Tag Archive: TEN GREATEST EXPERIENCES


MY FAVORITE THINGS

It really is true that if you “count your blessings” you begin to realize what a tremendous gift life is, despite all the hardships, horrors, hassles and hindrances. Perhaps my list of favorite things will help you count your blessings too…

The following list does intentionally omit certain favorite things of mine-one is blanket reference to my faith, but you can accept as a given that the God of the Bible rules my preferences, and I have, unavoidably, noted a few things relevant to my beliefs.

Another intentional omission is consideration of romance and sex, which would otherwise populate the list in a rather more colorful way. But as I’ve said before, this is intended to be a “family-friendly” blog.

MY FAVORITE THINGS

Favorite color: purple

Favorite word: love

Favorite sound: birds singing; ocean waves pounding the shore

Favorite plant: Pine tree (all varieties)

Favorite animal: Thrush

Favorite food: English cheese

Favorite meal: Tandoori chicken

Favorite substance: paint

Favorite name: Jesus

Favorite time: bed time

Favorite material: leather

Favorite movie: “Koyaanisqatsi”, “Oedipus Wrecks”

Favorite movie star: Woody Allen

Favorite song: And Can It Be?

Favorite ice cream: Baskin Robbins chocolate fudge

Favorite game: snooker

Favorite sport: soccer

Favorite comedian: John Cleese, Michael Palin

Favorite speaker: Ken Ham

Favorite topic of discussion: origins and creation

Favorite artist: Vincent Van Gogh

Favorite painting: Olive Trees series by Van Gogh

Favorite art style: cubism

Favorite musical genre: electronica

Favorite musical instrument: piano

Favorite composer: JS Bach

Favorite band: Yes, Gentle Giant

Favorite musician: Chris Squire, Jaco Pastorius

Favorite vocalist: Jon Anderson

Favorite book: “The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

Favorite drink: Couintreau

Favorite planet: Saturn

Favorite Bible book: John’s gospel, Genesis

Favorite politician:

Favorite website: answersingenesis.org

Favorite fruit: Israeli oranges

Favorite place: the Grand Canyon

Favorite weapon: the pen

Favorite country: England 1973

Favorite experience: worshipping God

Favorite odor: patchouli, pine, seaspray

Favorite statesman: Winston Churchill

Favorite sensation: raindrops on a hot summer day

Favorite weather: severe thunderstorms

Favorite temperature: 88F (low humidity)

Favorite Dr. Who enemy: the weeping angels

Favorite tool: saw

Favorite Star Wars scene: Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan versus Darth Maul

Favorite Star Wars character: the original emperor

Favorite existing building: York Minster

Favorite car: 1970 VW Beetle

Favorite disease: fits of laughter

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August 2013 012

What could possibly be better than knowing an infinite being who loves you unconditionally?

Encounters with God have been the greatest experiences in my life. It may seem to the unbeliever and the skeptic that when I say I “know” God I’m making a very arrogant claim. I want to share the reasons I feel confident in saying that I know God…

KNOWING ABOUT GOD

Part of knowing God is knowing about God: God can be known to a great degree by the things he has made, “so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

When we know about God-who he is, what he’s like, what he loves and what he hates, what he’s done and what he does-we can more clearly understand God and so know him. But we can use that understanding as a step to a much deeper knowledge. We evangelicals believe that the Bible is the inspired message of God to man. As a defense of this view I’ve written posts such as this one:

https://nickyfisher.com/2015/06/14/a-spiritual-defense-strategy-acronym-2/

RELATIONSHIP

Biblical scripture gives clear directions on how to come into an intimate and personal relationship with God. I’ll attempt to summarize them here:

1: We are separated from God from birth because God is holy and perfect, and we are imperfect and sinful. As Paul said,

“…all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23);

2: We cannot make ourselves acceptable to God through good works or rituals, or by joining a religious organization;

3: Jesus, God’s only son, came into the world to become our “bridge”, our connection to God. He died on the cross to pay the price of our sin which is death, and he rose from the dead in order to conquer death and give us new life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come;

4: Jesus said “You must be born again” (John 3:3-8).

Being born again involves the Spirit of God, upon our invitation or/and step of faith, entering our being and bringing our spirit alive and into an inseparable and unbreakable union with his. We become acceptable to God because we associate ourselves with his son Jesus.

HEARING FROM GOD

While there are from time to time moments when God seems to speak words into our minds, I think this is by far the exception. A much more realistic way of understanding the concept of God speaking to us is that by His spirit within us he impresses ideas into our minds so that we can conclude what he wants us to think and to do.

However, if we’re not careful, this can be a very subjective method of “hearing” from God. Some Christians are guided by their feelings, when in fact feelings are entirely fallible and untrustworthy. God can “speak” to us without our emotions being stirred, though I confess that in my own experience encounters with God’s spirit do sometimes arouse a range of emotions: the important thing is not to be governed solely by feelings or emotions.

We need to compare the thoughts within us with what we read in scripture. If what we sensed is confirmed by scripture we can confidently conclude that God may have “spoken” to us. In this way we can learn to “know” God.

When we’re sensitive to God in our lives we can notice God’s intervention, guidance and presence, and we can see answers to prayer, even if they aren’t the answers we wanted. It’s these experiences which work with scripture to help us understand more about God, and when we know more about him in our own lives, we know him more.

THAT TINGLY FEELING

While I’m not one to gain spiritual “power” through all kinds of supposed manifestations of God’s spirit, popular in some Christian circles, I believe there are ways to “feel” the presence of God. The surest way of enjoying the presence of God and of sensing his spirit is by spending time giving him genuine and unreserved praise and thanks, acknowledging who he is. The sense of wholeness, peace and joy I’ve felt in times of worship are without equal: they are my number one greatest experiences in life.

August 2013 010

What could possibly be better than knowing an infinite being who loves you unconditionally?

Encounters with God have been the greatest experiences in my life. It may seem to the unbeliever and the skeptic that when I say I “know” God I’m making a very arrogant claim, or that I am at least partially insane or deluded…

(There’s a short version of this post: this one is long!)

(ASOK, “Hunter”)

Some people think it’s impossible to know God, since they can’t see him in the sky or under the bed, and that’s as far as they’re prepared to look. They haven’t heard him speak, they can’t see God in operation, they can’t see him doing the kind of things they think a god should do, they’ve heard that he’s a boogie man wanting to spoil everyone’s fun, and they’re convinced that “all” the educated people “know” there isn’t a God: magically, the human “expert” has become the all-knowing one!

We evangelical Christians talk of having a “relationship” with God, and unbelievers either mock or just don’t get it. Without going into a lengthy theological study, I want to share the reasons I feel confident in saying that I know God.

KNOWING ABOUT GOD

One part of knowing God is knowing about God. God can be known to a great degree by the things he has made, “so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Nature is itself witness to the fact that there is an incredibly intelligent, powerful creator who knows all about beauty, science, and as many things as you can mention. In fact, since he created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1) there’s nothing in all creation that he doesn’t understand and know far more intimately than any evolutionist you can mention.

God is an infinite being, and we are extremely finite: it’s impossible for us to know all about him, or to know him fully. But by studying the world around us we can see that God is endlessly creative. He’s a lover of beauty, order and design, and more powerful and intelligent than we can imagine. We can see that he must be outside of time in order to create time (Genesis 1:1) and that he must be beyond matter in order to create matter. We can see that he must love humanity since he created us, and that he must have incredible patience, since he is also patient with us.

When we know about God-who he is, what he’s like, what he loves and what he hates, what he’s done and what he does-we can more clearly understand God and so know him. But we can take this understanding to a much deeper level. We evangelicals have come to believe that the Bible is the inspired message of God to man. In defense of this view I’ve written posts such as this one:

https://nickyfisher.com/2015/06/14/a-spiritual-defense-strategy-acronym-2/

RELATIONSHIP

Biblical scripture gives clear directions on how to come into an intimate and personal relationship with God, and I’ll attempt to summarize them here. I don’t mean to say that there’s a strict formula to follow, that we have to have all the jargon just right and say a magical incantation before it “works”: some people enter into this relationship naturally without realizing that they are being reborn. It’s the step of faith towards God that’s important:

1: We are separated from God from birth because God is holy and perfect, and we are imperfect and sinful. As Paul said,

“…all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23);

2: We cannot make ourselves acceptable to God through good works or rituals, or by joining a religious organization: organizations and their “priests” have no power to influence God (and I say thank the Lord for that);

3: Jesus, God’s son, came into the world to become our “bridge”, our connection to God. He died on the cross to pay the price of our sin which is death, and he rose from the dead in order to conquer death and give us new life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come;

4: Jesus said “You must be born again” (John 3:3-8).

Being born again involves the Spirit of God, upon our invitation or/and step of faith, entering our being and bringing our spirit alive and into an inseparable and unbreakable union with Him. The work of spiritual rebirth is entirely his. We can’t have a relationship with God until we are reborn. We activate this rebirth by realizing that we need and want God, by turning from our old ways which are in opposition to God’s ways, by inviting his intervention, and by entrusting ourselves to God through faith in Jesus Christ. We are acceptable to God because we associate ourselves with his son Jesus. God accepts his son completely, and all who associate with him.

Earth

The “entrusting” I menitoned can (to my mind) be likened to boarding an aircraft. We don’t fully understand the wonders of flight, how the plane is built, how the pilot operates the plane or how he navigates and arrives at our destination hundreds or thousands of miles away, but we still make the decision that we are going with him anyway because we want to, and because we believe he can get us there safely as his airline vouches he will. We commit our lives and our near future to the pilot, the plane and the airline. In a similar way, to be born again we commit ourselves to God through his son Jesus Christ.

Being born again is just the beginning of a new relationship with God. Jesus Christ is our mediator (scripturally, our only mediator). Our prayers and worship are acceptable to God because of Jesus his son. Through this prayer and worship, and in fact through the way we conduct ourselves in all areas of our life, we can build a relationship with our Creator.

Alright, you may say, so far so good, but isn’t the communication stream rather one-sided? How does God communicate with the believer?

HEARING FROM GOD

There are some who are convinced that God speaks audibly to them, and directs them in every area of life, right down to which box of cereal to pick from the supermarket shelf. With respect, my view is that this is very faulty theology. While there are from time to time moments when God does seem to speak words into our minds, I think this is by far the exception rather than the rule. A much more realistic way of understanding the concept of God speaking to us is that by His spirit within us he impresses ideas into our minds so that we can conclude what he wants us to think and to do.

However, if we are not careful, this also can be a very subjective method of “hearing” from God. Too many Christians are guided by their feelings (as are many unbelievers) when in fact feelings are entirely fallible and untrustworthy. God can “speak” to us without our emotions being stirred. I do confess that in my own experience God’s spirit can arouse a range of emotions: the important thing is not to be governed solely by feelings or emotions.

It’s vitally important for us to compare the thoughts within us with what we read in scripture. If what we’ve sensed contradicts what we can know for sure about God our thoughts are wrong, and the idea came from our own minds or from somewhere else. If what we sensed is confirmed by scripture we can confidently conclude that God may have “spoken” to us. In this way we can learn to “know” God.

So a relationship with God comes by having his spirit within us, and by being guided and willingly changed by his word. It comes by being receptive and sensitive to guidance and correction via our conscience. It comes by living out his commandments and his will in our daily lives (such as having love for others). It comes by learning about who God is: what his character is, what he loves and what he detests, by knowing and understanding how he has dealt with people in the past, by knowing his revealed word (his commandments and clear statements), and by knowing and loving his son Jesus Christ.

When we’re sensitive to God in our lives we can sometimes notice God’s intervention, guidance and presence, though sometimes only when we look back in time, and we can see answers to prayer, even if they aren’t the answers we wanted. It’s these experiences which work with scripture to help us understand more about God, and when we know more about him in our own lives, we know him more.

God already knows all about us. David said:

“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16).

Scripture makes clear that God knows our thoughts, and Jesus said:

“…the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30).

THAT TINGLY FEELING

While I’m not one to gain spiritual “power” through all kinds of supposed manifestations of God’s spirit, popular in some Christian circles and which I think are no more than deception, I believe there are ways to “feel” the presence of God. For example, the surest way of enjoying the presence of God and of sensing his spirit is to spend time giving him genuine and unreserved praise and thanks, acknowledging who he is. Such times have, for me, been the most sublime moments of being in my life. The sense of wholeness, peace and joy I’ve felt in times of praise and worship are without equal, and impossible to describe.

The surest way to feel better about a situation in life is via the prayer of faith. As Paul said:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV).

And the surest way to get intimate with God is to get intimate with him. As scripture says:

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8 ESV).

220px-Lucas_Cranach_the_Elder-Adam_and_Eve_1533

Here I go again, offending the PC crowd!

Karl Marx would gnash his teeth with rage if he knew what my second greatest experience is, since a central aim of his was the destruction of the bourgeoisie family, and by that he meant the traditional Judeo-Christian family: one male father, one female mother, married for life, along with their children and extended family. Our society has fulfilled his wishes to a great extent. Well take this, Mr. Marx…

I was raised when Marx’s hated clan was still pretty much intact in the West, and I’m thankful for it. Yes, it wasn’t always peace, love and harmony, but those things were there, along with stability and commitment, and so what can truly be called “love”. Love is not being nice to someone so long as they meet your expectations, your desires, and your requirements regarding looks, shape, size and financial success: that’s just using someone.

This commitment and love is both an intentional reflection of God’s commitment and love for us, and obedience to his word and commandments.

For those of you still reading and who haven’t clicked off in an offended rage, I would like to first of all say that I realize many people have been mistreated, rejected and abused by family, and had no power to stop the destruction of their own family. Some who perhaps did now regret the mistakes they made and are unable to fix them. This is not because of a fault in God’s design for the family unit, but as I’ve said before, it’s evidence that human nature is indeed “fallen” in the Biblical sense. We started off facilitating divorce in extreme circumstances: now we’re positively encouraging gross immorality and family break ups.

So now I’ll briefly discuss my own family experience. I say “briefly” because I’m sure that only one or two of you have read this far.

My wife and I have had our problems-major problems. There have been times when I’ve regretted marrying her, and when I wished I could be a thousand miles away. I’ve no doubt she’s had exactly the same kind of thoughts: this is normal in marriage. But as with anything worth having, you have to persevere, and we have done this, for twenty-eight years.

The old analogy of a rough diamond being fashioned into something beautiful is relevant here. When you persevere, you end up with something you could never have had if you had extracted yourself early on. You find yourself in a relationship in which another human knows you more than you know yourself but loves you anyway. You find yourself with a companion that has been with you all along, “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health”. You see that your children have enjoyed stability, security and commitment, and have been given a birds eye view of how to be committed, and how to forgive and forget. You see that you have contributed to the stability of your community and your society, and that you have, as difficult as it may have been at times, been obedient to your creator in at least one area of your life.

One thing you do not see is a trail of destruction behind you in the form of ex-lovers, estranged children and memories which you can never enjoy but instead keep locked up in your subconscious.

I have two sons. How I wish I’d had the wisdom to bring more into the world for my pleasure, for God’s glory, and for the benefit of the rest of the world (and to annoy Marx and his present day sustainable-growth crowd as much as possible).

My sons have been very nearly the greatest blessing in my life-far more than almost anything else I could name-hence family taking the number two slot in my greatest experiences. One of the many abiding memories I cherish is of both of them as toddlers running to greet me home from work, and me hugging them as tightly as I could: nothing in the physical world can beat that. Actually I can still do that-they just aren’t easy to throw up in the air any more.

Yes, children can bring a lot of trouble into their parents’ lives. While I’m not saying that’s always avoidable, I’m convinced from my own experience that love, kindness and commitment and the right attitude will, in most cases, release good, level-headed and loving offspring into our society.

I have two sons that I’m immensely proud of: two young men who aren’t likely to be menaces in their society, who aren’t likely to cause trouble for our law enforcement people, and who aren’t going to be a drain on our welfare budgets.

Thank you Almighty God, for my sons, my wife, and the amazing experience of having a family.

Believe it or not, it’s time to discuss music again!

As this subject really has little to do with apologetics-the main focus of my blog (but see my last paragraph) I’ll try to keep this post short…

11928322-blue-ocean-wave

I’ve played in many bands over the years-none of them famous-and in professionally produced musicals, such as the Rocky Horror Show. However, the point of this post is not to produce a musical resume/CV by listing them all, but to express the thrill I’ve experienced in certain situations, hence this particular experience taking third place in my list of lifetime greatest (to date).

Probably more than half of the thrill came from playing in bands with my best mate of all time, Terence Ruffle. Terry always had an ear for exciting music. His tastes in music were to me sometimes questionable in terms of philosophy behind the lyrics, the character of the people involved, and their musicianship, but they were always the complete antithesis of boring.

Being the central driving force of the band’s morale and musical direction that Terry normally was, his intense passion for it all rubbed off onto others including myself, and at times produced incredible results. I don’t mean we all got rich and sold millions of recordings-it was quite the opposite. I mean that the main aims of producing energetic sounds and sheer playing pleasure were most certainly achieved.

The Accidents, a punky/new wave band I joined with Terry who was one of the founding members, didn’t really pop my cork. It was first of all the “Flying Heroes”, led by Carl Seager, and ultimately the “Surf Rats”, who caused me to hit the highest heights of natural euphoria while plucking, twanging and pounding on my bass.

Terry

The Surf Rats perfected playing fun. We took raw, well-known surf instrumentals such as “Pipeline”, plus some winning old songs, and cranked up the tempo and the energy, so that we were attacking them with as much vigor as we could muster. I don’t know if I can adequately describe the sensation I felt at times, when all five of us were giving our all-if only in the rehearsal room; when all five of us-a team, a club, a family, an army- were playing such exciting creations as fast as we could play them, as artfully as we could play them, and with as much expression and passion as we were able. I don’t believe any drug could produce the same feeling… it was a feeling of extreme happiness, levity, joy, madness…and there really is nothing like it that I know of.

At the bottom of my “About” page there’s a link to a video of the Surf Rats while I was in the band. It’s a poor recording made in a noisy pub, with hardly any bass frequencies, but you can get an idea of what we were about.

Switching musical styles radically, I bring to your eager attention a totally different musical sound I was involved in. Below is a sample, recorded badly, live but alive…

(INVERSION: “02”)

 At the age of fifteen I was roped into a group of musicians who were virtually in avowed opposition to the kinds of sound the Accidents and similar bands produced. Two brothers were at the centre of this: Colin and Ian Woolway. Their influences were mainly from jazz and “jazz-rock Fusion”, an altogether more technical and challenging playing style. I found myself struggling to meet the demands of musicians who thought that men like Jaco Pastorius, and not Bill Wyman, were the measure of a bass player. It took me many years to figure out what people like Jaco were actually playing, let alone how they played it, but nonetheless, we really did hit the heights of playing pleasure as surely as the Rats did.

Ian and Colin, both super-talented for their age, were not only technicians but were close to mastering the art of climax in musical expression. Along with very competent keyboard player and joke-teller extraordinaire Jerry Saltmarsh, Ian composed some pieces which stretched our abilities and imagination, and which also challenged the ears and the relatively pedestrian tastes of most of our listeners. For example, we routinely played and jammed in time signatures such as eleven-eight.

We, later named “Inversion”, were not polished by any means, and we were far from professional in our presentation and sound quality. But most significantly in relation to this post, we hit the same kinds of emotional highs as the Rats later hit, by means of stretching our musical minds to the fullest extent, and by playing as one, in some kind of sublime unity and communion not possible when playing alone. It’s that sense of oneness with other musicians, and playing music you love to the maximum extent in your power, which creates the buzz and the euphoria. It’s the creation of some never-before heard sounds emanating from brains, fingers and instruments, which sparks the light of inner ecstasy.

Once again I have to thank my God for the pleasure he’s allowed me to have and still allows: these days I play with my fifteen year-old son who’s a budding jazz trumpeter and already matching what I can achieve musically. God created music. He created sound and our ability to hear it and create it. He created our imagination, our fingers, our dexterity and all that’s required to produce an amazingly diverse array of sounds, and he created our ability to enjoy it, sometimes to the point of reaching a feeling of indescribable joy.

Of course the ultimate expression of the gift of music is in praise of our creator. I would love to say that I’ve had that feeling of euphoria while playing or listening to contemporary Christian music, but I personally cannot. Some of the greatest old hymns do it for me. I’m sure the music of heaven is and will be far beyond what we know now in terms of creativity and joy-giving qualities, most of all because of the great God that we will be worshipping with it.

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