At Aletheia Books

At Aletheia Books

Wednesday, 19 April 2017



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


Thursday, 6 April 2017



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