The Cost of Faith

After last week’s post on ‘trials being par for the course’ my attention was drawn to the price others have paid for faith. One, William Tyndale, the man who brought us first the English translation of the Bible, and the other a lady I had never heard of until finding a poem she wrote.

First, cost of faith for William Tyndale…

William Tyndale, image

William Tyndale  was an English scholar who became a leading figure in the Protestant Reformation in the years leading up to his execution. He is well known for his translation of the Bible into English. A number of partial translations had been made from the seventh century onward, but the spread of Wycliffe’s Bible in the late 14th century led to the death penalty for anyone found in unlicensed possession of Scripture in English.

(Featured image is  of John 1, Tyndale Bible.)

From one of his works ‘The Obedience of a Christian Man,’ William Tyndale wrote…

Mark this also, if God send thee to the sea, and promise to go with thee, and to bring thee safe to land, he will raise up a tempest against thee, to prove whether thou wilt abide by his word, and that thou mayest feel thy faith, and perceive his goodness. For if it were always fair weather, and thou never brought into such jeopardy, whence his mercy only delivered thee, thy faith should be but a presumption, and thou shouldest be ever unthankful to God and merciless unto thy neighbor.

Probably better than us, the man clearly understood that Christian faith was not ‘a walk in the park.’

From the same work…

The preaching of God’s word is hateful and contrary unto them. Why? For it is impossible to preach Christ, except thou preach against antichrist; that is to say, them which with their false doctrine and violence of sword enforce to quench the true doctrine of Christ. And as thou canst heal no disease, except thou begin at the root; even so canst thou preach against no mischief, except thou begin at the bishops.

William Tyndale was executed for heresy by the Roman Catholic Church of his day. He was strangled, then burnt at the stake.

Execution of William Tyndale

Legacy of William Tyndale…

In 1611, the 54 scholars who produced the King James Bible drew significantly from Tyndale, as well as from translations that descended from his. One estimate suggests that the New Testament in the King James Version is 83% Tyndale’s.

Read more about his life – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Tyndale

Cost of faith for Jeanne Marie de la Motte-Guyon

Jeane Guyon, image

I want to finish today with a poem written by a lady I had never heard of until I found the poem.

Here’s a little bit of background on her though. Persecuted for her faith, accused of heresy by the Roman Catholic Church of her day, she was in prison when she wrote the poem. Imprisoned in a dungeon below the level of the ground for ten years, no natural light came into her life. They did allow her to burn a candle at breakfast, lunch and dinner. She wasn’t getting a lot of sustenance, but whenever those meager meals came along, she was allowed to have a candle so that she wouldn’t be in pitch black, and she’d actually be able to feed herself. Well, she wrote this poem sometime during that ten years. Somehow it got out and it was preserved. Listen to the acceptance of God’s will, — the resignation that is here.
She says:

“A little bird I am
Shut from the fields of air.
Yet in my cage I sit and sing
To Him who placed me there.
Well pleased a prisoner to be
Because my God, it pleases thee.
Nothing have I else to do,
I sing the whole day long.
And He who most I love to please
Says, Listen to my song.
He caught and bound my wandering way,
But still He bends to hear me sing.

My cage confines me ‘round,
But abroad I cannot fly.
But though my wing is closely bound,
My heart’s at liberty.
My prison walls cannot control the flight,
The freedom of my soul.
Ah! It is good to soar
These belts and bars above
To Him whose purpose I adore.
Whose providence I love.
And in Thy mighty will to find
The joy, the freedom of the mind.”
                                                    Jeanne Marie de la Motte-Guyon 1648-1717

Read the rest of her story here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeanne_Guyon

The cost of faith is a cost. No rose gardens here.

Thinking,

Susan

Trials are par for the course

Trials come in relationships

Par for the course… why? If we are trying to live by faith why do we have trials?  

On this subject, I came across a video clip on the site of someone who followed my older blog. It was an interesting song. ‘Before the morning’ (I will link to the clip at the end.)

It begins with questions about why ‘you’ are suffering if there is a loving God Who cares. Questions like this are quite common.

rose garden

Remember the old song “I never promised you a rose garden’? Well God does not promise us a life without pain and trials if we accept the sacrifice His Son made for us.

Trials never end – while we are alive.

As it was in the beginning of our faith…

  • In Hold the Faith, book one of the Apostle John series, Benjamin faced a faith-testing trial. Ours trials are different to those of the fictional characters, but some of ours are ‘faith-testing’ too.
  • In The Light of Truth, book three, I wrote about the trials of a background character who has moved to the foreground. Then someone who left in book two, Grow in Grace, made a re-entry in this third book.
    Here things are moving toward another arrest of the Apostle John.
  • In book four, Keep the Flame, one of my favorite characters dies.
  • Book 5, Hell Shall Not Prevail, completes the series, and it was not the end of trials.

The books are fiction but the trials and challenges are similar to those we face.

Apostle John series, all 5 cover images

So why am I talking about these books? Why mention the song? Because, although my book series is fiction, my primary resource book has been the Bible, and in writing this series I have learnt a great deal about why things happen.

Take for example Jesus’ words...

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Many people are told that because Jesus said “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’, that He has done it all for us. Not so.

Trials did not stop with Jesus’ resurrection

Look at the lives of those first disciples… only John survived into old age. The others, according to legend, were all martyred. Also, according to legend, John was put in boiling oil. That does not sound like ‘Jesus did it all’ to me.

And what about these scriptures...

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
James 1:2

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials
1Peter 1:6

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:12

These writers, who were Apostles, make it clear that we will have trials, and as we plod through them, our faith and trust in our Saviour grows.

Have you read this one?

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
James 1: 3, 4

The trust in His Father that Jesus had to exercise must have been enormous, and another scripture says that He learned obedience through the things He suffered. (Heb 5: 8)

Jesus was schemed against all throughout His ministry. He must have been one of the loneliest, most lied about, most misunderstood person who ever lived. Not to mention the most cruelly punished. He was scourged, mocked and crucified.

plotting against Jesus

Our trials

never leave you quote

Although what Jesus and the early Christians went through makes what we go through seem ‘mild’ by comparison, our trials are horrendous to us.

Sometimes all we can do is ask God for help…

and try to recognise the help when it is given.

You might enjoy this song if you are going through a painful trial…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=New8i_eX3x8

Just thinking again,

Susan

Piracy Three Ways

piracy flag, image of skull and crossbones on flag

What is piracy?
Anything from piracy on the seas to piracy of books, records, movies.

Piracy on the Seas

SINGAPORE — The Ai Maru steamed alone under night skies on June 14 when a speedboat slipped in from the darkness and overtook the tanker about 30 miles off the coast of Malaysia. At 9:15 p.m., seven men with handguns and knives clambered up over the side, smashed through doors, tied up crew members at gunpoint and bashed the Ai Maru’s communications equipment.

The attackers stripped the 13 crew members of their personal belongings, locked them in a room and spent the next hours getting to the real work at hand: stealing the cargo. A second tanker, this one piloted by more pirates, pulled alongside. The maritime robbers siphoned a total of 620 metric tons of marine gas oil from Ai Maru to their own ship.

https://www.cnbc.com/2014/09/15/worlds-most-pirated-waters.html

Dictionary.com defines a different kind of piracy as…

“The unauthorized reproduction or use of a copyrighted book, recording, television program, patented invention, trademarked product, etc.”

If we are honest… we will admit that at some time in our lives most of us have been guilty of this kind of piracy.

Common reasons I have heard for burning, copying for a friend, or lending a book are…

“Well, that company makes millions anyway.”

Yes, usually that company does – but it is still theft. The big company can write off these debts, but the recording artist or author only receives a small portion of the price – he or she is the one most hurt by this kind of piracy.

The shipping company in the first example probably was insured, might have had to pay a larger premium, but people in the second category have no such protection. A royalty payment is lost.

There is another kind of piracy…

When piracy is a scam.

piracy. Unauthorised download offered

Every now and again I am informed of Hold the Faith being available free in any digital format. This was the case a few days ago – I decided to check it out. 

I am sharing this – not because of a huge loss, but because of my discovery of the  enormity of the scam.

I know I have excellent antivirus and security software, so I clicked on each of the buttons in turn.

Each button went to a different site – all had the same sign up free page. So, I did an online search.

GoMediaz, PlayJoltz, and Pepplay were the three sites, each linked to one of the buttons. Google listed each of these, and a page (maybe more) of scam warnings.

It saddened me to read of how many people who had signed up for a free account, and had to provide a credit card number, found their card had regular deductions from the company although no purchase had been made.

piracy, Google alert of unauthorised download
Note: This is an old version of Hold the Faith

All three had identical ‘sign-up’ forms…

reply from piracy company

But I did not want to sign up for anything. I wanted a contact address.

Eventually, I did find addresses for two of them.

I found email addresses for two of the ‘companies’ and sent a short email asking them to remove my book from their database.

Identical email replies were received…

 

After hearing comments from other authors in some groups I am a member of I decided to write this blog – as a warning to save some from being scammed.

In order to take screenshots I found the ‘alert’ and clicked on the buttons again.

To my surprise, they now linked to another set of three websites.

See the images below.

piracy, warning by a scammed user
Scam alert

The extent of the piracy/scamming astounds me.

I decided to contact Google and ask why the addresses from the same alert now led to a different set of websites. (All, like the first three – scammers.)

It was hard to obtain an email address for Google, and I didn’t want an American phone number. Apart from the cost, it is night time there when I am writing this.

I found a link to an Australian Google address.

It was blocked by my antivirus software.

When I was a computer trainer, if I had a class of newbie users, I used to take examples of scam emails from various banks, PayPal, and credit unions to show the class how to identify the scam mails, show them the real sites, as well as tell them what to do.

“Is it safe to go online?” some might bemoan.

A    Only if you keep your wits about you.

And remember the old saying… ‘If it Sounds Too Good to Be True, it Probably Is.’

With these free sites – who offer books, music, movies… always remember that not everything is as it seems.

Sadly, it seems to be ‘human nature’ to want something for nothing. For hundreds of people that desire ended up costing them a great deal of money as well as frustration.

I have written this post to raise awareness and so that some, perhaps you, might be spared from these traps.

Troubled by the piracy,

Susan

piracy cartoon image

What is the best book review?

book and flowers, book review blog

What is the best book review? – An honest one that a reader took the time to write.

As authors and avid readers know, book reviews are important!

I read what others have said before making up my mind about a book.

Blurbs, at least nowadays, are designed to be more of ‘teasers’ than an overview of the story.

What is a book review?

e-reader image for review blog

Quite simply – it is your opinion of something you have read.

Some visibly squirm when ‘book review’ is mentioned. May I say again? A book review is your OPINION of something you have read, be it good or bad.

Some people write a synopsis of the story, or a critique, but a review can be one line long.

Where do you write book reviews?

Where you bought it from
(Free counts as verified on Amazon.)
Verified is important to Amazon on the latest purge.

Unverified reviews and ARC reviews are being culled.

This is not necessarily fair because an author might be trying to increase reviews on Amazon – which is where many people look – other than Goodreads.

However, the reader might have bought the book at an author event or from another retailer.

Amazon declining some book reviews

In another attempt to rid their site from ‘fake’ reviews anything that raises ‘ a warning flag’ to Amazon and a book review is refused.

Someone recently reported that a review had been refused because of ‘unusual activity’ about a book. The author had been advertising the book at an author event and a number of people who bought, read and liked the book decided to review it, around the same time.

The author was understandably upset.

Warning:

From a member of a Facebook group…

“Guys, make sure your FB settings are all set to private or you might run into trouble. Amazon won’t let you post reviews if they think you are affiliated with the author! Do not link your Amazon account with Facebook, they’ll know instantly & might block you from reviewing anything!

And when posting in groups, check settings as well.”

A couple of recent book reviews of Hold the Faith

Hold the Faith by Susan M B Preston, cover image

If you’re an atheist, you probably would want to avoid reading it. But you’re missing out on something that is a well-written piece of historical fiction. The author has taken great pains with her research into the times. Maybe it’s one-sided. But many works are, and each has a right in our society – whether we like it or not.

It covers a time when Christianity was still a fledgling cult. When compared to known cults of modern times, it reflects how their members struggled against the authorities and public opinion at the time. For that, I found a great reflective insight into how people act and react to each other, how their faith and beliefs are challenged, how family and friends can react to someone for what they think.

If you’re a Christian, you will love this, and I recommend it. If you’re a non-believer, that’s fine too. I completed reading this as a non-believer, a free-thinker, and I am far from converting myself (or others)… so put your fears aside, open the book, and I believe you could enjoy it as I did.

What a lovely surprise this book was! I started thinking it may be heavy on religion, but it’s more historical than anything else, a really good insight into what living a Christian life would have been like. I’d definitely read more if there was another.

You can find both of these – and others on Amazon.com

Hold the Faith reviews

But a book review can be one line… like this

“Love this book.”

Along with a five-star rating it says a lot with a few words.

Book reviews are…

  • Informative –to future readers.
  • Encouraging – to authors

In this world there is a lack of encouragement. So many people are busy, struggling, or time-poor.

bouquet for book reviewers

With this in mind – I would like to thank everyone who has written a review of any of my books! I appreciate that you have taken the time to write a book review.

And yes… I DO write reviews. I know how much work goes into researching, planning, writing, then checking multiple times before sending the manuscript to beta-readers then for editing. After that comes fixing anything they found that needs alteration.

Just thinking,

Susan

P.S. If you want some review hints I have a free PDF cheat sheet.

You can grab it here
Downloading does NOT add you to a mailing list.
If you want to join my VIP Readers and receive the monthly newsletter etc you can fill in any of the sign-up forms on this website, or go to the
VIP Readers’ page.

Grieving: What No One Is Talking About

Grieving, like seeing through a fog

Grieving is like seeing everything through a fog and it is not easy to explain. Some people tend to avoid talking to friends who are grieving. 

Why?

Either they do not know what to say, are afraid of upsetting their friend, or perhaps the whole subject of grieving is scary to the observer.

Recently, I talked with a close friend who is in her first year of widowhood. She has already passed a couple of ‘firsts’ but one day something triggered her into deep grief.

I remembered my first year of grieving

I put it this way because grieving never stops. It changes as we adjust to life without the person we are grieving for, but it is always there. Always being vulnerable to unexpected triggers.

Grieving, it's the little things

It is like the line in Song of Songs…
Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards
2:15

In what way do ‘little foxes’ have to do with grieving? 

As most of us who have been through the grieving process will tell you – as a ‘first’ approaches, we prepare for it. We know it is the first of the ‘markers’ of the year without that special person. But there are other, unexpected things. Like seeing something in a shop, a little cake in a bakery, or a magazine or postcard and catching oneself in time before buying it. He or she is no longer here to buy it for.

My friend found herself crying for no reason… but it was one of those reasons, or something similar.

Then there are the ‘coulda’, ‘wouda’, ‘shoulda’ moments

In my first year, someone told me that she climbed into the hospital bed and lay beside her husband as he prepared to exit his life.

Up jumped ‘coulda’ and ‘shoulda’.

I entertained them for a while. It had been so long since we even hugged. I kissed him on his head usually. The truth entered. My husband had been fighting to breathe for weeks by then. If I had laid beside him, or tried to hold him, it would have made him worse, not better.

Sometimes it is harder than others to deal with those three ‘siren’ enchantresses trying to draw the vulnerable griever deeper into sadness and regret. A dear friend told me from the start not to entertain those feelings… but they sneak in.

Choice

As with everything in life, a choice has to be made. Choose to follow those ‘sirens’, or choose to accept that there is no point in heading down that road.

Sometimes we say that we did not choose. Sadly, that is a choice too. We choose NOT to choose.

The Bible urges us to ‘Choose life’

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.
Deuteronomy 30: 15, 19

And sometimes that is difficult. Sometimes the person grieving wants to die too.

Until my journey is over, I pray that I will make ‘right’ choices, refuse the things I cannot change, and work on helping where I can to make the journey of others a little more pleasant.

The first time you have a coffee on your own is hard. But look around. There are quite a number of people alone at a table with their cup of coffee or tea. Smile if the other person looks at you.

Grieving is lonely

Why not smile at someone else walking alone as you pass them in the street. It might be the only smile they see that day.

And don’t avoid a friend who is grieving. If you don’t know what to say, tell them that.

Some people avoid mentioning the ‘deceased person’s name’ to the friend who is grieving. In most instances this is wrong. The husband, wife, child, or parent existed – to avoid mentioning the name is almost as if they never did.

Just thinking

Susan

A Look at the Lord’s Prayer

The Lords prayer

When I was at school in Scotland – a long time ago, we had to recite the Lord’s Prayer at the start of classes.

Recite, we were not required to understand it. We memorized it and mumbled through it without thinking of the words much less the meaning.

To be correct though, this is NOT the Lord’s Prayer it is the ‘model’ prayer Christ gave when His disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray. The actual Lord’s prayer was on the night He was betrayed after His last Passover, when He changed the symbols. Recorded in John 17 is the Lord’s prayer. First, He prayed for Himself, then He prayed for the disciples, then for all believers.

Knowing what He was to face, and knowing that He knew, it is a moving prayer. However, here I want to look at what is commonly known as the Lord’s prayer… the model prayer.

Looking at the Lord’s Prayer

Our Father Who art in heaven. Did you notice? Our Father, not my Father.

Hallowed be Your name. ‘Hallowed’ defined in dictionary.com as “regarded as holy; venerated; sacred” Praising Him happens here.
Matthew 6: 9

Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6: 10

The Kingdom of God is one of the key elements of the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament.

Question

Do we really want His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven?

His will is expressed in His laws and the Ten Commandments, which Jesus summarized when he gave the Two Great Commandments.

White lies cartoon
Slideshare image

To do His will means changing a great deal of our behaviors and attitudes.

  • No more ‘white lies,’
  • No more taking pens from our workplace without permission. (Yes, small as it is, it is still stealing.)
  • So is piracy of music, books, movies.
  • No more putting ‘other gods’ before Him.

If we sit and honestly think about it most of us have something that has our first attention. Statues – are ‘helps’ it is said.

But that is breaking a command of the great God of the Universe.

Moving on…

Give us this day our daily bread (again it is ‘us’ not give me my daily bread)
Matthew 6: 11

homemade bread picture

I know there are many places in the world where the food that most Western countries throw in the bin would be a banquet.

It is also a good place to add a prayer for clean, safe drinking water for those who need it.

The next verses can be a challenge

Matthew 6; 12 Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

This is conditional.

Where it can be difficult is if the person praying has been greatly hurt by another. We are still to forgive if we want to be forgiven.
Perhaps a prayer for help to forgive the person or persons would be appropriate.

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
Matthew 6: 13

The first part of this verse has confounded many scholars because it is said elsewhere that God does not tempt us with evil. Why then would we ask him not to lead us into temptation?

Could it be that as we grow in the faith, He will lead us to a situation where we have to make a choice? God gave us free will. So, if we find ourselves tempted to sin the implication seems to be that we should turn away.

Remember Adam and Eve. Eve was tempted, and gave in. Adam disobeyed.

Last verse

For yours is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen
This Is missed out from many translations.

In the Greek/English Interlinear it is written. The only difference in the wording is that instead of ‘for ever and ever’ it is written ‘for the ages.’

A Question often asked

So, if the Kingdom and power IS God’s why does He permit evil? Why does He allow a loved child to die? Why does He allow rapists and murderers to commit their evil?

A question many West Australians have been asking in the last few days is why did He not prevent the worst mass murder ever in Western Australia.
(Margaret River region, murders and suicide.)
https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/western-australia/margaret-river-murders-tributes-flow-from-shocked-community-20180511-p4zesp.html

And it has shocked and saddened us.

Why allow all this?

Because He has given the bad as well as the ‘good’ free choice.
Our gift to the people who are grieving is to pray for them.

Your Kingdom Come

We have to cooperate. And when things happen that we do not understand, trust God and follow the instructions.

Bible. One book, two testaments

He gave us His guidebook, His instruction manual. If we ignore it He allows us to go our own ways.
There are many scriptures that warn us of that.
(But this is not a sermon, it is me sharing my thoughts on what is commonly known as the Lord’s prayer.)

You don’t believe in God – that’s fine. He allows that too.

I remember a discussion with a family member many years ago.

I believe in God, the God of the Bible.

The family member disagreed, strongly.

I closed the discussion with the comment, “Well, one of us is right and one wrong. We will find out one day.”

A note for all who believe the evildoers should be punished. I believe they will be. By the only One who knows the hearts.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
2 Cor 5:10 (Christian Standard Bible.)

Musing again,

Susan

Sometimes We Forget

10 commandments, forget blog

When we read of people like Moses, Abraham, David – and many other ‘heroes’ of the Bible sometimes we forget– they didn’t have the Bible.

Under the inspiration of God, they were writing it!

reed peins


So too, with the writers of the New Testament… Peter, James, John, Paul and the others. They didn’t have the New Testament.

They spread the gospel by teaching from the Old Testament. They had the words written by the people in the Old Testament.

 

Sometimes we forget

They were writing what would become both the Old and the New Testaments.

As regular readers know, I have spent a lot of time in the 1st century AD in the last few years.

No, I don’t think I can time travel *smile* – but I have done a great deal of research in order to make the series as true to the time as possible, and that meant spending time in both Testaments of the Bible.

What I discovered led me off on tangents, and I looked at the lives of men and women that are considered ‘faithful’.

Why?
Was it easier for them to be faithful and obedient than for us with all the pressures we have?

I don’t think so.

They walked everywhere, they had no phones, no Internet, not even snail mail. (feet walking)

(They either walked and delivered the message themselves, or sent a messenger.)

Their obedience was remarkable – well, I say that considering the world we live in now. It seems bred into people to disobey, to refuse and object.
(Road rage; violent protests, and mass murders.)

do we forget they walked, image

Obedience costs

Abraham, whom most commentators suggest was a rich man in a prosperous city, obeyed…

“The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”
Genesis 12:1

It cost Stephen. In Acts 7: 3 when Stephen addressed the Sanhedrin, it resulted in Stephen being stoned. (Rocks thrown at him.)

Stoning of Stephen, image

What about Moses? Brought up in Pharaoh’s court, possible successor to Pharaoh, and after some complications which resulted in him living as a shepherd, brought back to challenge the current Pharaoh – and lead the tribes of Israel through the wilderness.

That task was a lot more difficult that looking after sheep!

 

No, I did not forget...

Jesus.
He came into the world to be our Passover Lamb. No matter how difficult the lives of any of those before – or our lives seem, nothing could compare with what He went through. We often gloss over His life, thinking – well, He was the Son of God, He had the Holy Spirit in full measure.  But I think He must have had far more temptation than we have ever had to endure, more loneliness, more opportunities to be offended…

Those who followed Him
So many of the Christians in the 1st century AD were put to death, cruelly, for their faith.

How could they do it? Pay the cost.

They had a relationship with God.

They lived what they believed every day, and that was not easy.

The featured image for this post is the Ten Commandments – because I was thinking of Moses.

How many of us know the ‘10’. And if you are one of the many people who believe that Jesus did away with them, and gave us the ‘2’. Those two summarize the ten.

How much obedience is in our lives? Where do we fail? (And we all do to some degree.)

The Christians of the 1st century AD didn’t call themselves Christian.

They called themselves followers of the Way. (No doubt because it was a way of life, not a religion.)

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1: 5

Do not forget, Christians are lights in the world

Followers of the Way

 “and [Saul who became Paul] asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem,” Acts 9:2

Also…

“Kenneth Samuel Wuest holds that all three original New Testament verses’ usages reflect a derisive element in the term Christian to refer to followers of Christ who did not acknowledge the emperor of Rome. The city of Antioch, where someone gave them the name Christians, had a reputation for coming up with such nicknames.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian

Even today, Christian people pay for their beliefs with their lives. Is the reward worth it?

Millions of believers have paid, and are paying, the cost because they believe it is!

To quote the book of Joshua…

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

The Gallipoli – Asia Minor Connection

Statue of soldiers at Gallipoli

In the early stages of writing the Apostle John Series, I used to print out my research materials. Sometimes it has proved handy with a ‘hard drive’ failure. The other day I was hunting for something that wasn’t on my computer, so I went to my filing cabinet.
Guess what I found.
LOL.
Of course, you cannot, and it was probably only interesting to me.
I found a laminated sheet showing Gallipoli right on the edge of the map I used for Hold the Faith. (For walking around the seven churches.)

What so interested me about Gallipoli?

Well, on the 25th April each year, it’s ANZAC Day.

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served”

Observed on 25 April each year, Anzac Day was originally devised to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

Wikipedia says it better than me. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anzac_Day

When I found the map showing Gallipoli in conjunction with the Roman province of Asia Minor I remembered I printed it out and laminated it for the Perth book launch of the first print edition of Hold the Faith. I put one on each side and laminated them together.

Gallipoli on the same map as the setting for the Apostle John Series

Being curious, I wondered what the history of the area was, other than the Roman occupation of the country, and the World War 1 battle.

“After Israel, Turkey has more biblical sites than any other country in the Middle East. For this reason Turkey is rightly called the Other Holy Land. Many Christians are unaware of Turkey’s unique role in the Bible because biblical reference works usually refer to this strategic peninsula, bounded by the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Black Seas, as Asia Minor or Anatolia. The land of Turkey is especially important in understanding the background of the New Testament, because approximately two-thirds of its books were written either to or from churches in Turkey. The three major apostle—Peter, Paul, and John—either ministered or lived in Turkey.”
http://sevenchurches.org/biblical-turkey/

Important - why?

Its strategic position was important to all who warred here. However, it was not called Turkey at the time of the battle of Gallipoli. Turkey was ‘formed’ in October 1923.

Part of what became Turkey was Thrace, which comprises southeastern Bulgaria (Northern Thrace), northeastern Greece (Western Thrace) and the European part of Turkey (Eastern Thrace.)

 I discovered ‘Spartacus’ was from Thrace.

If you are too young to have seen the movie Spartacus, this is what it is about, well, ‘film license’ of course.

“A Thracian by birth, Spartacus served in the Roman army, perhaps deserted, led bandit raids, and was caught and sold as a slave. With about 70 fellow gladiators he escaped a gladiatorial training school at Capua in 73 and took refuge on Mount Vesuvius, where other runaway slaves joined the band. After defeating two Roman forces in succession, the rebels overran most of southern Italy. Ultimately their numbers grew to at least 90,000. Spartacus defeated the two consuls for the year 72 and fought his way northward toward the Alps, hoping to be able to disperse his soldiers to their homelands once they were outside Italy.”
Read more here: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Spartacus-Roman-gladiator

Thrace

“Thrace was united as a kingdom under the chieftain Sitalces, who aided Athens during the Peloponnesian War, but after his death (428 B.C.) the state again broke up. By 342 B.C. all Thrace was held by Philip II of Macedon, and after 323 B.C. most of the country was in the hands of Lysimachus, a general of Alexander the Great. It fell apart once more after Lysimachus’ death (281 B.C.), and it was conquered by the Romans late in the 1st century B.C. Emperor Claudius created (A.D. 46) the province of Thrace, comprising the territory south of the Balkans; the remainder was incorporated into Moesia. The chief centers of Roman Thrace were Sardica (modern Sofia), Philippopolis (Plovdiv), and Adrianople (Edirne).”
http://www.allaboutturkey.com/trakya.htm

The region benefited greatly from Roman rule, but from the barbarian invasions of the 3d century A.D. until modern times it was almost continuously a battleground. As mentioned before, it was a strategic area controlling significant land and sea borders. The area benefited from its strategic importance on the main route between Europe and Asia, as well as from its control of the shipping route from Crimea.

Why were the ANZACs at Gallipoli?

The Gallipoli Campaign of 1915-16, also known as the Battle of Gallipoli or the Dardanelles Campaign, was an unsuccessful attempt by the Allied Powers to control the sea route from Europe to Russia during World War I.

The winners of the Gallipoli battle

The Ottoman Empire.

The death toll was high for all combatants.

Nowadays, both the Turkish dead and the ANZAC dead are recognized at the dawn service in Gallipoli. 2018 was the 103 anniversary.

Gallipoli - 3 nation's flags

Over the centuries how much blood has been shed in that region?

A sobering thought.

           Susan

 

 

One Plate in the Dishrack

parched ground, loneliness

One plate in the dishrack, one fork, one knife, no spoon. “I never have been a dessert-eater.

On special occasions I will have a chocolate ice-cream on a stick. There is little point making dessert for one.”

This is reality for many widows or widowers who only have themselves to cater for.

Some single people choose to live alone

Chocolate ice cream on a stick
one plate in the dishrack

The key – a matter of choice.

If a person chooses to live alone, either they are totally content with their own company, or have support networks outside the home environment.

For widows, widowers, or people who have been abandoned by their spouse/partner it is not necessarily a matter of choice. For them…

One plate in a dishrack is a reminder of their loneliness.

one plate blog, forgotten

I did a great deal of reading on this subject before starting this post… that, and personal experience as well as the experience of other folks in my position.

One person said, “I feel that I am the loneliest person in the world.”

Someone else might compete for that title.

There are many groups on Facebook, I belong to some writer groups where I can ‘meet’ with peers because there few authors where I live, and even fewer in my genre, so it is fun to be part of a group, even if it is online. But there are other groups, and occasionally something will appear from one of those other groups. The image beside this was from a group called Gramma’s Giggles and Fun.]

Feeling forgotten is the ‘killer’ of enthusiasm in so many people.

One plate on a table is a person alone.

It might only be for one meal. It might not be. If the one plate is all a person has day in day out, week after week, month after month, year after year, that the person would be correct in questioning if they have been forgotten.

A person living alone through no choice of their own is missing one incredibly important thing – encouragement. It’s true we all need it – the busy mother who feels taken for granted, the many workers or carers who rarely hear a word of thanks, or appreciation. A person living alone has no one to give encouragement. Perhaps there used to be a spouse who appreciated the other. Now, there is no one.

Statistics I read say that people who are lonely, particularly seniors, are more vulnerable to chronic illnesses, depression and conditions leading to early death. (It didn’t mention suicide, but I suppose that could be a possibility.)

Something else it did not mention but which I think is a danger… being ‘conned.’

Something else it did not mention but which I think is a danger… being ‘conned.’

Statistics graph

Frequently on the evening news or on current affairs programmes are reports of how many people have fallen for some ‘con’ (scam) and have lost thousands of dollars. One could wonder how the person was so easily fooled. Perhaps they were a ‘one plate in a dishrack’ person. As well as needing encouragement a person without emotional support, without visitors needs to feel useful. The ‘one plate person’ might have raised a family, might have had an important job – or at least a busy one, perhaps they now feel redundant and are thus more vulnerable to being scammed.

hook imageNearly all the scams I have seen reported as having victims  where I live involve someone saying they need help – for themselves or a family member. A huge carrot to someone who needs to feel needed, feel useful,  to help someone.. And they are hooked!

The suggestion is often given to join a club (a bit of a threat to an introvert), or to volunteer. Many older people do. But what if the ‘one plate person’ already has a chronic illness, no transport, or difficulty walking? Perhaps they are on the low government pension and have no money to go out to activities.

Worst case scenario – no longer a one plate person, but a recluse.

It does happen.

A few hints to help the one plate person

  • If visiting is not possible – send a card.
  • If they are on the Internet, and many seniors are these days – a short email saying you are thinking of them/ hope they are well.
  • Suggest they write down a memory to share with a grandchild, or to share with a class of young children. Who knows, it could end up being a memory a week or a day and help youngsters understand the past.

The popularity of TV shows like Downton Abbey, and Call the Midwife demonstrate there is an interest.

A phone call to someone living alone comes with a risk – if you are the only person he or she has had contact with that week be prepared to donate some time.

Wherever you meet a one plate person, listen. So many of us listen to give a reply but do not really listen to what is said. Listening is becoming a lost art… but that is another subject.

For now, please don’t judge the person who is alone, negatively. Consider, every positive thing you say to someone else becomes part of you, and might mean the world to them.

Please,

Tread softly – you might be the difference between despair and delight to someone who is lonely.

Susan

Polycarp or Bucolus?

Apostle John series, all 5 cover images

Recently one of the readers of my book series and I had a discussion on Polycarp. (She had recently started re-reading the Apostle John Series) and in book 1 – Hold the Faith, Polycarp was ‘introduced.’

First bishop of Smyrna - Polycarp or Bucolus?

Polycarp was a fascinating person to research, and as it Polycarp of Smyrnaturned out, June. the reader I was talking with, had also studied into Polycarp, Bucolus and some of the other people mentioned in Hold the Faith.

A video clip I saw some years ago said he had been born in 70 AD. 

Other sources put him being born in 80 AD
(I had found 69 AD the most preferred option.) The clip says that legend has it that he was anointed bishop of Smyrna by the Apostle John. I had read that too, but further research led me to the first bishop of Smyrna being a dedicated man by the name of Bucolus.

So, as can be seen, Polycarp is someone about whom there is much contradiction in writings.

Now, as to whether the Apostle John was the one who ordained him as the first bishop of Smyrna – bishop meaning overseer, let’s examine what else is recorded…

Legend has it that the Apostle John was taken captive to Rome, and, because he persisted in his refusal to acknowledge Emperor Domitian as lord and god, was plunged into a vat of boiling oil.

When he survived, he was sent to the Isle of Patmos, where he is generally considered to have written the book of Revelation. (He was released from Patmos, most likely after the murder of Emperor Domitian, in 96 AD)

I needed to check who was overseer at that time. Whilst it is not impossible for Polycarp to have been anointed as bishop by John, I considered it unlikely, given the Bible’s guidelines about not appointing young men to the office of an elder… a bishop is an elder. Then, as mentioned at the start, I discovered another source that stated that the first bishop of Smyrna was a well-loved and respected man named Bucolus. According to some sources, he was the one who passed the fellowship in Smyrna into the care of Polycarp. I will put some links in at the end of this post so you can read it up for yourself if you want.

Polycarp had ‘humble’ beginnings, some of which he ‘discussed’ with Benjamin in Hold the Faith.

Some 'figurings' about Polycarp

Polycarp          born 69 or 70 AD

John                taken to Rome 94 or 95 AD

Polycarp          would have been 24 – 26 years old then

Had Polycarp been born in 80 AD he would have been 14 or 15 years old when John was taken to Rome.

I favor the opinion that Bucolus was the first bishop/overseer of Smyrna.

Nevertheless, both men have interesting ‘histories.’

An overview of Bucolus – https://oca.org/saints/lives/2016/02/06/100441-st-bucolus-the-bishop-of-smyrna

And of Polycarp… 
http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com.au/2010/02/st-polycarp-hieromartyr-of-smyrna-and.html

Well, that’s the wondering for this week. Hope you enjoyed them.

Susan