So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria; God, life and a small black dog


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Guest Post; K.J Cartmell

Kevin is probably the best beta reader in the world! He and I agree on a lot of aspects of organised religion, so I gave him a spot!

My stories come to me sometimes as waking dreams. I’m watching it, like a movie, rather than composing or directing the action. This one started with a boy and a girl walking down the street holding hands. The girl had long blond hair, fair skin and blue eyes. They gazed longingly at one another. but when the boy leaned in for a kiss, the girl pulled away and said, “Take me somewhere only God can see us.”

I knew right then that the girl was an Evangelical Christian and the daughter of a church pastor. The boy was someone from outside her circle. He didn’t go to church. That was why she was afraid to be seen kissing him in the middle of the street.

I thought, “Maybe this boy doesn’t believe in God at all. If his name was Thomas, he could be Doubting Thomas and the story could be called, The Gospel of Thomas. Wouldn’t that be a great name for a novel!”

 

Now, I took the reins from my subconscious and started working out the parameters of the story. I quickly settled on the name Adeline for the girl. It seemed both fresh and old fashioned. I drew some obvious contrasts between the pair. Thomas would go to the local public high school, while Adeline would attend a private Christian high school, and adjunct to the large church she attends, and where her father is a pastor. Adeline’s life would be highly scripted, organized around church functions. Meanwhile, Thomas lived with his mother and saw his father only occasionally. He would have a great deal of independence and freedom, yet he would have responsibilities, too, like cooking dinner for his mother each night.

I was drawing from personal experiences. I grew up as an Evangelical Protestant, and much of my family is still attends churches of this type. In high school, I was heavily involved in a big “mega-church” similar to the one that Adeline attends. Likewise, I was born to a single mother. Though my mother remarried when I was still very young, I remember times when it was just the two of us.

Thomas and Adeline are seventeen going on eighteen. This is a time of great discovery, when teens stop accepting what they were told and start figuring out what it is that they believe. I wanted to have some heartfelt, thought-provoking discussions between my two love birds about faith, religion and morality.

In addition to all the talking, I wanted there to be long scenes of physical intimacy between the two. The results have shocked some of my readers, but I was committed to portraying this relationship honestly and with realism. Thomas is the more experienced of the pair. He allows Adeline to set the limits, but then he goes right up to the line she has drawn. Yet, it’s important to understand, Adeline is a willing partner. She is ready and eager for this type of relationship.

Adeline’s family is in the spotlight, held up as models of a perfect family. But, underneath his façade are some dark secrets. Thomas, as he gets to know Adeline better, draws ever closer to these big secrets. I was drawing from personal experience here, too. I knew Good Christian Families that struggled behind closed doors with abuse, adultery and alcoholism. None of this was talked about in the open. It was all glossed over, yet I knew it was there and had seen and experienced its effects. The hypocrisy and false piety of my church grated on me as I grew older, and I eventually pulled away. Looking back, I felt anger and resentment, not at God, but at the church. I didn’t want to be associated with people like that any longer.

If I had written this book in my twenties, it would have been much more angry and bitter. I was in my forties when I started writing The Gospel of Thomas. I portray Adeline, her family and her church community, with harsh realism, but also with compassion and mercy.

The story grew and grew until it was nearly 600 pages long. When I was finished and reading it through, I realized that there was a natural break, a terrifying cliffhanger, right in the middle of the book. I split the story into two volumes, called Revelation and Rapture. I found a partner, GenZ Publishing, to help me publish Revelation. I plan to publish Rapture on my own, sometime next year.


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Revelation in Matthew 24

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For any of you who read my comments on Revelation, turn back and read this Chapter now, and it suddenly makes sense. Jesus is predicting the holocaust that is about ot happen to the Jewish nation, but at the same time, as does Revelation, showing us that there is an end, he is coming back and all will be sorted. Hos teaching that follow just show, be daily ready, none of this end-time symbol seeking panic. It may happen in our lifetimes, it may not, what is important is our relationship with HIM!

The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times

1 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’[a]spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.

26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

29 “Immediately after the distress of those days

“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’[b]

30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth[c] will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.[d] 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it[e]is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

The Day and Hour Unknown

36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.


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Revelation about Revelation

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Thanks Ken, you’ve helped so much!  The  argument he puts for Revelation has put it all in perspective!

Firstly, the book was written with urgency and immediacy, for people at the time it was written. Nothing was there that they could not understand.  It says clearly that these things will shortly take place. It was written in the middle of the First century, and warned of the coming destruction which did indeed happen when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans and there was a mass genocide of the Jewish nation.

Like all of the Bible, what is in it is relevant for the time. For example Paul’s letters are to his contemporary society, and so have one element of being for then.  However there is a spiritual theme, and a deeper dimension that we can take at anytime so that we can learn and read through God’s word. Revelation is the same. So through this historical apocalypse we can learn about God’s majesty and  his love, his greatness and his wonderfulness. The imagery is of both the destruction of the time AND the story of Jesus’s birth AND our salvation (clearly spelled out in CH12).  He is reigning NOW and his majesty is throughout Revelation. It’s not a real Babylon, but is symbolic of all the people who have rejected him- their fate is the subtext in the whole book.

At one stageI did begin to wonder  if all this has happened, and Jesus is here with us on earth, then there will be no second coming, and that made all that I see around me in nature and events a bit bleak. That all this will just go on and on, it felt quite depressing.

BUT, obviously,  a new heaven and earth have not come down,so they ARE still to come and will come. The  prophesy is only partially finished, he will come, he was and IS to come, Whoopeee!

This may seem a short and simplistic overview, just read  Ken for more detail, but it satisfies me, it’s an eternal long running prophesy, partially finished. So it WILL happen although the worst is over, there’s no need to go into all this hunting for signs that have happened. Just be ready each day, live for Christ, love your neighbour as yourself and tell people


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Revelation 20 to the End!

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So there is a happy end. Satan defeated, dead, judged. How will the people on earth have the chance to hear the Gospel in these times? But then again, perhaps the persecuted folks with the seals will be working hard at this all the time for his glory!

The new Jerusalem.  Has this been a self-fulfilling prophecy?  There is such focus on this city  among Christians now. They are flocking there to help the Jews (it is biblical), but are we focusing too much on a location rather than your heart??

That old tree of life that was in Genesis, forbidden to us for ever, is now given and free for all. Can’t quite picture a tree with roots on both sides of the river somehow. We now have the Holy Spirit, mentioned directly and back with us. Why do we need to be sealed still, if we’re all the same? Wonderful, finally the chance to walk and talk with God in the cool of the day, all day and everyday.

I have wondered if the whole book is one great big trap. Often in the Old and New testament, there are references to people having hardened hearts and God letting this happen as a reaction to their sin and rejecting him, but  with always with the chance to turn. When you see how the End timers are all tearing themselves apart looking for signs and wonders, if this book hasn’t been a test for those whose faith is not strong or false, as this takes their eyes off Jesus. If you want to set people free, tell then the truth about Jesus, not the signs and symbols and what you think they mean. Be ready each day, and tell people the Good News!

There is a warning at the end about those keeping the prophecy and not adding or detracting from it. That I would not do, just try to understand it. I’m off now to my dear friend Ken milbourn’s book, ‘God’s duo’which I hope will put me straight. My aim here was to make an uncomplicated, reaction, make you think blog.

20: The Thousand Years

1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.

4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They[a] had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

The Judgment of Satan

7 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. 9 They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

The Judgment of the Dead

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

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A New Heaven and a New Earth

1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

The New Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb

9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia[c] in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits[d] thick.[e] 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.[f] 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

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Eden Restored

1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

John and the Angel

6 The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.”

7 “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”

8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. 9 But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!”

10 Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near. 11 Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.”

Epilogue: Invitation and Warning

12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you[a] this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.


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Revelation 13

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I can see how the end timers in the 1970s  were going on about Gorbachov with his birthmark as being a baddie.  Again, the living Christians fight this and endure. So logically if we can worship we can pray, like that!  What is there in our lives today which we could so easily read as these beasts.

As I’m writing this out, I’m re-reading as I am in the middle of reading the most wonderful commentary, but I’m going to hold back until we’re through as suddenly all makes sense to me and the message of Revelation is a wonderful triumph!  Dear reader hang on till I’m through!

The Beast out of the Sea

1 The dragon[a] stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.2 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority3 One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. 4 People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?”

5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7 It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.[b]

9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.

10 “If anyone is to go into captivity,
into captivity they will go.
If anyone is to be killed[c] with the sword,
with the sword they will be killed.”[d]

This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.

The Beast out of the Earth

11 Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. 14 Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.

18 This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man.[e] That number is 666.