[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

[The latest James Bond film has just been released in South Africa.We as Christians are called to undertake an entirely different sort of mission which calls for faith, courage and the energising of the Holy Spirit.]

Though my bones be dry or ache,
Though the earth tremble and quake,
In the midst of it all
Even though the sky should fall,
Let me hold on fast to Your Word
Let me be not shaken – but stirred.

Ezekiel 37
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord….”
To see this in context click: the following link:
http://niv.scripturetext.com/ezekiel/37.htm

Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.
To see this in context click the following link:
http://niv.scripturetext.com/psalms/46.htm

For those who don’t know, the latest James Bond film is called Skyfall.
For info about Skyfall click the following link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skyfall.

 

[Jesus often taught using parables, allegorical stories based on everyday life or current events. I suspect that, if only we looked around and thought for a while, we would find that our world is full of parables too. So here’s the seventh one. Enjoy.]

Joshua:    What on earth are you up to now?

Willem:    I’m glad you see I confine my energies to earth. None of your pie-in-the sky stuff: magical, invisible Holy Spirit guiding you and all that crap. I prefer cane spirit. And I’m trying to sort out this damn pump motor.

Joshua:    Something wrong with the brushes?

Willem:    No, it hasn’t got brushes.

Joshua:    No brushes?

Willem:    That’s mos what I said.

Joshua:    So, if there are no brushes, what takes the electricity to the bit that moves? I thought there were brushes brushing on the commutator to get the electricity to the moving bit from the bit that doesn’t move? You showed me that before.

Willem:    You mean, current from the stator to the rotor?

Joshua:    Yes, I mean, it can’t just jump across by magic.

Willem:    This is an induction motor. The current flows in the stator – the bit that stays still – but the current flowing in the stator induces a current in the rotor –the bit that goes round. Now the electricity flowing in the windings causes a magnetic field, and the two fields cause the rotor to rotate. That’s mos why it’s called an induction motor because the current in the rotor is induced from the stator without any physical contact. Hey, that’s complicated for your airy-fairy religious mind!

Joshua:    So electricity can flow from one thing to something that’s not connected to it?

Willem:    Sort of, ou pel. That’s how transformers work. That’s the phemo–meno – ag, the thing called electromagnetic induction. The electric current in one coil makes a current run in the other coil. The two coils are insulated from mekaar, but close together.

Joshua:    So, if they were far apart you wouldn’t get any current being induced?

Willem:    ‘S right. The magnetic field would be too feeble, ou, like you!

Joshua:    And of course you can’t see this magical, invisible electromagnetic induction happening?

Willem:     Of course not! You really dof sometimes ou. It’s not magic. It’s science.

Joshua:    So, why –, I don’t understand –

Willem:    Ag no, man. What now?

Joshua:    No, I sort of understand what you’re saying, but I don’t understand you.

Willem:     ‘s wrong with me, eh?

Joshua:    You understand that invisible electricity can be induced because of magnetic fields and stuff like that –

Willem:    –of course; it’s my job!

Joshua:    – but you don’t understand how God can influence me by his Spirit even though we can’t see it?

Willem:    I know there’s electricity in a thing, because my multimeter’s needle moves.

Joshua:    But you still can’t see the electricity. I want to see the electricity!

Willem:    If you hold these two wires and I switch on, you’ll blerrie-well feel it!

Joshua:    You’re telling me I can’t see electricity, but only what it does to things?

Willem:     Geez, my bru, you are clever today, hey?

Joshua:    But that’s the way God works through his Holy Spirit: you can’t see the Spirit but you see what it does. Like that chap – Jacques –who was an alcoholic and used to beat his wife: he had hands laid on him, passed out –

Willem:    He’d have passed out if I’d given him a moerse klap  –

Joshua:    – and when he got up he begged his wife for forgiveness, hasn’t touched a drop in the last 14 months, no longer loses his temper, no longer swears or even smokes. You can’t see the Holy Spirit but you can see what it does!

Willem:    Ag, jus’ pass me that blerrie spanner!

Sparrow in My Hand is parody of T’Pau’s song China in your hand (the longer, 3-verse version)
January 2012

It was a plan I had
For the man I had
Birthed at the dawn of time:
Redeem life on earth
With a second birth
By the Spirit of God-in-Man
It was a mission to save
For eternal life
Before they’re snatched away.

And I would pay the price to reconcile
Oh, walk earth and shed My blood.
New life will return through this one sacrifice.
The prophecies will be fulfilled,
Free gift of the Servant King

Don’t fly too far
Your soul’s a sparrow in My hand
Don’t fly too far
Without My help you know
That you cannot stand
And you don’t know what you might
Yet bring upon yourself,
Sparrow in My hand

The I in sin
That is born within
Takes life to a barren land
“Oh I want”
Putting man in the role of God
Autonomy is a fantasy
It’s born of a wilful mind

Don’t fly too far
Your soul’s a sparrow in My hand
Don’t fly too far
Without My help you know
That you cannot stand
And you don’t know what you might
Yet bring upon yourself,
Sparrow in My hand

[On the morning of 24 Dec 2011 I sat in the garden watching the birds. One of these birds is tiny, perhaps only 50mm long; it flits from one branch to another, and then flies back to its original branch. While I was watching it, it flew to my knee , and I clearly felt the breath of its wings, and then it flew back to its original branch. Then it flew away. This seemed to reinforce the image in the poem.
The song China in your hand (URL, in case you are not familiar with the song:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtT3naOuG1A ) refers to the story of Dr Frankenstein’s creation of a humanoid monster assembled from human bits and pieces. Frankenstein is repelled by his creation. There are too many contrasts and parallels with the Creation as told in Genesis to mention them here. However the Bible tells us that God saw that His creation was good. (For the NIV Genesis text click this link: http://niv.scripturetext.com/genesis/1.htm )]

Matt 10:29
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.
For the full NIV text click: http://niv.scripturetext.com/matthew/10.htm

John 15:4-5
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
For the full NIV text click: http://niv.scripturetext.com/john/15.htm

John 3:1-8
Jesus answered, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
For the full NIV text click: http://niv.scripturetext.com/john/3.htm

John 10:10
 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
For the full NIV text click: http://niv.scripturetext.com/john/10.htm

Philippians 2:6-8
[Jesus Christ] though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross!
For the full NIV text click: http://niv.scripturetext.com/philippians/2.htm

Isaiah 53: 3–
He was despised and rejected by people, one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness; people hid their faces from him; he was despised, and we considered him insignificant. …He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed. All of us had wandered off like sheep; each of us had strayed off on his own path. …He was led away after an unjust trial but who even cared? Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living; because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded. They intended to bury him with criminals, but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb, because he had committed no violent deeds, nor had he spoken deceitfully. …. My servant will acquit many,  for he carried their sins.
For the full NIV text click: http://niv.scripturetext.com/isaiah/53.htm

[Jesus’s sacrifice started long before Good Friday. He gave up His heavenly residenc (I don’t think many of us would leave a Bishops Court or Constantia mansion – and Heaven must be more magnificent – and go and live in a squatter camp.) He left His Father to undertake His mission on earth, and at the time when He needed it most, He felt He was cut off from the Father by the weight of our sins. And He had known all of this from  the beginning of time.

This is a parody of Roxette’s “The Sweet Hello, The Sad Goodbye”
C144 SV 58
Good Friday 2010]

In my hour of need you met me:
I tell the world there are no regrets.
In this heart there is such gratitude:
Grace received, Grace quite undeserved.
You are Messiah Guiltless One;
Yet You came down to die.

You left your glorious throne in heaven on high
(O what precious sacrifice);
You were content to live on earth for a time
(O what precious sacrifice);
With your life in our hands, we shouted “Crucify!”
And I can’t help but wonder why
You made that precious sacrifice.

In wilful pride, we went along our own way:
You came to search and find and save.
You left your Father in heaven above:
You made the precious sacrifice

I know You are the Only One
Who could ever pay that price:
Only a Lamb so pure could satisfy
(O what precious sacrifice);
And still your Heart is hurt, time after time
(O what precious sacrifice)
When from Your Loving Face we run away and hide.
Then I can’t help but wonder why
You made that precious sacrifice.
Jesus
You made that perfect sacrifice.

Your Blood was all that could justify
(O what precious sacrifice).
For us the spear was thrust into Your side
(O what precious sacrifice).
All our guilt and sin onto Yourself were piled;
And I can’t help but wonder why
It was for me You chose to die
Jesus
You made that perfect sacrifice

O what precious sacrifice
O what precious sacrifice

Luke 19:10  The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Philp 2:6 – 8 He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God. Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death— his death on the cross.

Rom 3:24-25  But by the free gift of God’s grace all are put right with him through Christ Jesus, who sets them free.  God offered him, so that by his blood he should become the means by which people’s sins are forgiven through their faith in him.

Rom 5:6 -8 For when we were still helpless, Christ died for the wicked at the time that God chose. It is a difficult thing for someone to die for a righteous person. It may even be that someone might dare to die for a good person. But God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!

Rom 6:23  For sin pays its wage—death; but God’s free gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord.

Heb 10:9 – 12  So God does away with all the old sacrifices and puts the sacrifice of Christ in their place. Because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do, we are all purified from sin by the offering that he made of his own body once and for all. Every Jewish priest performs his services every day and offers the same sacrifices many times; but these sacrifices can never take away sins. Christ, however, offered one sacrifice for sins, an offering that is effective forever, and then he sat down at the right side of God.

Joh 1:11  He came to his own country, but his own people did not receive him. Some, however, did receive him and believed in him; so he gave them the right to become God’s children.

Isa 53:4  “But he endured the suffering that should have been ours, the pain that we should have borne. All the while we thought that his suffering was punishment sent by God. But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did. We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received. All of us were like sheep that were lost, each of us going his own way. But the LORD made the punishment fall on him, the punishment all of us deserved.

[I came across a photograph of a friend when she was a young mother. With her was her baby daughter. Their faces were inches away from each other, and they seemed absorbed into each other: intimacy. As parents know, things do not stay that way. As the child grows, the intimacy with the parent diminishes and also, very often, the intimacy with God, even when parents have tried to foster it. How does God respond?

C143 SV57     22 March 2010]

My Child —
Inches away on my lips
I feel the soft flutter of your tiny breath
As your eyes scan my face:
Security, warmth and endless love;
And you chuckle with life and promise.

My Child —
I yearn for that intimacy again
Where my Heart beats in yours;
Where your soul feels
The flutter of my Breath;
Where you seek my Face
And find peace and love and Grace
In your Father’s healing embrace.