Thursday, January 30, 2014

Is it OK to lie to nuns?

I know what you are thinking, and you are probably right.  This seems like a stupid question.  After all, the answer is obviously… No.  (Isn’t it?)

Let me tell you a hypothetical story about a young man, his name was… uh…. Jacques Bate.  Yes, let us call him Jacques Bate. 
That sounds good.  Winking smile

Jacques went to the airport to pick up a family member last week.  (Hypothetically of course.  This may not have happened.)

While he was there, he arrived behind a nun driving a tiny car.  Do they drive any other kind?  She was clearly waiting for someone on the same flight as he was, and when he went to pay for his parking on the way out, he was in the queue behind the two nuns at the automatic pay machine. 

The nun who had come to collect the other one was quite distressed.  She has paid her money, and received her ticket back.  Now she wanted a receipt for the R10 she had just paid.  (To put this in perspective, R10 is the cost of a small fries at McDonalds.)
The problem was that you could only get a receipt if you pressed a button marked “receiptbefore you paid your money. 

She had failed to do so, and now could not figure out why she could not get a receipt.  So they gave up and walked away.

Mr Bate quickly paid his R10, and requested a receipt.  Now he had arrived at the same time as the lady, and left at the same time as well.  So their tickets were almost identical.

The problem was… if he offered the receipt to the nuns, would they accept it?  It is not like they would be cheating anyone; they had really paid the R10, and just made a mistake.  But taking it would be lying, wouldn’t it?

So Jacques gave it to them, and told them it had got stuck in the machine, and he assumed it belonged to them. 

They took it without question, and walked away relieved. (Clearly even nuns are afraid of other nuns, and the convent book-keeper must be a real terror.)

Now this post is not to tell you what a wonderful person JB is.  This whole thing might be hypothetical, remember. 

It just got me thinking… is it actually wrong? Technically it is lying.  Even if the motive is good.  And nobody was hurt.  And somebody was helped.  And the truth was not damaged.  (The receipt was for a real payment.)

But JB knew that they would not be able to accept the receipt with a clear conscience, so he made a decision to be the one who told the lie.

What do you think?

Hypothetically of course.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What time do you have?

In South Africa, we have the oldest regularly-used large-gun in the world.  What that means is that we have a big cannon that has been fired every day since 1806.


320px-Noon_Gun_Firing_Signal_Hill_Cape_Town_4_September_2008It is called the Noon Gun, and it is fired from Signal Hill in Cape Town every day at precisely noon.  It has only failed to fire once in the last 200 years due to a technical hitch.

Timing guns were very important years ago to let the sailors calibrate their Maritime Chronometers.  It was important that the Chronometer be re-set and checked regularly as a delay of even half a second could mean that you were not able to navigate accurately and you would be lost at sea.  So every ship would make sure they were up to the second when they were in port.

For two centuries, the sound of an explosion echoing across the city has been a reminder to all as to what time it was, and for years you could see residents check their own watch at 12h00, and smile to see that they were only off by a few seconds.  If it was more than a few seconds, they would frown slightly and adjust their own watch.

Of course the Noon Gun is more accurate than ever these days.  The gun is fired electronically by a signal from the Southern African Astronomical Observatory, which is timed to even take into account the millisecond delay as the signal is relayed by telephone lines.  The SAAO is synchronised to the Atomic Clock, making the Noon Gun one of the most accurate time announcement devices in the world.


When the gun goes off these days, people reach for their ‘phones or look at their watches, not to check their own watches, but to check the gun!  If their watch doesn’t agree, they shake their head sadly…. and leave their watch, assuming that the gun is late today.

After all, their watch/phone/p.d.a .can’t be wrong.  If it disagrees with the gun, then the gun must be at fault.  Their world is never wrong.

Unfortunately I think that is how a lot of people treat the Gospel these days.  In the past, we would allow the Gospel to shape our understanding of the world.  Now we try to shape the Gospel to our understanding of the world.  Once upon a time if we heard God speaking to us, we would listen and obey, even if it made no sense.

Now we say to ourselves, “That doesn’t make any sense, I must be wrong.”

We try to change the Gospel by saying “It obviously doesn’t mean that, because that is illogical.” or “It can’t mean that, because that wouldn’t be fair.” or “God can’t mean us to do that, because it violates somebody’s freedom of choice.”

We think that God, and the Gospel, need to change to suit the modern world, instead of trying to make the modern world change to suit God.

We ignore the never changing, always correct sound of the Noon Gun, and try to follow our own devices.  We just assume that if there is a problem, it is with God and the Bible, and so we change the message.  We soften the blow.  We try to make it “fit”.

But God didn’t call us to make His Word fit.  He called us to make his word known.  He called us to speak the truth.  He called us to live lives that don’t always make sense to us, or those around us; and often fly in the face of what the world preaches.

HE called us to never stop listening for his voice, daily, and adjusting our own lives to match.

Are we doing that?

Are we being Faithful, and True?

Are we Faithful In Serving Him?

I am trying to be.  How about you?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My favourite hymn.

I always thought there was something fishy about this one.


(From Cake or Death, by the ever talented Alex Baker)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2014 and a “new” word

I know I have been a bit scarce of late… And by “of late”, I mean the last 3 years.

I will try to be a bit more faithful in posting this year. 

As I have mentioned before, I don’t really like New Years Resolutions, and never make them.  However in 2011 I discovered the idea of choosing a Word for the Year.

I really like that idea, and it is in fact part of my sermon series I am planning for later this month and next month.  So while I ponder how this affects my life for this year, I have decided to use the same word from 2011 again.

FISH – Faithful In Serving Him. 
(Yes, I know it is actually 4 words. I cheated.  Deal with it.)

Why am I choosing the same word again? 

Because I still don’t think I am doing it right, and I want another try.

How about you?