BIRDS AND WATER

I hear the frantic whupping of wings as a startled pigeon escapes from the noise of my big, blundering dog; I hear the angry chit-chit-chit of a small, hopping wagtail as it scolds him away from her nest.

I see tiny wrens fluttering in and out of the sheltering bushes like little, brown butterflies; I see the slow and elegant lift of the ibis as it launches into languid, graceful flight across the arc of the sky.

The river water lies like rippled silk, the color changing with its slow movement from black to gold and back again.

The beauty of the natural world is so much lovelier than anything man could create. How can this be so, if man is master of the universe?

Aren’t we foolish to believe this world was just an accident? When we try to re-create it’s beauty in our art and architecture, in our endeavours and our ideas, we fall so far short that the only explanation can be that there is a master designer.

Isaiah 45:12 says, in the Master-Designer’s own words, “ “It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with My hands And I ordained all their host.”

It’s only logic.

In the words of C.S. Lewis, “What do they teach in schools these days?”DSCN3160

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GOOD ON YA’ MATTHEW – SAINT or SINNER?

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I’d never paid much attention to the apostle Matthew, apart from appreciating the gospel he wrote, of course. He always seemed a bit boring. The calling of Matthew has been the subject of quite a few renaissance paintings, in the romantic Romanesque style. He’s usually depicted as impossibly holy, holding a book, sporting a halo and a grey beard. I don’t know where the painters got their inspiration from, because in the Bible the calling of Matthew takes up exactly two verses, and they don’t present a romantic picture at all.

The detail of Carravagio’s painting – above – seems marginally more real. We see an impossibly young man with his eyes fixed on the coins being counted out for him, his hand poised to grab the lot. I doubt they would have given the job of Tax Collector to such a young man, however.

Jewish tax collector’s were hated by all and sundry because they extorted money for Caesar, the Roman oppressor! They usually over-extorted, to make it worse, tucking the extra into their own money bags, along with their filthy Roman pay cheques. They were viewed as evil sinners by the conquered Jewish population, of which Jesus had chosen to make Himself one. Why did He choose the time of the Roman Occupation to walk the earth? Why not a brighter era of Jewish history? But I digress.

I’d always thought of Matthew as a scrappy little Jewish man with ratty eyes, a ratty beard and a ratty character to boot. It may have been a lucrative job, and someone had to do it, but why would you? It reminds me of when I was a little girl in Victoria. At one time we lived in an area with no deep sewerage, but because it was on the outskirts of a developing suburb we weren’t allowed to have the deep pit toilet they used in the the country. Instead, we had the good old ‘dinkum dunny’ or ‘thunderbox’ down in the back yard away from the house, with a removable pan.

Someone had to remove the pan, replace it with a clean one and take the offensive contents somewhere else. That someone was, with my mother’s sympathetic label, the unenviable Panny Man. We were all locked in the house when the Panny Man came. “Quick, quick, the Panny Man’s here,” Mum would say, shepherding us all safely inside while he carried out his gruesome task. Of course, we used to peer through the window, wide-eyed, and watch him trudge to-and fro down the driveway, an old burlap sack over his head and shoulders, clean pan on his back on the way in, the loaded, reeking, disgusting one on the way out.

That’s how the Jews viewed their tax collectors. They hated paying taxes to Caesar to start with, but to add insult to injury, the tax collectors were probably given the freedom to use their own interpretation of ‘correct amount’. Who wouldn’t take advantage of such a situation? I guess if we had to do the job, we’d extract danger money too!

This is how Matthew himself describes the incident in question.

     Mat.9:9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

That’s it, short and sweet. Done and dusted.

About a week ago, while reading Luke’s version, Luke 5:27, it suddenly opened up to me like a drama on a movie screen, and I saw it happen.

There was snivelling little Matthew (or as the Gospel of Mark calls him, Levi, son of Alphaeus) sitting in his counting-house, scratching away at rows of figures, hunched over his money bags, watching his clients with beady eyes as they dropped their coins on his table with loathing in their eyes. This was his life, and had been for years. He knew he was hated, but the extra money he got made it worthwhile. That is, until he started hearing about the things that were happening in those days, the things everyone was talking about, the person everyone was talking about.

News filtered in, news about miracles and wonders and amazing new teachings centred around a man called Jesus.

At first, Matthew didn’t pay any attention – he was too busy counting money. But as more and more stories of what was happening reached his grimy little tax office, he began to feel an unfamiliar dissatisfaction with his lot. Gradually, a strange longing began to grow in his heart, the longing to be accepted, admired, even loved. He began to wish he’d never agreed to work for the Roman Government, and to wonder wistfully if there was any hope for him.

He heard more stories about Jesus, how he healed people of horrible diseases, spoke about the love of God and forgiveness. He wished he could meet this Jesus, but thought it could never happen – not to him, a tax collector, a sinner.

Matthew’s tax office was really just a booth or a shelter erected on the main road where everyone had to pass. It was an open structure, open so he could see everything that was going on and where the Roman officials could find him easily on reckoning day. No-one was able to go unnoticed by the officials – tax evasion was punishable by death of the most horrible. This was Israel under Roman occupation.

Anyway, Matthew heard the noise of the crowd even before he heard the news. Maybe he thought they might be coming to lynch him – he’d been expecting it for years. His heart began to beat rapidly, and he wondered if he’d have to leave that day’s takings behind if he had to run for it. His mind worked overtime, his breath rasped in his tight chest. Then he heard the truth.

The crowd wasn’t interested in him. They were following Jesus, who had come to town.

I can see the wistfulness spring into Matthew’s sharp little eyes, see him wipe his beaky Jewish nose with sudden despair. “He won’t want to see me.”

The noise of the crowd grew closer, and he watched the dust swirling under thousands of sandalled feet coming his way. There was a figure at the front, around whom people were pressing as if to hear his words, or catch his attention. Matthew could hardly breathe. It must be Him. It must be Jesus!

The crowd drew abreast of Matthew’s tax booth and stopped. Jesus stopped, and that whole crowd of milling bodies stopped with Him. Matthew looked up, hope springing impossibly into his shrivelled soul. The Gospel of Luke says that Jesus looked intently at Matthew.

Do you know that look? That intent stare directed at a particular person can say a thousand words in a glance. That look from Jesus said, “Hello son. I know all about you. I know what you’ve been feeling for the past month. I know the longing you’re afraid to admit. I know your guilt. I know your despair. I’ve come to change your life.”

Then Jesus spoke aloud. All He said was, “Follow me.”

That’s all it took. Matthew had heard Jesus unspoken words as if they’d been shouted. He’d seen the intent look of love, acceptance and forgiveness in Jesus’ eyes. He needed no other incentive – he was ready.

He jumped up from his table as if it was covered with snakes. Maybe it tipped over and money was strewn everywhere. Matthew didn’t care. He knew that if he left now, there was no going back. He’d have the Romans after him with a vengeance, but he didn’t care. He’d be leaving his livelihood, his means of survival, but he didn’t care. He just wanted Jesus. He left everything as it was and ran out into the road, ran to Jesus, and never went back.

In the ensuing days, Matthew gave away all his considerable wealth to those he’d been systematically cheating, and gave a huge banquet for Jesus, to which he invited all the friends from his tax-collecting days, men just as despicable as he had been, hoping Jesus could change them the way he’d been changed himself.

When Jesus gives us that intent look, life can never be the same! Matthew became one of the twelve apostles of our Lord, and wrote one of the four gospels. A bit of a change from money-grabbing, wouldn’t you say?

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IT’S HERE AT LAST!

Novel CoverA good story is one that grabs your heart
with fear, pain, sorrow or anger, squeezes tight,
releases it, raises it in hope,
then throws it up with joy into the light.
(my words)
SOME SECRET PLACE has finally been released for sale from Amazon, barnesandnoble.com and my website, http://sbprabooks.com/DeborahMarreeWise .

I’d love you to read it to find out Miera’s secret and perhaps even the hidden secret. Here’s what the novel is about.
Young Miera, her body and soul broken by years of abuse at her mother’s exclusive Melbourne brothel, is held captive by crushing poverty and her own sense of worthlessness, while billionaire Deyon is insulated from reality by unimaginable wealth, and spends his life in the pursuit of personal fulfillment. One evening in a public garden, their opposite worlds collide.
Deyon is captivated by Miera’s face and decides she is the ‘soul’ he needs to bring life to his latest advertising venture, embarked upon for his own pleasure. Miera, repelled by men in general, runs away, but Deyon is accustomed to having his own way in everything. His infinite resources allow him to track her down and find out everything about her. He creates an elaborate plan to use her face in his media advertising campaign, dragging Miera into his own world despite their wildly divergent backgrounds.
Miera reacts violently by running away again, straight into disaster. Deyon must rescue her, and because she believes she has no other option, she finds herself in Perth and falling in with Deyon’s plans.
It appears that Miera is progressively embracing Deyon’s world of opulent hedonism as they work together on his pet project, but actually, scar tissue is growing around her soul, insulating her from life. She falls prey to yet another disaster, and eventually the pain of reality becomes too great and she employs the ultimate escape. Too late, Deyon discovers how much Miera means to him – then a supernatural power breaks into their respective worlds, giving Miera fresh hope for a new life, and forcing Deyon to acknowledge that money can’t buy love, and it can’t buy Miera.
He releases her into to her father ‘s care, admitting defeat for the first time in his pampered life, and must fight his own inner battle for a long time before giving in. Meanwhile, Miera accepts a new challenge, discovers some deep truths and develops an iron will that keeps her grounded in her father’s lifestyle. Her discoveries, however, also cause her to keep rejecting Deyon’s world.
The two dance around each other’s lives for several years. Deyon loves Miera from afar, until they finally meet again and find each other so changed that at last Miera’s defences are breached. After overcoming some massive obstacles, Miera finally succumbs to Deyon’s steadfast love.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE

I want to wish everyone a very special Christmas this year. Even if you have no turkey and plum pudding, even if you have no Christmas tree and tinsel, even if you don’t receive any gifts, or even have any family to share with, this is still a time of blessing for you, because Jesus had none of those things, and the real meaning of Christmas is to celebrate Him! May you be blessed where you are at right now, by reaching out to the One who gave up everything He was to GIVE YOU PEACE!cross_of_christ_wallpaper-1400x1050

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HIDDEN TREASURE

Child abuse, prostitution, abortion, kidnap, suicide — then waking from the dead.

Wealth, influence, power, privilege, luxury — then unrequited love.

A young girl crushed by life to breaking point, and a man, blessed with unbelievable wealth, are thrown together. This is their story, but it is also the story of the people around them. There is a hidden thread runnning through this tale of opposite worlds colliding.

SOME SECRET PLACE, by Deborah Marree Wise, is soon to be released. Be one of the first to purchase a copy to see if you can uncover the secret within the secret. Keep watching this site for the release date.Novel Cover

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New Novel – SOME SECRET PLACE

I intend to release some deleted passages of my soon-to-be-released novel, SOME SECRET PLACE, on this website . When you eventually purchase my book (which I hope many of you will) they may give you a greater appreciation of some of the minor characters woven into the story.

“Some Secret Place” has been through several name-changes to arrive at it’s present title. In its infancy it was titled ‘An Embarrassed Sun’, which I now reserve for some future story. For a while it was known as ‘A Poor Girl’ until I settled on the current title.

If, in your internet travels, you come across any of these names, may I point you to (tongue firmly in cheek, here) some secret place to find the finished product? My publisher’s print-on-demand website is

http://sbprabooks.com/DeborahMarreeWise .

The first deleted-passages exert is titled “Jamie”.

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Jamie

After turning twelve his voice was breaking, his muscles were developing, and he was growing a couple of centimeters every month. In fact, Jamie now considered himself to be a man. When he heard the news, his first thought was ‘replacement’. The baby will replace me and Ellen, so we won’t be wanted anymore. We’ll have to make our own way somehow.

From then on, Jamie began to cast his eyes further afield to new experiences, new people, new places ­- searching for somewhere else to belong, somewhere he could take Ellen that would be safe.

There are plenty of people in the world ready to take advantage of a young man at a loose end. Jamie was a prime candidate and, unfortunately, he came into the sphere of one of the breed who deal in drugs, obtaining new recruits by getting them hooked on a substance so that they have to sell it to earn enough to procure more for themselves.

Jamie met a group of older boys in the carpark of the suburban shopping centre where he found himself after taking the train and stepping off at a random station. The boys all looked about sixteen or seventeen, but seemed friendly enough as Jamie sauntered by. They were huddled together near a vine-covered fence, but as Jamie passed, one of the boys with a handsome face turned around.

“Hi mate, wot’ya doin’?” he asked pleasantly. Jamie stopped, and responded, “Aaah, nuthin’ much.” After the group’s friendly overtures, however, he eventually warmed to their invitation to tell his story He painted his situation to seem much worse than it was to illicit sympathy, and it seemed to work, because more of the boys gave him their attention, and all began sharing their own hard-luck my-old-man-hates-me stories. Being accepted into such a select group, as he thought of them, excited the younger boy.

The first time Jamie was offered one of the innocuous-looking ‘cigarettes’ by his new-found friends, he felt immediately taller and more manly. When he took his first puff, he thought he was going to die of asphyxiation and desperately tried to hide his distress, pretending he did this every day. He only let out one little cough, but by this time, enough of the smoke had entered his bloodstream to let him feel the effects.

His body felt loose, and his brain went fuzzy. He wasn’t sure what was happening, but Gerard, the handsome boy who was obviously leader of the gang, assured Jamie that soon it would make him feel really good, so he took another puff, this time inhaling deeply so he didn’t feel like choking.

He felt a ‘zing’ in his brain, and suddenly, nothing mattered anymore. His anger dissipated, his feeling of rejection was dispelled, his worry about the future faded and his face wore a stupid and vapid grin, had he known it.

Jamie stayed at Gerard’s house all afternoon, accepting reefer after reefer until he was reduced to a vegetative state and collapsed on the living-room floor. He slept all night and well into the next morning, and woke feeling as if he’d been run over by a truck.

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