Ishmael

Ishmael, a character in my book is about to read my story.  That’s not his real name, but it suits him.  He is a Moslem.  Before reading it, I was at pains to explain who “the King,” the main character in my book is.

“We worship the same God,” he replied, wanting peace between us.

Are God and Allah same

Really?  I heard the same thing from my new age publishing consultant.  She believed the market would be fine with my story as “any deity could play the King.”

“You mean, Jesus could be the same as Allah?” I asked the publishing consultant, to clarify.

“Well, yes – as the Bible and the Quran contain many of the same elements” she replied.

It is true that Islam’s warlike prophet Mohammed did include parts of the Bible in the Quran.  The Gospels had been around at least 500 years before Islam.

But both books can’t be right.  I made it quite clear before publishing the book that I would not change the name of the King or dilute his persona or character – not for anybody.  He is who he is.

wpid-who-do-you-say-i-am-question

“Who do you say I am?”  Jesus asked. 

“What is truth?” Pilate asked. 

These are the questions we all have to decide.  I only hope my book “The Kingdom, Here Be Dragons, Here Be Dreams” presents the King as he is in the Bible; the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God. 1 Timothy 1:17

For Ishmael’s sake, I did try to read the Quran years ago.  I got through a good part of it before stopping at the part which advocated killing Jews and infidels.  There are over a hundred verses in the Quran dealing with Jihad or holy war.  That’s why we’re having so many problems with terrorism, which would be better named “Muslim fundamentalism.”

At his arrest, Jesus, the King in my story, told Peter “Put away your sword, for those who live by the sword will die by the sword.”  Matthew 26:52.

Jesus fought with a different sword – the word out of his mouth.

After praying for wisdom, I tried a different tack with Ishmael.  I looked at who Jesus, Isa is in the Quran.  Much to my surprise, in the Quran Jesus is called “Spirit of God” and “Word of God.”  And he is mentioned more in the Quran than Mohammed, their prophet.

But it’s like the truth is veiled from Ishmael.  His religion is designed to keep them away from Christ.  Knowing that only the true God can remove the veil.  I presented Jesus, Isa to him as the “Spirit of God.”  I can remember Ishmael referring to Jesus as such.

The Bible explains that with the Lord, there is freedom; “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”  2 Corinthians 3:16-18

This poem is for Ishmael.  Although we are related through Abraham, peace cannot come through compromise.  To agree that God and Allah are the same is to break the first commandment, which says;  “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  “You shall have no other gods before me.”  Exodus 20:1-3

Ishmael, my brother,
 How long shall we fight each other?

My brother from times bygone,
 My brother - Hagar's son,
 My brother the wandering one.

One angel was sent to us both,
 One angel watched over our growth -
 There in the wilderness, death threatened through thirst,
 I a sacrifice on the alter, Sarah's first.

Ishmael, my brother, hear my plea:
 It was the angel who tied you to me. . . .

Time is running out, put hatred to sleep.
 Shoulder to Shoulder, lets water our sheep.

Here is a Moslem who was asked “who is Jesus?”  It’s 3.31 mins.

God is fussy about His name.

Islam has 99 names for God and they don’t match up.

How Muhammad Broke the 10 Commandments – #1 I am the Lord thy God
Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”  Acts 4:11-12

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Bert, Air America, the Brat from Florida

God is a God of second chances.  He promised me a happy second marriage to a man He’d chosen, who I’d meet after ‘going around a circle.’  The promise he gave me was from Jerermiah 23:16.

*You can read about it in my book extract “The Word at the levelled hill” at the end of the post.

“How would I find him?” I asked.

“Set up signposts,
Make landmarks;
Set your heart toward the highway,” the King told me, indicating I should write a story setting up the signs and marking the road.

“Where should I go?” I asked, wanting to return to Sydney.

Turn back to these your cities.
How long will you gad about,
O you backsliding daughter?” the King replied, indicating to me it was a place I had to ‘turn back to.’  I hoped he meant Sydney.

“You will go full circle around him,” the King added.

“For the Lord has created a new thing in the earth—
A woman shall encompass a man.”

Where is he from?” I asked, hoping full-circle was Sydney.

“Florida,” the King signed.

That threw a spanner in the works.

All I could do after that was wait.

The Florida sign appears in the part of my book where I’m in ‘the Doldrums.’

Five years later I went full circle after going back to a college I’d ‘turned back to.’

I’d previously been employed at as a science technician.  This time I was the computer technician.

Both times I replaced Bert and both times he told me he didn’t have time to train me.  This time I insisted on training.

At lunch one day during training he revealed he was American.  When I asked where he was from, he said ‘Florida.’  I’ll leave you to imagine the look on my face.

It was hard to tell from his accent where he came from.  I’d just accepted him as another “Kiwi,” a fellow New Zealander.   He’s been in New Zealand since he was twelve and has only lived in the US for four years of his life.  Before that he had lived in Vietnman and Thailand.

He feels right at home in Asia, loves Thai and Malaysian food, and is good at guessing which country an Asian face belongs to.  I can’t tell!

Doug, Pilot

Doug Rolston, Air America

His father, whose picture is on the right, had been a US army pilot and then flown for a civilian firm called “Air America”.  When the war ended the family moved to NZ instead of returning to the States.

The children of these pilots are unique as they are the only group of children who lived in a war zone with their parents.

On his fifth birthday the precursor to the Tet Offensive began when a building in his street was bombed, about 400 metres from his home in Saigon.  He’s never forgotten that.

The Air America Brats have a special bond with each other, and I have been priviliged to meet some of them at a “Brats reunion” in Dallas.  “Brats” in this case means children of their fathers who served as pilots in the US armed forces.

They have their own culture as many of them never had a home town to grow up in.  I couldn’t have met a nicer group of people, and they were very welcoming of me.

To begin with, I was intrigued with this particular “Brat” but didn’t know if I liked him very much, and he wasn’t warming to me much either!  There was something different about him.  He wasn’t like the ‘normal’ NZ man from my culture.

Bert_Udorn_summer_activities

Here he is on the left as a young boy.  He’s the blonde, and he still has that slouch!  His father Doug is the pilot in the picture above.  Doug has been a hard act for his son to follow.  Both father and son are very bright men.

I am so glad they came out here and settled in NZ.  When Bert got off the plane here, the first thing he thought was “I’m home.”  He’d never been to NZ before.  And he was home

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* Book extract: The word at the levelled hill

Explaining the inexplicable

God has promised that He will instruct and teach in the way we should go, that He will counsel and watch over us.  (Psalm 32:8)

Photo0161

I have this promise framed in my living room.  Nina in the circle of friends made it for me, and I treasure it.

It is a wonderful promise, which I have found it to be true.  It does happen, and its great, getting counsel and guidance from the Lord.  The trouble is, the Lord doesn’t seem to care about comfort zones, and it can be quite difficult explaining things to people outside the Kingdom.

Have you ever had a situation where God has given instructions or counsel about the way in which you should go, but you can’t explain your choice of action to the outside world?   Chapter 42 Canberra tells the story.

The confrontation

Proverbs 6-16-19There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
         a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
         a false witness who pours out lies
and and he that sows discord among brethren.  Proverbs 6:16-19

Joanna wanted to tell Liang that someone had spoken against him. If the accusation was true, she needed to protect her little ones. If it was false, she wanted to defend Liang. She needed to find out the truth. 

Needing solitude and time to think, she withdrew from her friends. Liang did not know what had happened to her. She appeared to be very distant to him.   Liang went to see White Flower, who lived just two houses away. “She has thrown me out of the house” he said, jokingly.

White Flower, feeling for Liang, replied “Oh, I am so sorry – but I am sure she will find out that all of this is not true. Do you want me to talk to her?” Liang looked puzzled. “What? What are you talking about?” he asked.

Just then Joanna contacted White Flower, “Please do not say anything to him about the accusation, for I have not told him about it.”

“Oh” White Flower said, disconcerted.

She turned to Liang. “I am sorry; I cannot tell you what I am talking about. You had best talk to her.”

“What is this about?” he asked.

“Think of your worst nightmare and it will be that” she said gravely.

Liang went back to Joanna with questions.

She told him what had happened, “Unless it is substantiated, I am going to treat it as slander.  But we need to stop seeing each other while I get this mess sorted out. The King did request that I step back from you for a time, and I ignored Him, when I should not have.”

The Bright One revealed that the slander had come from his friend Andrew, who said he heard it from his best friend.

“I want the name of his friend” Joanna demanded.  The Bright One was not forthcoming.  Undeterred, she asked White Flower to pay a social visit to Andrew’s unsuspecting wife.

“I need that name” she said.  White Flower was happy to oblige.

While having a cup of tea with Andrew’s wife, White Flower made conversation.

“You have not been married long, have you?” she asked disingenuously, “I would love to see your wedding dress.  Do you have some wedding photos?”

As she leafed through the wedding album, admiring the dress, she pointed to Andrew’s best man, and in all innocence asked “I’ve think I’ve met him somewhere.  Is he a local?  What’s his name?”

Later, armed with the name, she went back to Joanna with a satisfied smile.

Liang was calm in the face of the attack, but when he learned from White Flower that the accusation had come through the Bright One, he was angry. He confronted the Bright One saying “Look, I do not dislike you, but I dislike this! If you will not tell me who it was who spoke against me, then he needs to come forward.”

The Bright One agreed, “I am going to confront Andrew, the brother who made the accusation. Do you want to come with me?”

“Yes, I think that it is best if we tackle him together” she said, as she pulled on her armour.  She had already contacted Andrew’s baffled friend who did not know Liang.

They knocked and walked into the house of Andrew, the slanderer.  Andrew who was busy sanding gib-board, looked up but did not stop.  White dust filled the air and clung to him.  He looked like a ghoul.

The atmosphere grew tense as Andrew ignored them and carried on working.  Sensing trouble, Joanna grew very uncomfortable at being in this old house.  It was a dragon’s den.  Finally the Bright One politely interjected in the conversation Andrew was having with his father, and asked to talk about the accusation.

Andrew did not want to talk, but the Bright One calmly stood his ground and insisted it be resolved. Feeling himself pushed into a corner, Andrew weighed his options, his face expressionless.  He did not like being confronted.

Without warning, he snapped and lunged for the Bright One.  Andrew’s father stepped in to separate them.  A tall Maori, the Bright One could easily have decked Andrew, but he chose not to hit him.  Assisted by Andrew’s father, he held him off.

Elephants_wallpapers_87A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.  Proverbs 18:6

Again and again Andrew attacked the Bright One.  White dust filled the air.  The Bright One allowed himself to be pushed out the door.

Joanna grimaced at Andrew’s father and bolted out the door after them.

After the scuffling had ended and they were a safe distance from the house Joanna  looked at the Bright One, and laughed at his appearance.  His light olive skin was covered in white powder, his black hair stood on end, and he sported a torn shirt and cut lip.  She was still laughing shakily as they walked away.

The Bright One threw a droll smile at Joanna and said “Well sis, I guess we got our answer.”

“I already knew.  I talked to his friend and found out it wasn’t true” she confessed.  The Bright One was puzzled.  How did she know who Andrew’s friend was?  She told him about the scheme hatched with White Flower.

The Bright One shook his head at their conniving.  “Women!  You girls are tricky!” he said aghast, his face a flaming mixture of amazement and dismay.

“I am sorry, but I acted out of necessity” she said, as if the ends justified the means.  “What do we do now?” she asked, wanting to move on.

“We’ll do what the King said to do in circumstances like this, and tell it to the church” he replied.

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”  Matthew 18:15-17

Later, they called in the pastors of Andrew and the Bright One, explaining what had happened.  As the circle of friends was an informal group, belonging to many different churches, there was no formal oversight.

The pastors knew the group as they had come along to their meals as visitors.  They listened carefully, asked questions and sought the Lord, their prayer echoing her own “Lord, let justice be the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line.”  Isaiah 28:17

Joanna left the matter in their hands.  Whether they applied church discipline to Andrew, she did not know.  Andrew’s wife had not been involved, and was still welcome with the circle of friends.  She did not get upset at Joanna and White Flower’s machinations, but chose to stay, even though Andrew was now excluded from the circle.

Forgive and forget me not

There is a proverb that says “Do not say, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me; I’ll pay them back for what they did.” Proverbs 24:29

forget-me-nots

In the world, it may seem better and logical to hurt people back.  In New Zealand the Maori word for it is ‘utu’.  Before Christianity came with the light of the Kingdom, the Maori had never ending tribal warfare.  They had no word for forgiveness.

In the Lord’s prayer it says “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them who trespass against us.”  Its so hard to do, but it does bring peace, if we can do it.  I know that sometimes only God can give us the ability to do it.

Forgiveness is not saying what the offender did was okay. Forgiveness is not inviting victim-hood.   You don’t need to let the offender back into your life.  Nor do you need to trust them.  Trust is earned.

Cherry, one of the characters in my book owed me a big apology.  I can’t even remember if I got it now.  It doesn’t matter, I forgave her, I chose not to let her back into my life, and I moved on.

Hand me another brick

Hand me another brick“Princess Deborah” (my friend and prayer partner) and I had repented of our ways, and were on the rebuild of our lives, starting with our boundaries.  We didn’t even know what boundaries were.  All we knew was, that we had to rebuild like Nehemiah did. 

The Lord was VERY interested in what we were doing.  He was right behind us in our endeavour.  When we needed information about “building the wall,” we asked Him for help.  The information was going to be hard to come by, we thought. It was the nineties, and we didn’t have the internet.

Coincidentally two friends who didn’t know each other, and didn’t know what we’d asked for, brought me a book and tapes, before the week was out.   I could see that the Lord was in the work.  He told me when people come to Him in faith asking Him for help in anything touching His will, He delights in it.

So we went to work.  Nehemiah rebuilt the walls around Jerusalem in 52 days, but it took us longer than that.  The day came when I’d had enough of working on boundaries, and wanted to get on with other stuff in the Kingdom.  I headed around to Deborah’s and what did I see?  A big pile of rocks her husband had bought down from Taupo for landscaping.  Yes, it was a big sign to tell us to keep on with the work!

Boundaries are important because having them gives control over your life, it enables you to say “yes” to the good and “no” the bad.  People without boundaries are often compliant and can’t say no, and they attract controlling people who can’t hear no.  You know, the ones who if you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile.  This is what happened to me and my friend “Princess Deborah”.

The Bible says “He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” Proverbs 25:28  The Lord wants us, with His help, to have rule over our own spirit.

The book I was loaned is called “Boundaries” by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend.  It was really helpful.  I can now say the word ‘no’ without feeling guilt, and I can now recognise and deal with controlling people.  No is a great word!  The tapes were also really helpful but I can’t tell you who did them, I gave them back years ago.  I did take notes and wrote down some very telling extracts in my chapter about “Rebuilding the wall.”

I’ve also found a good sermon on Nehemiah, Rebuilding Spiritual Walls – by Ocean Drive Presbyterian Church, North Myrtle Beach, SC.  If you have 1/2 an hour its worth listening to.

No experience is wasted

FriendsTo everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven,
a time a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them …
Ecclesiastes 3-5.

In my book I wrote a chapter about “Stones,” where I began rebuilding with rubble after a destructive relationship with a narcissist, and some unhealthy friends after him.  I had to rebuild my life on a new foundation.

The friend I met by a swimming pool in an earlier chapter also was going to have to tear down in order to rebuild.  She wanted the same thing for herself and her family that I did.

We began meeting over coffee and praying together with our Bibles open.  We drew inspiration from a book called “Nehemiah”, about a man who God used to build a big protective wall around a kingdom, out of rubble.

I have learned from that time that with the Lord, no experience is wasted.  I am grateful for my nightmare experience with the narcissist because it helped me understand what my friend was going through, and with the Lord’s help I came out of it stronger.  We were able to rebuild standing together, uplifting and supporting each other.

So if anyone reading this is recovering from a destructive relationship, I know what its like because I’ve been there.  With the Lord it is possible to rebuild, even if rubble is the only thing left to rebuild with.   I am blogging for you because the Lord is out there looking for you, and He will restore your soul.  That’s a promise from Psalm 23