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Imagine That

Christian book: Bruised hero
Bruised hero
I was at a Christian Camp for kids, where I noticed a girl who was always hurting herself (bumps, slips, little accidents, cuts, grazes, scratches, etc), yet she never complained.

This story features a bunch of over-excited kids at a camp, all very energetic kids, loud, mischievous, rowdy, keen and talkative. The courageous Mrs Trollop keeps her temper and manages the kids as best she can, while the kids have no idea what a trial they are to her.

One child however, epitomises the suffering but uncomplaining Christian, who remains stoically cheerful, who never complains, and who "soldiers on" regardless of the pain.

"Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

"Behold, we count them happy which endure. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy." James 5:10,11)

"You therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." 2 Timothy 2:3

The one child in the story whom I most admire is the one who goes through the pain and difficulty without complaining, and who is actually self-effacing when her troubles are mentioned. For her the glass is always half full. Her attitude is the sort we all need to have as Christians.

Christian book: Eyeball
Shoplifting is not really about stealing from a shop, it is more about stealing from another person. Every crime is about offending some other person. This story was written to show that, and the twist in the tail is the "eyeball", a symbol of the ever-accusing conscience, which never stops accusing until the offence is set right.

"And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even to the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst." John 8:9

Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness," Romans 2:15

Some people of course, like the boy Cropper in the story, have hardened their conscience through repeatedly ignoring it, but they never entirely escape, which is why I called him Cropper. In slang this word means to "come a cropper" or to meet disaster, and in the end he does.

(God said:) "Tell Hezekiah" I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears: behold, I will heal you." 2 Kings 20:5

At the end of the story the narrator says "That's the way it is with thieves, they can't trust anyone." This observation is based on reality. Dishonest people always suspect others of doing what they themselves do, and so on, through the whole gamut of sins. Many evil people cannot credit other people with pure motives because they themselves have become so inwardly soiled their "eye" is evil.

Christian book: Fate
This story is mostly a discussion between the narrator and a boy nicknamed "Weed" on the topic of Fate. It grew out of some comments which my Dad once made, in which he dogmatically asserted that "whatever happens to you was meant to happen" to the effect that whatever happened, even to the finiest detail in life, was unavoidable. In his view there was no room for freedom of choice, and all events were unrelated to causes which we might have produced. I agreed to a small extent but asserted that after the unavoidables are excluded, life is also overwhelmingly the result of free choice and self-determination.

In the story the two boys face the outcome of a hypothetical agruement when it becomes real. In similar vein, locked as we all are in real life, are we prepared to ignore the consequences of our own actions and remain in hypothetical debate mode? If we take up smoking, can we honestly say we were "meant" to have cancer? If we wear a thin cotton shirt in winter, can we really blame Fate for our pneumonia? If we drink a lot of alcohol can we blame Fate for our drunkenness?

"But this I say, He which sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully." 2 Corinthians 9:6

"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap." Galatians 6:7

"So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." Romans 14:12

The Bible makes it clear that we are first of all accountable to God (personally responsible), and secondly that whatever we do (cause) will have consequences (effect). Fate doesn't enter into it. It does no good to say "What will be will be", or "it was meant to be like this. We cannot change it." We can change it, because God has made us in His image, we are like Him in the sense that we can alter our world and create it anew, if we want to.

Christian book: Forgetfulness
This humorous story has a sting in the tail. It is, on the surface, about a practical joke, but under the surface it is about memory, and how important our ability to remember really is. The first line says it all -"Imagine everyone forgetting everything". Many people with Alzheimers are aware of the fact that they are losing their memories, and as they do the fact that memory gives life significance becomes a salient fact.

The memory joke played on the children is extreme and horrible, but whathappens when a nation forgets its past - that can be far worse? Or what ifthe historic lessons of the Bible are forgotten? As some wise person said,if we forgot the lessons of history we are doomed to repeat them - nationsthat abandon God are always judged, and many have disappeared altogether.

"Moses said to the people, 'Remember this day, in which you (Israel) came out from Egypt." Exodus 13:3

"Remember his marvellous works that he has done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth." 1 Chronicles 16:12

"Remember Lot's wife. Luke 17:32

There are many references to memory in the Bible, and when you thinkabout it, how could humans function without it. Memory is another of God'sgreat gifts, which we usually overlook, or take for granted, but without itwe could not learn, or even think about things, or make judgements, or planahead.

Christian book: Justice
This strongly science-fiction story is about a human criminal who escapes justice and winds up stranded on a barren but sweet-smelling planet. The story is of course about justice of a kind that should make most readers nod their heads in agreement. Ed is a thief, a murderer and a perjurer. Having avoided punishment by any other human, he punishes himself. The weakness in his character ultimately spells doom for himself. He is his own worst enemy.

There are many characters in the Bible who bring about their own downfall simply by being themselves, for example Haman (in the book of Esther) who died on the gallows he built for someone else, and Absalom (2Sam.18:9) who died hanging from a branch after leading a revolt against his own father, and Judas, who betrayed Jesus but died wretchedly and in despair (Mat.27:5) by his own hand.

There is even a sort of "natural justice" clause in the Law of God, where it says: "Then shall you do to him, as he had thought to have done to his brother." Deuteronomy 19:19

"The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined." Psalms 10:2

I had considered an extra twist in the story, but it was too difficult to add it without spelling the idea out pedantically, so I left it out, that perhaps one of the sentient creatures on the planet was also a criminal, who fled his planet in the earth machine to the mother ship, also fleeing justice from his own kind, just as Ed had done?

Christian book: Other lives
Other lives
A reflective story, based largely on real events and heavily autobiographic. I look at the question of "What if I had taken a different road?" Life is full of such questions, What if I had gone to a different school? Or married a different person? Or invested in that thing? Or taken up that sport?

Many movies have come out asking the same question. For example, a character uses a time warp to return to some point in the past and relive an event, only making a different choice to affect a different outcome. Some scientists talk of "alternate universes", in which infinite copies of ourselves live infinitely different lives on infinitely other Earths. Who has not regretted a decision and wished they could have the moment again? If only sometimes we could have some 'other life.'

But inevitably we have only this world and this time to live. The wishful thinking of scientists and the fanciful dreams of writers cannot change that. We make our choices here and now, and we cannot go back and try again. Even making no choice is a choice. The past is past. The future is still to come. As mortals, we are unable to travel outside our alotted space and time, and this sobering reality ought to make us seriously consider how we spend our time.

"Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:16

"Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time." Colossians 4:5

"Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

The Bible tells us to focus on the here and now, and to make the best of what we have right now. Just as the choice to roll the rock led to a moment of great regret, many of our choice will have the same result, so we must try to make good choices. This is where the wisdom of God's Word is such a blessing, as it provides the perfect framework for making wise decisions.

Christian book: Peace On Earth
Peace On Earth
This story is about a future, highly technological world, (the sort which is usually depicted as a shining utopia of peace and plenty), ruled by Science and Man's intellectual enlightenment. The problem is, no matter how much we dream of this future world, it never comes. Man is always stuck with Man's perverse nature, no matter how advanced he becomes in gadgets and communications and so on.

The story begins with the scenario of planet Earth ruled by the collective wisdom of the brightest men and women from each country. They have at their disposal a machine which can give people the desire to turn from evil behaviour to something useful and productive. It cannot change people's perverse nature, but the Grand Council of Large Brains hopes that by chanelling people's energy into some productive pursuit, they will be too busy to be perverse.

I wrote this story to illustrate how pointless it is to tamper with external things, when the real problem is the heart of Man. Change the centre and that which comes from it will be changed.

(Jesus said) "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies," etc Matthew 15:19

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9

"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."

Genesis 6:5

"But the Lord said to Samuel, Look not on his face, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

In a similar way, it doesn't matter how clean or well-dressed a pig may be, it is still a pig.In the story, every attempt the Grand Council makes to "fix" the world, is ruined by human nature, and