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Monday, December 31, 2012

Do Children Go to Heaven?

Watch out everyone, it’s a Biblical viewpoint! You better duck because here it comes!

Every now and then a theological question pops up in my brain like flash fire and the only way I can put it out is if I write about it. My apologies if the Christian worldview offends you but here it is anyway…

Sorry about the disclaimer but my blog site is a bit like what we Kiwi’s call a Lolly Scramble, we do them at kids parties (or used to when I was a young lad, now days they’re just dangerous) where someone throws a handful of assorted candy into the air and yells, “Lolly Scramble!” and then a million kids come stampeding into the throw zone like piranhas fighting over a cow who chose the wrong part of the world to take swimming lessons. Sometimes, you get lucky and pick your favourite sweet, other times you might get something you don’t like – my blog site is a bit like that.

However this brief tackling of the question above is for my readers who do like this sort of thing and for those of you who just might be curious enough to read on…

Often one of the biggest gripes anti-Christians have about my faith is that if God is a God of love why does he allow children to die?

That’s a good question and deserves an answer.

I too have wrestled with this conundrum and will try now to explain why my faith is still not shaken regardless of the many people out there who regard this pickle as enough evidence to prove the supposed evil nature of the Christian God…

I think the problem for most people is their basic assumptions about the Christian faith. I heard a doozy the other day by the late George Carlin who summed this up perfectly when he said:

“Religion has convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky, who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn’t want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer and burn and scream until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you and he needs money.”

He seems to have nutshelled most people’s view of what Christianity is all about, and yet I could go through this statement point by point and show that all of the above is an assumptive view of the Christian faith… I’ll tackle that another time perhaps.

The assumptions I would like to address with relation to this topic are the ones that atheists make about life after death.

If you assume that there is no life after death then any death of any person is a genuine tragedy, because what a waste, what a pointless existence. Therefore there can’t be a God because why would he allow such and such a child’s life to be extinguished?

If there was no life after death then I’d completely agree. What an undeniable and tragic waste.

The other assumption that non-believers make is that Christians believe that all people who die without first accepting Christ go directly to Hell.

Uh oh, I can hear my Christian readers gasping and mistaking me for another Rob Bell…

If you bear with me, I will clarify the above bomb shell shortly.

But first, I would have to agree with the atheist who would point to the tragic story of an 8 year old who has been in hospital her whole life just to die and then suffer for all of eternity. To that atheist the Christian God is evil and therefore can’t be real.

But that’s a horrible assumption and in my opinion (opinion!) a tragic misunderstanding of the Bible.

In my view, and most likely my limited understanding, the only way to make sense of the tragedies of Human life is if there actually is an afterlife, because if there is an “eternal state” then there is also a completely different perspective on life and death apart from our linear view of it.

To us here in 4D land, a child dying is horrible, and believe me when I say as a parent that the very notion terrifies me so please don’t mistake me for flippancy, however we can only take the view of the person who has just lost a child and won’t see them again forever (if you’re an atheist) or at least until you die (if you’re a Christian), either way, we have to learn to cope for the rest of our lives without that child.

If there’s not a God this is purely tragic.

If there is a God the tragedy is only at our end.

Let me show you why I believe children go to Heaven.

I’ve been meditating on Matthew Chapter 18 for a while now. Let me give you the gist of what it is all about…

The disciples come to Jesus and ask him who the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven is and he takes a small child and says, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven…” (Matthew 18:3) He goes on to say that whoever humbles himself like that child will be the greatest in the Kingdom.

He then goes on to point out the terrifying consequences for the person who causes a little child to sin. I love this passage because it clearly shows that God is NOT blind to child abuse and cruelty and that there will certainly be consequences for the offender – “it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)

We might never see that justice in our life time against such people but God will make sure of it whether it is in this life or the next. So please don’t use child abuse as proof against God, the Bible is clear, they’ll get what’s coming to them.

But before I go on that tangent let’s get back on track…

The most fascinating part of this chapter for me is when Jesus says, “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in Heaven always see the face of their father in Heaven, what do you think, if a man owns a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the 99 on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth he is happier about that one sheep than about the 99 that did not wander off. In the same way your father is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost...” (Matthew 18:10-15)

This might not seem like such a mind blowing revelation to anyone who didn’t grow up in church but this is one of those passages that evangelists use repeatedly but not quite in context.

You see, whenever I’ve heard this parable preached the emphasis is always on the Lost Sheep, how you and I are the Lost Sheep that God goes out of his way to seek and to save, and that is totally true, but remember, in context Jesus is STILL TALKING ABOUT CHILDREN!

Who are the 99 on the Hills? Who else could they be but the little children?

Why does the Shepherd leave them on the hills? Because he’s not worried about them! His main concern is for the lost sheep that wanders off.

In other words – the 99 sheep, the little children, ARENT lost!

The more I meditate on this passage of Scripture the more convinced I am that little children somehow have a special exemption from damnation. As it says above, he is NOT WILLING that any of these little ones should be lost.

Elsewhere, also in Matthew, we’re told of a time when parents brought their children to Jesus for prayer and the disciples tried to get rid of them, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:13-15)

But let me go back to Matthew 18 and interpret the parable as I understand it.

The 100 sheep are children who are happily under the Shepherd’s care until such a time as one of them grows up or rather reaches a fallen state of conscience when he feels he can rebel against the Shepherd and do his own thing. The Shepherd then leaves the 99 children on the hills to find the one that wandered off. The Shepherd, or Jesus, is not worried about the 99 because they already belong to him, the sheep that wandered off however is of more concern because unless he returns to that childlike state and submit to God then he’ll be lost forever, that’s why the Shepherd is happier about that one sheep than about the 99 that did not wander off, he saved that grown up sheep from a fate far worse than what the 99 sheep on the hills would.

I’ve never heard this passage interpreted this way, please don’t mistake me for a heretic, I’m still learning and I’m still growing and the more I study the Word the more I’ll understand whether I am right or wrong.

For the time being I genuinely hope this has comforted anyone who has lost a child. But I believe, based on the above parable of Jesus that your child is in a place that explodes the boundaries of happiness beyond the limits of our comprehension. I hope that you will realize that you are that lost sheep and if you return to the Shepherd, Jesus, you will join your child again, with the 99 that did not wander away..

Just to tie up that loose end, what has any of this got to do with why would a loving God allow a child to die? Well, I believe that taking the eternal perspective, that children are safe in God’s hands; death “loses its sting”. I would say to the Atheist that the child who spent their whole life suffering only to die, goes not to punishment but an to eternity of wonder with the God who loves them.

UPDATE: I'm not writing this blog anymore, but please visit my YouTube channel The Vocabuverse and subscribe for more great things to come!

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

R.I.P. Commander Riker

17 years ago a girlfriend gave me a present which would go on to become one of my favorite toys.

It was a collectors edition Ken-sized Commander Riker action figure.

Sure he spent most of the next 1.8 decades in my box of cherished bits and pieces but I still loved him.

Until today that is.

Today I ran him over with my lawn mower, and now... There's not that much left of him, I couldn't even find his face.

It wasn't out if malice, I simply didn't know that my three year old had left him in the long grass, and whilst on his final "away mission" he came to his grizzly end, not by phaser fire or a breech of the core-reactor but by my rusty lawn mower blades.

He served me well as the ornamental symbol of many fantasies which involved me wearing the red and black of Star Fleet, and now while giving him a decent burial would be silly, he at least deserves a blog post.

Goodbye commander Riker, may your body parts serve as awesome key chain ornaments in the near future.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pimp My Hundred Bucks - Part Twelve or The End is Nigh

The year is ending, the world is ending and my 34th year has ended.

There have been a lot of endings and almost endings this week all round, my allergies are ending because I have overdosed on antihistamines. Whatever patience I had for my four kittens has certainly ended after the last yellow puddle I stood on during a midnight visit to the loo... My birthday cake came to a dismal end tonight, being chomped to death by my hungry mouth. Im not sure which is harder, saying good bye to the year just gone or seeing the end of your birthday treats, not to mention the end of your diet!

But as this day comes to an end I am glad to say there is at least one ending I am looking forward to...

The day I write the last blog of this series and move on to the next - Pimp my $500 when I turn $500 into $1000...

And that end is near...

But not before Christmas, and not until I get back from my holiday.

I'm afraid to say that that's it from me for 2012 as I "close up shop" for the summer so I can play with all of my Christmas presents, wrap myself up in my hammock while pretending to be a mutating caterpillar, eat lots of Christmas ham, drown my taste buds in Australian Fruit while hiding in the shade of a gum tree, watching out for drop bears, pretending to be an Aussie so as to blend into my surroundings, pretending to laugh at sheep related jokes, pretending I like rugby, pretending I haven't had enough of The Wiggles for one life time, reminding everyone I meet that Crowded House is a kiwi import along with Russell Crowe and the Lammington - all the pleasures associated with visiting the land Down Under which is still " up over" New Zealand...

Actually, Im rather looking forward to it.

But before I go here's where I'm at so far...

Between last Monday and Today I have successfully sold 16 titles, making me $70.50!

It seems I was right when I predicted a landslide of customers before the New Zealand summer holidays began... Which is another reason why it is a good time to stop, my next prediction would be no sales in the weeks to come as everyone else in my country goes into hyper-summer-active mode...

Taking into account postage, listing fees and all that Jazz I am left with a great big $285 and only $215 to go until I reach my goal of $500... Pretty good huh!

I actually still have a hundred plus listings coming to an end later this week so there's a good chance I will sell more before Saturday, after which I will have no listings to worry about until late January when I find the motivation to get back into it!

As mentioned in my last couple of articles I have been uploading videos on YouTube like it's a clinical disease in order to increase my Adsense revenue, which has worked a little bit... I'm up to $1.90 this month... But most of my videos are desperate acts of boring so I can't imagine getting very far with them soon...

But over the weekend just past I did get to do something really dorky but awesome for my birthday and visited the set of Hobbiton in New Zealand's Matamata, which also happens to be one of the most unlikely places in the world to have something that cool in it - sorry Matamata, I forgot you do have a petrol station and a MacDonalds as well, which are also cool... And your oxygen is fresher than Auckland's, I'll give you that... Actually, the place is beautiful and I can see why Peter J chose the location, it looks as though Tolkien shook his book over it and out fell The Shire right in the middle of the Bay of Plenty...

In any case, I made sure to videograph The Shire while I was doing the tour and will post part of my adventure below...

And finally I would like to announce, that I have published my first ebook - Pimp My Twenty Bucks: How I Turned $20 into $100, the cumulated blogs of my previous series - now only available at if you would like to read it. Unfortunately I have a lot to learn about formatting for ePub, but I'll get round to fixing that AFTER my holiday!

So with all done and said for now and for the rest of the year - Merry Christmas everyone and thanks for reading my blogs! You've been a wonderful audience... Even if you never leave any comments, I can feel the love when I check my stats.

God Bless, and don't forget the first six letters of the season. See you in 2013...

Click Here to read Part Thirteen in this series!

Click Here to view my Silly YouTube Channel

Click Here if you would like to follow my progress on Facebook!

Click Here to read this series from the beginning!

Click Here to read my awesome last series, Pimp My Twenty Bucks

Click Here to view my Trademe Listings

And here's me enjoying the perks of being a nerd!

To fill the vacuum while I am away, please visit for some great monetary wisdom... see you there!

Jingle all the Way

Hi all...

If you find yourself in the unusual circumstance of actually being in Auckland this week, come pay me a visit in my Churches awesome Christmas Walkthrough... I'm on Wednesday 19th, Friday 21st and Sunday 23rd!

Hope to see you there...

Eastgate Christian Centre is located at 5 Ben Lomond Crescent in Pakuranga. Ben Lomond Crescent is just off Cascades Road which is a main thoroughfare between Botany Road and Pakuranga Highway.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pimp My Hundred Bucks - Part Eleven or The Half Way Mark

The end is near.

As 2012 draws to a close, the Mayan Calendar predicted that my last blog for the year would be sometime next week.

It is rather embarrassing knowing that millions of people around the world are panicking over the end of almost everything when actually it was only that the Mayan thinkers of the time gave up on mapping beyond 2012 on becoming aware that the world would be thrown into chaos over most of my readers not having anything to read over the Christmas holidays.

I’m terribly sorry everyone, please don’t sell your homes or give away your life savings just yet, it’s all just been one great big misunderstanding!

Great, so now that we’ve cleared up that small matter I have to say in all seriousness that next Monday after writing Part Twelve of this series, I will be closing up shop so to speak, until sometime near the end of January.

I have alluded to the madness of the last few weeks. I have weathered the craziness of work, faced off with an imaginary Santa trying to mug me for money for toys and my health has taken a smack down from hay fever allergies so bad that my constant sneezing has been like a Universe of nanoscopic supernova’s igniting one after the other in suicidal succession, casting their nebulous nastiness into my tormented handkerchief.

So I’m afraid I have to stop, recuperate and return next year to complete this journey of financial love.

I had imagined that hoards of customers would flock to my stock for some summer reading, but I guess they’re all suffering from Christmas Madness as well… either that or it really is the end of the world...

Nevertheless I am happy with the eight books I successfully sold over the past seven days, which were:

Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Road Maps - $3
Shakespeare’s Histories - $3
Mammoth Hunters - $5
Plains of Passage - $5
The Looney by Spike Milligan - $3
The Age of Reason by Jean Paul Sartre - $4
The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth - $6
Sphere by Michael Crichton - $3

Loading me up with a nice healthy $32 to add to my booty, bringing my grand total up to $255.04 and only $244.96 to go until I can say I have truly pimped my hundred bucks!

Actually the figure should be more like $262; except a customer from the previous week is yet to pay me… normally I would have relisted the book by now but its Christmas so he’s getting some amnesty…

Nevertheless I am happy to have stubbed my toe on this milestone, the halfway mark, because I know it's all down hill from here next year...

On another note I figured out how to view the total amount of my adsense earnings for all time… so I can amend my adsense figures to $35.69 total earnings plus $1.00 for this month so far... however that won’t be included in the total above until either pigs fly kites or I receive a $100 cheque in the mail, whichever comes first; chances are they will both come last.

In my efforts to increase my adsense revenue I have been pumping some hopelessly lame videos onto YouTube. I’ll include a link below if you’d like something worse than a nail to puncture your eyeballs with. Somewhere buried amongst this year’s blogs is my “Cleverly Devised Dictionary of Difficult Words” which I have started to convert into a Musical Dictionary, which is always fun… I’ve also begun putting various original songs onto my channel, which is what my Amateur vs Pro blogs are all about…

But really, my YouTube antics are nothing more than an act of desperation, or perhaps a possible early sign of mental illness, I’ll let you decide.

But it makes sense to incorporate my adsense revenue into this series, because I’m now getting about 60 or so page views a day, and that’s just from this Blog. I know those page views are probably from Monkeys in some lab somewhere trying to write Hamlet of the Apes, but for now I’ll enjoy the delusion that actual people are reading this, I wouldn’t know because most of the comments I get are from spammers who speak worse English than a dead Hamster!

So now that I have prattled on about rubbish here’s what this week is going to look like. I still have heaps of unlisted stock sitting on my living room shelf, and stupidly I bought 50+ books for $4.50 from desperate bulk sellers on Trademe, I say stupidly because there’s no way I’m going to get all of that listed by the end of this week, which is actually the plan – List, list and relist until Saturday comes, when all my listing ceases until next year.

Finally it’s my birthday next Sunday so please don’t forget! I haven’t arranged a PO Box for you to forward my presents to but never fear, hitting the “Like” button below and sharing this series via your favourite social networks is more than I could hope for from most of you.

Actually, my wife is taking me to Hobbiton for my birthday, one of the few advantages of living in New Zealand besides the many other advantages that is. I’ll be sure to take lots of photos!

Also coming up this weekend, besides aging another year, I intend on finally publishing Pimp My Twenty Bucks: A Money Making Odyssey as an eBook, so if you’re still wondering what to get whoever for Christmas, look no further, get them that.

But more on that next week…

Click Here to read Part Twelve of this series!

Click Here to view my Silly YouTube Channel

Click Here if you would like to follow my progress on Facebook!

Click Here to read this series from the beginning!

Click Here to read my awesome last series, Pimp My Twenty Bucks

Click Here to view my Trademe Listings

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pimp My Hundred Bucks - Part Ten

I’m afraid I find myself suffering from a severe case of endofyearitis – being the psychological disposition that causes a general feeling of apathy, complacency and a general feeling of just being over it all. Left untreated the condition can lead to potential procrastination and eventual giving up.

Having just been to an imaginary Doctor, because I can’t really afford to see a real one for a condition that doesn’t actually exist, I found myself staring at a picture of a game of Tetris. There were painfully organized blocks desperately trying to squeeze together as they piled on top of one another by someone who clearly was not good at the game, but on closer examination I could see titles on the misshapen blocks, like “Christmas Presents”, “Church Nativity Play” and “Stuff at Work” jammed into other odd shapes entitled, “General Lazyness”, “Extreme fatigue” and “Morbid Boredom”.

It turns out that what I was looking at was an x-ray of my brain.

It is indeed that time of the year when everything seems to be happening at once. And amidst the storm of end of year responsibilities, obligations and chaos I am still trying to turn my $100 into five times that amount…

Knowing that the North Pole is located somewhere inside my wallet and that Santa’s real toy factory is rather less dependent on Elves than it is on my money, I am even more determined than ever to navigate my way through the next 3 weeks in the hope that I might reach my goal sooner rather than later!

I’m imagining that the Christmas Season will bode rather well for my mission because there just might be some shoppers out there cheap enough to buy second hand books for their loved ones. On the other hand in New Zealand, the Season coincides with the only other thing on the planet nearly as exciting as Christmas itself – the Summer Holidays!

My experience throughout the year has taught me well, that whenever there is a holiday the week or two before it slam me with an abundance of sales, and this is the mother of all holidays.

This is of course wishful thinking not based on concrete statistical data, either my gut is telling me the truth or I have gas.

As you know last week’s blog came out rather late, which means that this week’s sales reflect only what I have managed to fob off in the last five days… but I have to say, for a five day period, I did pretty darn well selling:

Time Flys by Bill Cosby - $6
It’s a Dog’s Life by Murray Bull - $3
Star Trek Perchance to Dream - $3
The Mammoth Hunters by Jean M. Auel - $3
Smoky Joe’s CafĂ© by Bryce Courtenay - $3
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder - $6.50
Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend - $3
The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul by Douglas Adams - $3
People of the Sea by W. Michael Gear - $5

That’s a nice big juicy $35.50 for only five days of “work”.

All things considered, such as listing fees, success fees and postage I am left with $244.24! Almost Half Way! (This figure may shrink a tad if some of these buyers decide to "pick up" rather than pay for postage… grrr!)

But besides cheapskates my biggest enemy right now is puttingthingsoffinitis – the common disease otherwise known as Procrastination. I have close to 50 books sitting on my shelf in the living room waiting to be listed. These represent the stock I have purchased over the last two weeks to replace what I have sold in that period. If I could list them in my sleep I would, but unfortunately when the opportunity to list them has come I’ve been “awake” in the physical sense but very much asleep in the motivational areas of my brain. This is not good; the more books I have listed the more hooks I have in the sea of potential buyers!

Currently I have 156 books listed on Trademe, but it could be well above 200 if I just got my act together!

I have three weeks to make a real dent in my goal. Over the Christmas and New Years period I'll be putting this series in suspended animation while I enjoy my prezzies and a trip to Australia! The question is can I achieve in three weeks what has so far taken me ten? The pressure is on!

As I am now including my adsense revenue in this grand adventure, I can boast a great big $1.57 for last week’s YouTube/blogging efforts! As for this month, I’m soaring to the skies with my great big two cents worth of earnings. Those being very low skies, or maybe what an ant would consider to be the sky, which is somewhere above my toe nails. Of course I can’t add this to my total until I actually get a google cheque in the mail… which at this stage will be when my youngest daughter turns 18 in 2028.

Finally, remember my $20 worth of Bonus Bonds? The $20 I allocated to “Invest” when I started this series? Well, after the first monthly draw on December the 1st, I am happy to report that my $20 is still worth exactly $20…

Oh well.

Tune in next week when I hopefully break the sound barrier and burst past the half way mark. In the meantime please feel free to follow any of the links below for hours of my own brand of whatever it is I do around here. Oh yeah, the “like” button is always a fun thing to click on as well, try it, it’s really cool.

Click Here to read Part Eleven in this series!

Click Here if you would like to follow my progress on Facebook!

Click Here to read this series from the beginning!

Click Here to read my awesome last series, Pimp My Twenty Bucks

Click Here to view my Trademe Listings