31 October 2008

Lies and Statistics - part three


My final word on this subject must of course come from The Word. Of course, you don't have to look far for biblical references to this subject. Jesus said that He is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life". If Christ is Truth, then it follows that lying must mean you are moving away from Christ. Being honest is about following in God's footsteps, for He cannot lie. My goal as a Christian is to become more God-like and God-centred, then honesty needs to be a focus. And that's honesty to myself as much as to my peers.

Luke 16:10 - Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.

Exodus 20:16 - You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.

However, being honest is not always easy. It's so easy for man to wander off the narrow path, and kid yourself that you're still on course. Therefore, you need to work at being truthful, and it is often pretty hard work. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus all of the time.

Remember, you should strive not only to be honest to others, but honest to yourself as well. Therefore you should try to remain both humble and modest, however being too harsh on yourself is not being truthful. Also, thinking too highly of yourself is also dishonest. We need to find a balance before we can continue to grow.

Proverbs 11:3 - The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

Romans 12:3 - For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

(all translations NIV)

30 October 2008

Lies and Statistics - part two



Some quotations on lying:
You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time - Abraham Lincoln (attributed)

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. The bamboozle has captured us. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back - Carl Sagan

Always tell the truth. That way, you don't have to remember what you said - Mark Twain

A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes - Mark Twain, again (attributed)

Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive! - Sir Walter Scott

Liars when they speak the truth are not believed - Aristotle

It is always the best policy to speak the truth--unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar - Jerome K. Jerome

A lie told often enough becomes the truth - Lenin

And a further mention of statistics, which was mentioned in part one and is shown clearly in the title of this thread. Statistics can prove anything - you analyse the data to try and make it demonstrate whatever it is you're trying to prove. Thus, although containing facts of one sort or another, statistics can lie as well.

A statistician is a person who stands in a bucket of ice water, sticks their head in an oven and says "on average, I feel fine!" - K.Dunnigan

More to follow.

28 October 2008

Lies and Statistics - part one


The heading of this part of my blog is inspired by a phrase attributed to Benjamin Disraeli and popularised in the United States by Mark Twain: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." And as I published in my last entry, we know that some statistics might simply be made up on the spot!


One definition of a lie is an untruthful statement, with the implied intention of deceiving others. This may be to maintain a secret or a reputation. It might be in order to protect someone's feelings, or to avoid a punishment.

Some people also include those occasions where someone has stated something which they don't know for sure is true, with the intention that it be taken for the truth.

Of course, once you start to lie, you need to lie repeatedly to maintain those lies. You therefore become a liar by force of habit. Remember, like all habits, these can be broken - if you truly want to.

Since starting this article, I have discovered much debate on the Internet disputing the fact that Disraeli was the first to say the phrase that I commenced with. Which means there may already be one lie in this part of my blog already! So in an effort not to fall foul of my own definitions I'll just mention Henry Du Pré Labouchère (1831-1912), Leonard H. Courtney, 1st Baron Courtney of Penwith (1832-1918), Cornelia Augusta Hewitt Crosse (1827-1895), William Abraham Hewitt (1875-1966) and Commander Holloway Halstead Frost (1889-1935) - all of whom have also been attributed with the phrase. Whew!

I think I'm going to be reflecting quite a bit on lies this week. As you will see, lying is actually quite a commonplace thing. More later.

26 October 2008

Useful tips - October


Thought these might brighten someone's day - or give you food for thought:

42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

Remember, half the people you know are below average.

Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.

The early bird may get the worm, but it's the second mouse that gets the cheese.

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

If you think nobody cares, try missing a couple of payments.

Light travels faster than sound. That's why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

24 October 2008

God Will Make A Way


God will make a way,
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way, He will make a way.

By a roadway in the wilderness, He'll lead me
And rivers in the desert will I see
Heaven and earth will fade
But His Word will still remain
He will do something new today.

God will make a way,
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way, He will make a way
(Words and music by Don Moen)

"In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. " Proverbs 3:6

22 October 2008

Integrity!


The Webster's Dictionary definition of integrity is:
1 : firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility
2 : an unimpaired condition : soundness
3 : the quality or state of being complete or undivided : completeness
for synonyms see 'honesty'.

I think it's more than just 'honesty'. However, I like the definition that was given to us in a recent training session at work - so much so that's it continues to challenge me as something I need to attain personally...

Integrity is doing the right thing even though there's nobody looking.

Wow!

20 October 2008

Talking Rubbish


Another source of 'wisdom' (in the broadest sense of the word) can be found most days on the radio. I really appreciate my 'wireless', and make frequent use of the FM radio that's built into my 'phone - it's one of my most precious lifelines when I'm far from home.
I'm not such a fan of DJs (with some notable exceptions), so don't listen to the music stations very much. No, it's talk radio for me. I listen to the phone-ins on local radio, some of the current affairs shows, the occasional documentary. Yes, some of the folk who ring up can talk such rubbish - but I like to hear other people's points of view - I suppose it helps me to form opinions of my own. And of course having a basic grounding in news and current affairs - and what other people are saying about it - helps me relate to others.
But ask me what's the latest craze in music and I doubt if I'll have a clue!

19 October 2008

Happiness Is A Warm Puppy


I am well aware that most of my blogs lately have been a bit 'heavy' so I thought I would devote a blog or two to some alternative sources of wisdom that I use from time to time. Today features the collected works of Charles Schulz.

'Sparky' Schulz is no longer with us now, but his work lives on. His work as an art teacher and on a Christian comic magazine eventually led him to regular work cartooning for The Saturday Evening Post. His first regular strip was called "Li'l Folks". first published in 1947, and featuring a character called Charlie Brown, and a dog which had yet to be named. The strip was dropped in 1950, however United Feature Syndicate were approached with some of his best strips from 'Li'l Folks', and 'Peanuts' made its first appearance on 2nd October 1950.

'Peanuts' became one of the most popular comic strips of all time, and Schulz continued with the strip until just before his death in 2000, aged 77. Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty and the others have featured in animated shows of their own. And that little dog (Snoopy, pictured at the top of this feature) is perhaps the best known of the group, recognisable the world over. Amongst my collection of 'Peanuts' memorabilia I have a large book of the strips, and regularly read through these. Some quotations:

"It was a dark and stormy night..." (the opening line of the novel Snoopy is forever starting. It's actually a quotation from Edward Bulwer-Lytton.)

Snoopy's oft-repeated line: "Curse you, Red Baron!"

Woodstock's oft-repeated line: "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

16 October 2008

Up Above The Streets And Houses... part two


Sir Isaac Newton in his early physics experiments decided the colours of the rainbow were Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. Many of us remember them as 'Richard Of York Gave Battle in Vain'. However, are there only seven colours in a rainbow? Well, I understand that Newton believed in numerology and thought special numbers governed all natural phenomena. And of course, seven is a very special number...

If you look strictly at the scientific evidence, of course, rainbows are caused by the reflection and refraction of the rays of the sun shining on falling rain.

However, modern research reveals that a rainbow's appearance is in fact unique to each observer. Each rainbow is a special distribution of colours, produced in a particular way, and with reference to a definite point - the eye of the observer - and as no single distribution can be the same for two separate points, it follows that two observers do not, and cannot, see the same rainbow. A camera lens will of course record an image of a rainbow - but that's in fact different from the one we see with our own eyes. So, it all depends on your point of view.

If you look for scriptural references to rainbows you will of course come across the reference to it being a sign of God's faithfulness (Genesis 9:12-17). However, three other references exist in scripture:

Ezekiel 1:28
Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

Revelation 4:3
And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.

Revelation 10:1
Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars.
(all verses NIV)

All these verses speak of the rainbow as a radiance around an object or an individual - an aura? Even perhaps a halo? Well, some of our readers may have one or two issues with believing that.

... however, like the rainbow, this all depends on your point of view.

14 October 2008

Up Above The Streets And Houses...



The references to 'rainbow' in my recent blog on 'True Colours' brings up a familiar and recurring theme, more so perhaps for my good friend Don than me. An exploration of rainbows would not be complete without a reference to Geoffrey, Zippy and Bungle in the popular kids show, so hence my title to this entry. However, rainbows feature far widely culturally, inspiring man across the years.
You could include references to Bifröst, which in Norse mythology is the rainbow bridge leading from Midgard, the realm of mortals, to Asgard, the realm of the gods, which the gods travel daily.

We've mentioned Cyndi Lauper's earlier hit, but of course there are other musical references:

Look, look, look to the rainbow,
Follow it over the hill and stream
Look, look, look to the rainbow, Follow the fellow who follows the dream.
"Look to the Rainbow" by E. Y. Harburg (Yip Harburg) and Burton Lane from the musical play (and motion picture) Finian's Rainbow

Some day I'll wish upon a star And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemondrops Away above the chimney tops, That's where you'll find me.
Somewhere over the rainbow Bluebirds fly. Birds fly over the rainbow, Why then, oh why can't I?
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow", lyrics by Yip Harburg, music by Harold Arlen, from The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Some further quotations:

And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow - Gilbert K. Chesterton

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow you gotta be willing to put up with the rain - Dolly Parton

My heart leaps up when I behold A rainbow in the sky! - William Wordsworth

More on rainbows later this week...

12 October 2008

Wrestlemania!


I don't know whether wrestling is your cup of tea. I used to watch it regularly when I was growing up, as it was on the telly on most Saturdays at 4pm. A little bit of innocent fun while the tea was being made, while we were waiting for Doctor Who to start.

In my later years I have watched some of the WWE wrestling shows, which are a different kettle of fish. It wasn't too bad in the early Nineties, but over the last dozen or so years it's got pretty graphic and is not particularly wholesome. Gone are the days when you watched it for the actual wrestling - the storylines seem to have taken over. I've read biographies of the participants themselves, and find they have to commit themselves entirely to their career, as they are working night after night, on tour for several weeks at a time. Divorces are common. Drug addiction is also rife - but these are usually painkillers! Not really the right role models I need to follow; nor the right role models for my family.

Wrestling? Now it’s time for me to tap out. I've got other issues to wrestle with.

Begone, unbelief, my Saviour is near,
And for my relief will surely appear;
By prayer let me wrestle, and he will perform;
With Christ in the vessel, I smile at the storm.

2.Though dark be my way, since he is my guide,
’Tis mine to obey, ’Tis his to provide;
Though cisterns be broken and creatures all fail,
The word he has spoken will surely prevail.

3.His love in time past forbids me to think
He’ll leave me at last in trouble to sink;
Each sweet Ebenezer I have in review
Confirms his good pleasure to help me quite through.

4.Since all that I meet shall work for my good,
The bitter is sweet, the medicine food;
Though painful at present, ’Twill cease before long,
And then O how pleasant the conqueror’s song!
SASB 712 (John Newton)

________________________________________

O strengthen me, that while I stand
Firm on the rock, and strong in thee,
I may stretch out a loving hand
To wrestlers with the troubled sea.
SASB612, v3 (Frances Ridley Havergal)

10 October 2008

True Colours

One of the songs I listened to last night, after a particularly bad day. I ran a bath, relaxed and listened to this Cyndi Lauper song.

You with the sad eyes, don’t be discouraged
Oh I realise it’s hard to take courage
In a world full of people you can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you can make you feel so small

CHORUS
But I see your true colours shining through
I see your true colours and that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show

Your true colours, true colours, are beautiful like a rainbow

Show me a smile then, don’t be unhappy,
Can’t remember when I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy and you’ve taken all you can bear
You call me up because you know I’ll be there

(Written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly - "True Colours" was both the title track and the first single released from Cyndi Lauper's second album.)

9 October 2008

Trouble

Matthew 6:34
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Today has contained quite enough problems for one day, thank you. I'm exhausted!
I think I'm going home to listen to some good music tonight, so if you ring me I won't be in.
Tomorrow is on its way.

8 October 2008

The Miry Clay



Psalm 40 (NIV)
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.




1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.
4 Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.
5 Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.
6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
7 Then I said, "Here I am, I have come — it is written about me in the scroll.
8 I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."
9 I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, as you know, O LORD.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.
11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD; may your love and your truth always protect me.
12 For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased, O LORD, to save me; O LORD, come quickly to help me.
14 May all who seek to take my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace.
15 May those who say to me, "Aha! Aha!" be appalled at their own shame.
16 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, "The LORD be exalted!"
17 Yet I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay.

7 October 2008

Terrible times


"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. " 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV)

If we take these words written to Timothy and apply them to our own lives, what options do we have when we have to relate to people once you have proved they are 'without love' - beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are 'treacherous', 'ungrateful'? Everything they say then comes into question. Paul instructs us to have nothing to do with them. However, these are people I see regularly, relate to, even work alongside.
Terrible times, indeed.

3 October 2008

Feet On The Rock


Those who know me are constantly encouraging me to step out - to walk on the water - to step out of my comfort zone. Trouble is, stepping out will mean potentially getting into some very scary places! It stands to reason you're going to be concerned about the unknown, and feel anxious about being moving on. That's why so many people dislike change.

However, I'm looking forward to change. There's certain aspects of my life where I'm in a place that I don't want to be - I want to move on...

So, am I trapped in a paradox? A no-win scenario? Between a rock and a hard place (as the Americans have it)?

Well, I'm trusting in the Rock. I am trusting in God to hold me and keep me safe.

Psalm 27:5 NIV
"For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock."

Lord, lift me from the miry clay, and put my feet firmly on the rock. Amen.

2 October 2008

Pruned!


Last Sunday was our Harvest Festival, and during the course of the meeting there was a lot of talk about fruit (but of course!). As Christians we are supposed to produce fruit - John 15:8 NIV: "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

It struck me following that meeting that a lot of what has been going on in my life could well be described as 'pruning' - removal of the dead branches and leaves, so that what is left can be more fruitful. I'm increasingly encouraged to take the opportunity to embrace my future and step further into my relationship with God, ever conscious of the fact this will take me further from my own comfort zone. Perhaps I need to let God 'prune' me!

Hosea 6: 1-3
1 "Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.
2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.
3 Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth."