[I suppose this is more a kind of human rumination on the Trinity more than a parable. There’s actually no way one can completely explain the concept of the Trinity. But the doctrine of the Trinity is the only way to make sense of many statements in both the Old and New Testaments.]

Andrew: Hi, what are you up to today?

Alex: I’m trying to sort out this Sprague connection.

Andrew: Oh, is that what one calls this funny plug?

Alex: No, it’s the whole thing.

Andrew: But why’s that plug got 4 pins and not the usual 3?

Alex: 3 lives (i.e. 3 phases) and one neutral; the earth is via the metal casing and this open copper wire.

Andrew: So which is positive and which is negative?

Alex: No, no: it’s AC – alternating current, each live is both positive and negative; it alternates.

Andrew: Oh, I thought alternating current was when we alternate between we’ve got current, we’ve got blackouts; you know, Es-kom, Es-gaan.

Alex: No, the current flows first one way, then the other. It rises to a peak, drops, reverses, becomes negative. Look, let me draw you the graph of AC. I’ll just scribble here.

Copy of Single phase Sine_wave_2.svg

This is what we call a sine wave. You can see where its positive peak (say forwards) is , and where its negative (when it goes backwards) peak is. The whole cycle is 360 degrees; that’s what the figures at the bottom are. In South Africa it does this 50 times per second!

Andrew: Good grief! And this three-phase business?

Alex: OK; what I drew there is single phase. I’ll draw you a 3-phase diagram now. It will look a bit more complicated, because we have 3 phases in one diagram. So I’ll do it in colour if you have a red pen …. Thanks.

 Andrew: I can’t believe it does that 50 times per second; and now you say there are 3 of these; so that’s 150 times per second?
Alex: Not quite. Look here’s the diagram.

3PhasePowerWaveF

You must realise this is ONE current supply in 3 phases; or 3 phases in ONE current supply. Let’s say that above the horizontal “0” line is positive, and below is negative, but remember, it’s the same current in the same cable. We could number the phases, but it’s better to draw them or their wires in different colours. You’ll notice the phases are staggered; we say the second one is 120 degrees later compared to the first, and the third is another 120 degrees later than the second, like your mom’s melktart divided into 3 equal pieces and the angle in the middle is 120 degrees. Four equal pieces would have made it 90 degrees.

Andrew: But don’t they get muddled? The phases, I mean, not the melktert.

Alex: No; they’re in separate wires; that’s why I said there are 3 lives. So you have 3 distinct phases, each with its own “function” (shall we say) but they work together in a kind of unity. They work simultaneously; so there’s never a time when there’s only two or one phase operating. You see they never cross on the horizontal line marked “0″ simultaneously.

Andrew: Okaaaay … But what about the 4th wire?

Alex: Right. That’s the neutral. When those three phases in the lives are completely balanced, there should be no current in the neutral. That’s the theory anyway; so don’t think you can play with it, because in practice it may well have some voltage. The earth, of course, is a connection from the chassis of the motor to ground. So, if there’s voltage on the chassis (which there shouldn’t be) it can leak to earth rather than shocking you. Then you’d be buried in a different kind of earth, hey?

Andrew: Wow, this is so complicated. I mean, it goes backward and forward. The same wire is positive and negative; and there are 3 phases and one current supply and they all exist simultaneously?

Alex: Ja, that’s about it. Each phase has its separate existence and can be measured separately; but they work together in a kind of unity as one current. In fact if you measure the voltage from one phase to neutral, you’ll get 220 volts (assuming Eskom is working!). If you measure “across the phases” you’re going to get about 380 volts.

Andrew: Complicated.

Alex: Not if you study the field. Remember when you tried to explain the concept of the Trinity to me? It just didn’t make any sense. I mean, surely God is one, but you say, “No: three persons in one God. God is the Father; God is the Son; but the Father isn’t the Son; and the Spirit isn’t the Son but ‘proceeds from the Father and the Son’, ‘Filio quoque’,” and all that. Now I just didn’t get that. I mean Jesus was only in existence for some 33 or was it 36 years. But you said, “No, He’s been in existence all the time.” And you also claimed Jesus was both divine and human. Now that didn’t make sense either; just like you don’t get it that AC has both pos and neg in the same wire. I mean, that’s just the way electricity works.

Andrew: It’s certainly difficult for the layman to grasp.

Alex: And shall I tell you something else?

Andrew: What?

Alex: How does electricity flow; I mean, in which direction?

Andrew: You mean, like, from positive to negative?

Alex: Exactly. Now what is electricity? What is it that actually moves?

Andrew: OK, so I know that: we were taught it’s electrons.

Alex: Right. So in which directions do electrons flow?

Andrew: Obviously from positive to negative.

Alex: So you’d think; but actually electrons go from negative to positive.

Andrew: But that’s a contradiction. It can’t be right!

Alex: And yet the theory and mathematics of it all work.

Andrew: No, can’t be.

Alex: So are you an unbeliever? Let me tell you, this IS the way it works. You theological guys aren’t the only ones to have crazy-sounding ideas, which you say are not really crazy, but just too deep.

Andrew: Ja, but, I mean, this is supposed to be science!

Alex: So? “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” That’s from Willem Wisselstroom’s play Hamlet, by the way.

 

Graphs from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sine_wave_2.svg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternating_current

7 November 2014

This is a parody of the famous Leonard Cohen song  Hallelujah. I dedicate it to all those whose Hallelujahs are cold or broken.

 
You know what lurks inside me, Lord
You know just why I feel a fraud
But through it all Your love is just as sure
My life is up and down, but when
I fall, You raise me up again
And all that I can do is pant: “My Saviour!”

Hallelujah
O my Saviour
Hallelujah
Jesus Saviour

My faith’s not strong, not doubtingproof
I fall too often, that’s the truth
The burden of my sin surely hides You
The world, the flesh: I fall apart
I stretch my hands out to Your heart
If I can only cling to You, my Saviour!

Hallelujah
O my Saviour
Hallelujah
Jesus Saviour

I know I’ve said this all before
I try again; I can’t do more
I surrender, I give up, I can’t stay true
You’d judge my life as such a farce
It’s certainly no victory march
As I stumble, and I fall before my Saviour

Hallelujah
Lift me, Saviour
Hallelujah
Jesus Saviour

From time to time it’s true, I find
Your words keep playing in my mind
But sometimes so faint: if I am far from You
Without Your voice, I’m so forlorn
But when I see the crown of thorns
I weep beneath the cross of Christ my Saviour

Hallelujah
Christ my Saviour
Hallelujah
Christ my Saviour

 

I know You came down from above
Your life, Your death: it all was love
You came to set us captives free in You
And on that cross Your blood You shed
Yet three days later from the dead
The Father raised You up: O Glorious Saviour!

Hallelujah
Glorious Saviour
Hallelujah
Jesus Saviour

So now from sin You set me free
Let Holy Spirit dwell in me
So I can live the way You want me to
And when the end of time has come
The battle fought, the victory song
Is glory to the Lamb, Christ my Saviour!

Hallelujah
Glorious Saviour
Hallelujah
Jesus Saviour

Hallelujah
Christ my Saviour
Hallelujah
Jesus Saviour

Link for Israeli Defence Force singing it in Hebrew. However, they sing 5 stanzas; I have 6; and one of the versions has 7!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtAMrRtuF_4

Below is a link to another parody of this song, but Christmas-themed.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1OzT2NZQ6I

This is a near parody of the Alice Cooper song: Poison

Your home on high
Your throne divine
You left it all
Came down to die

I hate my sin, but I just can’t stop
(Can’t stop)
I wanna bow down , and my conscience tells me it’s right
I wanna live right, and I want it so much
(So much)
I wanna love You, for Your death is infinite mercy
Your mercy breaking all these chains
Your Mercy
I don’t wanna stay the same

Your sac-rifice
Your blood, my life
One drop can heal
Your pain, I’m free

I hear You calling, and You promise new life
(New life)
I wanna follow ‘cause I hear You calling my name
I wanna follow and live under Your will
(Your will)
I wanna know You and Your heart of infinite mercy
Your mercy breaking all these chains
Your Mercy
I don’t wanna stay the same, mercy

One drop
(One drop)
Can heal
(Can heal)
Your death, I’m free

I want Your freedom; so come clean up my heart
(My heart)
I wanna praise You, and I never want it to stop
I want Your Spirit and I want it so much
(So much)
I wanna hold on to Your heart of infinite mercy
Your mercy cleansing all my sins
Your mercy
I want You to break these chains, mercy
(Mercy)

I want Your freedom; so come clean up my heart
(My heart)
I wanna praise You, and I never want it to stop
I want Your Spirit and I want it so much
(So much)
I wanna hold on to Your heart of infinite mercy
Your mercy cleansing all my sins
Your mercy
I want You to break these chains, mercy

Cleansing deep inside my soul, mercy
(Mercy)
Thank You that You break these chains
(Thank You)
(Thank You)
Thank You that You break these chains

 

References quoted below are from NET. Clicking the link takes you to the NIV.

Phil 2:8
He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross!
To view this excerpt in context, click the following link:
http://biblehub.com/niv/philippians/2.htm

Jude 1:21
maintain1 yourselves in the love of God, while anticipating the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that brings eternal life.
To view this excerpt in context, click the following link:
http://biblehub.com/niv/jude/1.htm

1 Pet 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
To view this excerpt in context, click the following link:
http://biblehub.com/niv/1_peter/1.htm

Eph 2:5-7
But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you are saved! and he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, to demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus
To view this excerpt in context, click the following link:
http://biblehub.com/niv/ephesians/2.htm

Rom 3:23
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 24 But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
To view this excerpt in context, click the following link:
http://biblehub.com/niv/romans/3.htm

Rom 6:4
Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life.
To view this excerpt in context, click the following link:
http://biblehub.com/niv/romans/6.htm

Rom 7:6
But now we have been released from the law, because we have died to what controlled us, so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code.
To view this excerpt in context, click the following link:
http://biblehub.com/niv/romans/7.htm

Rom 7:14
For we know that the law is spiritual – but I am unspiritual, sold into slavery to sin. 15 For I don’t understand what I am doing. For I do not do what I want – instead, I do what I hate.
To view this excerpt in context, click the following link:
http://biblehub.com/niv/romans/7.htm

John 3:16
For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life
To read this verse in context click the following link:
http://biblehub.com/niv/john/3.htm

Rev 7:14
Then he said to me, “These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb!
To read this verse in context click the following link:
http://biblehub.com/niv/revelation/7.htm

[In the last while I a number of people close to me or loved ones have died. So obviously I have been reflecting on death and funerals and what they should be. Helping plan my late Mom’s funeral last year and planning a short eulogy for it forced me to start thinking. Mom was absolutely ready to go and displayed no fear, but trust. So what do I think?]

When I’m dead, not gone,
Spare me the conventional euphemisms:
“He didn’t make it”: Make what?
“Eternal sleep”: What a nightmare!
No-one just “passes away” before a firing squad
Or on a cross.

When I’m dead, not gone,
Spare me those comforting inaccuracies:
I shall not become an angel:
They are created beings;
I shall not be a star in the heavens:
They are matter, governed by the laws of physics.

When I’m dead, not gone,
Spare me those invalid philosophies:
Endless eastern recycling;
Anglo-Saxon or atheist oblivion;
A materialist’s nothing.

When I’m dead, not gone,
Spare me tears: I won’t be needing them,
But shed them for my family and friends
Who’ve loved me and will be missing me.

When I’m dead, not gone,
Spare me pity: I won’t deserve it.
There’ll be no more suffering, pain, despondency or disease;
I’ll be like a little kid running into his Dad’s arms.

When I’m dead, not gone,
Spare me the eulogies that ”celebrate my life”,
Because they cannot face my death.
If my deeds have helped others, that’s great and I’m glad.
For me they’ll be irrelevant and valueless, not a passport;
And anyway, it’s not about me.

Focus rather on what matters:
A wooden cross and an empty tomb.

Rom. 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.“
To read this passage in context, click: http://biblehub.com/niv/romans/3.htm

Rom 5:6 “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
To read this passage in context, click: http://biblehub.com/niv/romans/5.htm

Rom 6:8 “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.”
To read this passage in context, click: http://biblehub.com/niv/romans/6.htm

You may find the following essay very comforting:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2013/05/two-kinds-of-funerals

A list of topics relating to death by John Piper
http://www.desiringgod.org/all-resources/by-topic/death-dying

http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/by-topic/death-dying

[Originally written on 29 August 2010, and posted sometime afterwards, based on The Cranberries’ song Zombie.  In view of the curent strife between Israel and Gaza (in which I believe no-one has clean hands), I’m posting it again.
Like countless others (especially those of us who have both Jewish and Muslim friends/colleagues) I have been praying for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I heard this song while looking for something else. According to Wikipedia, “Zombie is a protest song by the Irish band The Cranberries from the 1994 album No Need to Argue. The song, which laments The Troubles in Northern Ireland and in particular the killing of two children [Jonathan Ball and Tim Parry], in an IRA bombing in Warrington England, was written by Dolores O’Riordan, singer of the band.” I find this a powerful song and have given it an additional, slightly adapted last stanza.]

Another heart dies slowly
Another loved one taken
And the violence shatters silence
Were You so mistaken?

And they’ll say: this is me; this is my history.
Domine, Domine, miserere!
With their planes and their bombs
And their missiles and their guns
For homeland and for Zion they are fighting

From Your heaven, from Your heaven
Look down, look down, look down,
Down, down, down. Lord have mercy!
Split the heavens!
Come down, come down, give peace
peace, peace, peace, oh

Another mother’s empty
Heart is now at breaking
And as violence answers violence
Who will stop the aching?

It’s the same old hate since before ‘48
In their hearts, it’s the hurts they are keeping
With their planes and their bombs
And their missiles and their guns.
From your heaven, from your heaven are You seeing?

From Your heaven, from Your heaven
Look down, look  down, look down,
Down, down, down. Lord have mercy!
Split the heavens!
Come down, come down, give peace
peace, peace, peace, oh, oh, oh …

As guns fall silent I can
Hear the families weeping
As the silence falls on violence
Life is slowly seeping
And it’s all so insane, as they all die in vain
Domine, domine, miserere!
……
…….
Holy God, Holy God, You are weeping!

To view the original Cranberry song:

► 5:16
www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ejga4kJUts

Love is not butterflies in the tummy
When you see him across the room;
Or a quick cuddle, or something else,
Behind the school hall.

Love is a woman bending over him,
Soothing his forehead as he lies there,
While in hushed tones the nurses whisper.

 

[I wrote this after I had spent a little time with an ex-colleague who was terminally ill in hospital; but it’s not limited to this one incident, and is a tribute to those who love — with all its pain — the terminally ill.]

[This was written in the week leading up to Good Friday this year.]

From the Cross
a drop of blood falls,
spreads out, washes over
Jerusalem, Samaria, Asia Minor
Europe, Africa, the whole world.

Arms stretched out,
the Man, the Son, cries out
“Come and bathe; wash yourselves clean.”
The blood of the Lamb: in each drop
– an ocean of forgiveness and Life.

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