At Aletheia Books

At Aletheia Books
THE ADVENTURE STARTS HERE...

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN TWO WORLDS COLLIDE

EXPLORING THE STORY OF 'THE RESCUE OF TIMMY TRIAL'

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?” 
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures

If you could invent your own world, what kind of place would it be? If you went on a long visit to this other world, would you miss the real world we inhabit, and wish to return? No matter what their feelings were on the matter, for our two adventurers, Jack Merryweather and Timmy Trial, it was time to return to our world. They didn’t choose the moment or the manner, they simply followed their friends into an elevator in Aletheia, 

And walking through that elevator door was perhaps the strangest feeling yet of their very strange adventure.’

‘When Jack walked through the elevator door he shut his eyes tightly against the sudden brightness of the light. When he opened his eyes he realised that the glaring light was the hot sun which was shining brightly in the sky above him. Timmy stood close by, and both boys looked around them, and then stared at each other in silence.
Behind them were the farm sheds that belonged to Jack’s Grandad; before them stretched the field of golden barley waving and nodding in the warm summer breeze; and from behind the sheds came the sound of children playing in a playground…’

Can you imagine the sudden transformation from a world apart, where they had faced terror and excitement and danger… to a school playground at break time? There are the sounds of echoing shouts and (mostly) amicable games; everything they are familiar with from the most ordinary of days. Nothing has changed.

‘Was it possible that it was still only Friday lunchtime? Was it possible that they hadn’t been missed at all? Had everything been an incredible dream?...’

There has been a dramatic transformation in them, in Timmy most of all. His whole view of himself, and of God who created him and offered salvation to him, has fundamentally turned him in the opposite direction. Or has it…? In the routine of life, in the ‘ordinary’ world, when it most matters, will such a change last?

‘Jack looked at Timmy. Timmy looked at Jack. And Jack knew that if he looked anything like Timmy, his school uniform dirty, his hair wild, his face pale, and even a bruise on his forehead: well then, they must have been somewhere!...
It was assumed by their friends that they had been fighting; but both Jack and Timmy denied all knowledge of that. And besides, there was no doubt that they had returned from their excursion outside of the school grounds the very best of friends…’

They have returned to their world completely changed by Bible Truth. How it stands the test of time is a subject for another day. They will one day return to Aletheia and face new challenges… but that’s another story.

There is another world Christians will one day inhabit – as real as this one and so glorious that it is impossible to exaggerate its splendours. And that world lasts forever and ever, unlike the fragile, transient nature of this one. The reality is that, as far as God is concerned, we are more suited to live there than we are to live in this world.

We have new life which fits us to be there
(2 Corinthians 5:17; John 5:24);
We are citizens who belong there
(Philippians 3:20-21);
We have a rich inheritance waiting for us there
(1 Peter 1:4).


I wonder how much time we spend preparing for, and dwelling on, that future world…


“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
C. S. Lewis

 THIS IS THE END OF THE SERIES OF BLOGS ABOUT 'THE RESCUE OF TIMMY TRIAL' -
NEW BLOG SERIES TO FOLLOW! 

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE

EXPLORING THE STORY OF 'THE RESCUE OF TIMMY TRIAL'

“But, I nearly forgot, you must close your eyes
otherwise you won't see anything”

Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Perspective is a strange thing. Depending on your point of view, you can look at the same object as me and observe something entirely different. To use a common example, I might look at a glass in which water reaches the halfway mark and feel that it is half empty; you might consider it half full. Our experiences, mindset, priorities, values and such, very much affect the outcome of how we allow ourselves to look at a situation, person, object, and even how we allow the truth of the Bible to influence or change us.

In one sense, you will never see things from God’s point of view, from the point of view of Bible Truth, until you close your eyes: that is, switch off your own natural perspective, and allow the light of the Word of God to change and direct you.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path”
Psalm 119:105, THE BIBLE

Timmy Trial’s perspective changed when he trusted in the Lord Jesus for salvation and let go entirely of his own ideas; his sense of other things changed too…

‘Timmy put on the pieces of the armour that Mr Weighty provided for him. At last he could see the armour of God that the others had talked about and that he had scorned; and he put on his armour as if it was the greatest honour in the world.
That weary walk through the darkness of Err was nothing like the wandering of the night before. They were not lost or full of fear or doubts: because they could always see the cross before them… They held their Bibles in their hands for light and only occasionally commented about the fact that they were no longer travelling in Mr Weighty’s wonderful Rescue Craft.
Timmy didn’t comment at all.
He walked with his eyes fixed on the cross…’  

As Christians, the centre of our vision, of our changed perspective, should always be the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so, it is to the cross that the children are first led when they return to Aletheia.

‘Redemption Square was deserted when at last they reached the top of the long hill of the city of Aletheia and stood near the cross. A few of the windows of the shops and houses clustered around the square twinkled with light but everyone was indoors and most people had already gone to bed. Harold led them to the cross and they climbed the steps to the top, to the very foot of the cross, and looked out over the whole land of Err.
“It’s the best view in the land,” said Harold. “Best because you can see the most, and also because you can feel the most. Here you can feel the right amount of compassion and anxiety and even righteous anger about Err, because you’re close to the cross.”…’       

‘For what you see and hear depends a good deal 
on where you are standing…’
The Magician’s Nephew, C. S. Lewis

How near I stand to the cross will determine my perspective on the world around me. I might have compassion for those who are lost, remembering how much was sacrificed for their salvation; or disgust for those fallen into sinful and evil snares, forgetful that I was once one of them. It will also affect my perspective on myself. There is no room for pride at the cross: I am simply a slave set free through the work of Redemption.


‘God forbid that I should boast except
in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…’
Galatians 6:14, THE BIBLE

TO BE CONTINUED - NEXT BLOG: 
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN TWO WORLDS COLLIDE 

Thursday, 15 June 2017

ABOUT WORDS

EXPLORING THE STORY OF 'THE RESCUE OF TIMMY TRIAL'

Do you ever use a Thesaurus? I find it helpful in writing – because it’s painfully easy to fall into the trap of using the same words over and over (and over) when you could mix things up, add interest and drama and colour, by using very similar words that essentially mean the same thing. In fact, I think it’s actually more likely that I use the same words again and again (and again) when I’m writing, because they’re already fresh in my mind as they’ve just been used! Anyway, my handy Thesaurus offers far more choice of similar words than I could ever dream up, and it’s one of the most used books I have to assist me in writing.  
 
I am, of course, referring to the use of synonyms. The ‘Longman Compact English Dictionary’, states a synonym is…
‘any of 2 or more words or expressions…
that are used with (nearly) the same meaning’

I’m afraid I’m no linguist, and am sadly ignorant of how English compares to other languages, but I was intrigued to learn (through a quick search of Google) that,

‘Modern English has an unusually large number of synonyms or near-synonyms, mainly because of the influence of very different language groups: Germanic, Romance languages (Latin, French), and Greek.’

But, although several words in English can be used interchangeably, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t subtle differences in general meaning. One word can reflect a shade of truth or emphasis that is lacking in another. This is recognised by Jane Austen when, writing in Pride and Prejudice, she asserts,

“Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.” 

I used to think that the different words the Bible uses to describe the message of God's salvation all meant the same thing: that words such as redemption, forgiveness, justification, substitution, born again, salvation, sanctification, propitiation ...... were essentially synonyms and that, if you had a Biblical Thesaurus, you could simply substitute one for the other. Perhaps that is possible in some instances. But there are distinct and wonderful differences behind these Biblical words – and they are intended to describe different aspects of Bible Truth. In other words, there is so much meaning in the work of Jesus Christ on behalf of the human race, that there are many different words and pictures needed to portray all its incredible depths of truth.

The differing aspects of the work of the Lord Jesus was what first set me on the path to write adventure stories which would delve into essential features of Bible Truth. Each book has a different theme. As you may have noticed in the previous blog, the first book in the Aletheia Adventure Series looks at Redemption: being set free from the slavery of sin, bought and paid for by a different Master. 

‘Redemption is being purchased by God instead of being owned by sin; being set free from sin to belong to God instead…’

In the words of Romans 6:14,  
‘Sin shall no longer be your master…’

There is a passage towards the beginning of the story of the rescue of Timmy Trial when he first comes to the cross in the centre of Aletheia. Christian Rescuer, Harold Wallop, tries to explain a little of the truth of Redemption.

The many steps that led upwards to the cross glinted curiously in the sunlight.
“It’s because of the chains,” Harold explained the glinting steps. “People leave the chains of sin behind them when they trust in the Lord Jesus. He breaks the chains and sets them free! That’s part of the truth of Redemption.”
There were so many, many links of chain that formed the smooth steps that led upwards to the cross in the centre of the square. Countless cruel chains that now lay broken and shattered in pieces because the Lord Jesus had paid the awful price of the punishment of sin so that people who trusted in Him didn’t have to pay it themselves…’


Timmy doesn’t understand the significance of the cross, and certainly not the value of Redemption. First he must change his entire perspective. And that is the subject our next blog A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

FREEDOM

EXPLORING THE STORY OF 'THE RESCUE OF TIMMY TRIAL'

I think there is probably a fundamental misunderstanding about freedom in Christianity. The secular world at large obsesses about the protection of an individual’s freedom. This usually means the freedom to express myself by whatever behaviour, and in whatever manner, I please, limited only by whatever boundaries are imposed by the current law of the land in which I live. There is not much that is new in this notion of individual freedom. In fact, there is, perhaps, some resemblance to the book of Judges in the Bible, at least 1000 BC, which can be summed up in these words:

‘Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.’
Judges 21:25, THE BIBLE

Now, someone might say, ‘And what is so wrong with that? Surely freedom to please myself is essential to, even the very nature of, happiness. And isn’t the very essence of freedom to do precisely what I please, so long as it isn’t harming anyone else?’ And yet, there is a strange paradox here. On the one hand this appears to be the embodiment of freedom, but living without moral boundaries, enjoying satisfying whatever desires appeal to me, leads me inexorably into the slavery of sin – because I have ignored God’s law and the boundaries He has set. The Lord Jesus Himself said,

‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin
is a slave of sin.’
John 8:34, THE BIBLE

This, then, is the quandary: 
that by coveting freedom, by throwing overboard boundaries and living according to my own ‘code of conduct’, I have broken the law of God, and have actually become a slave of sin.

This attempt to invent our own freedom and happiness goes back further than the book of Judges – right to the very dawn of creation, to the Garden of Eden. In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis expresses it like this, 

“What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.
God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”

In our adventure story, Timmy Trial has learned the cost of going his own way against God. Instead of enjoying the ultimate freedom to benefit from the land of Err and shape his own destiny, he is taken captive by the Snares that represent sin. But, despite the fact that his friends struggled to find him, he is miraculously set free!

‘“Think about the truth of Redemption. You know that when the Lord Jesus died, He paid the ransom for the sins of the whole world. But not everyone will be saved. Just as Timmy did recently, people have to choose to accept the payment that the Lord Jesus made on their behalf, and then they are set free from paying the penalty for their sins themselves… Redemption is being purchased by God instead of being owned by sin; being set free from sin to belong to God instead… When Timmy cried out to God to save him and set him free from the Snares of sin that had a hold of him, then they no longer had any authority over him.”
“Did the Snares just let go?”...
Mr Weighty nodded. “They had to,” he said. “Because the Lord Jesus paid the price to set Timmy free; and when Timmy turned to Him and asked to be set free, the price the Lord Jesus paid is put to Timmy’s account… We are all snared by sin. We might not have been taken captive quite like Timmy, but we all needed to be set free. And that’s what happens when we simply trust in the Lord Jesus.”

Where, then, is the greatest personal freedom to be found?

TO BE CONTINUED - NEXT BLOG: ABOUT WORDS

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

HOLLOW CARROTS


EXPLORING THE STORY OF 'THE RESCUE OF TIMMY TRIAL'

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'
'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
'I don't much care where -' said Alice.
'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.
'- so long as I get SOMEWHERE,' Alice added as an explanation.
'Oh, you're sure to do that,' said the Cat, 'if you only walk long enough.” 
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

I wonder how many of us stick to a path simply because we were already going that way? Not through any sense of purpose, or feeling that there is a definite reason for the direction of travel, but just because it’s the way we were heading and it’s sure to lead somewhere…  

In our story, four children are now on a quest to find Timmy Trial who has been taken captive by the dreaded Snares. Their reckless good intentions have taken on a life of their own, but they feel they have gone so far away from adult regulation, so far along this chosen road, that they must try and justify their actions by completing the rescue of Timmy from the Snares.

‘We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.’
C. S. Lewis

They continue in the direction of travel, despite some pretty dicey moments along the way. Thankfully, they are travelling in a well-equipped Rescue Craft, and they discover the helpful Mission Detector which is onboard. Henrietta proves adept at extracting details. 

‘Henrietta looked up 'Hollow Spring' on the Mission Detector. “There’s not likely to be any safe food exactly,” she said slowly, reading what the screen had to say. 
The closer you get to False Teaching, the less you can trust the food and drink… including the area around Hollow Spring. Food here will generally be hollow or contain only tepid water and nothing of substance. For example, carrots may appear big and healthy, but they will only be a shell that quickly breaks apart and contains nothing…You must beware of anything that appears substantial: nothing is quite what it seems.”…’

I have a large folder which contains my notes about all the places in the land of Err – plenty of which have not yet been explored and included in adventures. Only a fraction of my ramblings make it into the books, so I looked up the folder to see what I had thought about the area around Hollow Spring – which is located close to, and feeds water to, towns that are deceptive, cunning, twisted, and in every way alternative to the truth. The weather in Hollow Spring didn’t feature in the book, but some of the detail I have in my notes…
‘Clouds are quite often empty and hollow; raindrops don’t contain much water; snowflakes are merely pretty outlines with no centre; consequently there isn’t much moisture in this area – but Hollow Spring comes from underground; it only shrinks under the influence of prayer…’

While the children fear they will go hungry, Henrietta is not too dismayed that carrots might be hollow, since she’s not too keen on them anyway. But undoubtedly their uncertain direction of travel resulted in this hollow dilemma. The further they have travelled away from Aletheia, the city of Bible Truth, the more serious the departure from the truth. In Alternative Teaching they encountered odd alternatives…
‘There were small things, subtle differences, just a little here and there that was slightly different to the normal, solid homes that Jack knew and that were in Aletheia… there was a cottage with a triangular window in the wrong place, and a house with a round door, and a chimney poking out of a wall, and other odd little bits and pieces peering from the homes…’

In another Aletheia adventure, some children pass through Alternative Teaching and observe,
‘Knives and forks planted neatly in the garden by someone who was experimenting with an alternative method of adding to their cutlery collection…’

But now our adventurers are moving towards territory where nothing can be trusted. People have moved so far away from the truth of the Bible, that there are more than a few odd changes around them, and even more than hollow food: falsehood abounds. In my notes about the town of False Teaching…
‘The weather is completely unreliable and always false to you; forecasters never get it right…rain clouds might form, but the sun shines hotly all day. Plants are completely unreliable too: you can plant potatoes and carrots come up; you never know what flowers or weeds will appear when you sow seeds…’

Can you imagine a diet of hollow food which only looks good on the outside? Or eating food that appears to be one thing, and is actually something quite different? I question my own spiritual direction – and the diet I absorb from what it around me – and wonder how it compares…

TO BE CONTINUED - NEXT BLOG: FREEDOM

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

THE CONSEQUENCE OF COMPROMISE

EXPLORING THE STORY OF 'THE RESCUE OF TIMMY TRIAL'

“Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.”
G.K. Chesterton
As we have previously seen, in the town of Wishy-Washy, in the fascinating land of Err, things are definitely wishy-washy. In a supreme effort to tolerate every point of view, the townsfolk don’t disagree about anything, or dare to hold that anything is definitely true – because then another thing must be necessarily false, which wouldn’t be a very tolerant thing to think at all now, would it? The people who live there have adjusted to faded colours and vaguely foggy ideas; they no longer notice them. But it’s really not a convenient place to be if you get lost. And, as Jack and Timmy and Hezekiah are exactly that, they must look for someone to help them with definite directions…

‘Jack approached a lady who was walking close by and seemed to know where she was going. “Excuse me, is this the way to Apathy Road?” he asked.
“Oh, I dare say it is if you want it to be,” the lady said.
“What does that mean?” asked Timmy. But the lady had passed by and was quickly lost to sight through the mist and rain.
“Excuse me,” Hezekiah tried to stop a man who was hurrying on his way, no doubt anxious to get home and out of the damp. “What is the way back to the main Apathy Road?”
“All roads will lead there if you follow them for long enough,” he said vaguely. And then he politely excused himself and hurried on.
“Doesn’t anyone around here give a straight answer?” demanded Timmy. “Hey you!” he called to a young man who was rushing by under an umbrella. “Can you tell us the way to Apathy Road?”
“Keep going straight ahead and you might reach Compromise,” the young man called back. “You never know, they might tell you the way!”
“Honestly!” said Timmy. “What’s wrong with the people around here?”
“I don’t think they can give a straight answer,” said Jack. “Most of the people at the Fair couldn’t either. I think that’s what happens when you’re…well, wishy-washy and don’t really know what to believe.”’

Without clear directions, the three boys continue to walk towards Compromise.

‘The mist grew even thicker, the rain continued to fall, and the dull daylight of late afternoon began to fade. There seemed nothing left to do but to keep walking somewhere even as the crowd around them thinned and vanished… Jack and Hezekiah and Timmy were left alone in a land of marshland and trees.
And ahead, for good or ill, lay Compromise…’ 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, road signs to Compromise are not very clear. Some might suggest one way, but it’s possible there’s a reasonable alternative route too; a third way might have some merit, and there’s a fourth which has never been explored but shouldn’t be completely discounted… Darkness falls as night approaches, and with no money, and no food, and no clear directions, the boys must make a dark forest their home for the night.


Jack turned slowly and searched the forbidding forest behind them. He had heard a snigger; a horrible, nasty laugh of something that was out there. He wished he had a light, any light at all. But did he really want to see what it would reveal? Were they really at the mercy of cruel and shadowy Snares that might take them captive?...

Compromise can be a good thing. In life, unless we are utterly intolerable people, we will very often give a little ground to others. It can be a good, kind, thoughtful, practical thing to do in order to assist those around us.

But there are matters on which it is impossible to compromise without entering dangerous territory: in particular, essential Bible Truth. I’m not talking about what Christians should wear or eat or look like; I mean the fundamental truths of the Bible – about the character of God, the way of salvation, the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. About such, there is no ground to give, and any drifting towards tolerance of alternative ideas inevitably leads to greater and greater compromise and somewhere down the line to grave danger.

For the three boys, lost in the night, the consequences of travelling towards Compromise will be dire indeed.

TO BE CONTINUED - NEXT BLOG: HOLLOW CARROTS

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

WISHY-WASHY

EXPLORING THE STORY OF 'THE RESCUE OF TIMMY TRIAL'

I love delving into the strange towns and locations the curious land of Err has to offer. There are so many things to discover there! You see, the physical characteristics of locations in the land of Err, take on the character of the people – and the results can be interesting, dangerous, and downright peculiar.

In the town of Wishy-Washy, things are…well, rather wishy-washy. The town is misty and hazy, and very often damp fog clouds the air and distorts the view. On the best days it’s still more-or-less colourless – as if an artist has put too much water in the paint and washed all but the faintest hues of colour away. But, for all that, it is generally a peaceful, agreeable kind of place, even if the sun seldom breaks through the cloud. You see, nobody is very clear about anything, and if you don’t hold a firm opinion on, well, anything at all, there’s really nothing left to argue about, is there? The worst criticism levelled against it is that the propensity to be agreeable about even the most ridiculous notions can make you seem rather stupid.    

When Timmy Trial goes his own way and enters the land of Err, the other children – Jack Merryweather and others from the city of Aletheia – go after him. The first town they arrive at is Wishy-Washy, and the town has a fair in progress. Jack, an ordinary schoolboy, tries to understand this different world…

‘“Why is everything so washed out around here?” asked Jack…
“Well,” said Mr Weighty, “it’s really because people have watered down everything. There are Christians here who have watered down the Truth of the Bible or just chosen the bits they like and so have become all watery and wishy-washy about what they believe. And there are people who aren’t Christians who don’t mind some bits of the Bible but sadly have never grasped the whole Truth and come to the Lord Jesus to be saved. That’s why everything has become misty and unclear, because that’s what these people are…”…
It was an intriguing idea: that places became like the people who lived there. Jack wondered what his own village would look like if it imitated what the people were on the inside…’ 

But there are dangers lurking in the shadows, 
even in seemingly harmless, agreeable Wishy-Washy. Once people no longer hold the Truth, there is a vacancy for ‘alternative’ versions of ‘truth’ – which are ultimately deception and lies. Small changes to essential Truth, lead to greater and greater deceptions – as Jack and his new friend Hezekiah find when they become lost in the tangled stalls of Wishy-Washy Fair. They reach the shady outskirts, and hide and listen to Wander Palm’s prophecies to poor Timmy Trial…

‘Jack had never seen someone trying to tell the future before… The lady was examining Timmy’s head as if he was being checked for head lice when there was an outbreak at school. She was telling him that he would one day grow very tall and strong and might even be a great man in Err. How she got all that through Timmy’s untidy, uncombed and probably even unwashed hair was maybe the mystery bit of Wander Palm’s Prophecies…’

The prophecies about Timmy Trial are everything he wants to hear about himself, his prospects, his future – all his hopes are confirmed by Wander Palm. But there is great danger here. The territory has changed, from solid Bible Truth, to half-true niceties, to agreeable imagination. In the void which should only be filled by the Word of God, there is room for all kind of imaginings, even disguised as modern prophecy and given a label from the Bible.  

We are constantly in danger of treading these shifting sands. 
We should beware of any specific ‘prophecies’ – verses, messages, dreams, circumstances – that we interpret according to our own desires. Our blessings are spiritual, not material (Ephesians 1:3), (although we know God can bless people with possessions to be used in His service). Beware of any ‘special revelation’ that satisfies your personal ambitions, makes you more content on earth, and is not ultimately equipping you for Heaven:
God is always acting for eternity, 
and His blessings to us will reflect this.

‘“Will I be rich?” asked Timmy.
“You have gold prospects,” the lady said soothingly in her mesmerising voice…’

Jack knows enough of Bible Truth to realise this doesn’t sound right…

Jack had suddenly had enough. “What rot!” he said to Hezekiah…
The lady’s head snapped around… “Who’s there?” she said sternly as if she was talking to something invisible…
“A spirit from the future is here,” Jack droned in a strange, unearthly voice…“Timmy Trial must leave at once!”…
The lady’s face went very white, and then very red. Timmy seemed utterly bereft of speech…he got suddenly from his chair and staggered slightly as he stood.
The lady stood too. “I don’t think it’s anything to worry about,” she said to Timmy, but Jack heard the awful uncertainty in her voice. “This has never happened before. It might be a special revelation…”
Jack hadn’t thought of what to do next; he was utterly astonished that his pretence had been remotely believable. He decided to continue…’   


The scene has its ludicrous moments, and there are further consequences in the story, but the danger of false teaching and prophecy is real enough. If we don’t saturate ourselves in the truth of the Bible, we will fill the void with other matter instead. Small, cosy half-truths might seem harmless enough to begin with, but where will they ultimately lead…?

‘Put on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and make no provision for the flesh…’
Romans 13:14, THE BIBLE


TO BE CONTINUED - NEXT BLOG: 
THE CONSEQUENCE OF COMPROMISE

Thursday, 6 April 2017

MORE SMALL STICKS

EXPLORING THE STORY OF 'THE RESCUE OF TIMMY TRIAL'

Let’s diverge slightly from the sequence of the adventure 
of Timmy Trial and consider the theme of small sticks: which, in this story, represent the power of effective, targeted prayer by an old, experienced prayer warrior on behalf of two lost schoolboys. We have previously reflected on the importance of this invisible powerhouse when it is based upon the character, will and purposes of the God of Heaven as the Bible portrays Him. There are a couple of other instances in this adventure when Mr Duffle’s prayer offering rescues the children. The one we will pick up here is when the children attempt the rescue of Timmy Trial from the evil Snares of Err. They go about it in their own inimitable way – not properly understanding the resources that they, as Christians, have at their disposal. And so, they are ill prepared to face the terrifying Snares.

‘In the daylight they were thick grey and black shadows, like the dark thunder clouds of a summer storm. And that’s where they seemed to come from, falling out of a sky that was no longer full of sunshine, but was threatening to unleash the most ferocious thunder and rain…’


They get the basics right for this unequal fight against a cruel enemy. They remember to put on their armour of God, and pick up the ‘sword of the Spirit which is the word of God’ (Ephesians chapter 6)…

‘“Everyone put on your armour,” said Hugo. His voice was trembling but he was thinking hard. “And make sure you have your Bible in your hand.”…   
It was hard with the fear of Snares upon them to calmly fasten on their armour and await their enemies. Cold seemed to penetrate them as the clouds grew thicker around them, and there were strange stirrings in the trees.’

But when they are challenged by the Snares, when these malevolent creatures refuse to allow them to proceed on their journey to rescue their lost friend, they begin to understand that they have not adequately prepared for this fight; and the Snares soon realise this too. Nothing but direct prayer will drive these enemies away, and, remembering the effectiveness of Mr Duffle’s prayer stick on the Snares (see previous blog ‘Small Sticks’), Henrietta desperately searches in the Rescuer’s Kit for prayer that might help…

‘Henrietta withdrew a stick from the Rescuer’s Kit. “Look!” she said holding it high.
There was silence amongst the watching Snares.
And then Henrietta threw the stick at them with all her might.
They all held their breath as they watched the small stick of prayer fly through the air towards the Snares. There was a flare of light, as if someone had struck a match, a sudden sparkle…and then nothing at all. It was like a firework that had not really got started properly and had fizzled out. They looked at each other in dismay.
The Snares sniggered in amusement.
“What did I tell you?” said the big Snare leader, “they know nothing about prayer! They’re no danger to us!”…’

Later in the story, the children get the opportunity to ask about this episode.

‘“We tried one of your prayer sticks against the Snares you see,” Hugo explained to Mr Weighty… “But why didn’t it work?”…
“My dear Hugo,” said Mr Weighty, “you might have been throwing prayers for the Lost Ones in the Mountains of Destruction at the Snares of False Teaching! Those prayers have got nothing to do with them! Come to think of it, I did have some prayers collected for Mr Faintnot who is the Outpost Rescuer up near the Mountains of Destruction. I was going to deliver the prayers to him. I think it’s prayers for poor Mr Faintnot that you’ve been throwing at the Snares!... You have to be specific and targeted in prayer. You can’t just expect to aim any prayer at any problem and get results… One of the keys to a successful mission is preparing with prayer and asking people to provide prayer cover that is specific to the problems you’re going to face.”…’

There is an awesome responsibility to safeguard ‘frontline’ Christian workers with specific, targeted prayer. In another Aletheia adventure, there is a glimpse into the Lost Property Room of the Prayer Academy in Aletheia, where all the prayer requests that aren’t meaningful enough to assign to a specific target are sent. Here is an extract from this sad, and fascinating, place.

‘It was certainly an unusual sight. Hundreds of tiny pieces of paper whirling around and around the room, unable to rest – for they had no target – and so they flew until they were used up and exhausted; they hadn’t been used purposefully at all…’




“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man [person] avails much…” 
James 5:16, The Bible



TO BE CONTINUED - NEXT BLOG: 
WISHY-WASHY