Trials Have a Purpose?

Trials have a purpose

Do trials have a purpose? Well, that is what I believe. But, being honest,  I wonder how many of us have at times thought of the following scripture and said, “God thinks I can bear more than I think I can.”

There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it.
 Corinthians 10:13 (ASV)

How many of us seek, but cannot see, the way of escape promised in that scripture.

Trials fascinate many writers and musicians

I watched a video clip of 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.

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.

In book three of the Apostle John series, I wrote about the trials of a background character who moved to the foreground. Then someone who left in book two, Grow in Grace, makes a re-entry. In the third book, The Light of Truth, things are moving toward another arrest of the Apostle John. (There are another two books in the series, making five in all and trials abound in them, because they abound in life.)

So why am I talking about these books? Why mention the song ‘Before the Morning?’ Because, although my book series is fiction, my primary resource book has been the Bible, and in writing this series I learnt a great deal about why things happen. Sometimes we just have to wait and trust.

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.

Look at the lives of those first disciples… only John survived into old age. The others, according to legend, 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 encouragements about trials

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 Him grows.

Have you read this one?

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

The trust in His Father that Jesus had to exercise in every stage of his walk on earth must have been enormous, and another scripture says

He learned obedience through the things He suffered. Heb 5: 8

Our trials are horrendous to us.

Sometimes all we can do is ask God for help. Standing still sometimes is trusting God for relief.

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

Thinking

Susan

Christian is as Christian does

A Christian should be different in a positive way

I do not like My Kitchen Rules, an Australian cooking competition, but I know many people who do. Actually, to be honest, I never watched the programme until recently; the trailers were enough to show me it was not something I would enjoy. However, after a week in hospital without a book, no computer or laptop and no reading spectacles, I was bored and watched the episode where the home-schooled, ‘devout’ Christian brothers were to cook.

As the title of this blog says, ‘Christian is as Christian does’ and I saw not one ‘skerrit’ (atom/fragment) of Christianity in the behavior or attitude of those two young men. (Clearly, ‘skerrit’ is an old Scots saying from my childhood. I have added an approximation.)

The Christian Difference

As with the image at the top, Christians are different, Christians are supposed to be different, but not in the way I saw those two young men on My Kitchen Rules. I would guess that very few of us who claim the name ‘Christian’ live up to being the kind of witness we should be. I would also guess that most of us try.

Why did I let it bother me? Many reasons, but I guess primarily because it gives those of us who ARE trying to live like Christ a bad name.

What does Christian mean?

I will let someone more ‘skilled’ explain.

“Christian” literally means “of the party of Christ” or “follower of Christ.”

Acts 11:26 says, “and the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch” (emphasis added). A disciple is more than a student; a disciple embraces a teacher’s ways as their ways.

Early believers were called Christians because they believed Jesus’ teachings, they accepted Jesus’ death and resurrection as the payment for sin, and they emulated Jesus in the way they lived. These things are still true today. Simply put, a Christian is a follower of Jesus.
https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/what-is-a-christian.html (Emphasis mine.)

What was Jesus’ way?

In a nutshell… had a reputation for being good and caring. He healed often and in most places where He went. Yes, He was honest, as those two young men claim to be… but Jesus was not cruel, nor did he provoke people.

I have not seen other episodes of My Kitchen Rules 2019 but from what the young men said, they expected to be attacked because of their own behavior in previous episodes. One example I found was here… https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-6667929/MKRs-Christian-brothers-Josh-Austin-ask-rivals-theyve-cosmetic-surgery.html

I did not waste time watching it, I just read the text.

If you want to check it out here is a list of links… https://www.nowtolove.com.au/reality-tv/my-kitchen-rules/my-kitchen-rules-josh-austin-quotes-54037

Jesus and the Pharisees

Simply put (and this is a huge subject) Jesus tried to correct and help the Pharisees turn their focus on what was important to God.

Jesus rebuked them in Luke 11:42, “But woe to you, Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

Christian is as Christian Does

  • Yes, a Christian should be honest. Privately with the person.
  • Yes, a Christian should tell the truth, but not to cruelly hurt someone else, or to make him/herself look ‘good.’

Each one of us are witnesses, whether claiming to be Christian or not.

Actions speak louder than words.

We all need to look at what our actions are saying. We need to ask if they match our words.

Christians should make a positive difference

Okay, complaint over. Guess who will not be watching another episode.

What I will have to be watching is – do my words match my actions?

(A constant challenge.)

How do you fare in this challenge?

Just asking

Susan

Did Jesus Break the Sabbath

Hedge around the Sabbath

If Jesus broke the Sabbath then He sinned and there is no Savior. Yet some scriptures are quoted to back up the assumption that He broke the Sabbath.

One of them is a story from the Bible that most people who have been to church, or Sunday School, would have heard…

John 5:5-18 “And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. … 8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up your bed, and walk. 9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the Sabbath. … 15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. 16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the Sabbath day. 17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”

Verse 18 says that Jesus ‘broke the Sabbath’ – is this true?  The Greek is different.

Does it say Jesus broke the Sabbath?

No. According to an online Greek/English Interlinear translation ‘broke’ is translated as ‘loosed.’

Jesus loosed the Sabbath, Greek

Another Greek Interlinear says that Jesus ‘untied’ the Sabbath.

Jesus untied the Sabbath, Greek

Loosed? Untied? From what. Perhaps the answer is in another place.

Mark 7:9
“And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” KJV

There are 613 Sabbath commandments. Whether all of these were in effect in Jesus’ day is not clear but He confronted them on the subject of washing pots, and handwashing before eating.

Mark 7:3
Now in holding to the tradition of the elders, the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat until they wash their hands ceremonially.
Berean Study Bible

You have disregarded the commandment of God to keep the tradition of men.”
Mark 7:8

Some examples of the Sabbath commandments can be found here…

https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/95907/jewish/The-Shabbat-Laws.htm

There are more in the Code of Jewish Law.

Could it be that Jesus ‘loosed the Sabbath’ from the traditions of Judaism?

What is Judaism?

The history of the Jews and Judaism can be divided into five periods: (1) ancient Israel before Judaism, from the beginnings to 586 BCE; (2) the beginning of Judaism in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE.

Later periods are not relevant to the time of Christ.

A common belief is that Judaism is the Law of Moses. (The written law was the Law of God, not Moses.)

Back to Judaism.

American rabbinical scholar Stephen S Wise has said, “The Jews’ return form Babylon marked the end of Hebrew-ism and the beginning of Judaism.”

In their defence I need to add that the beginning of Pharisaism was to prevent the breaking of the law which had led Judah into captivity. However, the rules designed to prevent people breaking the law became a hedge around the law.

In Jesus’ time these traditions are more  than likely what he meant about rejecting the commands of God for the traditions of men.

Some of the rabbis admit that Judaism is not based on Scriptures but on the so-called Oral Law.

It is a huge subject, and one which I had to research thoroughly to accurately portray the background of the Apostle John Series, and the companion novellas.

As far as I can see, Jesus loosed or untied the Sabbath from the traditions of men.

Just thinking,

Susan

Get Behind Me Satan

Get behind me Satan

Why did Jesus say to Peter ‘Get Behind Me Satan?’ Could it not have been that Peter was simply being protective of Jesus?

Yes and no.

At that stage, although the disciples had travelled with Jesus throughout His ministry, up until this point, they did not understand His purpose. The disciples were Jewish and had the Jewish expectation of the Messiah. You can read various views on this subject here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messiah_in_Judaism

However, bear in mind the Talmud was not begun to be written until the 2nd century, AD and completed in the 5th century, AD.

The expected Messiah

At the time of Christ, the Jewish people expected the Messiah to be born of the line of David and drive the Romans out of Israel.

Basically, they expected a warrior king.

Jesus served.

Jesus knew the reason He had been born. So, at the time He said this to Peter, He was beginning to prepare them for what lay ahead. His capture, suffering and crucifixion. Perhaps they only saw all His good works… the healings, the deliverances from demon possession and the miracles He performed.

This was not Jesus’ purpose. These were signs of Who He was.

The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then He rolled up the scroll, returned it to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him.
Luke 4: 18-20 Berean Study Bible.

This was when His ministry commenced. Since then He had been training His disciples and now He needed to warn them. 

disappointment (text)

He disappointed that He had to say it?
Perhaps.

“And having turned, He said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me. For your thoughts are not of the things of God, but the things of men.”
Matt 16:23 Berean Literal Bible

Why Did Jesus say get behind me Satan?

The clue is in “For your thoughts are not of the things of God, but the things of men.

Yes, Jesus was a servant-King, but His purpose was not simply for that generation. He had come to die for the sin of mankind.

Was Jesus beginning to be apprehensive? Possibly. Therefore, He needed His mind fixed on His main purpose, and to look ahead. He did not need one of the leading disciples to try to distract Him from that purpose.

Crucifixion of Jesus, the Christ

There is a lot more to the story, most people know that, but this morning that phrase ‘jumped out’ at me.

God bless,

Susan

Straight to heaven or wait for a resurrection?

resurrection

Is my husband in heaven? I don’t think so. I studied many scriptures and decided ‘resurrection.’ You must make your own choice. My choice is firm, I had inscribed on his niche marker, “Awaiting his resurrection.” You see, as a result of my extensive studies, for my faith and for my novels, I had – still have – a question.

If people go to heaven what purpose a resurrection?

I know many people who believe one or the other, and some who are confused about what happens after death.

A friend who is unsure of what to believe quoted,
“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:8)

She took it to mean when a person dies he or she is immediately with ‘the Lord.’

It is a popular interpretation, but it is seemingly contradicted by the following scriptures…

1 Corinthians 15:23
But each in his own turn: Christ the firstfruits; then at His coming, those who belong to Him.

Revelation 20:5
The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years were complete. This is the first resurrection.

resurrection angel

And this from the Contemporary English Version…
With a loud command and with the shout of the chief angel and a blast of God’s trumpet, the Lord will return from heaven. Then those who had faith in Christ before they died will be raised to life.
1 Thess 4: 16

These are only some of the scriptures, but they fulfill the ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses a matter shall be established.’ You can look up more here
https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Resurrection,-Of-The-Dead

So, heaven or resurrection?

I came across this
https://www.truthaccordingtoscripture.com/documents/death/absent-from-the-body.php#.XEPSbGlS-po

“Absent From The Body”
Pastor Stephen Bohr explains that 2 Cor. 5:8 is speaking of the resurrection not death

It is interesting, if a little long, so in summarizing, one of the things stated is “Paul knew that if he did die, the next conscious moment would be his resurrection at which time he would then be with Christ.”

Quoted are excerpts from “Thou Shalt Surely Die”

By G. Marsh Hilbourne & Michael T. Wark

~~~~~

Death is the end of our human lives. Grieving is part of coping with death. I guess I will go to my grave grieving over the people I have ‘lost.’ But on the other hand, being grateful to have had such love in my life. I look forward to seeing them all again. Perhaps you are too.

It might be a long wait

If you are grieving, accept what is happening. There is no specified order like it says in the books about death and loss.
Sometimes you might flip from one to another in a matter of hours.
It’s a roller coaster, it will eventually slow down and become acceptance.

There is no ‘getting over’ losing a child, or a spouse, and generally we only have one set of parents. We become used to being without them in our lives, but in losing that person, we have lost part of us… The person who created us, or the person we created, or the love of your life and best friend.

There is no right or wrong… there is ‘your way.’

Tread softly, vulnerable people are easily crushed.

Susan

 

Adventures with a Spider

spider web

A different sort of blog this week. As the top image might suggest, it is about a spider – but if they fill you with horror or alarm, fret not. I do not intend to fill this post with pictures of spiders.

The other night I was heading off to bed when I saw a rather large spider racing at me. I was not calm, but there was only me to deal with it.

Oops it was heading in the direction of my bedroom. “No way Jose.”

To corral the spider
Spider not shown

I stopped its dash, trapping it with the oxygen tube. (There is 59 feet of it.)

I needed to reach the spray, not photograph the spider.

Spider refuses to give up

It was determined. It knew where it was going and kept turning back, until eventually it figured out it could step over the tubing.

I made a dash for the kitchen cupboard, grabbed the spray, and sprayed in the direction I had seen it last. It was one of those spiders that come toward the threat, so it ‘charged’ at me.

(Some of them do.) Blasted it with the spray, and sat down, watching it. I have been tricked before. Yes, it faked death. But, as I said, I know their tricks LOL. So, I gave it another squirt of spray and went to the kitchen for a glass I don’t use anymore and put it over the top of the spider to stop its charge to my bedroom.

(It was outside my bedroom door. Not comfortable with that.)

The spider was sprayed and trapped

If you cannot be calm, act calm. I sat down on lounge chair, maybe watched a bit of TV but mainly watched the spider resurrect itself and try to get out of the glass.

Half an hour later it was still trying to escape, but I needed to go to bed. So, I carefully positioned the oxygen tube around the glass and made sure there was enough spare tubing in the bedroom so I wouldn’t pull it and knock the glass over.

If it wasn’t dead in the morning, it would be after Gail, my home help, vacuumed it up.

There you go… a slice of life in an Aussie summer when everything wants to come in in search of water and/or escape from the heat.

Susan

P.S.

I was outside spraying before Gail arrived.
(That way, hopefully, unwanted intruders will have walked through the spray first and not be so fast on their eight legs.)

P.P.S.

I did not call out, or shout at it like this poor man who triggered a large police response, who arrived with lights and sirens. (Someone thought he was killing his young child.)

Warning: there is an image of the spider in the story.

Man and spider spark police emergency

The Historical Jesus

The land of the historical Jesus

One of the newsletters I subscribe to is trying to sell me a tour of Israel to search for the historical Jesus. But as the newsletter itself says, the gospels are full of accounts of His life and deeds. That is not historical?

In what way would attempting to retrace His steps, visit the places He travelled, taught, and worked miracles, help me find the historical Jesus?

Just thinking.

About the historical Jesus

He was crucified in 30 or 31 AD, depending on what ‘school’ of reasoning you follow. The temple where He taught… and confronted the Pharisees, scribes, and Sadducees, was destroyed by the Roman emperor commonly known as Titus. That was in 70 AD

How much is left of that first century world in which Jesus lived? Not much I would think.

  • The church (followers of Christ) fled before the fall of Jerusalem.
  • The Apostle James, brother of John, was martyred in 44 AD.
  • The other Apostles fulfilled their commission and took the gospel of the Kingdom of God ‘into all the world’.
  • Legend has it that all, except the apostle John, were martyred.

(I have several gigabytes of research about the 1st century AD in folders on my computer.)

So what remains of the country that Jesus grew up in, walked around and taught about the Kingdom of God?

In the two centuries since He walked the land, how many wars have there been?
(Rhetorical ).

All that remains of the temple has gone. All, that is, except the Western – or Wailing – wall. Some believe that it is a remnant of ‘Herod’s Temple’, while others say it was part of the Roman fortress and point out that Jesus said ‘not one stone’. If the ‘wailing wall’ is part of the temple something doesn’t fit.

Destruction of the temple

He prophesied it would be destroyed, recorded in Mark 13…

After his teachings in the previous chapter, all set in the Temple courts, Jesus finishes his teaching in the Temple for the day and leaves. On his way out of the Temple an unnamed disciple remarks how great the Temple (Herod’s Temple) is. The buildings might have reached up to 150 feet (45.72 m) in height and they were adorned with gold, silver and other precious items.

“‘Do you see all these great buildings?’ replied Jesus. ’Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_13

Well, I am sure the tour will be interesting. But all I need to know about Jesus is in the Word of God. I will rely on that.

In the Apostle John Series when Jesus is quoted, it is taken from the Bible.

What would the ‘historical Jesus’ think?

If Jesus was to walk through Jerusalem today would He not be horrified by what people revere? I think so, you might not.

I wonder what He would think of the instrument of His death being revered.

graven image
Cross

In answer to my opening statement… I remain puzzled about how people can ‘find’ the historical Jesus, two centuries and many changes later.

But I do have a question… is it not more important to know the risen Jesus, the Saviour, than ‘fossick’ around in the past.

Just some thoughts,

Susan

Leadership or Authority?

leadership shows care

Many people have authority over me – but are they leaders? Are they showing effective leadership?

Some people try to take authority over me – to lead me, or to try to make me a follower, or fan.

Authority and leadership are two vastly different things.

dictionary

The Meriam-Webster Dictionary definition on this narrow interpretation of authority…”The power to give orders or make decisions: the power or right to direct or control someone or something.”

This would accurately describe many people we encounter under the guise of leadership. Currently Australia is approaching a federal election. Candidates for office want the leader’s position. Do they want to run the country – or do they want authority. Sadly, from what I see – and it is only a small part of the picture… from news items and unavoidable advertisements, the majority of people seeking public office are obsessed with self, and their own promotion.

That’s not a leader. At least not in the area of effective leadership.

What is effective leadership?

Someone who cares for the people he leads, someone who finds ways to make it easier for them to achieve their goals. Sound unrealistic? Probably is in this day and age – but there are still some people like that around.

A memory from my childhood comes to mind – seeing sheep being moved to another field. The shepherd followed them. His dogs ‘worked’ them to the gate and along the lane. So who was the shepherd? The  shepherd had the authority, he had trained his dogs, but if you look at the principle that leaders are the ones who ‘go first’, who make sure there are no dangers or obstacles in the way – I guess one of the sheep was the leader.

Contrast that with – “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.”
John 10: 27 (Berean Study Bible).

Did you ‘catch’ the last phrase? – “and they follow Me.”

Guess that means that Jesus, the Leader, leads. He goes first, making the way safe.

So – an effective leader…

  • Inspires others
  • Serves the people he is responsible for
  • Creates an environment where trust can grow
  • Takes care of the people in his or her charge

And, like Jesus and His faithful followers –

  • Puts the lives of others before his or her needs.

Leadership is service.

A leader can be a mother, or father, a husband or wife, neighbor to a widow or widower.

Leadership is service

You don’t have to be the person in charge of a large company, or group… wherever you are, you can lead.

Take an interest in those around you, visit your neighbor, email the person you are too far away to visit, give some of your time to make a phone call.

.

Leaders CARE

If you want to be an effective leader, start with the small ways you can demonstrate care. In time it will become a habit, and when you do end up with responsibility for the people in your charge – caring, creating an environment of trust, and being respected by those in your care will happen.
A good leader will make a positive impact on someone else’s life. Aim for that!

Just thinking,

Susan

P.S.
I chose the featured image along the top because it suggests the leader is encouraging those behind, not marching on to be first.

Christmas through the ages

Christmas and Mithraiism

When I was a young child in Scotland, Christmas was not celebrated. My mother, by then a lone parent, went to her work in a textile factory for her usual twelve hour shift. Remembering back, I looked it up to see if my memory was correct. Yes, it was. Christmas did not become a public holiday until 1958.

“A 1640 Act of the Parliament of Scotland made the celebration of “Yule vacations” illegal. England, under Oliver Cromwell, also imposed a ban on Christmas at around the same time. Despite the repealing of the Act in 1686, the suppression of Christmas in Scotland effectively lasted for 400 years, with December 25 only becoming a public holiday in 1958.”
Several sites record this, including https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/christmas-and-new-year-traditions-in-scotland-1-3226062

Yule, Christmas past
Yule, Christmas past

Christmas in the new American colony

An early law book of the Massachusetts Bay Colony reads as follows:

“For preventing disorders arising in several places within this jurisdiction, by reason of some still observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other countries, to the great dishonor of God and offence of others, it is therefore ordered by this Court and the authority thereof, that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way, upon such accountants as aforesaid, every person so offending shall pay of every such offence five shillings, as a fine to the county.”

They also felt that due to the holiday’s loose pagan origins, celebrating it would constitute idolatry. A common sentiment among the leaders of the time was that such feast days detracted from their core beliefs.

A look at the history of Christmas

Bilble, open

The Bible records the birth of Christ but never any annual celebration not even after His death as Saviour.


So, looking to history – when was the first recorded celebration of Christmas?

The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (he was the first Christian Roman Emperor). A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December.

Ah, Emperor Constantine.

Was he indeed the ‘first Christian Roman Emperor? Or was he merely trying to unite his vast empire with its many religious beliefs?

Roman beliefs

Emperor Constantine merged the cult of Mithra with that of Christianity, a ‘cult’ that was developing rapidly.

He declared himself a Christian but at the same time maintained his ties to the Mithra cult. He retained the title “Pontifus Maximus” the high priest. On his coins were inscribed: “Sol Invicto comiti” which means, commited to the invincible sun.

Interesting.

Mithra, the slaying of the bull

Christmas in the 19th Century

With the appearance of the Oxford Movement in the Anglican Church, a revival in the traditional rituals and religious observances associated with Christmastide occurred. This ushered in “the development of richer and more symbolic forms of worship, the building of neo-Gothic churches, and the revival and increasing centrality of the keeping of Christmas itself as a Christian festival” as well as “special charities for the poor” in addition to “special services and musical events”.
Historian Ronald Hutton believes that the current state of observance of Christmas is largely the result of a mid-Victorian revival of the holiday, spearheaded by Charles Dickens, who “linked worship and feasting, within a context of social reconciliation”.

Dickens was not the first author to celebrate Christmastide in literature, but it was he who superimposed his humanitarian vision of the holiday upon the public, an idea that has been termed as Dickens’ “Carol Philosophy.”

Modern celebrations of Christmas include more commercial activity in comparison with those of the past.

Christmas in the U.S.

Historian Stephen Nissenbaum contends that the modern celebration in the United States was developed in New York State from defunct and imagined Dutch and English traditions in order to refocus the holiday from one where groups of young men went from house to house demanding alcohol and food into one centered on the happiness of children. He notes that there was a deliberate effort to prevent children from becoming greedy in response.
Christmas was not proclaimed a holiday by the United States Congress until 1870.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_controversies

There is a lot more I could write but this post is long enough…
Christmas is an invention of men, not a Biblical fact.
I suppose that is justification for the rampant commercialism of Christmas today. In saying this I also have to say there are many people who celebrate the 25th December as the birth of Christ.
I do not, but respect your right to keep this date as a celebration. Allow me the same right… to NOT celebrate what I see as a pagan holiday.

Whatever you do, be safe. Statistics for this time of year are depressing… suicides, accidents, and family fights, to name but a few.

God bless you and keep you safe,

Susan

P.S. The header image is a mithraeum (a temple-cave dedicated to Mithras) found in the German city of Saarbrücken.

The Gorilla and the Grasshopper

Gorilla

Who is the gorilla and who is the grasshopper? Well, in my post the gorilla is Amazon and the grasshopper is me. I figure I am less in the sight of Amazon than a grasshopper but the connotation of mites is not pleasant.

Why do I make this comparison?

Because my exchanges with Amazon customer service have been frustrating, when I managed to find them, and without resolution or reply to my question. I also understand that to them I am not important.

The Gorilla

Like many victims of the Gorilla’s algorithm I lost many honest reviews. Some were from people on my mailing list – and I didn’t tell them to leave 5-star reviews. A few might have, but I do not know who had left them. All I knew was that the review total dropped. What I did notice a few weeks ago was a puzzling notice when I clicked to review in order to put a direct link into the back of my latest novella..

Amazon, the gorilla stomps

So, I checked my books and novellas.
Hold the Faith – has the notice.
Grow in Grace – has the notice.
Light of Truth – has the notice.
Keep the Flame – has the notice.
Hell Shall Not prevail – you guessed it – has the notice.
After the Thirty Days – has the notice.
No Evil Shall Befall You – has the notice.
Clash of Faiths, now also has the notice.

Apostle John Fiction and spin-off novellas, cover images
Amazon gorilla gatekeeper

Shock, puzzlement, annoyance, and then another doze of bewilderment set in. Because every one of my books had that notice, and still have, I had no choice but to brave the gatekeeper and contact Customer Service.

I say ‘brave the gatekeeper’ because the few times I have tried to contact Amazon customer service the ‘hoops and pages’ to go through are daunting. Then ‘Contact Us’ requires choices from a series of drop-down choices… none of which have ever fitted my query.

The Grasshopper

Well, I went through the hoops and reached a chat option. (Email was not an option.) After reiterating all that I had put in ‘Other’ in order to move forward, the person asked me to wait while he/she checked.

I did.

Thew grasshopper

When the person returned it was to tell me that someone would contact me by email within twenty-four hours.

That didn’t happen. Another day later, I jumped through the hoops again and spoke to another operator – who did the same thing… asked me to wait while he/she checked. This time the reply was slightly different. “The reason for the delay is that there is an issue. I promise it will be sorted within twenty four hours.’

Truly – the person said ‘promise.’

email icon

Well it was more than twenty-four hours, but an email finally arrived.

 

This is a copy of the text.

Hello,

When we detect unusual reviewing behavior on a product, we place limits on review submissions. We may limit the submission of all reviews or limit reviews to Amazon Verified Purchase reviews. We place limits on reviews to preserve trust in customer reviews.

While we are unable to determine when the limits may be removed, customers are free to try submitting reviews later.

My question had been ‘Why is there a notice on each of my books and novellas saying, ‘We are currently unable to accept a review for this product.’

However, I now had an email address so didn’t need the customer service hoops, so replied to the email and said that the reply did not answer my question… and asked my question again, with some additional, appropriate information. Also, what is unusual reviewing behavior?

The next reply was even less relevant.

Customer Reviews are removed for the following reasons:

• The review violates our Customer Review Creation Guidelines (http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines).
• A customer can decide to remove their own review.
• The review is on a page that incorrectly links multiple items. We remove these reviews when we separate the items.

To protect the privacy of our customers, we do not share information about specific reviews with anyone other than the customer who posted it.

Stomped on by the gorilla. I did try in the Amazon Facebook group and they sent me an address, but all that happened when I used it to ask my question was a similar ‘off-topic’ reply.

Susan M B Preston, author

I am glad that my writings are not ‘exclusive’ to Amazon. If their algorithms do this to many people, Amazon might find it is a monkey in the room, not the gorilla.

Stomped on but not squashed,

Susan