Sunday, 29 May 2011

Scribbling Saturday: Quentin Robinson, Doctor on the Kestrel

Quentin Robinson has been a ship's doctor for twenty years. The crew refer to him as 'Quack' – the nickname wasn't helped by his large nose and long hair. Although an older man, he kept himself fit, and could be quite sharp with any crewman who didn't do the same. Most of the time though, he was quite gentle with his charges. As can be seen when he treats trainee Tobi Enns for space sickness, and promises not to tell anyone.

He has his own secrets, which come out in the first story, and directly lead to him having to leave the Kestrel. Firstly, he didn't pay much attention to his low gravity training, and has avoided needing it ever since. Likewise, he has managed not to need wearing a space suit. He needs both when a casualty from a mining accident needs to be taken to the Kestrel via the surface of an asteroid. His inexperience is his undoing.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Thinking Thursday: Looking For Loopholes

Peter asked Jesus, "How many times must I forgive?" (Matt.18:21), and the rich young man, who asked Jesus how to get eternal life, went away sadly, because he had hoped that Jesus would say something easier (Matt.19:16-22).

In 1 Sam.15:1-26 Saul was told by God to attack the Amalekites and destroy everything. But Saul spared Agag the king and the best animals. When Samuel confronted him, he first of all said that the sheep and cattle had been spared by the soldiers for sacrifice, and insisted he had done what he had been told to do. Even when he admitted his error, he tried to blame the people.

In Acts 5:1-11 Ananias & Sapphira made a promise and then looked for a way out. And in Matt.23:1-4 Jesus condemned the Pharisees because: “They do not practice what they preach.”

In all these cases people were looking for loopholes so they did not have to obey. In work I sometimes had to type legal notices – they have to be very carefully worded to make sure they cover every possibility. Legal documents would not have to be so complicated if people kept the law without looking for loopholes.

Salvation is free, but it really costs us everything. We are called to love God with all our heart, soul and mind (Matt.22:37). When it comes to the gospel, do we live the letter of the law, or the spirit of the law? Are we wholehearted, or looking for loopholes?

It is the same in marriage. Marriage is not just a contract, it involves commitment and love. Love doesn’t need rules and guidelines. Love responds instinctively and gives everything. Our relationship with God is like a marriage. After all, God has given us everything. Paul tells us that God has given us “every spiritual blessing”, he talks of “his glorious grace which he has freely given us”, and “the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us” (Eph.1:3-8). How generous God is! God doesn’t look for loopholes.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Scribbling Saturday: John Blackwell, Engineer on the Kestrel

John Blackwell, the Engineer, is the father-figure to everyone, especially his assistant Roy Stubbs. Everyone calls him Blackie. A burly older man with a ruddy complexion, he is human, from Earth. Although he looks very jolly, he has no time for fools, and some of the crew have the sharp edge of his tongue when they do something foolish or ask stupid questions. He expects hard work and discipline, but when he gets it he is very generous.

Blackie usually seems to know most of what goes on aboard ship, and is concerned about everyone. He loves mechanics and engineering, and space ships most of all. And he loves his job. He is always tinkering, to get better performance out of the engines and ship's systems. Since his wife died, after a long and happy marriage, he spends all his time with the ship.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Thinking Thursday: Man Makes God in his Own Image

In the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series, one of the books tells of an expedition to see God’s last message to his creation. It is carved into the side of a mountain, and the way up to the viewing platform is quite a trek. Eventually our heroes make it, and as they move along the walkway they come round the curve of the mountain and the message comes into view. It says “Sorry for the inconvenience.”

The story makes a great joke, and takes the unexpected turn that readers of Douglas Adams’ books have come to expect. But the sad thing is that the message makes sense to a lot of people.

Modern society has been called the ‘Me’ generation – everything in life is viewed from the selfish perspective. “What can I get out of it?” “How do I feel about it?” So it is quite believable that if there is a God, and if he created everything for us, that he would be sorry if he didn’t quite come up to our expectations. Man is king, and everything must serve him.

What a challenge, then, to communicate to this generation the mightiness of God and the need to serve Him and bow to Him. He does not need to apologise to us, rather than the other way around.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 'For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.'

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Scribbling Saturday: Daniel Hoy, Second Officer of the Kestrel

Daniel Hoy is a human, from Earth. He is of Asian descent, with a small lithe stature, and short cropped black hair. His family are Japanese, but moved to England when he was twelve. Despite the move, he was brought up with traditional Japanese values of honour and loyalty. Working for the Earth Alliance was all he ever wanted to do. It was a family tradition. His father served on the Harrier.

His parents are still at home, and he will have an arranged marriage to a woman, also from traditional family, so she will expect to stay at home and just wait for when he comes on leave. But will his experiences broaden his outlook and make him rebel against his tradition? Working for the Earth Alliance was all he ever wanted to do - it was a family tradition, his father served on the Harrier.

He studies martial arts because of his heritage, and when he fights he confuses opponents who are not used to his style of fighting. But he can be hotheaded and reckless, and has some maturing to do. When we first meet him he has been with Captain Martin for 3 years and was only made up to Second Officer 6 months before.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Thinking Thursday: Azazel

In my Bible reading I read Leviticus 16, about the Day of Atonement. The main ceremony involved taking two goats without blemish. One was to be sacrificed for the sin of the people. The other was for Azazel.

This surprised me, as I was used to the expression 'scape-goat,' and had never heard of Azazel. So I looked it up, and it really blessed me. According to Easton's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, the root of the Hebrew word Azazel is 'separation,' and carries an intensity that signifies the total separation of sin. After the High Priest placed his hands on the goat and laid the sin of the people onto it, it was led out into the desert and let go. There was no interest in what became of it – it was totally removed from them and lost.

The two goats were a type, or shadow, of Christ, and showed how he was to deal with our sin. The first goat showed how the atonement was made, the second showed the effect of that atonement. Firstly, by the shedding of Christ's blood and his death, all sin was paid for in full. Secondly, the sin was totally removed and forgotten – Azazel.