the quality of the line; it's been a long time since I had such a bad transmission, her voice breaking up and scratchy. Anyway, it was a real treat to hear from her. She is almost as bad a communicator as her father, in terms of writing letters or making phone calls. They say that what is rare is valuable and so it is with contacts with Eva.

After the call Camille said couldn't we keep in better touch with her through Skype or something? I pointed out that the paucity of our communications was not due to any lack of technological solutions but rather to personal character and organization — hers and mine! In any case, I have the impression that Eva doesn't spend her days in front of a PC screen as we do.

Big parcel in the post this morning and I knew right away what it must be. Last week I'd found an old oaken wall-mounted telephone on eBay and bought it. The fellow I bought it from lives in Missouri and had never shipped internationally before. I told him through email that there would be no problem (he was worrying about customs charges and all that) and to just pop it in the post. He said it may take weeks to arrive but I assured him there was no hurry at all.

The customs declaration form pasted to the outside of the parcel (weight: 11 pounds) shows that he mailed it off on the 8th of April — exactly one week ago. This is not the first time I've noticed the rapidity of delivery to France after having chosen the "slow boat" option and been warned that delivery might take several weeks.

Anyway, I am quite pleased with the object. Once I have mounted it in place I'll take a picture of it for you to see (remind me, if I forget).

And that, my friends, is all for today. Back to work ...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Until Then

That last song was for Floyd. It's an old tear-jerker I've had around here for absolutely years and I never get tired of. Sometimes sad songs seem to strike a chord and capture your deepest feelings. Anyway, there it is.

Nevertheless, I got completely side-tracked because I had every intention of giving you that old Stuart Hamblen song I was talking about yesterday. Better late than never. You remember I was saying about how it came to me last night, very late, and I really didn't want to get out of bed to jot it down but I didn't want to forget it by this morning either. I made myself a mnemonic: Three words (I was thinking "But Until Then") and the first letter of each word spells the first word. Crazy, but it worked!

Here's the song for your enjoyment.

Until Then

My heart can sing when I pause to remember
A heartache here is but a stepping stone
Along a trail that's winding always upward,
This troubled world is not my final home.

But until then my heart will go on singing,
Until then with joy I'll carry on,
Until the day my eyes behold the city,
Until the day God calls me home.

The things of earth will dim and lose their value
If we recall they're borrowed for awhile
And things of earth that cause the heart to tremble,
Remembered there will only bring a smile.

But until then my heart will go on singing,
Until then with joy I'll carry on,
Until the day my eyes behold the city,
Until the day God calls me home.

This weary world with all its toil and struggle
May take its toll of misery and strife
The soul of man is like a waiting falcon
When it's released, it's destined for the skies.

But until then my heart will go on singing,
Until then with joy I'll carry on,
Until the day my eyes behold the city,
Until the day God calls me home.

Too Old to Die Young

If life is like a candle bright,
Death must be the wind
You can close your window tight
And it still comes blowing in.
So I will climb the highest hill
And watch the rising sun
And I pray that I don't feel the chill
Till I'm too old to die young.

Let me watch my children grow
to see what they become.
Oh Lord, don't let that cold wind blow
Till I'm too old to die young

Now I have had some dear sweet friends
I thought would never die
Now the only thing that's left of them
Is the teardrops in my eyes
If I could have one wish today
And know it would be done
Well I would say everyone could stay
Till they're too old to die young

Let me watch my children grow
to see what they become.
Oh Lord, don't let that cold wind blow
Till I'm too old to die young

(Listen to it here)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Resurrection Day

The key tone of the weekend has been resurrection and it crept into our Lord's Day Bible study, too. I notice that Raph has taken to referring to Easter this way and I kind of like it. Of course it's not his idea but words are real things and have a weight of their own.

The five Sallès came, as usual, as well as Catherine, but since Laurent had to go afterwards and pick up Daniel and bring him for lunch we decided not postpone the communion time that we would ordinarily have had together. We roasted two legs of lamb, as we usually do at this time of year: we're not tired of it yet!

After lunch Camille brought out her famous birthday cake for me, made with fresh strawberries. It seems we haven't had it for awhile but we normally get one a month. This time she made two since there were a lot of us. If you don't know it, I don't know how to describe it to you except to say it's a lot like a cheesecake -- not really a cake at all, but made of cream and red fruit with a graham-cracker crust molded and set in the fridge overnight. We have at least one birthday a month and this is the way we decided to celebrate them, long ago. Delicious!

It was a lovely sunny day and there is the sweet smell of colza everywhere, which should mean a good crop of honey this year. Becky went to check on her bees over the weekend and announced that they were doing well after the winter ordeals.

Last night I was lying in bed very nearly asleep when suddenly a song came to me that I hadn't heard or thought of for a very long time. I really didn't want to get up and write it down so I tried to impress it on my subconscious so I'd remember it the next day. Over breakfast it suddenly came to me again and I remembered my tricks for keeping it until morning. It was an old Stuart Hamblen song called "Until Then" and I could hear him singing off a scratchy old record I had as a kid.

It's afternoon and I've still got that song in my mind. I'll have to go get my guitar and play it for the kids - they'll like it.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A Hampshire Territorial Goes to War

Here is the article I spoke of yesterday. I place it here for our family posterity to enjoy, as I did. Grandad died in his 90th year—1986, old and full of days, as the Bible would put it. Here is his brief account of some of his memories from that far-off time.

A Hampshire Territorial Goes to War


Leonard C. Stewart

At the age of 18 months my mother died and at the age of six years my father died also, so that the family, consisting of three sisters, all older than myself, and my twin brother, were all scattered abroad. An aunt cared for me, my twin brother and youngest sister were placed in orphanages and my two oldest sisters took up nursing.

One of my earliest recollections was, when we were living alongside the railway track between Southampton Docks and Aldershot, watching the trains conveying soldiers returning from the South African War: all in a very gay happy mood. In my boyish mind I vowed that when old enough, there would be no better life than to be a soldier and go to, and return from wars, little dreaming that two World Wars lay in the future.

When a little older and when the sermon in church was long, it was an occasion to snuggle down in the corner of the pew and dream that I was one of a band of “Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war”, little realizing that troop movements take place at dead of night and at the shortest of notice. These two incidents, trivial as they were, are quoted as an early inclination or ambition that is essential if a fellow is to make a success of joy of soldiering.

If this outlook prevails together with a desire for adventure and travel, then the army can be the finest life on earth: for the fellow who hasn't but is engulfed in the modern draft call, then it can be hell upon earth. These points are emphasized and explain why such efforts are made to evade the draft or having been compulsively enlisted, to take any opportunity that may arise to desert or to dodge the column.

No matter how well an army may be equipped or how thorough it has been trained, if it has not got morale or élan, it will be defeated in combat, often by smaller numbers and less generously armed enemies. “Der Angriff” is concerned mostly, if not entirely, with World War I and in these days of atomic, electronic and rocket weaponry, actions and accomplishments of these days must be evaluated in the context of conditions prevailing in those days. The majority of young fellows had probably never been more that ten miles from their home towns, motor transport was in its infancy so that it was quite common for the Infantry to march twenty-five miles a day. Aircraft, apart from a few balloons were unheard of, as also were radio and radar.

Troops in the Second World War were far better educated, far better equipped and were far better cared for by welfare etc: but with it all there was an absence of comradeship, discipline and esprit de corps – this is bound to be so when Forces are composed, largely, of drafted men rather than volunteers and it used to be said that 'one volunteer is worth ten press men'. And so we come to August 1914.

The first two years of the war were boring and uneventful, spent mostly on coast defenses guarding the sea approaches to Portsmouth then a major naval and military base situated on Portsea Island and connected to the Mainland by just two bridges, one road, one rail. The absence of invaders who never came only fired the desire for something more active; little did we know that the reason we were not sent overseas was not because there was no need but because there were no guns or ammunition available.

At last, in January 1917, we were equipped with 6” guns, the equivalent of the German 5.9, and embarked for France, our C.O. being a son of David Lloyd George, Prime Minister of Britain. Leaving Southampton in the dead of night for Havre in an old pleasure steamer named “Mona Queen”, and were two thirds on our crossing when we were shadowed by a Uboat.

Before it could fire its torpedo our ship's Captain rammed it with all his power. Our ship shivered from end to end and then took on an alarming list so that it seemed that it would turn completely over and then sink. However it righted itself and so we arrived in France.

Our first gun positions were on the outskirts of Arras and three main impressions remain:

  1. standing on a slight mound overlooking the front line trenches just as the first streaks of dawn were breaking through, our barrage suddenly burst forth prior to our infantry going 'over the top' – a truly awesome sight as if all hell were let loose,

  1. the seemingly endless job of ammunition humping when the lorries pulled into the side of the nearest road or track and the shells, each weighing a hundred pounds, had to be carried over rough ground and in the dark, to the guns; each shell seemed to be a little heavier than the one before, and,

  1. the strangest meal ever had; owing to the enemy shelling the roads no rations were able to get up so falling back upon what we had each man received half an orange and a spoonful of piccalilli.

Our next move was to the Belgium coast just south of Nieuport, then in enemy hands. It was while we were there that we heard that the Australian Government were sending a consignment of rabbits to supplement our normal rations.

Eventually they arrived and by 08.30 the cooks had a row of eight dixies merrily simmering for the midday meal. At 09.00 the Germans opened a three-hour bombardment of our battery position, the first shell landing right in the middle of the dixies and blowing them skyhigh. Instead of the bunnies we had our mid-day meal at seven in the evening, consisting of emergency rations, thus proving that menus and schedules can be subject to sudden and violent changes.

This day we suffered our first casualties in killed and wounded. From the sand dunes of Belgium, where on a clear day it was possible to discern the coastline of England on the horizon, we were moved down to the mud and squalor of the Ypres sector. Much has been written of the conditions of this battlefield where as many horses and men were drowned in the mud as were killed by gunfire and it was here that my twenty-first birthday came around.

To my mind nothing can compare with the utter desperation and despair of Passchendaele Ridge. The railhead for the Ypres sector was Poperinghe and it was from there, at midnight that the leave trains departed taking the troops back to England for 14 days. At the same time, the German leave trains departed from their railhead at Roulers. It seemed a very cruel fate that having survived the front line, troops were killed while entraining for leave so one of our guns was detached and taken as far forward as to be within range of Roulers. A message was dropped over the enemy lines saying that if he would leave our leave trains alone we would do the same to his; no leave trains were ever hit by gunfire after that.

One incident remembered was, at that time there was a sergeant in the battery whose outstanding feature was that he had a very large unsightly nose so that everyone called him Nosey behind his back. Because it was due to be re-barrelled one of our guns burst while being fired, and a fragment of steel flew through the air and cut off the sergeant's nose. He was sent down the line to hospital and that was the last, we thought, we would see of him. Some weeks later he unexpectedly arrived back in the battery with a nice-looking dainty nose that had been grafted on to make him quite a good-looking fellow. Join the army for free beauty treatment.

Early in 1918 we were pulled out of the salient to link up with the left flank of the French Army, near Cambrai. This was rated a quiet sector, giving us an opportunity for rest and re-equipping – a theory that was rudely shattered by the German breakthrough of March 21st. For the next three weeks it was a case of slowly retreating through Péronne and across the old Somme battlefield, contesting every mile of the way, with increasing lack of supplies, ammunition, re-enforcements, food and sleep, until both sides being exhausted, the advance was arrested at Villers-Bretonneux, within a few miles of Amiens. It was during these days that the words were recalled of a veteran talking to us before leaving England. Said he, “There will be times when things seem good and you will hardly know there is a war on, but, there will be times when you will lose your pals, when you will be fed up and cold and tired and hungry and with very little sleep and still you will have to carry on”. It is this determination to carry on that wins wars.

After four months of preparation, the return journey, across the old Somme battlefield, through Péronne, forcing the Germans back and back, until on November 11th it was all over. The chase after the enemy had been just as exhausting as the retreat before him and when the order came through that we were to cease fire, near to Mons where the first encounter had taken place in 1914, we pulled off the road and all went to sleep.

The motto on my cap-badge was “Quo Fas et Gloria Ducunt”Where duty and glory lead. There was very little glory but satisfaction, that in some small measure, my pals and I had done our duty.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Leonard Charles Stewart

My grandfather was born in 1896. Somehow he survived both world wars. He was an ardent Christian: a draftsman by profession and — in light of the times in which he lived — a soldier by obligation.

This weekend, while tidying up some of Aunty's papers I ran across an article written by him as a sort of memoir of his to the Great War, as it was then called. I'd never before heard of such an article so was glad to read it.

That was easier said than done for the whole thing exists only as a carbon copy (if anyone here under thirty knows what a carbon copy is, please raise your hand! — though I dare say the youngest of you knows what a CC is!) that had worn over the years and was barely readable.

My grandfather had submitted this piece to the local county magazine for publication and this was the copy he had kept. I determined immediately to retype it so I could read it and share it with you.

Tonight I'll give his cover letter to the editor. His scriptural word-play and allusions were typical of the man:

67, Baring Road

Bournemouth, BH6 4 DT

28th, Jan. 82.

Dear Mr. Editor,

The attached is submitted in faith, hope and charity and a suggested title could be “A Hampshire Territorial goes to War”. Stamps are enclosed for the return of the photos.

Yours, with great expectations,

(L.C. Stewart)

The reply, on the editor's letterhead paper, was written a little while later. It only took me a sentence to catch the essence of his reply. One can only suppose that by this date this is not the first memoir to have come across his desk regarding life in the trenches. But, this is no ordinary man, this was my grandfather, ergo interesting:

The Gospel of Grace

When someone asked Jesus specifically what he must do to obtain eternal life Jesus said: "You know the commandments: 'Don't commit adultery, don't murder, don't steal, don't give false testimony, honor your father and mother.' "

This was what Jesus first told him (similar to Jesus' answer when a Pharisee testing asked a similar question), declaring that he was still lacking something yet. Though he was lacking, Jesus still said the first requirement for obtaining eternal life is: "Keep God's commandments".

When this fellow told Jesus he had met this requirement since boyhood Jesus told him the other requirement for inheriting eternal life: "Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

The man's question was quite plain and unambiguous, it is what we offer to people when we preach this or that "gospel" -we are trying to get people to obtain eternal life, and we are presumably telling them how.

Is this question asked so explicitly anyplace else in scripture? And is this question answered more clearly and explicitly anyplace else in scripture? And is this the answer we offer when we tell people how to obtain eternal life?

Now one could argue quite reasonably that it was this man's riches that were inhibiting him from following Jesus — I'll accept that; and that of course is why he had to sell what he had and give to the poor. He could not keep his wealth and follow Jesus, if he could, Jesus wouldn't have told him to sell his possessions.

But that still leaves the "follow me" part. One can't reasonably say this directive was unique to this man's situation. After all, Jesus didn't just come along as he did to the apostles and command him to follow: Jesus was answering the same question that billions of people, in one way or another, ask "how can I live forever?"

So in addition to obeying God's commandments Jesus says one must follow Him in order to obtain eternal life.

While we may believe that Jesus does not mean that all of us must sell their possessions in order to obtain eternal life, it is important to see from this passage that we must follow Jesus in order to live forever, and this following is of such a nature that one who is rich actually has to sell his possessions to do it!

What then is the nature of following Jesus revealed by this exchange? This is an important question, which invokes a frightening spiritual thought: if we are not telling people to follow Jesus in that manner, they will not obtain eternal life — even if they are keeping God's commandments (or if they've had a born again experience or if they "believe" or if they trust in the blood of Jesus or... no matter what sort of assurance they feel blessed with.)

What's even scarier is that likewise we must be following Jesus in that manner He expects, whether we are poor and have no possessions to sell, or rich and have therefore to sell our possessions in order to do what Jesus said is required of us.

We have to believe that obeying God's commands and following Jesus is the way to obtain eternal life — that is if we believe Jesus, as so many claim to.

If we think we obtain eternal life any other way — including just "having faith" or "trusting in Jesus" or "believing in Jesus" then we neither have faith nor trust nor believe because we are rejecting what Jesus actually taught and what He actually said in response to the question "how may I obtain eternal life".

He offered no other answer to that query but "obey and follow".

I think it is imperative then to know what "following Jesus" actually involves. What is it about following Jesus that requires a rich man to become poor? What does Jesus actually require all of his followers to do?

It is something we should try to understand more because clearly doing anything less or different than following Jesus in the manner he requires will not result in our obtaining eternal life.

— Wayne Chesley

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Paris Linux show

Raph took Christopher to Paris to the annual Linux show which has just finished.  We rarely miss a year and always come away glad we went.

I thought you might enjoy a shot of Kripper at the Ubuntu stand.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Let's try again

I notice the video I posted a couple of weeks ago has disappeared. I'm not pretending I know why but who cares? I hope you all saw it at the time.

I've just seen another little ten-minute video (have you noticed how pervasive video is now on the web? There's hardly a site without it.) This is a very good presentation on economics. I don't know who put it together but it is powerfully done.

You already know I'm a Peter Schiff and Ron Paul fan; well, this brings them both together. Let's see if I can get this working properly for you. Enjoy!